Dave Whiteman's Homepage

Dr. C. David Whiteman
Research Professor Emeritus
(now retired - no longer accepting students)
Department of Atmospheric Sciences
University of Utah
135 S 1460 E RM 819
Salt Lake City, Ut 84112-0110
Tel: (801) 448-3783
e-mail: dave.whiteman@utah.edu
preferred e-mail: davidwhiteman@mac.com
Professional Interests: mountain meteorology, boundary layer meteorology, air pollution meteorology, measurements and instrumentation, frost damage in orchards and vineyards, micrometeorology, fire weather, undergraduate and graduate education.

Biosketch (pdf)

Publications (pdf)

Dave's book, Mountain Meteorology: Fundamentals and Applications, is available on-line and in bookstores.

Projects Conducted at University of Utah

  • Observing and modeling downslope-windstorm-type flow in a small-scale crater induced by larger-scale katabatic winds

    This research program, funded by NSF's Mesoscale Dynamics Division with co-PIs Sebastian Hoch (UU), Ron Calhoun (ASU), and Rich Rotunno (NCAR) investigated katabatically driven downslope-windstorm-type events that are produced by hydraulic flows that enter Arizona's Meteor Crater over the crater's southwest rim. The crater appears to be in a 'sweet-spot" for producing intermittent flows of this type and may bring knowledge regarding the factors producing such windstorms and their associated hydraulic jumps, which have never before been closely observed in an environmental setting.

  • PCAPS -- Persistent Cold-Air Pool Study

    This research program, funded by NSF's Mesoscale Dynamics Division with co-PIs John Horel (UU) and Sharon Zhong (Michigan State University) investigated the formation and dissipation of persistent wintertime cold-air pools. A field experiment was conducted in Utah's Salt Lake Valley from 1 December 2010 through 7 February 2011. This local field study had a strong educational component and many of the planning and operational decisions were made by a team of students, with many local volunteers.

  • Bingham Mine Cold-Air Pool Structure and Evolution

    This research program, funded by Kennecott Utah Copper, and conducted with co-PI Sebastian Hoch, investigated the formation and dissipation of persistent wintertime cold-air pools inside the Bingham Copper Pit. The project involves a line of temperature dataloggers that run from the mine floor over the mine's east ridge and down to the Jordan River at Riverton. It also involved tethered balloon flights from the floor of the mine and a pulsed scanning Doppler lidar placed near the floor of the mine to measure vertical wind profiles through the mine and into the atmosphere above. This project ran synchronously with PCAPS, taking advantage of the large number of atmospheric research instruments that were in the Salt Lake Valley as part of PCAPS.

  • The Diurnal Evolution of Stable Boundary Layers in an Enclosed Basin

    This research program, funded by NSF's Mesoscale Dynamics Division with co-PI Prof. Sharon Zhong at the Michigan State University, followed up the METCRAX project and investigated the formation of cold-air intrusions and hydraulic jumps at Arizona's Meteor Crater using data from the 2006 experiment and a second follow-on experiment conducted over several weeks in September-October 2009.

  • Role of Radiative Flux Divergence in Stable Boundary Layer Development

    This research program, funded by the Army Research Office with co-PI Sebastian Hoch, investigated the role of radiative transfer in basin cooling using data from METCRAX 2006. Monte Carlo radiative transfer model simulations were conducted in a parametric study to determine the role of radiative transfer in basins of different size and shape. Collaborator Bernhard Mayer at the University of MUnich assisted with further radiative model development and the simulations.

  • Dugway Proving Ground Wind Climatology

    This research program, funded by Dugway Proving Ground's Meteorology Division, supported an undergraduate student who performed climatological analyses to determine the summertime thermally driven wind field and its evolution over the proving ground under undisturbed synoptic conditions. We also provided advice and support for the development of a Granite Mountain Meteorological Testbed on the proving ground - a location where university and other scientists could investigate complex terrain meteorological phenomena in a site already heavily instrumented with meteorological sensors and equipment.

  • METCRAX -- Meteor Crater Experiment

    This research program, funded by NSF's Mesoscale Dynamics Division with co-PIs Andreas Muschinski (U. Mass at Amherst), Sharon Zhong (U. Houston) and David Fritts (Colorado Research Associates), investigated the formation and dissipation of nighttime cold air pools and seiches in Arizona's Meteor Crater. A one-month field experiment was conducted in the Meteor Crater from 1 October through 31 October 2006.

  • T-REX -- Terrain-Forced Rotor Experiment

    This research program, funded by NSF's Mesoscale Dynamics Division with co-PI Sharon Zhong (U. Houston) studied the development of thermally driven circulations in California's Owens Valley during periods when lee waves and rotors were not present. We used climatological analyses to determine the frequency of windstorms that affect the Owens Valley -- the deep valley to the east of the high Sierra. We also determined the causes of sudden evening warmings on the valley floor and slopes. Collaborative research with Juerg Schmidli, who was supported by this project and is now at ETH in Zurich, compared the predictions of undisturbed valley flows from a large number of modern numerical models. We participated in the large international research experiments conducted in the Owens Valley in March and April 2006.

    Selected Projects Conducted While at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

  • DOE Environmental Meteorology Program, Vertical Transport and Mixing (VTMX) Program

    The VTMX program, conducted with scientists from other DOE labs, government agencies, universities, and private companies, was focused on gaining a better understanding of the physical processes leading to vertical transport and mixing of pollutants under high stability conditions in urban basins. VTMX scientists conducted a field experiment in October 2000 in Utah's Salt Lake Valley. Dave's interests are in understanding 1) processes that lead to diurnal and multi-day cold air pool buildup and breakdown in basins and valleys, and 2) the influences of larger-scale meteorological processes on valley and basin meteorology. The two VTMX research projects were:

    Whiteman and Bian, Large-Scale Meteorological Influences on Urban Cold Pools in the Intermountain Basin, and

    Whiteman and Zhong, Vertical Transport Mechanisms in Evolving Urban Basin Cold Pools


    Topographic map of the Kennecott Utah Copper (KUC) land where meteorological and tracer expoeriments were run during the October 2000 VTMX experiments. The mapped area is approximately 10 miles SW of Salt Lake City on a shallow slope of the Salt Lake (or Jordan) Valley at the foot of the Oquirrh Mountains. We thank KUC for their permission to use their land for the experiments.

    Balloons used for a perfluorocarbon tracer experiment conducted on the KUC slope.

    Cross section of the topography on the KUC slope, showing the locations of the various research instruments used on the slope.

    Tethered balloon system used to collect vertical profiles of temperature, humidity and winds over the KUC slope. This photograph was taken at site TS2.

  • Summer School of Mountain Meteorology

    Dave presented a series of five 1-hour lectures on thermally driven flows in complex terrain at the 2003 Summer School of Mountain Meteorology (SSMM) in Trento, Italy, on 17-22 August 2003. The annual Summer School, organized by Drs. Dino Zardi at the University of Trento and Rich Rotunno at the U.S.'s National Center for Atmospheric Research, attracted about 40 students from many different countries. Other lecturers included Dr. Dick McNider, Dr. Don Lenschow, and Dr. Franz Fiedler.

    © Benedikt Bica photo

    Some of the SSMM Students Enjoying an Afternoon Outing in Trento.

  • VINEX 2001

    A meteorological research project was conducted in the Monson Ranch vineyard near Richland, Washington, in July and August of 2001 by Dave's summer students, Gavin McMeeking (UC Berkeley), Craig Clements (UBC), and Stuart Powell (New Zealand). Craig and Gavin were supported by DOE's Global Environmental Education Program (http://gonzalo.er.anl.gov/GCEP/). The goal of the project was to determine how the temperature and wind patterns evolve in this upland, rolling topography during clear, light wind, nighttime periods. The vineyard is in undulating topography on a small plateau between Badger Mountain and Badger Canyon, and has multiple drainage gullies and gently rolling terrain. The experiments focused on the evolution of spatial patterns of temperature over rolling terrain, the development of vertical variations in temperature above the vineyard, and the effects of a 12-m tall frost protection fan on profiles and spatial patterns of temperature surrounding the fan. A final experiment attempted to place the previous experiments within a larger mesoscale context by measuring temperatures and winds both within the vineyard and in a much larger area surrounding the vineyard.

    Results demonstrated that the coldest air drains from the vineyard, pooling in topographical depressions and flowing into lower-lying land adjacent to the vineyard. Shallow inversions of about 5C were found to develop within the depressions during clear, light wind conditions. The 12-m high vineyard fan produced atmospheric mixing in the near-surface layer and above the vineyard causing surface temperature increases of several degrees C within a 100-m radius of the fan.

    We have written a short summary report of the initial results, but the bulk of the data processing will be performed in the summer of 2002 when Gavin McMeeking comes back to the lab on a summer appointment.


    Installing temperature data loggers on one of the vineyard wind machines.

    Dave and the three students in the vineyard. Hobo temperature data loggers are attached at three levels on the fence post.

    Aerial photograph of the Monson Ranches vineyard, 5 miles SW of Richland, Washington. Badger Canyon runs E-W in the lower left corner of the figure. A series of unplanted shallow draws drains the northeastern corner of the vineyard. Alfalfa fields irrigated in sprinkler circles are seen on the east side of the vineyard, and the I-82/I-281 exit ramps are seen in the upper right. corner of the image. July 24, 2001, photo provided by Virgil Andress of Orchard-Rite Ltd., Inc. in Yakima, Washington.

  • Temperature Inversions in Limestone Sinkholes of the Eastern Alps

    The Gstettner-Alm is an upland area of terrain on a plateau in a limestone sub-range of the eastern Alps about 100 km southwest of Vienna, Austria. The Gstettner-Alm area, like many areas of limestone, is characterized by sinkholes or dolinen. The largest sinkhole in the Gstettner-Alm area, the Gruenloch, is about 1 km across. Recorded temperatures at the floor of the Gruenloch have fallen as low as -52.6C (-63F), making it one of the coldest spots in central Europe.

    In the fall of 2001, Dave participated in a field experiment with research groups led by Dr. Reinhold Steinacker and Dr. Michael Hantel at the University of Vienna, Dr. Erich Mursch-Radlgruber at the Agricultural University, and Ms. Kathrin Baumann at the Central institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics to study the mechanisms that lead to the formation of strong temperature inversions in sinkholes of different size near the Gstettner-Alm. This work supplements the related research being conducted for DOE in VTMX (see above).

    In October 2001, the landowner, Mr. Kupelwieser, provided access permission for the experiment, and a group of Dr. Steinacker's students including Stefan Eisenbach, Alois Holzer, Bernhard Pospichal, Georg Pistotnik and Manfred Spatzierer helped install Dave's 58 temperature data loggers in the cluster of sinkholes. These students downloaded and monitored the data through the winter of 2001/2002. During a 2-day period in early June 2002, a major meteorological experiment was run in the Gruenloch using three tethered balloon systems, turbulence and radiation instruments, and weather stations. The experiments focused on determining the mechanisms, such as slope flow convergence, warm air advection aloft, radiative flux divergence and turbulent sensible heat flux divergence, that cause strong temperature inversions to develop in these sinkholes. The Gruenloch is a near-ideal experimental area for such studies, as the effects of large-scale advection are expected to be weak in the isolated sinkholes and the climate setting differs from a previous experiment conducted in the U.S. (see Peter Sinks Experiment below). Similarities, contrasts, and extension to different climate settings and snow cover are expected to support generalizations concerning the mechanisms that lead to the development and destruction of the cold air pools. Stefan Eisenbach and Bernhard Pospichal spent 4-5 months in late 2002 and early 2003 at PNNL working with Dave on the data analysis. Dave also worked with the experiment participants and Dr. Thomas Haiden at the Central institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics in Vienna in the summer of 2003 to make further progress on the data analyses. Research papers have now been written and submitted to journals.

    Some great web pages and photos taken during the experiment can be found at http://lunz.eisenbach.at/.

  • Peter Sinks Experiment, Northern Utah

    This experiment was conducted with Dr. John Horel and his M.S. student, Craig Clements, at the University of Utah (UU), and with Campbell Scientific Inc. and Judd Communications during the period 9-13 September 1999 to investigate the role of slope flows in the buildup and breakdown of diurnal cold pools in a small, high-altitude, limestone sinkhole in northern Utah. Students from the Meteorology Department at UU provided field assistance during the experiment (photograph). A minimum temperature record of -56.3C (-69.4F) had been previously recorded in this sinkhole. During our early fall experiments, temperatures fell to 17F. Craig has completed his MS thesis on this topic and has written a summary journal article. Further work is planned to investigate the role of radiative flux divergence.

    Experiment Participants: Jerry Allwine (Battelle), John Horel (UU), Dan Judd (Judd Communications), Ed Swiatek (Campbell Scientific Inc.), Al Astling (Dugway Proving Ground), Mike Splitt (UU), and Carol Ciliberti (UU)
      Students: Mark Beaty, Jebb Stewart, Linda Cheng, Justin Cox, Galdino Mota, Steve Nesbitt, and Lacey Holland

    Participants in the Peter Sinks Experiment.

  • Mesoscale Alpine Programme

    The Mesoscale Alpine Programme (MAP) was a large international meteorological research program being conducted in the European Alps. The program had many facets, but Dave's interests were mostly in the boundary layer experiments conducted near Claro, Switzerland, and in the foehn and gap flow experiments conducted in Austria's Brenner Pass area. Dave participated in the Brenner Pass experiments during the summer and fall of 1999 by loaning 35 temperature data loggers to Dr. Georg Mayr at the University of Innsbruck. He helped install the instruments in August and worked with Georg's student, Roland Mayr, on the data analysis. Analyses were be focused on temperature inversions in the Wipp and Inn Valleys and the role of turbulent erosion in their destruction during foehn episodes. The data sets included data from a Doppler lidar, from an array of turbulence sensors and weather stations, and from multiple research aircraft.

    Photographs taken during the field experiment in Austria:

    A data logger was installed on this pole below the Europabruecke (see the bridge supports). This is one of a set of 12 data loggers that run up the valley sidewall to a mountain called the Patscherkofel.

    The data loggers were installed on wooden poles. Here, a pole is being installed by Roland Mayr (student, University of Innsbruck) and Dave Whiteman.

  • Columbia Basin Cold Pool

    This project used data from the Hanford, Washington, area to investigate persistent midwinter cold air pools that form in the Columbia Basin (see the Quicktime animation below). This project included data collection, analysis and numerical modeling and was conducted with other PNNL scientists and Dr. Jon Mittelstadt at the Pendleton Weather Service Forecast Office.

View of one of the data loggers, looking north from the side of Rattlesnake Mountain. See the comparison between temperature data logger pseudo-temperature-profiles, and temperature profiles from a Radio Acoustic Sounding System (RASS) by looking at the Quicktime movie below.

Young field technician (John Hubbe's daughter) helping with the installation of a line of 11 temperature data loggers on the side of Rattlesnake Mountain near Richland, Washington.