The Height of the Planetary Boundary Layer and the Production of Circulation in a Sea Breeze Model

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA 93940
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Abstract

A two-dimensional mesoscale model is applied to study the evolution of a strong sea breeze on a stagnant base state. In contrast to previous studies, this paper considers the relationship of the planetary boundary layer (PBL), the thermodynamic structure and the vertical circulation associated with the sea breeze in detail.

The development of the sea breeze circulation is studied quantitatively using the circulation theorem. The circulation in the vertical plane normal to the coast develops as a result of the solenoid term. The vertical diffusion of momentum acts as the most important brake on the developing circulation in agreement with previous theoretical results. The Coriolis term is small until 6 h after the beating cycle. Late in the cycle, however, it reaches a value of 45% that of the solenoid term. Horizontal and vertical advective effects are small.

Under zero geostrophic wind conditions, the return flow occurs entirely above the PBL. Therefore, neutrally buoyant pollutants emitted at the surface can only enter the return flow through the narrow zone of upward motion at the sea breeze front. Trajectories indicate that considerable recirculation toward the shore of these pollutants as well as pollutants left over in the previous day's mixed layer may occur. For the time and space scale of the sea breeze considered here, Coriolis forces are important in causing significant transports along the coast.

The depth of the circulation and the trajectories are sensitive to the rate of heating over land and the initial static stability. For strong heating in a relatively unstable environment, a significant component to the return circulation exists up to 5 km. For moderate heating in a more stable environment, there is very little return circulation above 3 km.

Abstract

A two-dimensional mesoscale model is applied to study the evolution of a strong sea breeze on a stagnant base state. In contrast to previous studies, this paper considers the relationship of the planetary boundary layer (PBL), the thermodynamic structure and the vertical circulation associated with the sea breeze in detail.

The development of the sea breeze circulation is studied quantitatively using the circulation theorem. The circulation in the vertical plane normal to the coast develops as a result of the solenoid term. The vertical diffusion of momentum acts as the most important brake on the developing circulation in agreement with previous theoretical results. The Coriolis term is small until 6 h after the beating cycle. Late in the cycle, however, it reaches a value of 45% that of the solenoid term. Horizontal and vertical advective effects are small.

Under zero geostrophic wind conditions, the return flow occurs entirely above the PBL. Therefore, neutrally buoyant pollutants emitted at the surface can only enter the return flow through the narrow zone of upward motion at the sea breeze front. Trajectories indicate that considerable recirculation toward the shore of these pollutants as well as pollutants left over in the previous day's mixed layer may occur. For the time and space scale of the sea breeze considered here, Coriolis forces are important in causing significant transports along the coast.

The depth of the circulation and the trajectories are sensitive to the rate of heating over land and the initial static stability. For strong heating in a relatively unstable environment, a significant component to the return circulation exists up to 5 km. For moderate heating in a more stable environment, there is very little return circulation above 3 km.

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