Emergence of a Nocturnal Low-Level Jet from a Broad Baroclinic Zone


An analytical model is presented for the generation of a Blackadar-like nocturnal low-level jet in a broad baroclinic zone. The flow is forced from below (flat ground) by a surface buoyancy gradient and from above (free atmosphere) by a constant pressure gradient force. Diurnally varying mixing coefficients are specified to increase abruptly at sunrise and decrease abruptly at sunset. With attention restricted to a surface buoyancy that varies linearly with a horizontal coordinate, the Boussinesq-approximated equations of motion, thermal energy, and mass conservation reduce to a system of one-dimensional equations that can be solved analytically. Sensitivity tests with southerly jets suggest that (i) stronger jets are associated with larger decreases of the eddy viscosity at sunset (as in Blackadar theory); (ii) the nighttime surface buoyancy gradient has little impact on jet strength; and (iii) for pure baroclinic forcing (no free-atmosphere geostrophic wind), the nighttime eddy diffusivity has little impact on jet strength, but the daytime eddy diffusivity is very important and has a larger impact than the daytime eddy viscosity. The model was applied to a jet that developed in fair weather conditions over the Great Plains from southern Texas to northern South Dakota on 1 May 2020. The ECMWF Reanalysis v5 (ERA5) for the afternoon prior to jet formation showed that a broad north–south-oriented baroclinic zone covered much of the region. The peak model-predicted winds were in good agreement with ERA5 winds and lidar data from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Southern Great Plains (SGP) central facility in north-central Oklahoma.

Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 79(5), 1363–1383
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