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Low-Level Convergence Lines over Northeastern Australia. Part I: The North Australian Cloud Line

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  • * Meteorology Institute, University of Munich, Munich, Germany
  • | + Centre for Dynamical Meteorology and Oceanography, Monash University, Clayton, Australia
  • | # Bureau of Meteorology Training Centre, Melbourne, Australia
  • | @ Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre, Melbourne, Australia
  • | 5 Airborne Research Australia/Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
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Abstract

Observations of dry-season north Australian cloud lines (NACLs) that form in the Gulf of Carpentaria region of northern Australia and the sea-breeze circulations that initiate them are described. The observations were made during the 2002 Gulf Lines Experiment (GLEX) and include measurements made by an instrumented research aircraft. The observations are compared with numerical simulations made from a two-dimensional cloud-scale model. Particular emphasis is placed on the interaction between the east coast and west coast sea breezes near the west coast of Cape York Peninsula. The sea breezes are highly asymmetric due to the low-level easterly synoptic flow over the peninsula. The west coast sea breeze is well defined with a sharp leading edge since the opposing flow limits its inland penetration, keeping it close to its source of cold air. In contrast, the east coast sea breeze is poorly defined since it is aided by the easterly flow and becomes highly modified by daytime convective mixing as it crosses over the peninsula. Both the observations and the numerical model show that, in the early morning hours, the mature NACL forms at the leading edge of a gravity current. The numerical model simulations show that this gravity current arises as a westward-moving land breeze from Cape York Peninsula. Convergence at the leading edge of this land breeze is accompanied by ascent, which when strong enough produces cloud. Observations show that the decay of the NACL is associated with a decline in the low-level convergence and a weakening of the ascent.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Robert Goler, Meteorological Institute, University of Munich, Theresienstr. 37, 80333 Munich, Germany. Email: robert@meteo.physik.uni-muenchen.de

Abstract

Observations of dry-season north Australian cloud lines (NACLs) that form in the Gulf of Carpentaria region of northern Australia and the sea-breeze circulations that initiate them are described. The observations were made during the 2002 Gulf Lines Experiment (GLEX) and include measurements made by an instrumented research aircraft. The observations are compared with numerical simulations made from a two-dimensional cloud-scale model. Particular emphasis is placed on the interaction between the east coast and west coast sea breezes near the west coast of Cape York Peninsula. The sea breezes are highly asymmetric due to the low-level easterly synoptic flow over the peninsula. The west coast sea breeze is well defined with a sharp leading edge since the opposing flow limits its inland penetration, keeping it close to its source of cold air. In contrast, the east coast sea breeze is poorly defined since it is aided by the easterly flow and becomes highly modified by daytime convective mixing as it crosses over the peninsula. Both the observations and the numerical model show that, in the early morning hours, the mature NACL forms at the leading edge of a gravity current. The numerical model simulations show that this gravity current arises as a westward-moving land breeze from Cape York Peninsula. Convergence at the leading edge of this land breeze is accompanied by ascent, which when strong enough produces cloud. Observations show that the decay of the NACL is associated with a decline in the low-level convergence and a weakening of the ascent.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Robert Goler, Meteorological Institute, University of Munich, Theresienstr. 37, 80333 Munich, Germany. Email: robert@meteo.physik.uni-muenchen.de

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