Jonathan Conway


DOI bib
Icefield Breezes: Mesoscale Diurnal Circulation in the Atmospheric Boundary Layer Over an Outlet of the Columbia Icefield, Canadian Rockies
Jonathan Conway, Warren Helgason, John W. Pomeroy, J. Sicart
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Volume 126, Issue 6

Atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) dynamics over glaciers mediate the response of glacier mass balance to large‐scale climate forcing. Despite this, very few ABL observations are available over mountain glaciers in complex terrain. An intensive field campaign was conducted in June 2015 at the Athabasca Glacier outlet of Columbia Icefield in the Canadian Rockies. Observations of wind and temperature profiles with novel kite and radio‐acoustic sounding systems showed a well‐defined mesoscale circulation developed between the glacier and snow‐free valley in fair weather. The typical vertical ABL structure above the glacier differed from that expected for “glacier winds”; strong daytime down‐glacier winds extended through the lowest 200 m with no up‐valley return flow aloft. This structure suggests external forcing at mesoscale scales or greater and is provisionally termed an “icefield breeze.” A wind speed maximum near the surface, characteristic of a “glacier wind,” was only observed during night‐time and one afternoon. Lapse rates of air temperature down the glacier centerline show the interaction of down‐glacier cooling driven by sensible heat loss into the ice, entrainment and periodic disruption and warming. Down‐glacier cooling was weaker in “icefield breeze” conditions, while in “glacier wind” conditions, stronger down‐glacier cooling enabled large increases in near‐surface temperature on the lower glacier during periods of surface boundary layer (SBL) disruption. These results raise several questions, including the impact of Columbia Icefield on the ABL and melt of Athabasca Glacier. Future work should use these observations as a testbed for modeling spatio‐temporal variations in the ABL and SBL within complex glaciated terrain.


DOI bib
Challenges in Modeling Turbulent Heat Fluxes to Snowpacks in Forest Clearings
Jonathan Conway, John W. Pomeroy, Warren Helgason, Nicholas Kinar
Journal of Hydrometeorology, Volume 19, Issue 10

Abstract Forest clearings are common features of evergreen forests and produce snowpack accumulation and melt differing from that in adjacent forests and open terrain. This study has investigated the challenges in specifying the turbulent fluxes of sensible and latent heat to snowpacks in forest clearings. The snowpack in two forest clearings in the Canadian Rockies was simulated using a one-dimensional (1D) snowpack model. A trade-off was found between optimizing against measured snow surface temperature or snowmelt when choosing how to specify the turbulent fluxes. Schemes using the Monin–Obukhov similarity theory tended to produce negatively biased surface temperature, while schemes that enhanced turbulent fluxes, to reduce the surface temperature bias, resulted in too much melt. Uncertainty estimates from Monte Carlo experiments showed that no realistic parameter set could successfully remove biases in both surface temperature and melt. A simple scheme that excludes atmospheric stability correction was required to successfully simulate surface temperature under low wind speed conditions. Nonturbulent advective fluxes and/or nonlocal sources of turbulence are thought to account for the maintenance of heat exchange in low-wind conditions. The simulation of snowmelt was improved by allowing enhanced latent heat fluxes during low-wind conditions. Caution is warranted when snowpack models are optimized on surface temperature, as model tuning may compensate for deficiencies in conceptual and numerical models of radiative, conductive, and turbulent heat exchange at the snow surface and within the snowpack. Such model tuning could have large impacts on the melt rate and timing of the snow-free transition in simulations of forest clearings within hydrological and meteorological models.