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  • View in gallery

    Area coverage for the four computational grids. The grid increments for each grid are indicated, as is the area of the playa

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    The locations of surface (plus signs) and rawinsonde (circles) observations over the (a) larger study area and (b) the local area of the high-density observations of the WDTC. The numbers of surface stations operated by the U.S. Army's West Desert Test Center are prefixed with an S. The model topography is contoured with an interval of 200 m, and the thick contour line denotes the 1600-m terrain elevation. The area of the playa is shaded. The inner box in both panels denotes the location of the model grid 4. The line in panel (b) indicates the orientation of a cross section displayed later

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    Grid-3 vegetation categories used in the land surface model, based on modification of the USGS EROS dataset (Loveland 1995).

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    Time series from 0500 LT (1200 UTC) 14 Jul to 0500 LT 15 Jul 1998 of the 2-m temperature (°C) at a surface station in the center of the playa (S17), and a surface station outside of the playa (S04)

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    Observations of the 10-m wind (see vector scale) and 2-m potential temperature (°C) at 0600 LT (1300 UTC) 14 Jul 1998. The terrain is contoured with a 200-m interval, and the heavy contour is 1600 m. The playa is shaded. Plus signs are locations of surface observations, and circles are upper-air observations. The inner box denotes the location of the model grid 4

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    As in Fig. 5 except at 1400 LT (2100 UTC) 14 Jul 1998. The estimated location of a segment of the salt-breeze front is indicated

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    Observations of the 10-m wind (see vector scale) at 1400 LT 14 Jul 1998 (2100 UTC). The heavy lines outline the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake, and the inner box denotes the model grid-4 boundary. Surface topography is displayed with the higher elevations shaded dark gray

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    As in Fig. 7 except at 1900 LT 14 Jul 1998 (0200 UTC 15 Jul 1998)

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    As in Fig. 7 except at 2200 LT 14 Jul 1998 (0500 UTC 15 Jul 1998)

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    As in Fig. 7 except at 0500 LT 15 Jul 1998 (1200 UTC 15 Jul 1998)

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    Vertical wind profiles at playa (S15) and nonplaya (S04) locations at (a) 0800 LT (1500 UTC) and (b) 1400 LT (2100 UTC) 14 Jul 1998. The long barb corresponds to 5 m s−1 and the short barb to 2.5 m s−1

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    The 24-h temperature (°C) trace from the climatological dataset for a station in the playa (S17) and a station outside the playa (S04), as was well as the analogous data from the 14–15 Jul 1998 case day shown in Fig. 4

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    The 10-m wind direction climatology at (a) 0600, (b) 1400, and (c) 1900 LT for each surface observation station at the WDTC. The climatology is based on 31 days in Jun–Sep 1998 with light synoptic-scale forcing. The percent occurrence of each 10° direction increment is indicated by the circles (see inset), the average speed (m s−1) for the most frequent direction is indicated for each location, and the inner box denotes the model grid-4 boundary

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    Observed and simulated 2-m temperatures (°C) for a playa (S17) and nonplaya (S04) station. The model-simulated temperatures have been extrapolated from the lowest computation level of ∼40 m AGL to the 2-m observation level using similarity theory

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    Model control simulation at 1400 LT (2100 UTC) 14 Jul 1998. Displayed are 10 m AGL wind (see vector scale) and topography. Topography is contoured with a 200-m interval, and wind vectors are plotted at every grid point. The estimated locations of some segments of the salt-breeze front are indicated. The inner box denotes the location of the model grid 4, and the area of the playa is shaded

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    Vertical cross section behind the salt-breeze front showing the grid-4 simulated potential temperature and wind parallel to the section (see vector scale) at 1400 LT (2100 UTC) 14 Jul 1998. Potential temperature is analyzed with a 0.25°C interval, and wind vectors are plotted at every grid point. The location of the section AA′ is shown in Fig. 2b

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    Model control simulation at 1400 LT (2100 UTC) 14 Jul 1998. Displayed are 10 m AGL wind (see vector scale) and 2-m water vapor mixing ratio (color). Water vapor mixing ratio is analyzed with a 1 g kg−1 interval, and wind vectors are plotted at every grid point. The inner box denotes the location of the model grid 4. The heavy lines outline the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake

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    Model control simulation at 1900 LT 14 Jul 1998 (0200 LT 15 Jul). Displayed are 10 m AGL wind (see vector scale) and 2-m potential temperature (color). Potential temperature is analyzed with a 1°C interval, and wind vectors are plotted at every second grid point. The inner box denotes the location of the model grid 4. The heavy lines outline the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake. The estimated position of the lake-breeze front is also shown

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    Model control simulation at 2200 LT 14 Jul 1998 (0500 UTC 15 Jul 1998). Displayed are 10 m AGL wind (see vector scale) and topography (shaded). Topography is banded with a 150-m interval, and wind vectors are plotted at every grid point. The inner box denotes the location of the model grid 4

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    As in Fig. 17 except at 0500 LT (1200 UTC) 15 Jul 1998

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    Simulated PBL depth difference field (control minus no-playa experiment) at 1100 LT (1800 UTC) 14 Jul 1998. PBL depth difference field is contoured and shaded with a 500-m interval. The inner box denotes the location of the model grid 4

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    Simulated 10 m AGL wind (see vector scale) and 2-m potential temperature difference fields (control minus no-playa experiment) at 1400 LT (2100 UTC) 14 Jul 1998. Potential temperature difference field is analyzed and shaded with a 0.2°C interval, and wind vectors are plotted at every grid point. The inner box denotes the location of the model grid 4

  • View in gallery

    (a) Simulated 10 m AGL wind (see vector scale) and 2-m potential temperature (colored) from the no-lake experiment at 1900 LT 14 Jul 1998 (0200 UTC 15 Jul 1998). Potential temperature is analyzed with a 1°C interval, and wind vectors are plotted at every second grid point. (b) Simulated 10 m AGL wind (see vector scale) and 2-m potential temperature difference fields (control minus no-lake experiment). Potential temperature difference field is analyzed and shaded with a 1°C interval, and the wind vector difference field is plotted at every second grid point. The inner box in both panels denotes the location of the model grid 4. Heavy solid lines outline the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake

  • View in gallery

    (a) Model control simulation at 2100 LT 14 Jul 1998 (0400 UTC 15 Jul 1998). Displayed are 10 m AGL wind (see vector scale) and 2-m potential temperature (shaded). Potential temperature is contoured with a 1°C interval, and the wind vectors are plotted at every grid point. (b) Same as in (a) except for the no-lake experiment. The inner box in both panels denotes the location of the model grid 4. Heavy solid lines outline the Great Salt Lake

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Mechanisms for Diurnal Boundary Layer Circulations in the Great Basin Desert

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 National Center for Atmospheric Research, and Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 3 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 4 U.S. Army West Desert Test Center, Dugway Proving Ground, Dugway, Utah
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Abstract

The purpose of this observation- and model-based study of the Great Basin Desert boundary layer is to illustrate the variety of locally forced circulations that can affect such an area during a diurnal cycle. The area of the Great Basin Desert (or Great Salt Lake Desert) that is studied is located to the southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah. It is characteristic of the arid “basin and range” province of North America in that it contains complex terrain, varied vegetation and substrates, and high water tables associated with salt-encrusted basin flats (playas). The study area is especially well instrumented with surface meteorological stations operated by the U.S. Army's West Desert Test Center and a collection of cooperating mesonets in northeastern Utah. The study period was chosen based on the availability of special radiosonde data in this area.

One of the processes that is documented here that is unique to desert environments is the salt breeze that forms around the edge of playas as a result of differential heating. The data and model solution depict the diurnal cycle of the salt breeze, wherein there is on-playa flow at night and off-playa flow during daylight. There is also a multiplicity of drainage flows that influence the study area at different times of the night, from both local and distant terrain. Finally, the lake-breeze front from the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake progresses through the complex terrain during the day, to interact with early mountain drainage flow near sunset.

Corresponding author address: Daran L. Rife, NCAR/RAP, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000. Email: drife@ucar.edu

Abstract

The purpose of this observation- and model-based study of the Great Basin Desert boundary layer is to illustrate the variety of locally forced circulations that can affect such an area during a diurnal cycle. The area of the Great Basin Desert (or Great Salt Lake Desert) that is studied is located to the southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah. It is characteristic of the arid “basin and range” province of North America in that it contains complex terrain, varied vegetation and substrates, and high water tables associated with salt-encrusted basin flats (playas). The study area is especially well instrumented with surface meteorological stations operated by the U.S. Army's West Desert Test Center and a collection of cooperating mesonets in northeastern Utah. The study period was chosen based on the availability of special radiosonde data in this area.

One of the processes that is documented here that is unique to desert environments is the salt breeze that forms around the edge of playas as a result of differential heating. The data and model solution depict the diurnal cycle of the salt breeze, wherein there is on-playa flow at night and off-playa flow during daylight. There is also a multiplicity of drainage flows that influence the study area at different times of the night, from both local and distant terrain. Finally, the lake-breeze front from the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake progresses through the complex terrain during the day, to interact with early mountain drainage flow near sunset.

Corresponding author address: Daran L. Rife, NCAR/RAP, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000. Email: drife@ucar.edu

1. Introduction

There is plentiful evidence that regional landscape variability and the adequacy with which its effects are represented in atmospheric models have a potentially strong impact on simulated mesoscale weather and climate. Many sources of such local landscape forcing, such as associated with terrain and coastlines, are fairly well understood and have been thoroughly studied. Specifically, numerous modeling and empirical studies document mesoscale impacts of surface variability associated with coastlines (Dalu and Pielke 1989), snowfield boundaries (Segal et al. 1991), surface moisture gradients (Yan and Anthes 1988; Chang and Wetzel 1991), and anthropogenic landscape changes (Segal et al. 1989; Chase et al. 1999). Even though these few examples are representative of a long history of study of locally forced mesoscale circulations in temperate environments, there has been little similar attention to arid areas. This is perhaps because of the perceived remoteness, sparse population, or low economic value of such areas. However, warm-climate arid and semiarid areas compose almost 40% of earth's land surface, and thus the aggregate effect of small-scale, local land–atmosphere interaction over deserts should have global impacts. In addition, population increases in some arid areas (e.g., the southwest United States) far exceed those in more temperate climates, so desert weather processes are having a direct effect on a growing number of people.

There is a variety of arid land, land surface contrasts that can force mesoscale circulations. Indeed, the well-studied mountain–valley circulations and sea/lake breezes are as common in arid environments as elsewhere, and some limited work has been done to document their characteristics (Lieman and Alpert 1992; Steedman and Ashour 1976; Warner and Sheu 2000). However, a type of thermally forced circulation that is associated only with deserts is the so-called salt breeze, which develops near the edge of salt flats that typically have higher albedo, thermal conductivity, and moisture content than does the surrounding desert. These contrasts cause a thermally direct circulation, with the low-level flow away from the salt flat during the day and toward it at night. Salt flats of various properties are common in deserts worldwide, so salt breezes should be ubiquitous, as should be their effect on day and night boundary layer structure.

In this study, special surface and upper-air data, in combination with a numerical model, were used to help define the structure of a salt breeze, as well as lake and mountain–valley circulations, in the Great Basin Desert (or Great Salt Lake Desert) to the southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah. This desert area includes much complex terrain and large salt flats, and is potentially influenced by the thermally driven circulations associated with the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake to the northeast and east, respectively. An analysis of observations for the study period is first performed, and this is then compared to a surface wind and temperature climatology for an area near the edge of a salt flat. Numerical model simulations are then described, to help define the three-dimensional boundary layer structure associated with the salt breeze as well as mountain–valley and lake breezes. To an observer on the ground in the center of this desert study area, the landscape looks flat, barren, and generally unremarkable, except for elevated terrain in the distance. Nevertheless, it will be shown that the local boundary layer wind field exhibits a complex spatial and diurnal structure that results from both local and distant forcing mechanisms.

Because salt breezes have been relatively less well studied and documented than lake or mountain–valley breezes, section 2 will summarize the characteristics of salt flats and the associated salt breezes, as well as other thermally forced circulations that are common in deserts. Section 3 will describe the modeling system employed, and provide a summary of the model experiments. In section 4, the meteorological conditions during the study period will be presented, as will a simple climatology of the diurnal variability of the local surface wind and temperature fields near a salt flat. Section 5 presents the results of the model simulations, and this is followed in section 6 by a summary and discussion of the results.

2. The properties of salt flats, the salt breeze, and other thermally forced circulations in desert environments

a. Properties of salt flats, or playas

Salt flats are commonly termed playas (Spanish for beach) in North America, so that term will be used hereafter. Playas have properties that can be quite distinct from other desert and nondesert substrates. Most of the larger playas were lakes during previous pluvial periods (e.g., the Pleistocene), and the smaller ones originated as a result of regional erosion patterns. There are over 50 000 playas on earth (Rosen 1994). In North America there are approximately 300 playas with areas of more than 5 km2, virtually all being in the desert environments of the West (Neal 1965), with thousands of smaller playas existing in the semiarid high plains grasslands (Steiert 1995).

Playas have a number of properties that cause their surface energy budget to differ from that of their surroundings.

  • Thermal conductivity: The often-moist playa substrate, and its compactness relative to sand, often cause its thermal conductivity to be greater than that of the surrounding nonplaya sandy substrates.

  • Albedo: The albedo of playas with salt crusts can contrast greatly with the surroundings, and there can be a large seasonal and diurnal variation in the contrast. In the summer, the salt crust can have a relatively high albedo. However, in the winter, or after heavy rain in the summer, a thin salt crust can dissolve and the albedo decreases significantly. McCurdy (1989) reports that when a Great Salt Lake Desert playa salt crust was moistened from rain its albedo was 0.24, but when it was completely dry it had a late afternoon albedo that exceeded 0.75. Even significant diurnal variations in albedo result from the fact that, when the water table is high, the crust can rehydrate at night, and then become progressively drier and more reflective during the day. Finally, wind speed and direction can influence the inner-playa distribution of albedo. When, as is sometimes the case, 5–10 cm of water cover the playa, wind can shift the location of the shallow pond of water from one location to another, and thus the albedo distribution shifts as the changes in wind speed and direction dry and moisten different areas of the playa.

  • Vegetation: The playa often contrasts with its surroundings in terms of the vegetation cover. Because of the salinity, vegetation is generally very sparse over the playa, but not necessarily so over the surrounding desert. This difference produces gradients in the transpiration and albedo.

  • Latent heat flux: Because playas are often characterized by a high water table, the surface may be moist, but the surface of the surrounding sandy or rocky desert is generally quite dry, except after a rain.

These characteristics generally contribute to a cooler playa during the day and a warmer playa at night, relative to the surroundings.

b. Previous studies of salt breezes

The first mention in the literature of “salt breezes” or “playa breezes” was by Tapper (1988) who discusses the possibility of such a mesoscale circulation around a “dry” salt lake in Australia. Since then, Tapper (1991) and Physick and Tapper (1990) have described observational and modeling studies, respectively, of this salt-breeze circulation. The salt lake studied has a surface area of 70 km2, has a shallow salt crust overlying saturated clay, is located in virtually flat terrain, and is the local ground water sink. Shrubs exist around the lake margin, while the surrounding sand dunes are sparsely vegetated with native grasses. The thermal conductivity for the salt lake sediments and the surrounding sand was estimated to be 2.32 and 0.33 W m−1 K−1, respectively. The surface airflow climatology was mapped using a 5-month series of 12 000 hourly anemometer measurements from four sites around the playa during austral autumn and winter. Wind rose statistics were then computed for 0900–1200 local time (LT) and 0000–0300 LT, omitting the days with strong synoptic forcing and subtracting the regional mean wind vector for the time of each measurement. Plots of the statistics clearly show a pattern in which substantial off-playa winds prevail during the day, and on-playa winds of commensurate strength prevail at night (not shown). Pilot-balloon measurements during one diurnal period document the depth of the near-surface daytime off-playa breeze to be about 200–250 m and that of the nocturnal on-playa breeze to be about 100 m. Return circulations above were difficult to separate from the prevailing wind aloft.

Motivated by the above empirical evidence of Tapper (1988, 1991), Physick and Tapper (1990) employed a mesoscale atmospheric model with a 15-layer soil model to help define the relative contribution of albedo and thermal conductivity contrasts to the development of the salt breeze for the same salt lake. Their simulations were performed with no topography, and with an idealized single-sounding initialization. Because observations showed very little evaporation from either the salt flat or the surrounding surface (Krusel 1987), the model soil moisture parameter was set to a small uniform value. For a westerly mean flow of about 5 m s−1 at 10 m above ground level (AGL), a simulation for a salt lake with the dimensions of the one studied by Tapper (1988, 1991) shows the dominant daytime effect of the lake to be a large subsidence region downwind of the lake, bordered laterally by zones of upward motion. Vertical velocity in the ascent and descent regions exceeded 20 cm s−1. Based on sensitivity studies, they concluded that the salt-breeze circulation could be attributed mainly to the difference in albedo between the playa and surrounding desert rather than to differences in soil thermal properties.

Davis et al. (1999), in the context of a description of the overall performance of an operational mesogamma-scale model for the area of the Great Salt Lake Desert studied here, showed a sample forecast of a salt breeze. This simulation included the multiscale effects of the synoptic weather pattern in which the salt breeze was embedded, and demonstrated that the surface winds of the simulated salt breeze corresponded very well with observations. However, because it was not the purpose of that study to gain knowledge about thermally forced circulations, the diurnal cycle of the salt breeze was not described, nor were circulations resulting from other local forcing mechanisms.

c. Other documented thermally forced circulations of the desert

There are at least a few mechanisms, in addition to that associated with the salt breeze, by which thermally forced boundary layer circulations can be generated in desert environments. The required boundary layer thermal contrast can result from coastlines (lake or sea); elevated terrain; differences in the substrate thermal properties, moisture content and albedo; and vegetation—all of which affect the disposition of solar energy. Because such circulations are well documented for nondesert environments, only a few examples will be cited here.

An indication of the possible extent of the area influenced by a desert coastal breeze is found in Steedman and Ashour (1976) who, based on observations, demonstrate that the coastal breeze on the eastern shore of the Red Sea penetrates over 200 km inland over the Arabian Desert on some summer days. In a model- and observation-based study, Lieman and Alpert (1992) show the effect of the Mediterranean Sea breeze and orography on the planetary boundary layer (PBL) depth over Israel.

Flows induced by orography should be ubiquitous in many arid areas because the terrain is often very complex. For example, Whiteman (1999, 2000) describes observations of the boundary layer circulations around the Mexico basin/Mexico Plateau and the Colorado River valley, respectively. Also, a model simulation described in Warner and Sheu (2000) illustrates the mountain–valley circulation resulting from the terrain contrast between the Zagros Mountains in southwestern Iran and the Tigris–Euphrates valley of Iraq.

It has been shown by Pielke et al. (1993) that in arid regions, mesoscale albedo variations are an important contribution to the surface fluxes of heat and moisture, and to the development of thermally forced circulations. Their observation- and model-based study suggests that the spatial albedo discontinuities in southern Utah and northern Arizona can produce thermal mesoscale circulations with near-surface horizontal wind speeds of around 5–10 m s−1, the same magnitude as caused by terrain variability.

This study complements the other empirical and modeling efforts to document thermally forced, desert boundary layer circulations, especially the salt breeze. For example, of the two other noted modeling studies that describe a salt breeze, neither attempts to portray the full diurnal cycle, nor do they describe any effects from other thermal forcing mechanisms that exist in the area. Also, the Australian study is for such a data-sparse area that it does not represent the salt breeze in the context of larger-scale processes in which it is embedded.

3. Experiment design

a. Description of the model

The model used in this study is the Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research (PSU–NCAR) nonhydrostatic fifth-generation Mesoscale Model (MM5; Dudhia 1989, 1993; Grell et al. 1994). The nested, two-way interacting, computational grids are depicted in Fig. 1. The four grids have grid increments of 30, 10, 3.3, and 1.1 km, and mesh sizes of 84 × 98, 67 × 70, 91 × 91, and 28 × 37, respectively. All grids use 31 vertical levels with a model top of 50 hPa. Note that the fact that the lowest computation level is ∼40 m AGL means that the model may have some limitations in simulating shallow nocturnal drainage flows. The model may overestimate the surface moisture flux over the Great Salt Lake grid points due to the fact that no correction is made to the saturation vapor pressure to account for the lake's high salinity. Figure 2 shows the terrain elevation on grids 3 and 4, and the extent of the playa. The locations of surface and upper-air observations used for model verification and initialization are also shown in Fig. 2. The area encompassed by the grid-3 simulation will be used to investigate the influence on the boundary layer of the various regional thermally forced circulations, and to provide a broader-scale context for these processes.1

The PBL parameterization employed is that of Hong and Pan (1996), which is based on the work of Troen and Mahrt (1986). This is commonly known as the MRF PBL scheme, and is employed in the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Medium Range Forecast (MRF) model. Grids 1 and 2 utilize the Grell (1993) cumulus parameterization. For the radiation, longwave and shortwave radiation interact with the clear atmosphere, cloud, precipitation, and the ground (Dudhia 1989). A simple treatment of cloud microphysics is employed, and is based on Dudhia (1989). Both ice and liquid phases are permitted for cloud and precipitation, but mixed phases are not.

A land surface model (LSM) has been recently coupled to the MM5 modeling system (Chen and Dudhia 2001a,b). The LSM is used to compute the surface energy and water budgets, and provides the surface latent heat, sensible heat, and upward longwave radiation fluxes at the lower boundary of the atmospheric model. It has one canopy layer, and the following prognostic variables: volumetric soil moisture and temperature in four soil layers, water stored on the canopy, and snow stored on the ground. The depths of the soil layers are 0.1, 0.3, 0.6, and 1.0 m, from the top layer to the bottom layer, respectively. The root zone is in the upper 1 m of soil, and the lower 1 m of soil acts as a reservoir with gravity drainage at the bottom. The annual-mean surface free-air temperature is applied at a depth of 3 m as a boundary condition on the bottom soil layer. Total evaporation from the soil is defined as the sum of evapotranspiration through the vegetation canopy, direct evaporation from bare soil, and the evaporation of standing water on the plant canopy from dew or intercepted rainfall. The relative contributions of these three terms to the total surface evaporation are dictated by the grid cell fraction of green vegetation derived from a 15-km National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer satellite dataset (Gutman and Ignatov 1998). The grid cell fraction of green vegetation is set to zero over playa grid points during the model simulation to reflect the fact that the Great Basin Desert playa is generally barren of vegetation. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observing System (EROS) 1-km dataset (Loveland et al. 1995) is used to define the vegetation type, and the State Soil Geographic (STATSGO) 1-km database is used for soil type (Miller and White 1998). The Great Basin Desert playa was missing from the EROS and STATSGO datasets. This was corrected using field reconnaissance wherein the playa grid points were inserted in the appropriate geographic location in the databases. Figure 3 displays the vegetation categories defined by the modified EROS dataset for grid 3. The physical properties of the playa and two of the dominant surface categories in the surrounding desert are summarized in Table 1.

The model's atmospheric initial conditions are defined through the use of standard radiosonde and surface data, where the first-guess field is the NCEP–NCAR global, 2.5° × 2.5° reanalysis (Kalnay et al. 1996).2 Surface data for the playa and the surrounding desert at the initial time (0500 LT, 1200 UTC) indicated the typical situation wherein the early morning 2-m AGL temperature over the playa was about 5°C higher than over the nonplaya surface. To account for this boundary, the model initial temperatures over playa grid points were increased accordingly throughout the depth of the nocturnal inversion, by inserting the corresponding temperatures from the 0400 LT playa station (S15) rawinsonde observation. Lateral boundary conditions for the outer grid, grid 1, were defined using linear temporal interpolations between 12-hourly NCEP–NCAR global analyses. The NCEP global, 1.0° × 1.0° analyses were used to define the model sea and lake surface temperatures. The initial surface temperature of the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake (∼25°C) that is derived from the NCEP analyses is consistent with climatology (Steenburgh et al. 2000, Fig. 2). The LSM is initialized with soil temperature, soil moisture, and snow depth fields from the NCEP EDAS (40-km grid increment) (Black 1994; Rogers et al. 1996). This analysis reflected no evidence of significant antecedent rainfall over the area of grids 3 and 4, and this was confirmed by inspection of radar data. The initial temperature of the top three soil layers over playa grid points was increased by 5°C, consistent with the warmer observed 2-m air temperatures at the playa stations.

The modeling system employed here is centered over the U.S. Army West Desert Test Center (WDTC), and is similar to a component of an operational forecasting system that has been developed by NCAR for various U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command test ranges (Davis et al. 1999). The horizontal extent and the number of levels of the computational grids are dictated by constraints associated with the fact that this model must run operationally. Specifically, a 24-h forecast must be available within about 6 h, with the model calculations being performed on an eight-processor, Silicon Graphics Origin 2000.

b. Model experiments

All model simulations were for a 24-h period from 0500 LT (1200 UTC) 14 July 1998 to 0500 LT 15 July 1998. The control simulation was compared on grids 3 and 4 with standard National Weather Service (NWS) observations, surface-based MesoWest observations [a collection of cooperating mesonets in the western United States; Horel et al. (2000) and Horel et al. (2001, manuscript submitted to Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.)], and a dense network of standard surface-based observations and special rawinsonde observations from the WDTC in Dugway, Utah (see observation locations in Fig. 2). Rawinsonde observations were made from three locations every 2 h, between 0400 LT (1100 UTC) and 1600 LT (2300 UTC) 14 July 1998. The three-dimensional atmospheric structure of the control simulation on these grids was objectively and subjectively compared to the surface and special rawinsonde observations. It will be demonstrated that the control simulation shows reasonable accuracy for this particular case in terms of the circulations associated with 1) the salt breeze, 2) the lake breezes from the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake, and 3) the multiscale effects of the orographic forcing.

In order to isolate the salt-breeze signal in the model solution, an additional simulation was performed in which the playa's land surface conditions were replaced with those corresponding to its surroundings (see Fig. 3). That is, in this simulation, there was no playa, and there were no associated differential surface properties to generate a salt breeze. Differencing the results of this no-playa simulation and the control simulation produces fields that represent the playa-breeze component of the total solution. The same approach was used to define the aggregate effect of the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake breezes. Here, the lakes were removed by replacing the lake grid points with ones corresponding to land with properties characteristic of the lake surroundings. The difference between this simulation and the control defines the lake-breeze component of the solution. It should be noted that these differences do not isolate “pure” lake and salt breezes because terrain and other differential surface-property forcings are not eliminated. For example, the difference between the control and no-lake simulations represents the lake breeze, as modified by the terrain, etc.

4. Description of the meteorological conditions

A well-established synoptic-scale anticyclonic system existed over the Great Basin Desert during the study period from 0500 LT 14 July 1998 to 0500 LT 15 July 1998. Skies were generally cloud free, with the exception of a few cumulus clouds near the Nevada–Utah border during the afternoon. Although weak large-scale flow was dominant throughout this period, the NCEP Rapid Update Cycle (RUC; Benjamin et al. 1991, 1994) 700-hPa analyses suggested the passage of a weak mesoscale pressure trough through northern Utah between 2300 LT 13 July and 0500 LT 14 July (0600 and 1200 UTC 14 July). Northwest flow observed between 800 and 700 hPa in the 0500 LT (1200 UTC) Salt Lake City, Utah (SLC), profile may have reflected the western branch of the trough circulation (not shown). The NWS and MesoWest surface observations indicated that a weak surface trough extended southeast from southern Idaho across central Utah to southwest Colorado, which persisted through 0500 LT 15 July. This trough was also evident in the RUC surface analyses. The low-level pressure gradient remained generally uniform and weak in the region throughout the day on 14 July, but by 0500 LT 15 July it had slightly intensified over northern Utah. Given the weak surface pressure gradient over northern Utah during the nighttime of 14 July and early morning of 15 July, surface winds within the study area might be expected to have a light northerly component in the absence of thermally driven flows associated with topographic and land surface contrasts. The following displays of observed conditions are for the areas of model grids 3 and 4 (Fig. 1).

a. Diurnal temperature cycle for 14–15 July 1998

Figure 4 shows the diurnal variation of the 2-m temperature for S17, a playa surface station, and for S04, a station outside the playa (see Fig. 2 for locations). Near sunrise on 14 July, a strong air temperature contrast exists between the playa and the surrounding desert, where the temperature was slightly more than 8°C higher over the playa. This is similar to the early morning contrast described in Tapper (1991) for the Australian playa. By about 0800 LT, the temperature contrast vanishes, as the nonplaya desert substrate experiences a rapid increase in temperature while the playa substrate experiences only a moderate increase. Subsequently, the temperature gradient switches to an off-playa direction (playa cool, surroundings warm). Between 0800 and 1100 LT, the nonplaya temperature increases by another 6°–7°C, while that over the playa increases by 3°C. The surface air temperatures at the nonplaya station remain nearly 3°C higher than at the playa station through 1700 LT 14 July. By 1900 LT 14 July, near local sunset, the temperature gradient switches back to an on-playa direction. The nonplaya substrate experiences a large decrease in temperature overnight, while the playa substrate experiences a moderate decrease. By sunrise, the temperature is 9°C higher over the playa.

b. Salt-breeze structure at the surface

To illustrate the small-scale structure of the salt breeze, observations from the WDTC are presented in Figs. 5 and 6. At 0600 LT the 10-m wind pattern over the grid-4 area shows a general southeasterly on-playa flow of 2–3 m s−1 (Fig. 5). This flow appears to be primarily associated with the playa's temperature contrast with its surroundings, but may also reflect a contribution from a weak southeasterly downslope flow from the higher terrain to the south. Westerly, on-playa flow also exists at the western edge of the playa based on NWS observation at Wendover, Utah (ENV; not shown, Fig. 2a), and is likely the result of weak downvalley flow that is enhanced by the thermal contrast between the playa and its surroundings. The winds at S17 at this time are near calm, perhaps indicating that this playa location is near a center of convergence of the on-playa flow. The temperature contrast across the area is ∼3°C, with the higher temperatures near the playa. The nocturnal inversion causes some elevation-related temperature variability also.

Near 1100 LT 14 July, off-playa flow begins to develop at ENV. This flow is fairly weak, with a magnitude of 1–2 m s−1. At 1400 LT 14 July, the winds in grid 4 indicate a salt-breeze front moving from the playa to the surrounding desert (Fig. 6). By 1500 LT, this salt-breeze front has swept through most of grid 4, with the temperature contrast across the grid now ∼2–3°C.

c. Evidence of other processes resulting from local thermal forcing

Observations over northern Utah, presented in Figs. 7–10, illustrate the larger-scale structure of other processes resulting from local thermal forcing. During the 24-h study period, the earliest process, other than the salt breeze, to develop is a lake breeze that is evident after 1100 LT over the region surrounding the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake. The large data voids make it difficult to estimate the full extent of the inland penetration, but the speeds reach 4–5 m s−1. By 1400 LT it is evident that the lake breeze has swept through many of the observations sites (Fig. 7), but it is difficult to identify the location of the lake-breeze front.

At approximately 1900 LT 14 July (about 2 h prior to sunset), surface wind data from the WDTC indicate the arrival on grid 4 of a mesoscale feature from the northeast (Fig. 8), which is apparently unrelated to the salt breeze. Figure 9 shows this feature at 2200 LT, after developing further. This northeasterly flow is also apparent at S17 to the north, it has a magnitude of 4–7 m s−1, and continues for about 6 h through 0100 LT 15 July. After this time, the northeasterly wind subsides, and the flow on grid 4 appears mainly related to the on-playa nocturnal component of the salt breeze. Observations near the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake also indicate a land breeze developing after 2200 LT, with a magnitude of 2–3 m s−1.

Finally, after 0200 LT 15 July, another feature appears in the surface wind data in the northwest part of grid 4. This flow is from the north-northwest with a magnitude of 3–4 m s−1, and persists through 0500 LT (Fig. 10). Northerly flow of 5–6 m s−1 also exists at stations S17 and ENV during the period 0000–0500 LT 15 July. Additionally, there appears to be a multiplicity of complex drainage flows in other parts of the grid during this period.

The paucity of surface observations makes it difficult to determine the specific causes of the mesoscale wind field features that sweep into the grid-4 area during the evening and night. However, it is worth speculating based solely on available data. Later in this paper, the model simulations will be employed to provide additional insight. The northeasterly winds that propagate through grid 4, and S17 on grid 3, near 1900 LT 14 July, may be related to the arrival of the lake breezes from the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake. If this feature is the lake-breeze front, it most likely travels to grid 4 through the low elevations of Skull Valley (see Fig. 2) to the northeast. The southern outlet of the valley is oriented such that air flowing through it would be channeled in a northeasterly direction. This potential penetration distance is not inconsistent with other studies. Seaman et al. (1995) report that, during the dry summer months in southern California, it is common for the sea breeze to penetrate several hundred kilometers inland from the San Francisco Bay and Monterey Bay, through the San Joaquin valley, and the breeze persists through the night into the following early morning hours. Physick and Smith (1985) show that under suitable synoptic conditions, sea breezes penetrate 180 km inland in northern Australia. Similarly, Steedman and Ashour (1976) demonstrate that the coastal breeze on the eastern shore of the Red Sea penetrates over 200 km inland over the Arabian Desert on some summer days. A second possibility is that this feature may be associated with drainage off the Cedar Mountains to the north and/or the Stansbury, Onaqui, and Sheeprock Mountains to the east of grid 4 (Fig. 2). Whiteman (2000b) indicates that the strongest nocturnal downslope flows typically occur around sunset when the mountain slopes first go into shadow. The northeasterly flow observed in this study initiates at about sunset. A third potential explanation for this feature is that it is an aggregate of the lake-breeze and drainage flows. The northerly flow that develops in the northwest part of grid 4, and farther to the north in grid 3 after 0200 LT, is possibly related to the surface trough and the associated pressure gradient over northern Utah. The flow in the northwest section of grid 3 may also be partly composed of nocturnal drainage originating from the high-elevation terrain to the north and west of the playa.

d. Local upper-air conditions

A series of vertical temperature profiles at a nonplaya location (S04) and a playa location (S15) show that, at 0400 LT, both stations exhibit a fairly deep inversion, and the playa near-surface temperatures are markedly higher than they are over the surrounding desert (not shown). By 0800 LT, heating has nearly eroded the inversion at both locations, with the playa remaining warmer than the desert. By 1200 LT, the surface temperatures outside the playa are ∼3°C higher than over the playa, and there is a shallow near-surface superadiabatic layer, and a deep well-mixed layer through about 525 hPa at both locations. Between 1400 and 1600 LT, surface temperatures over the playa remain ∼2°C cooler than outside the playa, and the near-surface, superadiabatic layer and deep well-mixed layer persist at both stations.

Wind profiles for the same stations are shown in Fig. 11. At 0800 LT, the near-surface flow at both locations has an on-playa direction. Above this southeasterly near-surface layer, the flow transitions to a northwesterly flow for about 75 hPa, before becoming west-southwesterly through the midtroposphere. This is very similar to the flow observed in the 0500 LT SLC profile, and may be associated with the trough passage suggested by the RUC 700-hPa analyses. At 1400 LT, the flow below 800 hPa is generally westerly to southwesterly, off the bulk of the playa to the west. However, between 700 and 550 hPa it transitions to a southeasterly on-playa direction at the nonplaya station. This may reflect the upper-level branch of a relatively deep salt-breeze circulation.

e. A simple regional, surface temperature and wind field climatology

To determine the degree to which the salt breeze of 14–15 July 1998 is typical for this season, a simple climatology was computed based on data from surface stations S01–S17. Thermally forced circulations are generally best distinguished from the large-scale flow when well-established synoptic-scale anticyclonic conditions exist, under a nearly cloud-free regime. The climatological dataset was constructed based on data for 31 days that subjectively met these criteria during the months of June–September 1998. Figure 12 shows the 24-h 2-m temperature trace from the climatology for a station on the playa (S17) and a station outside the playa (S04), as well as the analogous data for the 14–15 July case day shown in Fig. 4. The temperatures at both locations for the day studied here are somewhat warmer than the climatology during both the day and night; however, the diurnal variation in the temperature contrast between the playa and nonplaya locations is very similar. In both cases, the greatest temperature contrast between the playa and nonplaya is during the night. This is in contrast to the Australian playa studied by Tapper (1991), where the greatest contrast occurred during the day (∼16°C), with a much weaker contrast of the opposite sign at night (∼5°C).

The 10-m wind climatology is shown in Fig. 13 for 0600, 1400, and 1900 LT, and should be compared with the winds for 14–15 July 1998 in Figs. 5, 6, and 8. The early morning (0600 LT) southeasterly on-playa flow is pronounced at most of the stations, with the afternoon off-playa flow being more discernable closer to the playa to the northwest. Several stations in the southeast part of grid 4 exhibit a bimodal wind distribution in the afternoon. This probably results from variability in the salt front penetration into the surrounding nonplaya region. The early evening flow from the northeast also dominates the averages for most of the stations, and is even more pronounced an hour later at 2000 LT (not shown). Thus most of the wind “regimes” evident on grids 3 and 4 during the diurnal period studied have counterparts in the regional climatology.

5. Results of the model simulations

a. The control simulation

1) Diurnal temperature cycle

To illustrate the accuracy of the model simulation of near-surface temperature, the observed and simulated 2-m temperatures for a playa and nonplaya station are shown in Fig. 14. The model-simulated temperatures have been extrapolated from the lowest computation level of 40 m AGL to the 2-m observation level using similarity theory (Stull 1988, section 7.4.1). The model adequately reproduces the diurnal temperature cycles for both locations during the first 18 h of the simulation. The simulated 2-m air temperatures are generally within 1°–2°C of the observations within this time period. The transition from an on-playa to an off-playa temperature gradient in the morning occurs about 30 min early in the simulation, and the opposite transition in the evening occurs approximately 30 min early as well. After hour 18 of the simulation, the model predicts the playa temperature within ∼1°C, but over the surrounding desert there is a 3°–6°C warm bias. Similar errors exist for other nonplaya stations.

A comparison of the evolution of the vertical temperature structure in the simulation to the special rawinsonde observations suggests that 1) the model generally depicts the nocturnal inversion well, 2) the model is about 2 h slow to mix out the nocturnal inversion during the morning, 3) the near-surface superadiabatic lapse rate in the afternoon is simulated well (even though it is a bit too deep), and 4) the simulated mixed-layer depth is estimated reasonably well by the model.

2) Salt-breeze structure

The model shows a southwest–northeast-oriented salt-breeze front, defined by a confluence line that moves to the southeast through the grid-4 region between 1200 and 1300 LT 14 July. Figure 15 shows that, at 1400 LT, the simulated front has propagated to near the eastern edge of the grid. Compared to observations (Fig. 6), the model moves the front through grid 4 approximately 20 min early. The simulated near-surface potential temperature structure is generally correct, with about a 2°C contrast between the northwest and southeast corners of the grid (not shown).

A vertical cross-section plot through the salt-breeze front on grid 3 (see line in Fig. 2b) at 1400 LT 14 July is shown in Fig. 16. The updraft on the leading edge is about 0.6–0.8 m s−1, with the subsidence behind the front increasing the stratification aloft. Note that the depth of the circulation simulated here is consistent with the 1400 LT rawinsonde winds in Fig. 11, if the observed southeasterlies near 600 hPa at S04 correspond to the return branch of the circulation.

3) Other processes resulting from local thermal forcing

The model solution exhibits a well-developed lake breeze. For example, at 1400 LT 14 July (Fig. 17), there is a strong 2 m AGL water vapor mixing ratio gradient and a confluence zone in the 10-m wind field. At this time, the lake breeze appears to extend up to 30 km away from the Great Salt Lake, which corresponds reasonably with the available surface observations (Fig. 7). Figure 18 shows the 2 m AGL potential temperature and 10-m winds, 5 h later at 1900 LT. The flow emanating from the lakes has spread over a large area, and a long, distinct, relatively continuous frontal structure can be seen, defined by a confluence zone and the leading edge of a temperature gradient. It seems plausible that the northeasterly winds observed in grid 4 (Fig. 8) are associated with the southwestward progression of this lake-breeze front. Indeed, the simulation does indicate that this frontal-like structure propagates to the western edge of grid 4 during the next few hours, from 2000 to 2200 LT. However, the situation is complicated by the fact that the time is near sunset, when drainage flows might be expected. For example, Fig. 19 shows the simulated surface winds at 2200 LT 14 July after downslope winds are well established. The drainage flows, emanating from the shaded elevated terrain, create complicated divergence patterns, and there is some difficulty in determining the relative contributions of the lake-breeze front and the drainage flows to the northeasterly observed winds in Fig. 8. After 0200 LT, the simulated easterly flow in this area subsides, as observed.

The source of the subsequent observed late-night flow from the north over the playa region (Fig. 10) can be estimated from the control simulation. In the simulation, the surface trough has intensified over central Utah, and cyclonic flow prevails at this time over the northern and western parts of grid 3. Superimposed on this larger-scale flow is drainage from the smaller, local topographic features, such as the Cedar Mountains. Along the trough axis in the central part of the grid, the large-scale flow is weak and thus the surface-layer winds are not disrupted from the normal nocturnal drainage patterns. Figure 20 displays the simulated 0500 LT 15 July 10 m AGL winds and terrain, and should be compared with the observations in Fig. 10. The observed late-night northerlies over the playa region appear related to the well-developed regional-scale cyclonic flow over northern Utah, which is evident in the coarser grid simulations (grids 1 and 2) and the RUC surface analyses.

b. The simulation with no playa

The salt breeze is somewhat difficult to separate from other aspects of the flow, such as day or night circulations induced by local orography. Therefore, an experiment was performed in which the playa conditions were removed from the surface dataset, and replaced by conditions representative of the substrate and vegetation in the surrounding desert. This simulation is subtracted from the control, and the difference represents the salt-breeze circulation signal isolated from other aspects of the flow. Figure 21 shows the PBL depth difference field at 1100 LT 14 July for the playa area. The playa has a dramatic effect on the simulated PBL depth, reducing it by as much as 2 km at this time. The contrast in the PBL depth rapidly diminishes as the playa substrate warms, and the desert–playa temperature contrast weakens. The playa substrate reduces the simulated midday surface temperature by as much 1.5°C, and the salt-breeze front can clearly be seen emanating from the playa. Figure 22 shows the simulated 10-m wind and 2-m temperature difference fields at 1400 LT, and should be compared with Fig. 15 from the control simulation. The fact that the front appears to have propagated farther south in the central and eastern part of the model grid-4 area, compared to the western part, may be a consequence of blocking by Granite Peak and the orientation of the playa. It should also be noted that the no-playa experiment results support the hypothesis that the general southeasterly on-playa flow observed over the model grid-4 area at 0600 LT 14 July reflects a small contribution from drainage originating from the higher terrain to the south, but is primarily associated with the temperature contrast between the playa and its surroundings.

c. The simulation with no lakes

To further investigate the source (lake breeze or drainage flow) of the mesoscale feature in the wind field that sweeps onto grid 4 near 1900 LT, which is seen in the case study data as well as the climatology, an additional experiment was performed. Here, the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake water grid points were replaced with ones corresponding to land with properties characteristic of the lakes' surroundings. Figure 23 shows the 2-m potential temperature and 10-m wind fields for the no-lake simulation, and the difference between these fields and those from the control simulation for 1900 LT 14 July. The distinct frontal structure seen in the control simulation for this time is absent in the no-lake simulation. However, note that in the no-lake simulation there are northeasterly winds of in excess of 4 m s−1 just to the northeast of grid 4, related to early evening drainage flow from the mountain ranges to the east (see Fig. 2a). In Fig. 18, the analyzed position of the front in this area was based on the existence of the confluence line ahead of these winds (compare the confluence line in Fig. 18, with that associated with only the lake breeze in Fig. 23b). Thus, at least in this area at this time, the winds from the lake-breeze front seem to be reinforced by drainage on the western slopes of the mountain ranges to the east. It should also be noted that the asymmetric inland penetration of the lake breeze is primarily caused by flow blocking by the steeply sloping topography to the east of the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake (Fig. 2a).

Comparison of the control and no-lake model solutions, 2 h later at 2100 LT, provides further evidence of the relative contributions of the lake breeze and drainage flow to the observed northeasterly flow on grid 4 (Fig. 7). Figure 24 shows that, both with and without the lake breeze, there is a pronounced easterly to northeasterly flow over the eastern half of the grid-4 area at this time. Thus, the drainage from the Cedar Mountains to the north, and the Stansbury, Onaqui, and Sheeprock Mountains to the east (seen in Fig. 19), are contributors to the observed flow near this time.

The differences in the evolution of the PBL depth between the control and no-lake experiments isolate another effect of the lake breeze. Both the subsidence behind the front, and the low-level advection of cooler air from over the lake, are potentially important. The difference field (not shown) indicates that the lake breeze suppresses the late afternoon PBL depth by up to 2500 m over a distance of 30 km inland of the lakeshore.

6. Summary and conclusions

Though the use of standard and special data, and model simulations, this study illustrates the complex meteorology and climatology of boundary layer circulations that can effect arid environments during the diurnal cycle of heating and cooling. Superimposed upon each other over the study area, in this case, are 1) the salt-breeze circulation with on-playa flow at night and off-playa flow during the day; 2) lake breezes originating 50–100 km away, and persisting well after the original daytime surface thermal forcing has ceased; 3) nocturnal drainage flows from nearby terrain that impart a signature in the wind field beginning early in the evening near sunset; and 4) cyclonic flows related to the surface trough that affect the northern and western part of the study area at night.

The numerical model showed skill at simulating all aspects of the flow over the study area. Even with relatively coarse vertical resolution near the surface, the model-simulated nocturnal drainage flow was qualitatively reasonable when compared with observed 10-m winds. The simulated onset times of the on-playa nocturnal salt breeze, the off-playa daytime salt breeze, the lake breeze, and drainage flows from nearby terrain were all simulated reasonably.

Each of these processes individually has a significant impact on the boundary layer temperatures, wind field, and depth. In combination, they create a complex pattern to the regional diurnal boundary layer climatology that belies the traditional notion of benignly uniform weather in arid areas. For example, the existence of the playa, with different surface energy and moisture budgets compared to the surroundings, caused the boundary layer depth to be suppressed by as much as 2 km during the day. The observed and simulated playa breeze exhibited 10-m winds of 3–4 m s−1 during both the day and night parts of the circulation. During the night, the playa breeze over the flat playa and surrounding desert was, first, dominated by stronger drainage flow from local sources, and, later, by the cyclonic flow associated with the surface trough. For example, beginning just before sunset and lasting for about 5 h, 10-m drainage flow from the nearby elevated terrain to the east of the playa exceeded 5 m s−1 in both the observations and simulations. Later at night, about 3 h prior to sunrise, northwesterly 10 m AGL flow was observed at sites in the northwestern part of grid 4, and to the north, again overwhelming the salt breeze. The model simulation on the coarser grids (grids 1 and 2) and the RUC surface analyses indicated that this was likely caused by a regional-scale trough over northern Utah.

It is a useful question whether the near-surface circulations observed during this 1-day study period are characteristic of the local climatology. To answer this question, a climatology was constructed based on data for days during one summer for which clear and relatively calm large-scale conditions prevailed. The wind field climatology based on 31 days of data shows that the daytime and nocturnal components of the playa breeze are both common features, as is the early evening drainage flow from nearby terrain to the east. At least for the area of dense data near grid 4, the nocturnal component of the playa breeze seems to appear more regularly from the expected direction than does the daytime component. This may be a result of the fact that the high nocturnal static stability near the surface isolates the surface-forced flow from variable influences aloft. The magnitudes of the winds in the salt-breeze climatology and the case study data are comparable. The speeds of the early evening drainage winds from the northeast are also similar for the climatology and the case day. The primary qualitative difference between the case study conditions and those reflected in the climatology is the late-night cyclonic flow that influences the 10 m AGL observations in the northwest part of grid 4.

Acknowledgments

This research was funded by the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command through an Interagency Agreement with the National Science Foundation. The authors gratefully acknowledge John Horel, David Strohm, and Jim Steenburgh (University of Utah) for providing the NWS and MesoWest surface observation data, NWS radar data, and RUC analysis data. Elizabeth Page (COMET) and Bryan White (University of Utah) graciously provided satellite imagery. Hilary Justh prepared the climatological data, and Chris Davis (NCAR) and Jim Steenburgh offered many useful comments.

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Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

Area coverage for the four computational grids. The grid increments for each grid are indicated, as is the area of the playa

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

The locations of surface (plus signs) and rawinsonde (circles) observations over the (a) larger study area and (b) the local area of the high-density observations of the WDTC. The numbers of surface stations operated by the U.S. Army's West Desert Test Center are prefixed with an S. The model topography is contoured with an interval of 200 m, and the thick contour line denotes the 1600-m terrain elevation. The area of the playa is shaded. The inner box in both panels denotes the location of the model grid 4. The line in panel (b) indicates the orientation of a cross section displayed later

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.

Grid-3 vegetation categories used in the land surface model, based on modification of the USGS EROS dataset (Loveland 1995).

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.

Time series from 0500 LT (1200 UTC) 14 Jul to 0500 LT 15 Jul 1998 of the 2-m temperature (°C) at a surface station in the center of the playa (S17), and a surface station outside of the playa (S04)

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 5.
Fig. 5.

Observations of the 10-m wind (see vector scale) and 2-m potential temperature (°C) at 0600 LT (1300 UTC) 14 Jul 1998. The terrain is contoured with a 200-m interval, and the heavy contour is 1600 m. The playa is shaded. Plus signs are locations of surface observations, and circles are upper-air observations. The inner box denotes the location of the model grid 4

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 6.
Fig. 6.

As in Fig. 5 except at 1400 LT (2100 UTC) 14 Jul 1998. The estimated location of a segment of the salt-breeze front is indicated

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 7.
Fig. 7.

Observations of the 10-m wind (see vector scale) at 1400 LT 14 Jul 1998 (2100 UTC). The heavy lines outline the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake, and the inner box denotes the model grid-4 boundary. Surface topography is displayed with the higher elevations shaded dark gray

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 8.
Fig. 8.

As in Fig. 7 except at 1900 LT 14 Jul 1998 (0200 UTC 15 Jul 1998)

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 9.
Fig. 9.

As in Fig. 7 except at 2200 LT 14 Jul 1998 (0500 UTC 15 Jul 1998)

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 10.
Fig. 10.

As in Fig. 7 except at 0500 LT 15 Jul 1998 (1200 UTC 15 Jul 1998)

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 11.
Fig. 11.

Vertical wind profiles at playa (S15) and nonplaya (S04) locations at (a) 0800 LT (1500 UTC) and (b) 1400 LT (2100 UTC) 14 Jul 1998. The long barb corresponds to 5 m s−1 and the short barb to 2.5 m s−1

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 12.
Fig. 12.

The 24-h temperature (°C) trace from the climatological dataset for a station in the playa (S17) and a station outside the playa (S04), as was well as the analogous data from the 14–15 Jul 1998 case day shown in Fig. 4

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 13.
Fig. 13.

The 10-m wind direction climatology at (a) 0600, (b) 1400, and (c) 1900 LT for each surface observation station at the WDTC. The climatology is based on 31 days in Jun–Sep 1998 with light synoptic-scale forcing. The percent occurrence of each 10° direction increment is indicated by the circles (see inset), the average speed (m s−1) for the most frequent direction is indicated for each location, and the inner box denotes the model grid-4 boundary

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 14.
Fig. 14.

Observed and simulated 2-m temperatures (°C) for a playa (S17) and nonplaya (S04) station. The model-simulated temperatures have been extrapolated from the lowest computation level of ∼40 m AGL to the 2-m observation level using similarity theory

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 15.
Fig. 15.

Model control simulation at 1400 LT (2100 UTC) 14 Jul 1998. Displayed are 10 m AGL wind (see vector scale) and topography. Topography is contoured with a 200-m interval, and wind vectors are plotted at every grid point. The estimated locations of some segments of the salt-breeze front are indicated. The inner box denotes the location of the model grid 4, and the area of the playa is shaded

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 16.
Fig. 16.

Vertical cross section behind the salt-breeze front showing the grid-4 simulated potential temperature and wind parallel to the section (see vector scale) at 1400 LT (2100 UTC) 14 Jul 1998. Potential temperature is analyzed with a 0.25°C interval, and wind vectors are plotted at every grid point. The location of the section AA′ is shown in Fig. 2b

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 17.
Fig. 17.

Model control simulation at 1400 LT (2100 UTC) 14 Jul 1998. Displayed are 10 m AGL wind (see vector scale) and 2-m water vapor mixing ratio (color). Water vapor mixing ratio is analyzed with a 1 g kg−1 interval, and wind vectors are plotted at every grid point. The inner box denotes the location of the model grid 4. The heavy lines outline the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 18.
Fig. 18.

Model control simulation at 1900 LT 14 Jul 1998 (0200 LT 15 Jul). Displayed are 10 m AGL wind (see vector scale) and 2-m potential temperature (color). Potential temperature is analyzed with a 1°C interval, and wind vectors are plotted at every second grid point. The inner box denotes the location of the model grid 4. The heavy lines outline the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake. The estimated position of the lake-breeze front is also shown

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 19.
Fig. 19.

Model control simulation at 2200 LT 14 Jul 1998 (0500 UTC 15 Jul 1998). Displayed are 10 m AGL wind (see vector scale) and topography (shaded). Topography is banded with a 150-m interval, and wind vectors are plotted at every grid point. The inner box denotes the location of the model grid 4

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 20.
Fig. 20.

As in Fig. 17 except at 0500 LT (1200 UTC) 15 Jul 1998

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 21.
Fig. 21.

Simulated PBL depth difference field (control minus no-playa experiment) at 1100 LT (1800 UTC) 14 Jul 1998. PBL depth difference field is contoured and shaded with a 500-m interval. The inner box denotes the location of the model grid 4

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 22.
Fig. 22.

Simulated 10 m AGL wind (see vector scale) and 2-m potential temperature difference fields (control minus no-playa experiment) at 1400 LT (2100 UTC) 14 Jul 1998. Potential temperature difference field is analyzed and shaded with a 0.2°C interval, and wind vectors are plotted at every grid point. The inner box denotes the location of the model grid 4

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 23.
Fig. 23.

(a) Simulated 10 m AGL wind (see vector scale) and 2-m potential temperature (colored) from the no-lake experiment at 1900 LT 14 Jul 1998 (0200 UTC 15 Jul 1998). Potential temperature is analyzed with a 1°C interval, and wind vectors are plotted at every second grid point. (b) Simulated 10 m AGL wind (see vector scale) and 2-m potential temperature difference fields (control minus no-lake experiment). Potential temperature difference field is analyzed and shaded with a 1°C interval, and the wind vector difference field is plotted at every second grid point. The inner box in both panels denotes the location of the model grid 4. Heavy solid lines outline the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 24.
Fig. 24.

(a) Model control simulation at 2100 LT 14 Jul 1998 (0400 UTC 15 Jul 1998). Displayed are 10 m AGL wind (see vector scale) and 2-m potential temperature (shaded). Potential temperature is contoured with a 1°C interval, and the wind vectors are plotted at every grid point. (b) Same as in (a) except for the no-lake experiment. The inner box in both panels denotes the location of the model grid 4. Heavy solid lines outline the Great Salt Lake

Citation: Monthly Weather Review 130, 4; 10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<0921:MFDBLC>2.0.CO;2

Table 1.

Characteristics of LSM parameters for the playa and the dominant landscape categories outside the playa. The playa is primarily composed of silty clay with a thin (1–3 mm) top salt layer

Table 1.

*

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

1

The grid-3 solution is used here to illustrate most processes, with the grid-4 solution employed to refine the positions of the salt-breeze front and to illustrate the vertical circulation of the salt breeze.

2

The NCEP Eta Data Analysis System (EDAS) appeared to erroneously develop a strong low pressure system off the coast of California on 14 July 1998. This low pressure system was not present in other NCEP analyses, nor was it evident in Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) satellite imagery. Therefore, the coarser-resolution global analysis for this time was deemed superior to that available from the higher-resolution EDAS.

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