A down-valley low-level jet event during T-REX 2006
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A prolonged down-valley flow and low-level jet were observed throughout the Enhanced Observing Period 4 (April 28–29) of the 2006 Terrain-induced Rotor Experiment, held in the Owens Valley of California near the town of Independence. The low-level jet was strongest during the nocturnal hours, and special field observations captured important details of the event lifecycle. High-resolution simulations using the Weather Research and Forecasting numerical weather prediction model were generated, with underlying assumptions being that model resolution, boundary layer physics, and nesting configuration would be dominant controlling factors in reproducing the jet. The large-scale conditions were dry throughout the event, so moist physics were not a significant forcing consideration. For the control simulation, a two-nest (4.5 and 1.5 km grid spacing) configuration with 90 vertical levels was applied. Additionally, the Quasi-Normal Scale Elimination planetary boundary and surface layer option were selected due to its published performance under conditions of stable stratification. Three other sensitivity simulations were run for comparison, differing from the control just in the choice of vertical resolution (60 versus 90 levels with Quasi-Normal Scale Elimination) and planetary boundary/surface layer physics (90 levels/Mellor-Yamada-Jancic; 90 levels/Yonsei State University). Although the gross evolution (location, height, and timing) of the low-level jet is captured by all model runs (with the 1.5 km inner nest providing the more accurate details), there were at times large underestimations of the nocturnal jet speed max in each simulation (approaching 100 % error, or up to almost 10 m s−1). Overall, the variations of vertical resolution and planetary boundary/surface physics against the control seemed to (1) yield little overall improvement to statistical or subjective evaluations; (2) do little to improve deficiencies in reproducing the magnitude strength of the nocturnal down-valley low-level jet. Since the cold-start simulations spanned 36 h (including a 12-h spin-up period), it was suspected that the lateral boundary conditions imposed on the outermost 4.5 km nest might negatively impact the interior model solutions in the Owens Valley. To investigate this possibility, an additional simulation was executed by adding two extra nests to the control configuration: an outer 13.5 km and an inner 500 m. This simulation produced a better evolution of the nocturnal low-level jet and especially the speed max. The addition of the larger 13.5 km nest appears more critical to this improvement than that of the extra spatial resolution provided by the inner 500 m nest, which supports the idea that accurate capturing of the large-scale synoptic condition was critical in reproducing important details of this down-valley low-level jet event. The extra 500-m resolution did seem to improve the morning valley cold pool forecast.
KeywordsPlanetary Boundary Layer Geostrophic Wind Cold Pool Army Research Laboratory Sierra Nevada Mountain
The critical reviews of three anonymous reviewers were very helpful. The AWS data (DRI, HOBOs, and Leeds) were gathered as part of the Terrain-induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX). We acknowledge the suppliers of datasets employed here. Dr. William Brown at NCAR/EOL provides the ISS2 data and plotting software for Fig. 2. Discussions with Drs., Walter Bach, Semion Sukoriansky and Boris Galperin were appreciated. The research was supported by the Grant W911NF-09-1-0441 from the US Army Research Office.
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