Nocturnal Near-Surface Temperature, but not Flow Dynamics, can be Predicted by Microtopography in a Mid-Range Mountain Valley
- 169 Downloads
We investigate nocturnal flow dynamics and temperature behaviour near the surface of a 170-m long gentle slope in a mid-range mountain valley. In contrast to many existing studies focusing on locations with significant topographic variations, gentle slopes cover a greater spatial extent of the Earth’s surface. Air temperatures were measured using the high-resolution distributed-temperature-sensing method within a two-dimensional fibre-optic array in the lowest metre above the surface. The main objectives are to characterize the spatio-temporal patterns in the near-surface temperature and flow dynamics, and quantify their responses to the microtopography and land cover. For the duration of the experiment, including even clear-sky nights with weak winds and strong radiative forcing, the classical cold-air drainage predicted by theory could not be detected. In contrast, we show that the airflow for the two dominant flow modes originates non-locally. The most abundant flow mode is characterized by vertically-decoupled layers featuring a near-surface flow perpendicular to the slope and strong stable stratification, which contradicts the expectation of a gravity-driven downslope flow of locally produced cold air. Differences in microtopography and land cover clearly affect spatio-temporal temperature perturbations. The second most abundant flow mode is characterized by strong mixing, leading to vertical coupling with airflow directed down the local slope. Here variations of microtopography and land cover lead to negligible near-surface temperature perturbations. We conclude that spatio-temporal temperature perturbations, but not flow dynamics, can be predicted by microtopography, which complicates the prediction of advective-heat components and the existence and dynamics of cold-air pools in gently sloped terrain in the absence of observations.
KeywordsDistributed temperature sensing Fibre optics Flow dynamics Nocturnal near-surface temperature Stable boundary layer
This research was partially supported by the National Science Foundation CAREER award AGS 0955444. The fibre-optics instrument was provided by the Center for Transformative Environmental Monitoring Programs (CTEMPS) funded by the National Science Foundation, award EAR 0930061. The authors thank Ronny Leinweber (Deutsche Wetterdienst) for making the radar wind-profiler data available, as well as Wolfgang Babel and Gerhard Müller for assisting during the experimental design and set-up.
- Foken T (2008) Local cold-air flows. Micrometeorology, 2nd edn. Springer, Berlin, pp 228–230Google Scholar
- Mahrt L, Thomas CK, Prueger JH (2009) Space time structure of mesoscale motions in the stable boundary layer. Q J R Meteorol Soc 135(638):67–75. doi: 10.1002/qj.348
- Meybeck M, Green P, Vörösmarty C (2001) A new typology for mountains and other relief classes. Mt Res Dev 21(1):34–45. doi: 10.1659/0276-4741(2001)021[0034:ANTFMA]2.0.CO;2
- Selker JS, Thévenaz L, Huwald H, Mallet A, Luxemburg W, van de Giesen N, Stejskal M, Zeman J, Westhoff M, Parlange MB (2006) Distributed fiber-optic temperature sensing for hydrologic systems. Water Resour Res 42(12). doi: 10.1029/2006WR005326
- Sigmund A, Pfister L, Sayde C, Thomas CK (2016) Quantitative analysis of the radiation error for aerial coiled fiberoptic distributed temperature sensing deployments using reinforcing fabric as support structure. Atmos Meas Tech Discuss. doi: 10.5194/amt-2016-266
- Thomas CK, Kennedy AM, Selker JS, Moretti A, Schroth MH, Smoot AR, Tufillaro NB, Zeeman MJ (2012) High-resolution fibre-optic temperature sensing: a new tool to study the two-dimensional structure of atmospheric surface-layer flow. Boundary-Layer Meteorol 142(2):177–192. doi: 10.1007/s10546-011-9672-7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Whiteman CD (2000) The daily cycle of slope and along-valley winds and temperature structure, chap 11.1. In: mountain meteorology: fundamentals and applications. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 171–174Google Scholar