To examine spatial and temporal scales of katabatic flow, a distributed temperature sensing (DTS) optical fiber was deployed 2 km down a mild slope irregularly interrupted by small-scale drainage features as part of the Mountain Terrain Atmospheric Modeling and Observation (MATERHORN) experiment conducted at the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. The fiber was suspended at two heights near the surface, enabling measurement of variations in lapse rate near the surface at meter-scale spatial resolution with 1-min temporal resolution. Experimental results derived from the DTS and tower-mounted instrumentation indicate that airflow through small-scale drainage features regulated the local cooling rate whereas topographic slope and distance along the drainage strongly influenced the larger-scale cooling rate. Empirical results indicate that local cooling rate decays exponentially after local sunset and basin-wide cooling rate decreases linearly with time. The difference in the functional form for cooling rate between local and basin-wide scales suggests that small-scale features have faster timescales that manifests most strongly shortly after local sunset. More generally, partitioning drainage flow by scale provides insight and a methodology for improved understanding of drainage flow in complex terrain.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited