Climatology of the Low-Level Jet at the Southern Great Plains Atmospheric Boundary Layer Experiments Site
Coulter, Richard L
Lesht, Barry M.
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A unique dataset obtained with combinations of minisodars and 915-MHz wind profilers at the Atmospheric Boundary Layer Experiments (ABLE) facility in Kansas was used to examine the detailed characteristics of the nocturnal low-level jet (LLJ). In contrast to instruments used in earlier studies, the ABLE instruments provide hourly, high-resolution vertical profiles of wind velocity from just above the surface to approximately 2 km above ground level (AGL). Furthermore, the 6-yr span of the dataset allowed the examination of interannual variability in jet properties with improved statistical reliability. It was found that LLJs occurred during 63% of the nighttime periods sampled. Although most of the observed jets were southerly, a substantial fraction (28%) was northerly. Wind maxima occurred most frequently at 200–400 m AGL, though some jets were found as low as 50 m, and the strongest jets tended to occur above 300 m. Comparison of LLJ heights at three locations within the ABLE domain and at one location outside the domain suggests that the jet is equipotential rather than terrain following. The occurrence of southerly LLJ varied annually in a way that suggests a connection between the tendency for jet formation and the large-scale circulation patterns associated with El Niño and La Niña, as well as with the Pacific decadal oscillation. Frequent and strong southerly jets that transport moisture downstream do not necessarily lead to more precipitation locally, however.