Supercritical Marine-Layer Flow along a Smoothly Varying Coastline

R. M. Samelson Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

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Abstract

A model for hydraulically supercritical atmospheric marine-layer flow along a smoothly varying coastline is formulated and solved numerically. The model is motivated by a recent comparison of CODE observations to a simple hydraulic theory, which suggested the presence of an expansion fan and a compression jump downstream of topographic features. The marine layer is modeled as a homogeneous rotating fluid layer decelerated by surface friction and forced by imposed upper-level pressure gradients. The equations are solved by a characteristic-based gridpoint scheme. The results indicate that the expansion fan is a robust feature that persists under most conditions in the present more realistic model, but is dramatically altered in structure by the presence of friction, while the jump may weaken rapidly offshore due mainly to offshore variations of the layer height upstream of the jump. The agreement between observations and model predictions is good enough to suggest that a first-order description of the dynamics has been attained in which friction dramatically alters the character of the supercritical flow features. The supercritical flow features cause variations in wind stress of 10%–50% over tens of kilometers.

Abstract

A model for hydraulically supercritical atmospheric marine-layer flow along a smoothly varying coastline is formulated and solved numerically. The model is motivated by a recent comparison of CODE observations to a simple hydraulic theory, which suggested the presence of an expansion fan and a compression jump downstream of topographic features. The marine layer is modeled as a homogeneous rotating fluid layer decelerated by surface friction and forced by imposed upper-level pressure gradients. The equations are solved by a characteristic-based gridpoint scheme. The results indicate that the expansion fan is a robust feature that persists under most conditions in the present more realistic model, but is dramatically altered in structure by the presence of friction, while the jump may weaken rapidly offshore due mainly to offshore variations of the layer height upstream of the jump. The agreement between observations and model predictions is good enough to suggest that a first-order description of the dynamics has been attained in which friction dramatically alters the character of the supercritical flow features. The supercritical flow features cause variations in wind stress of 10%–50% over tens of kilometers.

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