Vertical distribution of temperature and humidity over the Caribbean Sea

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Bunker, Andrew F.
Haurwitz, B.
Malkus, Joanne Starr
Stommel, Henry M.
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Caribbean Sea
The observations presented and discussed in this paper were obtained as part of a research project conducted under contract NObs-2083 with the Bureau of Ships of the U. S. Navy by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The observations and their original reduction were carried out under the direction of Jeffries Wyman. The airplane soundings were undertaken by Kenneth McCasland and Alfred Woodcock. The sea surface temperature was measured on the surface ships by David F. Barnes and Roger Patterson. The necessary airplane (PBY-SA) and surface boats (PC's) were made available by the U. S. Navy. All observations were made during the spring of 1946 at about 19.5°N latitude, 66°W longitude, north of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and at about lO°N latitude, 79.5°W longitude, north of Coco Solo, Panama. An extensive preliminary report on the results of the expedition with a limited circulation was prepared by Wyman and his collaborators during the summer of 1946. The present paper deals with certain phases of the work in a more detailed fashion. Special attention is given to the temperature and humidity distributions in the vertical and to their interpretation in the light of meteorological principles. A discussion of atmospheric turbulence based on airplane measurements has already been published elsewhere (Langwell, 1948), and an application of the airplane soundings to the theory of cumulus clouds has been studied by Stommel (1947). The second and third chapters of this publication deal with the description of observational techniques used by the expedition, with the methods of reduction and present the data on which the later discussion is based. It has been thought desirable to publish these data in extenso because they may be of interest to other meteorologists in view of the sparsity of upper-air observations in this region. The actual preparation of Chapters II and III is largely the work of Bunker and Stommel. In order to show how the observations made off Puerto Rico fit into the general pattern of climatic and weather conditions in the Caribbean area Chapter iv presents a survey of the climate of this region and of the weather conditions during the time when the observations were taken. This Chapter was contributed by Joanne Malkus. It is pertinent to include in this general introduction the conclusion drawn in Chapter IV namely that the weather situations encountered represented, in general, a relatively undisturbed trade-wind regime of early spring. The homogeneous layer of nearly dry-adiabatic lapse-rate of temperature and almost constant mixing ratio is one of the most characteristic phenomena in the lowest atmosphere of this region. It is also of utmost importance for the energy budget of the hydrosphere and the atmosphere. Therefore, a special discussion of this layer by Bunker is given in Chapter V. Because of the nearly dry-adiabatic lapse-rate in the homogeneous layer most of the heat transfer between water and air in the trade-wind zone must be in the form of latent heat of vaporization, a conclusion whose thermodynamic implications were discussed thoroughly by Ficker (1936). For this reason the distribution of water vapor deserves special attention, and Chapter VI deals with this variable as a problem in turbulent mass exchange. The analysis presented in this chapter is due to Haurwitz and Stommel.
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