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An Investigation of Convection behind the Cape Canaveral Sea-Breeze Front

P. Anil RaoDepartment of Meteorology, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

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Henry E. FuelbergDepartment of Meteorology, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

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Abstract

A three-dimensional numerical simulation of land–water circulations near Cape Canaveral, Florida, is performed using the Advanced Regional Prediction System. The role of Kelvin–Helmholtz instability (KHI) in determining the time and location of convection behind the sea-breeze front is examined. The model configuration attempts to improve upon limitations of previous work (e.g., resolution, surface characteristics, initial state). It provides a detailed and realistic simulation of the desired features.

The simulation exhibits a single precipitating storm that forms behind the sea-breeze front. This postfrontal storm develops when an outflow boundary intersects a deep layer of upward motion above the marine air. The region of ascent initially is the remnant of a cell that formed along the sea-breeze front, but before the cell decays, a portion of its upward motion is intensified and displaced. The modification of the ascent is a product of KHI that is occurring on top of the sea-breeze interface in the form of billows. The region of enhanced ascent then moves backward with the billow until the outflow boundary arrives. Thus, KHI can be critical in determining the location and time of storm development that occurs behind the Cape Canaveral sea-breeze front.

* Current affiliation: Universities Space Research Association, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

Corresponding author address: Dr. P. Anil Rao, Universities Space Research Association, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Mesoscale Atmospheric Processes Branch, Code 912, Greenbelt, MD 20771.

Email: rao@gilbert.gsfc.nasa.gov

Abstract

A three-dimensional numerical simulation of land–water circulations near Cape Canaveral, Florida, is performed using the Advanced Regional Prediction System. The role of Kelvin–Helmholtz instability (KHI) in determining the time and location of convection behind the sea-breeze front is examined. The model configuration attempts to improve upon limitations of previous work (e.g., resolution, surface characteristics, initial state). It provides a detailed and realistic simulation of the desired features.

The simulation exhibits a single precipitating storm that forms behind the sea-breeze front. This postfrontal storm develops when an outflow boundary intersects a deep layer of upward motion above the marine air. The region of ascent initially is the remnant of a cell that formed along the sea-breeze front, but before the cell decays, a portion of its upward motion is intensified and displaced. The modification of the ascent is a product of KHI that is occurring on top of the sea-breeze interface in the form of billows. The region of enhanced ascent then moves backward with the billow until the outflow boundary arrives. Thus, KHI can be critical in determining the location and time of storm development that occurs behind the Cape Canaveral sea-breeze front.

* Current affiliation: Universities Space Research Association, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

Corresponding author address: Dr. P. Anil Rao, Universities Space Research Association, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Mesoscale Atmospheric Processes Branch, Code 912, Greenbelt, MD 20771.

Email: rao@gilbert.gsfc.nasa.gov

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