Modeled changes to the Great Plains low‐level jet under a realistic irrigation application
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Modeled changes to the Great Plains low‐level jet under a realistic irrigation application

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    Atmos Sci Lett. 2019 Mar; 20(3): e888.
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  • Description:
    Low‐level jets (LLJs) are relatively fast‐moving streams of air that form in the lower troposphere and are a common phenomenon across the Great Plains (GP) of the United States. LLJs play an important role in moisture transport and the development of nocturnal convection in the spring and summer. Alterations to surface moisture and energy fluxes can influence the planetary boundary layer (PBL) development and thus LLJs. One important anthropogenic process that has been shown to affect the surface energy budget is irrigation. In this study, we investigate the effects of irrigation on LLJ development across the GP by incorporating a dynamic and realistic irrigation scheme into the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. WRF simulations were conducted with and without the irrigation scheme for the exceptionally dry summer of 2012 over the GP. The results show irrigation‐introduced changes to LLJ features both over and downstream of the most heavily irrigated regions in the GP. There were statistically significant increases to LLJ speeds in the simulation with the irrigation parameterization. Decreases to the mean jet core height on the order of 50 m during the overnight hours were also simulated when irrigation was on. The overall frequency of jet occurrences increased over the irrigated regions by 5–10%; however, these differences were not statistically significant. These changes were weaker than those reported in earlier studies based on simple representations of irrigation that unrealistically saturate the soil columns over large areas over a long period of time, which highlights the importance and necessity to represent human activity more accurately in modeling studies.
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    CC BY
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