Results from aircraft and surface observations provided evidence for the existence of mesoscale circulations over the Boreal Ecosystem-Atmosphere Study (BOREAS) domain. Using an integrated approach that included the use of analytical modeling, numerical modeling, and data analysis, we have found that there are substantial contributions to the total budgets of heat over the BOREAS domain generated by mesoscale circulations. This effect is largest when the synoptic flow is relatively weak, yet it is present under less favorable conditions, as shown by the case study presented here. While further analysis is warranted to document this effect, the existence of mesoscale flow is not surprising, since it is related to the presence of landscape patches, including lakes, which are of a size on the order of the local Rossby radius and which have spatial differences in maximum sensible heat flux of about 300 W m-2. We have also analyzed the vertical temperature profile simulated in our case study as well as high-resolution soundings and we have found vertical profiles of temperature change above the boundary layer height, which we attribute in part to mesoscale contributions. Our conclusion is that in regions with organized landscapes, such as BOREAS, even with relatively strong synoptic winds, dynamical scaling criteria should be used to assess whether mesoscale effects should be parameterized or explicitly resolved in numerical models of the atmosphere.
Additional publication details
Case study modeling of turbulent and mesoscale fluxes over the BOREAS region