An Intercomparison of Model-Predicted Wave Breaking for the 11 January 1972 Boulder Windstorm

J. D. Doyle Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey, California

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D. R. Durran University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

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C. Chen NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, Maryland

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B. A. Colle University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

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M. Georgelin Laboratoire d’Aérologie, Universite Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France

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V. Grubisic National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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W. R. Hsu National Taiwan University, Taipai, Taiwan

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C. Y. Huang National Central University, Taipai, Taiwan

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D. Landau UCLA, Los Angeles, California

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Y. L. Lin North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina

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G. S. Poulos Colorado Research Assoc., Boulder, Colorado

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W. Y. Sun Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana

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D. B. Weber CAPS/University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

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M. G. Wurtele UCLA, Los Angeles, California

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M. Xue CAPS/University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

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Abstract

Two-dimensional simulations of the 11 January 1972 Boulder, Colorado, windstorm, obtained from 11 diverse nonhydrostatic models, are intercompared with special emphasis on the turbulent breakdown of topographically forced gravity waves, as part of the preparation for the Mesoscale Alpine Programme field phase. The sounding used to initialize the models is more representative of the actual lower stratosphere than those applied in previous simulations. Upper-level breaking is predicted by all models in comparable horizontal locations and vertical layers, which suggests that gravity wave breaking may be quite predictable in some circumstances. Characteristics of the breaking include the following: pronounced turbulence in the 13–16-km and 18–20-km layers positioned beneath a critical level near 21-km, a well-defined upstream tilt with height, and enhancement of upper-level breaking superpositioned above the low-level hydraulic jump. Sensitivity experiments indicate that the structure of the wave breaking was impacted by the numerical dissipation, numerical representation of the horizontal advection, and lateral boundary conditions. Small vertical wavelength variations in the shear and stability above 10 km contributed to significant changes in the structures associated with wave breaking. Simulation of this case is ideal for testing and evaluation of mesoscale numerical models and numerical algorithms because of the complex wave-breaking response.

Corresponding author address: James D. Doyle, Naval Research Laboratory, Marine Meteorology Division, 7 Grace Hopper Avenue, Monterey, CA 93943-5502.

Email: doyle@nrlmry.navy.mil

Abstract

Two-dimensional simulations of the 11 January 1972 Boulder, Colorado, windstorm, obtained from 11 diverse nonhydrostatic models, are intercompared with special emphasis on the turbulent breakdown of topographically forced gravity waves, as part of the preparation for the Mesoscale Alpine Programme field phase. The sounding used to initialize the models is more representative of the actual lower stratosphere than those applied in previous simulations. Upper-level breaking is predicted by all models in comparable horizontal locations and vertical layers, which suggests that gravity wave breaking may be quite predictable in some circumstances. Characteristics of the breaking include the following: pronounced turbulence in the 13–16-km and 18–20-km layers positioned beneath a critical level near 21-km, a well-defined upstream tilt with height, and enhancement of upper-level breaking superpositioned above the low-level hydraulic jump. Sensitivity experiments indicate that the structure of the wave breaking was impacted by the numerical dissipation, numerical representation of the horizontal advection, and lateral boundary conditions. Small vertical wavelength variations in the shear and stability above 10 km contributed to significant changes in the structures associated with wave breaking. Simulation of this case is ideal for testing and evaluation of mesoscale numerical models and numerical algorithms because of the complex wave-breaking response.

Corresponding author address: James D. Doyle, Naval Research Laboratory, Marine Meteorology Division, 7 Grace Hopper Avenue, Monterey, CA 93943-5502.

Email: doyle@nrlmry.navy.mil

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