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Sea-Breeze Convergence Zones from AVHRR over the Iberian Mediterranean Area and the Isle of Mallorca, Spain

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  • 1 Laboratory of Meteorology and Climatology, Mixed Unity CEAM-UVEG, The CEAM Foundation (Fundación Centro de Estudios Ambientales del Mediterráneo), Paterna, Valencia, and Group of Climatology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  • | 2 Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
  • | 3 High Technical College, University of Jaen, Jaen, Spain
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Abstract

The aim of this study was to identify clear air boundaries and to obtain spatial distribution of convective areas associated with the sea breeze over the Iberian Mediterranean zone and the isle of Mallorca, both in Spain. Daytime Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) polar-orbiting satellites were collected for May–October 2004. A cloud detection algorithm was used to identify clouds to derive daytime sea-breeze cloud frequency composites over land. The high-resolution composites aided in identifying the location of five preferential sea-breeze convergence zones (SBCZ) in relation to the shape of coastline and orographic effects. Additionally, eight regimes were designated using mean boundary layer wind speed and direction to provide statistics about the effect of prevailing large-scale flows on sea-breeze convection over the five SBCZ. The offshore SW to W and the NW to N regimes were characterized by high cloud frequencies parallel to the coast. Small differences in mean cloud frequency values from morning to afternoon composites were detected with these regimes because sea-breeze fronts tended to form early and persist into the afternoon. Just the opposite occurred under the onshore NE to E and SE to S regimes. It was found that light to moderate (≤5.1 m s−1) winds aloft result in more clouds at the leading edge of sea breezes. In contrast, strong synoptic-scale (>5.1 m s−1) flows weaken boundary layer convergence. The results from this satellite meteorology study could have practical applications for many people including those that forecast the weather and those that use the forecast for making decisions related to energy use, fishing, recreation, or agriculture activities, as well as for estimating pollution or issuing warnings for heavy rain or flash flooding.

Corresponding author address: Cesar Azorin-Molina, Fundación Centro de Estudios Ambientales del Mediterráneo, Parque Tecnológico, Charles R. Darwin 14, 46980-Paterna (Valencia), Spain. Email: cazorin@ceam.es

Abstract

The aim of this study was to identify clear air boundaries and to obtain spatial distribution of convective areas associated with the sea breeze over the Iberian Mediterranean zone and the isle of Mallorca, both in Spain. Daytime Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) polar-orbiting satellites were collected for May–October 2004. A cloud detection algorithm was used to identify clouds to derive daytime sea-breeze cloud frequency composites over land. The high-resolution composites aided in identifying the location of five preferential sea-breeze convergence zones (SBCZ) in relation to the shape of coastline and orographic effects. Additionally, eight regimes were designated using mean boundary layer wind speed and direction to provide statistics about the effect of prevailing large-scale flows on sea-breeze convection over the five SBCZ. The offshore SW to W and the NW to N regimes were characterized by high cloud frequencies parallel to the coast. Small differences in mean cloud frequency values from morning to afternoon composites were detected with these regimes because sea-breeze fronts tended to form early and persist into the afternoon. Just the opposite occurred under the onshore NE to E and SE to S regimes. It was found that light to moderate (≤5.1 m s−1) winds aloft result in more clouds at the leading edge of sea breezes. In contrast, strong synoptic-scale (>5.1 m s−1) flows weaken boundary layer convergence. The results from this satellite meteorology study could have practical applications for many people including those that forecast the weather and those that use the forecast for making decisions related to energy use, fishing, recreation, or agriculture activities, as well as for estimating pollution or issuing warnings for heavy rain or flash flooding.

Corresponding author address: Cesar Azorin-Molina, Fundación Centro de Estudios Ambientales del Mediterráneo, Parque Tecnológico, Charles R. Darwin 14, 46980-Paterna (Valencia), Spain. Email: cazorin@ceam.es

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