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Basic Meteorology

Prepared by: Clinton P. MacDonald and Charley A. Knoderer Sonoma Technology, Inc. Petaluma, CA
The 2005 National Air Quality Conference Forecasting Short Course San Francisco, CA February 13, 2005

Goal
To explain how to interpret basic weather information to forecast air quality using
Soundings Weather charts

Box Model Concept


Wind speed (WS) Concentration S/WS
S

Vertical mixing (VM) Concentration S/VM


Key Processes
Source location, density, and strength Dispersion (horizontal mixing) - wind speed Sunlight Stability Vertical mixing - inversion
Courtesy of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Soundings
Observed: Typically measured using instrument called a rawinsonde
Instruments carried by a balloon up through the atmosphere, equipped with sensors to measure meteorological variables (pressure, temperature, relative humidity, wind, etc.), and provided with a radio transmitter for sending this information to the observing station Launched at 0000 and 1200 UTC

Forecast: RUC, Eta, Meso-eta, GFS, UKMet


RUC, every 1 hour through 12 hours Eta, every 3 hours through 84 hours NGM, every 12 hours through 48 hours Aviation, every 6 hours through 180 hours, every 12 hours 180 hours through 384 hours

For air quality forecasting, focus on 700 mb (~3000 m) and below

Diurnal Temperature Soundings


12 AM
Height
Height

6 AM
Height

9 AM

Warm layer Cool Surface

Warm Cool Warming

Cool

Warm Warming

Temperature

Temperature

Temperature

12 NOON
Height Height

3 PM
Height

Sunset

Warming

Maximum

Cooling

Temperature

Temperature

Temperature

Lapse Rates
Adiabatic Lapse Rate: The rate at which an unsaturated air parcel cools as it rises. It is minus 9.8C per km. Moist Adiabatic Lapse Rate: The rate at which a saturated air parcel cools as it rises.
It varies with the original air temperature of the parcel. A commonly used value is 6C/km.
2 km 10OC Cold

Parcel Sinks to 1 km
Parcels are same temperature when they reach 1 km

1 km

20OC

Parcel Rises to 1 km

Ground 30OC

Warm

Rawinsonde Plots
Temperature Dew point temperature Winds Temperature grid Dry adiabat grid:
rate at which an unsaturated air parcel cools as it rises.

Pressure scale (mb)

Moist adiabat grid:

The rate at which a saturated air parcel cools as it rises.

Mixing ratio grid:


Ground level

the mass of the water vapor in a parcel to the mass of dry air

Pressure level grid Temperature scale 7 (C)

Interpreting Rawinsondes
Temperature Inversions Stability Mixing height Winds Clouds

Interpreting Rawinsondes Temperature


Warm aloft temperature leads to stable conditions and poor air quality Determine the relationship for your area by season
850-mb temperature

= 10.5C

Interpreting Rawinsondes Inversions


A layer of very stable air over a short vertical distance produced by warmer air above cooler air

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Interpreting Rawinsondes Inversions


Types
Subsidence
Created by sinking air associated with ridges Can limit daytime mixing depth and plays important role in daytime pollutant concentrations Created by cooling ground at night Strongest with clear skies, light winds, and long nights Can trap emissions, released during the overnight hours, close to the ground Created when warm air aloft moves over cooler air below Can occur ahead of an approaching cold front Can cause poor air quality, despite the lack of an aloft ridge Subsidence inversion Nocturnal inversion Ground level

Nocturnal

Advection

Stable conditions in a temperature profile can exist without an inversion

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Interpreting Rawinsondes Stable Atmosphere


Dry adiabatic lapse rate Observed temperature profile

Height

When released Tparcel < Tair

Parcel falls to original position because it is cooler than the surrounding air As parcel rises it cools at -9.8C/km

Temperature
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Interpreting Rawinsondes Unstable Atmosphere


Dry adiabatic lapse rate Parcel keeps rising because it is warmer than the surrounding air When released Tparcel > Tair

Height

Observed temperature profile

Temperature
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Interpreting Rawinsondes Estimating Mixing Heights from Morning Soundings



2000 m

Holtzworth Method Starting at the forecasted maximum temperature, follow the dry adiabat (dashed line) until it crosses the morning sounding. This is the estimated peak mixing height for the day. The dry adiabatic rate is how an unsaturated air parcel cools as it rises. It is defined as -9.8C per km.
2000 m

T
1500 m

T
1500 m

Estimated mixing height

1000 m

Estimated peak mixing height

Dry adiabat

1000 m

Dry adiabat
500 m

500 m

Increasing temperature

Forecasted max. temp.

Forecasted 14 max. temp.

Interpreting Rawinsondes Estimating Mixing Heights

Estimated mixing height = 1800 m or about 815 mb

Estimated peak afternoon surface temperature

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Interpreting Rawinsondes Clouds, Fog, and Wind


Clouds occur when dew point temperature equals temperature
Clouds Decoupled winds

Fog

Time Winds Weather Sky Cover 12:51 Z N 13 Light Rain Fog/Mist 11:51 Z N 12 Light Rain BKN006 OVC011 10:51 Z N 10 Light Rain Fog/Mist OVC004

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Rawinsonde Exercise
Determine the following
850-mb temperature Inversions Afternoon mixing height based on morning temperature sounding, assuming a forecasted high temperature of 18C Afternoon mixing height on afternoon sounding

Based on findings
Did the mixing height estimate from the morning sounding match the mixing height determined from the afternoon sounding?
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Rawinsonde Exercise

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Rawinsonde Exercise
850-mb temperature = ~3OC Forecasted afternoon mixing height=~630 mb or ~3800 m
Actual afternoon mixing height =~600 mb or ~4205 m

Inversions

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Weather Charts

(1 of 5)

Depict upper-air and surface meteorological patterns as a horizontal slice of the atmosphere
Show forecasted meteorological variables at a particular time on a particular pressure level

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Weather Charts
500-mb heights and vorticity

(2 of 5)

850-mb heights and temperature

700-mb heights and vertical velocity

Surface pressure

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Weather Charts
Surface fronts

(3 of 5)

Transition zone between air masses Warm air ahead of fronts is often polluted Cold air behind fronts is often clean

Surface pressure and winds


Good indicator of horizontal dispersion Can be used to help determine transport Locations where pressure contours are widely spaced have light winds and low dispersion If pollutant concentrations upwind of a location are high and the winds are moderately strong, forecasters should evaluate the possibility of transport
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Weather Charts
850-mb temperature
Good indicator of stability

(4 of 5)

700-mb vertical velocity


Downward vertical motion (negative on charts shown here) indicates stable conditions and is associated with poor air quality Upward vertical motion (positive on charts shown here) indicates unstable conditions and is associated with good air quality

500 mb heights the height of the 500-mb pressure surface


Ridges associated with poor air quality Troughs associated with good air quality
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Weather Charts

(5 of 5)

Analyses and forecasts (various models)

Eta: NCEP short-range forecast model Now running at 12-km resolution with 60 vertical layers Runs 4 x day (00, 06, 12, 18 UTC) Forecasts for 00, 06, 12 and 18 UTC out 84 hours UTC/Zulu/GMT
PST -8 MST -7 CST -6 EST -5

Time in weather products


Hours from UTC

Example: 00Z Feb 2 = 1800 CST Feb 1 (For Daylight Savings, 1900 CDT) Forecast time periods

Forecast validation time Based on model initialization time (00 or 12 UTC) + Forecast periods 12, 24, 36, 48, 72, 96 hrs., etc.

Example: 24-hr forecast from a 12 UTC model run is valid at 12 UTC (7 AM EST) the next day
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Interpreting Weather Charts Surface (1 of 3)


Strong pressure gradient Strong winds can lead to good dispersion and good air quality or can result in transport of poor air quality Weak pressure gradient Light winds can lead to poor dispersion and poor air quality

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Interpreting Weather Charts Surface (2 of 3)


Fronts
Transition zones between two air masses of differing densities (e.g., temperature, pressure, and humidity) Importance to air quality
Warm air ahead of front is often polluted Cold air behind front is usually clean air

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Interpreting Weather Charts Surface (3 of 3)

At the surface, winds flow counterclockwise and inward toward a center of low pressure, and clockwise and outward around a center of high pressure.

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Interpreting Weather Charts 850-mb Temperature


Warm 850-mb temperatures can stabilize the atmosphere, which can lead to poor air quality by reducing vertical mixing Cool 850-mb temperatures can destabilize the atmosphere, which can lead to good air quality by enhancing vertical mixing

COLD Cold Air Advection Warm

Courtesy of San Jose State University Meteorology Department

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Interpreting Weather Charts 700-mb Vertical Velocity


Downward vertical motion stabilizes the atmosphere which can lead to poor air quality Upward vertical motion destabilizes the atmosphere which can lead to good air quality

Courtesy of San Jose State University Meteorology Department


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Interpreting Weather Charts 500-mb Ridges and Troughs (1 of 5)


Mountains and valleys of warm and cool air The height of the 500-mb pressure altitude depends on the relative temperature of the column
Increasing Height

Ridge
500 mb

Ridge Trough
500 mb

Trough

Surface

Very warm column

Cool column

Warm column

Very cool column


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Interpreting Weather Charts 500-mb Ridges and Troughs (2 of 5)


Waves (ridges and troughs) generally move west to east Winds travel faster around ridges and slower around troughs Areas of aloft convergence and divergence are created.
Wave movement

Fast wind
500 mb Ridge Convergence Trough Surface

Fast Slow
Divergence Convergence

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Interpreting Weather Charts 500-mb Ridges and Troughs (3 of 5)


Aloft divergence causes rising motion and surface low Aloft convergence causes sinking motion and a surface high Surface pressure patterns are offset from aloft patterns
Convergence Ridge Divergence Convergence

500 mb

Trough
Surface

Sinking High Pressure

Rising Low Pressure

Sinking High Pressure

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Interpreting Weather Charts 500-mb Ridges and Troughs (4 of 5)


Effects on air quality
Ridges and associated sinking motion
Warm the air Create a temperature inversion Reduce vertical mixing Create clear skies Are associated with poor air quality Cool the air Break inversions Increase mixing Cause cloud cover Are associated with good air quality

Troughs and associated rising motion

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Interpreting Weather Charts 500-mb Ridges and Troughs (5 of 5)


Ridges are associated with poor air quality Troughs are associated with good air quality Trough

Ridge

Courtesy of San Jose State University Meteorology Department

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Interpreting Weather Charts 500-mb Vorticity (1 of 2)


Vorticity is a measure of rotation It captures smaller-scale aloft features within larger patterns Subtle changes in an upper-level pattern can have a large influence on air quality Negative vorticity advection is associated with sinking motion (less than 10 1x10-5 s-1 on charts) Positive vorticity advection is associated with rising motion (greater than 10 1x10-5 s-1 on charts)

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Interpreting Weather Charts 500-mb Vorticity (2 of 2)


Positive vorticity is associated with rising motion and good air quality

Negative vorticity is associated with sinking motion and poor air quality

Courtesy of San Jose State University Meteorology Department

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Weather Charts Exercise


For Atlanta, Georgia, identify

(1 of 2)

Ridge or trough 850-mb temperature Surface wind direction and strength Vertical velocity

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Weather Charts Exercise


Surface: temperature (color contours), pressure (solid lines, mb), and winds (barbs, knots). C C

(2 of 2)

850 mb: temperature (color contours), geopotential heights (solid lines, dm), and winds (barbs, knots)

Atlanta, GA

750 mb: vertical velocity (color contours), geopotential heights (solid lines, dm), and winds (barbs, knots) -B/s C

500 mb: temperature (color contours), geopotential heights (solid lines, dm), and winds (barbs, knots)

Atlanta, GA

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Conclusions
Soundings and weather charts are the cornerstone of conceptual air quality forecasting Soundings
Aloft temperature and winds Stability and Mixing

Weather Charts
Surface winds and fronts 850 temperature 700 vertical velocity 500 heights and vorticity
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Links
Soundings
http://weather.uwyo.edu/upperair/sounding.html http://www.rap.ucar.edu/weather/upper/ http://vortex.plymouth.edu/uacalplt.html http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/dailywxmap/ http://www.rap.ucar.edu/weather/progs/ http://weather.unisys.com/index.html http://www.met.sjsu.edu/weather/models.html http://weather.unisys.com/index.html http://ggweather.com/loops/ncep_loops.htm http://www.arl.noaa.gov/ready/cmet.html http://weather.uwyo.edu/models/ http://www.rap.ucar.edu/weather/model/
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Surface Analyses

Models