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Topographic Effects on a Wintertime Cold Front in Taiwan

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  • 1 Department of Earth Sciences, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan
  • | 2 Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

This paper describes an observational and numerical study of an intense wintertime cold front that occurred in Taiwan on 8 January 1996. The front was associated with rope clouds at the leading edge, and a broad area of stratiform clouds behind. The front was blocked by the Central Mountain Range of Taiwan and divided into two sections on each side of the mountain range. As the cold air moved southward along the east coast, the increasing westward Coriolis force induced a landward acceleration. After the cold air piled up against the mountains, a coastal pressure ridge developed. The cold air damming yielded a geostrophic balance between the westward Coriolis force and the eastward component of the pressure gradient force in the x direction, and a southward acceleration in the y direction mainly caused by the southward pressure gradient force component. Over the Taiwan Strait, southward pressure gradient forces increased when the low-level stable cold air was confined over the Taiwan Strait, leading to a southward acceleration of the cold air. The formation of a windward ridge off the northwest coast of Taiwan contributed to a large southward acceleration, resulting in the development of a coastal jet. Over the Taiwan Strait, the cold air moved southward the fastest due to the channeling effect. The air parcels along the east coast of Taiwan experienced a downgradient acceleration from the cold air damming and advanced at a slower speed. Those traveling over the western plains and the nearshore coast advanced at the slowest speed. Two sensitivity runs, one without Taiwan’s topography (flat land only) and the other without Taiwan’s landmass, demonstrated the influences of Taiwan’s terrain and water–land contrast on the airflow. The run with no surface fluxes showed that the ocean modified the low-level cold air by supplying surface heat and moisture fluxes. This weakened the front, reduced low-level stability, and increased forced shallow convection (formation of rope clouds) at the leading edge.

Corresponding author address: Fang-Ching Chien, Dept. of Earth Sciences, National Taiwan Normal University, 88, Section 4, Ting-Chou Rd., Taipei 116, Taiwan. Email: jfj@ntnu.edu.tw

Abstract

This paper describes an observational and numerical study of an intense wintertime cold front that occurred in Taiwan on 8 January 1996. The front was associated with rope clouds at the leading edge, and a broad area of stratiform clouds behind. The front was blocked by the Central Mountain Range of Taiwan and divided into two sections on each side of the mountain range. As the cold air moved southward along the east coast, the increasing westward Coriolis force induced a landward acceleration. After the cold air piled up against the mountains, a coastal pressure ridge developed. The cold air damming yielded a geostrophic balance between the westward Coriolis force and the eastward component of the pressure gradient force in the x direction, and a southward acceleration in the y direction mainly caused by the southward pressure gradient force component. Over the Taiwan Strait, southward pressure gradient forces increased when the low-level stable cold air was confined over the Taiwan Strait, leading to a southward acceleration of the cold air. The formation of a windward ridge off the northwest coast of Taiwan contributed to a large southward acceleration, resulting in the development of a coastal jet. Over the Taiwan Strait, the cold air moved southward the fastest due to the channeling effect. The air parcels along the east coast of Taiwan experienced a downgradient acceleration from the cold air damming and advanced at a slower speed. Those traveling over the western plains and the nearshore coast advanced at the slowest speed. Two sensitivity runs, one without Taiwan’s topography (flat land only) and the other without Taiwan’s landmass, demonstrated the influences of Taiwan’s terrain and water–land contrast on the airflow. The run with no surface fluxes showed that the ocean modified the low-level cold air by supplying surface heat and moisture fluxes. This weakened the front, reduced low-level stability, and increased forced shallow convection (formation of rope clouds) at the leading edge.

Corresponding author address: Fang-Ching Chien, Dept. of Earth Sciences, National Taiwan Normal University, 88, Section 4, Ting-Chou Rd., Taipei 116, Taiwan. Email: jfj@ntnu.edu.tw

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