Meteorology 400/800



Laboratory Exercise 4



Estimating the Temperature Change Due to Advection







Insert in ringed-three hole binder.  Work not

turned in in binder will not be accepted.


Point deductions for sloppy or late work.


For this exercise, you will need to estimate the contribution to the local change in temperature that advection would make. In this exercise you will learn how to do that, but also will make a 1 hour "forecast" of the temperature at San Francisco in which advection was the only factor. The mathematical context is provided here.



I. Rewriting the temperature tendency equation into a useful form.

 Term A


 Term B


 Term C





(Equation 1)

Rewriting the equation (1) with the simplifying assumption that Term B=0 yields


(Equation 2)

All that was done to obtain (2) was to multiply (1) through by the time interval.

II. A Simple Forecast Equation

Now, let's assume that you need to answer the question "what will the temperature advection contribution to the local temperature change experienced over 1 hour be?" For the purposes of this exercise, you will make the reasonably good assumption that the temperature advection will be unchanging across the 1 hour period.

Well, first you would need a simple forecast equation.

 (Equation 3)

where Ti is the initial temperature at San Francisco and Tf is the "forecast" temperature.

III. Concept Map

How do you go about estimating the temperature advection during the 1 hour period we are considering?


 Question 2a: Rewrite equation 2 using calculus notation.

Question 2b: Write up a simple concept map of what you need to know in order to answer the question "how much will the temperature change at San Francisco over the 1 hour period?" (Hint, you will need to list the things in equations 2a and 3 that you need to find)

Do that on the back of this sheet.


Of course, you need to obtain the surface streamlines and isotherms for the present time. Once you do that, you need to sketch a streamline that intersects your forecast station. This is the line or curve along which the distance s will be marked off. Incidentally, on synoptic charts a reasonable distance overwhich to evaluate the temperature gradient to estimate the advection is 100 miles (or 100 km). Remember to keep all the units consistent.

But, this is done for you in Figure 1.

Fig. 1. Chart showing the portion of a streamline segment that is used to calculate the contribution of the temperature advection to the temperature change at the observer's location. Assume the observer is at San Francisco. The wind is shown as a vector, with the air parcel at A shown moving towardst he observer. The distance is 100 km between location A and San Francisco and the wind speed is 100 km/h.

Next, highlight the portion of the streamline that intersects the station back 100 miles (100 km) (a simple way to mark of this distance will be discussed in class). In figure 1, the streamline extends from the observer at San Francisco to point A.

The temperature gradient is evaluated (finite differenced) this way:

where T2 is the temperature furthest downwind on the segment (in this case, at the forecast station) and T1 is the temperature furthest upwind on the segment. The temperatures are estimated by simply reading directly off of the isotherms. For the example shown in Fig. 1, T2 would be the temperature at San Francisco (observer) (15) and T1 would be the temperature at A (30).

Next, the result of the last step is multiplied by the average wind speed on the segment (you can get this by reading the wind barbs plotted on the chart and getting an average value for the region of the segment of streamline that you are considering). For the example in Fig. 1, note that the average wind would be 100 km/ hr. Make sure the units are consistent. If the distance is in miles, then the wind speed needs to be in miles per hour. If the distance is in km or m, then the wind speed should be in km/h or m/s.


Question 3. Using Fig 1, compute the temperature change due to advection and the resulting forecast temperature at the end of the hour period considered, assuming a (ridiculous) wind speed of 100 km/h.

Question 4. Using Fig 1, write a simple "rule" for visualizing the nature of the temperature advection on, say, a surface weather map. (Example: if air moves across the isotherms from lowered value isotherms to higher value therms, I expect there to be (cold/warm) (choose one based upon the example here) temperature advection.)

Question 5.

(a) On the map distributed in class, determine the nature (sign) of the (thickness) temperature advection at A and B.

(b) On the same map, plot a blue arrow for every intersection of streamline and (thickness) temperature contour in cold advection areas and a red arrow for every intersection in warm advection areas. (See Example)

Question 6.

(a) Using the script mod_grib, print out a map of the NAM estimated temperature advection at 850 mb for the region specified in class for 12 UTC 6 November 2009.

mod_grib -lev=850 -var=tadv -in=.5 -re=45,-100 -ft=init

(b) Using the script nam_maps nam_thick, print out a map of the NAM initialization of surface isobars and 1000-500 mb thickness for 12 UTC 6 November 2009.

nam_maps nam_thick -ft=init

(c) Compare the inferred areas of temperature advection you see in (b) to what your plot in (a) shows.