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Numerical Simulations of Local Circulation and Cumulus Generation over the Loess Plateau, China

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  • 1 Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
  • | 2 Hydrospheric Atmospheric Research Center (HyARC), Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
  • | 3 Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto, Japan
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Abstract

The Loess Plateau of China consists of dissected flat tablelands with steep gullies. To evaluate the effect of topography on local circulation and cumulus generation over the Loess Plateau, numerical simulations of atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) development were conducted using a cloud-resolving nonhydrostatic model. Two types of numerical simulation were carried out under two sets of bottom boundary conditions: real terrain and flat terrain. The differences in ABL development and cumulus generation between the flat- and real-terrain conditions are described and the local circulation structures induced by ABL development are illustrated. More cumulus clouds were generated over the real terrain than over the flat terrain. In the real-terrain case, large amounts of cumulus cloud were generated on the windward slopes and on the edge of the tableland, with updrafts caused by thermal generation and a local circulation developing with horizontal and vertical scales of several kilometers. Cumulus clouds clearly developed at the top of the ABL because the water vapor is nonhomogeneously lifted by the local circulation on windward slopes and on edge of the tableland. Thus, the topography of the Loess Plateau plays an important role in cumulus generation.

* Current affiliation: Tottori University of Environmental Studies, Tottori, Japan

Corresponding author address: Masanori Nishikawa, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan. Email: nishikawa.masanori@nagoya-u.jp

Abstract

The Loess Plateau of China consists of dissected flat tablelands with steep gullies. To evaluate the effect of topography on local circulation and cumulus generation over the Loess Plateau, numerical simulations of atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) development were conducted using a cloud-resolving nonhydrostatic model. Two types of numerical simulation were carried out under two sets of bottom boundary conditions: real terrain and flat terrain. The differences in ABL development and cumulus generation between the flat- and real-terrain conditions are described and the local circulation structures induced by ABL development are illustrated. More cumulus clouds were generated over the real terrain than over the flat terrain. In the real-terrain case, large amounts of cumulus cloud were generated on the windward slopes and on the edge of the tableland, with updrafts caused by thermal generation and a local circulation developing with horizontal and vertical scales of several kilometers. Cumulus clouds clearly developed at the top of the ABL because the water vapor is nonhomogeneously lifted by the local circulation on windward slopes and on edge of the tableland. Thus, the topography of the Loess Plateau plays an important role in cumulus generation.

* Current affiliation: Tottori University of Environmental Studies, Tottori, Japan

Corresponding author address: Masanori Nishikawa, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan. Email: nishikawa.masanori@nagoya-u.jp

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