Weather on top of Mt Kenya

2.5 years of meteorological measurements from the Lewis Glacier at an elevation of 4830m on Mt Kenya is the first detailed weather data from near the summit of this mountain.

This data is from an automatic weather station that stores 30 minute averages of a range of meteorological data. In the isopleth diagrams below the x-axis is time in increments of days and the y-axis is time in increments of hours. The colours represent the value of each variable, with red being high and blue low values, spanning the full range of the data distribution shown in the y-axis of the box plot to the right of the respective isopleth diagram. This is a cool format for looking at this data as you can see daily cycles in the data in the vertical sense and seasonal cycles or temporal trends in the horizontal sense. The variables shown from top to bottom are: air temperature (T), specific humidity (q), incident shortwave (solar) radiation on a horizontal plane (SW), incoming long wave radiation on a horizontal plane (LW), wind speed (V) and air pressure (P). There is a gap in the records in 2010 as the mast supporting the instruments broke and the station fell down and then was partially buried in snow. So, it goes with measurements in harsh environments. The boxplots on the right show the median value (red horizontal line), the 25th and 75th quartile of the data (blue horizontal lines), and outliers (red crosses).

Lewis weatherIt is evident that there is not a strong seasonal variation in these variables over the course of the year. April 2010 appears to be unusually warm in the context of this short record, and Jan 2012 appears unusually dry and clear. High humidity coincides with the highest temperatures, which is not surprising in this case as the convective processes around the mountain bring moisture up towards the summit in the rising warm air. Convection and convective cloud development peaks in the early afternoon, and this can be seen nicely in the consistent high values of these parameters between 14:00 and 15:00 and in the 3rd panel where almost daily afternoon cloud cover blocks and receipt of solar radiation.


About lindsey

Environmental scientist. I am glaciologist specialising in glacier-climate interactions to better understand the climate system. The point of this is to understand how glaciated envionments might change in the future - how the glaciers will respond and what the impact on associated water resources and hazard potential will be.
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