Saturday, 13 January 2007
Understanding local wind circulations over White Sands Missile Range
This study builds a local wind-field climatology and analyzes the resulting wind patterns at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in southern New Mexico. Mesoscale circulations in mountain-valley desert regions have been previously studied in several regions of the Intermountain West, none of which included WSMR. Hourly surface mesonet (SAMS) data were collected at 13 stations across WSMR over five years from 2001 through 2005. The months and hours of approximate minimum and maximum temperature, along with a few intermediate times, were selected to analyze local mesoscale wind behaviors. These data were visualized in the form of wind roses, which plot wind speed, direction and frequency. Wind roses were plotted on a terrain map at the data locations for the analysis of topographic effects on wind circulations. This analysis shows that mesoscale patterns of upslope and downslope flows, as well as up-valley and down-valley flows occur, depending on the season of the year and hour within the diurnal cycle. Additionally, the analysis shows that significant variations occur across the different stations, depending on their locations on the valley floor or mountain slopes. The results of this study enhance the understanding of local wind patterns in desert valley regions in general. This has great importance because of today's rapid growth of human population in these regions.