Fourth AMS Student Conference


Evaluating the Convective Atmospheric Boundary Layer by using Surface Station Data

Braxton Lee Edwards, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

The boundary layer contains a significant amount of the atmosphere's water vapor, which is important for storm development. However, operational meteorologists have difficulty determining representative specific humidity values through this layer because the tools that they use do not give enough information on vertical and horizontal moisture variation. Data from the International H2O Project (IHOP) was used to determine relationships between the boundary layer specific humidity and potential temperature profiles as well as surface wind speed, wind direction, moisture fluxes, and sensible heat fluxes.

Soundings of the boundary layer were created by combining Wyoming King Air aircraft data with data from surface stations located under the flight tracks. The idealized daytime fair-weather convective boundary layer has constant profiles of temperature and specific humidity throughout the mixed layer. Observed profiles often did not fit this idealized model, even when it was expected. The author found that the vertical variation of specific humidity matches this idealized model most closely during conditions of strong winds, strong sensible heat fluxes, and weak latent heat fluxes. If surface data are used to refine estimates of lapse rates, operational meteorologists should be able to increase the accuracy in convective storm forecasting.

Poster Session 1, Student Conference Poster Session
Sunday, 9 January 2005, 5:30 PM-5:30 PM

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