Coastal Jet Adjustment near Point Conception, California, with Opposing Wind in the Bight

Dave Leon, University of Wyoming
David A. Rahn, University of Kansas
Thomas R. Parish, University of Wyoming

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Typical spring and summer conditions offshore of California consist of strong northerly low-level wind contained within the cool, well-mixed marine boundary layer (MBL) that is separated from the warm and dry free troposphere by a sharp temperature inversion. This system is often represented by two layers constrained by a lateral boundary. Aircraft measurements near Point Conception, California, on 3 June 2012 during the Precision Atmospheric MBL Experiment (PreAMBLE) captured small-scale features associated with northerly flow approaching the point with the added complexity of encountering opposing wind in the Santa Barbara Channel. An extremely sharp cloud edge extends south-southwest of Point Conception and the flight strategy consisted of a spoke pattern to map the features across the cloud edge. Lidar and in situ measurements reveal a nearly vertical jump in the MBL from 500 to 100 m close to the coast and a sharp edge at least 70 km away from the coast. In this case, it is hypothesized that it is not solely hydraulic features responsible for the jump, but the opposing flow in the Santa Barbara Channel is a major factor modifying the flow. Just southeast of Point Conception are three distinct layers: a shallow, cold layer near the surface with northwesterly winds associated with an abrupt decrease in MBL height from the north that thins eastward into the Santa Barbara Channel; a cool middle layer with easterly wind whose top slopes upward to the east; and the warm and dry free troposphere above.