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Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 102, Issue 3–4, pp 307–317 | Cite as

Effects of land-surface heterogeneity on numerical simulations of mesoscale atmospheric boundary layer processes

  • Ning Zhang
  • Quinton L. Williams
  • Heping Liu
Original Paper

Abstract

Landscape heterogeneity that causes surface flux variability plays a very important role in triggering mesoscale atmospheric circulations and convective weather processes. In most mesoscale numerical models, however, subgrid-scale heterogeneity is somewhat smoothed or not adequately accounted for, leading to artificial changes in heterogeneity patterns (e.g., patterns of land cover, land use, terrain, and soil types and soil moisture). At the domain-wide scale, the combination of losses in subgrid-scale heterogeneity from many adjacent grids may artificially produce larger-scale, more homogeneous landscapes. Therefore, increased grid spacing in models may result in increased losses in landscape heterogeneity. Using the Weather Research and Forecasting model in this paper, we design a number of experiments to examine the effects of such artificial changes in heterogeneity patterns on numerical simulations of surface flux exchanges, near-surface meteorological fields, atmospheric planetary boundary layer (PBL) processes, mesoscale circulations, and mesoscale fluxes. Our results indicate that the increased heterogeneity losses in the model lead to substantial, nonlinear changes in temporal evaluations and spatial patterns of PBL dynamic and thermodynamic processes. The decreased heterogeneity favor developments of more organized mesoscale circulations, leading to enhanced mesoscale fluxes and, in turn, the vertical transport of heat and moisture. This effect is more pronounced in the areas with greater surface heterogeneity. Since more homogeneous land-surface characteristics are created in regional models with greater surface grid scales, these artificial mesoscale fluxes may have significant impacts on simulations of larger-scale atmospheric processes.

Keywords

Planetary Boundary Layer Outgoing Longwave Radiation Specific Humidity Landscape Heterogeneity Sensible Heat 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported in part by NOAA through HOWARD Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) under grant number NA06OAR4810172. The content of this paper does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the government, and no official endorsement should be inferred. Thanks for Oklahoma Mesonet for the observation data used in this paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physics, Atmospheric Sciences, and GeoscienceJackson State UniversityJacksonUSA

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