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Influence of the Valley Surroundings on Valley Wind Dynamics

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  • 1 Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Zurich Switzerland, and National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

In a recent study, the authors investigated the mechanisms leading to the formation of diurnal along-valley winds in a valley formed by two isolated mountain ridges on a horizontal plain. The main focus was on the relation between the valley heat budget and the valley–plain pressure difference. The present work investigates the influence of the valley surroundings on the evolution of the valley winds. Three valley–plain configurations with identical valley volumes are studied: a periodic valley, an isolated valley on a plain (the former case), and an isolated valley entrenched in an elevated plateau. According to the valley volume argument (topographic amplification factor), these three cases should develop identical temperature perturbations and thus similar along-valley winds. However, substantial differences are found between the three cases, in particular a much stronger daytime up-valley wind and nighttime down-valley wind for the plateau configuration. The analysis demonstrates the importance of the exchange of along-valley momentum between the valley atmosphere and its surroundings and of the upper-level pressure gradient in explaining the differences among the cases. Furthermore, differences in the upper-level pressure gradient are shown to be related to the heat exchange of the air above the valley atmosphere with the surroundings, which is related to larger-scale cross-valley circulations.

Corresponding author address: Juerg Schmidli, Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, Universitaetsstrasse 16, ETH Zurich, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland. E-mail: jschmidli@env.ethz.ch

Abstract

In a recent study, the authors investigated the mechanisms leading to the formation of diurnal along-valley winds in a valley formed by two isolated mountain ridges on a horizontal plain. The main focus was on the relation between the valley heat budget and the valley–plain pressure difference. The present work investigates the influence of the valley surroundings on the evolution of the valley winds. Three valley–plain configurations with identical valley volumes are studied: a periodic valley, an isolated valley on a plain (the former case), and an isolated valley entrenched in an elevated plateau. According to the valley volume argument (topographic amplification factor), these three cases should develop identical temperature perturbations and thus similar along-valley winds. However, substantial differences are found between the three cases, in particular a much stronger daytime up-valley wind and nighttime down-valley wind for the plateau configuration. The analysis demonstrates the importance of the exchange of along-valley momentum between the valley atmosphere and its surroundings and of the upper-level pressure gradient in explaining the differences among the cases. Furthermore, differences in the upper-level pressure gradient are shown to be related to the heat exchange of the air above the valley atmosphere with the surroundings, which is related to larger-scale cross-valley circulations.

Corresponding author address: Juerg Schmidli, Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, Universitaetsstrasse 16, ETH Zurich, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland. E-mail: jschmidli@env.ethz.ch
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