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The summertime Great Plains low-level jet (LLJ) has been the subject of numerous investigations during the past several decades. Characteristics of the LLJ include nighttime development of a pronounced wind maximumof typically 15-20 m S-1 at levels 300-800 mabove the surface and a clockwise rotation of the wind maximum during the course of the night. Maximum frequency of occurrence of the LLJ is found in the southern Great Plains. Theories proposed to explain the diurnal wind maximum of the Great Plains LLJ include inertial oscillation of the ageostrophic wind, the diurnal oscillation of the horizontal pressure field associated with heating and cooling of the sloping terrain, and the western boundary current interpretations. A simple equation system and output from the 12-km horizontal resolution Weather Research and Forecasting Nonhydrostatic Mesoscale Model (NAM) for July 2008 are used to provide evidence as to the importance of the Great Plains topography in driving the LLJ. Summertime heating of the sloping terrain is critical in establishing the climatological position for the Great Plains LLJ. Heating enhances the background geostrophic flow associated with the Bermuda high, resulting in a maximumlow-level mean summertime flow over the Great Plains region. Maximum geostrophic winds in the NAM are found during late afternoon, providing a large background wind on which frictional decoupling can act. The nighttime LLJ maximumis the result of an inertial oscillation of the unbalanced components that arise fundamentally from frictional decoupling. Diurnal heating of the sloping terrain forces a cycle in the geostrophic wind that is out of phase with the wind maximum. © 2010 American Meteorological Society.




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