Observed and Modeled Growing-Season Diurnal Precipitable Water Vapor in South-Central Canada

Hanesiak, John; Melsness, Mark; Raddatz, Richard
November 2010
Journal of Applied Meteorology & Climatology;Nov2010, Vol. 49 Issue 11, p2301
Academic Journal
High-temporal-resolution total-column precipitable water vapor (PWV) was measured using a Radiometrics Corporation WVR-1100 Atmospheric Microwave Radiometer (AMR). The AMR was deployed at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, during the 2003 and 2006 growing seasons (mid-May-end of August). PWV data were examined 1) to document the diurnal cycle of PWV and to provide insight into the various processes controlling this cycle and 2) to assess the accuracy of the Canadian regional Global Environmental Multiscale (GEM) model analysis and forecasts (out to 36 h) of PWV. The mean daily PWV was 22.6 mm in 2003 and 23.8 mm in 2006, with distinct diurnal amplitudes of 1.5 and 1.8 mm, respectively. It was determined that the diurnal cycle of PWV about the daily mean value was controlled by evapotranspiration (ET) and the occurrence/timing of deep convection. The PWV in both years reached its hourly maximum later in the afternoon as opposed to at solar noon. This suggested that the surface and atmosphere were well coupled, with ET primarily being controlled by the vapor pressure deficit between the vegetation/surface and atmosphere. The decrease in PWV during the evening and overnight periods of both years was likely the result of deep convection, with or without precipitation, which drew water vapor out of the atmosphere, as well as the nocturnal decline in ET. The results did not change for days on which low-level winds were light (i.e., maximum winds from the surface to 850 hPa were below 20 km h−1), which supports the notion that the diurnal PWV pattern was associated with the daily cycles of local ET and convection/precipitation and was not due to advection. Comparison of AMR PWV with the Canadian GEM model for the growing seasons of 2003 and 2006 indicated that the model error was 3 mm (13%) or more even in the first 12 h, with mean absolute errors ranging from 2 to 3.5 mm and root-mean-square errors from 3 to 4.5 mm over the full 36-h forecast period. It was also found that the 3-9-h forecast period of GEM had better error scores in 2006 than in 2003.


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