Metcrax 2006

Meteorological Experiments in Arizona's Meteor Crater

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The Meteor Crater Experiment (METCRAX 2006) was conducted in October 2006 at Arizona's Meteor Crater to investigate stable boundary layer evolution in a topographically uncomplicated basin surrounded by the nearly homogeneous plain of the Colorado Plateau. The two goals of the experiment were 1) to investigate the microscale and mesoscale structure and evolution of the stable boundary layer in the crater and its surroundings and 2) to determine whether atmospheric seiches or standing waves are produced inside the crater. This article provides an overview of the scientific goals of the experiment; summarizes the research measurements, the crater topography, and the synoptic meteorology of the study period; and presents initial analysis results. Analyses show that nighttime temperature inversions form frequently in the crater and that they are often perturbed by internal wave motions. Nighttime cooling produces a shallow (15–30 m deep) surface-based inversion that is surmounted by a horizontally homogeneous near-isothermal layer that extends all the way to the rim, where a second inversion extends above rim level. Seiches are sometimes present on the crater floor. The diurnal propagation of shadows from the crater rim produces important spatial differences in the surface radiation budget and thus the timing of the slope flow transition, and the crater atmosphere is often perturbed during nighttime by a southwesterly mesoscale drainage flow.

University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts

Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

Colorado Research Associates, Division of NorthWest Research Associates, Boulder, Colorado

San Jose State University, San Jose, California

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: C. David Whiteman, Meteorology Department, University of Utah, 135 S 1460 E, Rm 819, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0110, E-mail: dave.whiteman@utah.edu

The Meteor Crater Experiment (METCRAX 2006) was conducted in October 2006 at Arizona's Meteor Crater to investigate stable boundary layer evolution in a topographically uncomplicated basin surrounded by the nearly homogeneous plain of the Colorado Plateau. The two goals of the experiment were 1) to investigate the microscale and mesoscale structure and evolution of the stable boundary layer in the crater and its surroundings and 2) to determine whether atmospheric seiches or standing waves are produced inside the crater. This article provides an overview of the scientific goals of the experiment; summarizes the research measurements, the crater topography, and the synoptic meteorology of the study period; and presents initial analysis results. Analyses show that nighttime temperature inversions form frequently in the crater and that they are often perturbed by internal wave motions. Nighttime cooling produces a shallow (15–30 m deep) surface-based inversion that is surmounted by a horizontally homogeneous near-isothermal layer that extends all the way to the rim, where a second inversion extends above rim level. Seiches are sometimes present on the crater floor. The diurnal propagation of shadows from the crater rim produces important spatial differences in the surface radiation budget and thus the timing of the slope flow transition, and the crater atmosphere is often perturbed during nighttime by a southwesterly mesoscale drainage flow.

University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts

Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

Colorado Research Associates, Division of NorthWest Research Associates, Boulder, Colorado

San Jose State University, San Jose, California

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: C. David Whiteman, Meteorology Department, University of Utah, 135 S 1460 E, Rm 819, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0110, E-mail: dave.whiteman@utah.edu
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