Factors and mechanisms affecting the air temperature distribution on a clear winter night in a snow-covered mesoscale plain

Hirokazu Fukushima, Tomotsugu Yazaki, Tomoyoshi Hirota, Yukiyoshi Iwata, Atsushi Wajima, Ayumi Yokota

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5 Citations (Scopus)


There is an increasing need for accurate winter agrometeorological forecasts, which is facilitated by a better understanding of the evolution process of nighttime air-temperature distribution. However, studies on how air-temperature distributions evolve in mesoscale plains have been limited. To clarify how the low temperatures in winter nights form, we analyzed the effects of topography and boundary-layer wind on the temperature distribution of the Tokachi region for a winter night using numerical simulations by the Japan Meteorological Agency Nonhydrostatic Model (JMA-NHM) with horizontal grid spacing of 2 and 5 km. We also analyzed vertical profiles of boundary-layer atmospheric conditions. The results show that although boundary-layer wind is expected to affect the temperature distribution over the entire Tokachi region, the effects were generally confined to the northwestern part. Widespread effects over the Tokachi region were found only under strong wind conditions. We found that the mountain pass in the northwestern part of the Tokachi region is an important wind path, and the downslope winds as well as the sensible heat transfer by turbulent mixing in the boundary layer also was important in the evolution of the air-temperature distribution. On the night we considered, a moderate boundary-layer wind was maintained throughout the night, but the surface wind speed decreased from the northern and southern parts of the Tokachi region; this can be attributed to the development of an inversion layer. A drainage flow was observed to originate from the southern part of the Tokachi Plain, reaching the central part of the Tokachi region in the night. We find that radiative cooling and sensible heat transfer by turbulent mixing in the surface layer do not adequately explain the temporal change in observed surface air temperatures. The development of an inversion layer and katabatic drainage flow drastically change the temperature distribution, despite moderately strong wind conditions in the boundary layer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-121
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Meteorological Society of Japan
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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