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A Method for Imposing Surface Stress and Heat Flux Conditions in Finite-Difference Models with Steep Terrain

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
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Abstract

A numerical implementation of the surface stress boundary condition is presented for finite-difference models in which the terrain slope and curvature cannot necessarily be considered small. The method involves reducing the discretized stress condition in terrain-following coordinates to a pair of coupled linear systems for the two horizontal velocity components at the boundary. The linear systems are then solved iteratively at each model time step to provide the unique boundary values of velocity consistent with the specified values of the stress. Similar methods are used to prescribe the normal flux of heat across the boundary. A related method for imposing stress conditions in two-dimensional vorticity–streamfunction models is also discussed. The effectiveness of the boundary conditions is demonstrated through a series of test problems involving topographic wake flows and thermally driven flows on steep slopes. It is shown that the use of the conventional flat-boundary approximation can lead to substantial errors when the resolved topography is sufficiently steep.

Corresponding author address: Craig C. Epifanio, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843. Email: cepi@tamu.edu

Abstract

A numerical implementation of the surface stress boundary condition is presented for finite-difference models in which the terrain slope and curvature cannot necessarily be considered small. The method involves reducing the discretized stress condition in terrain-following coordinates to a pair of coupled linear systems for the two horizontal velocity components at the boundary. The linear systems are then solved iteratively at each model time step to provide the unique boundary values of velocity consistent with the specified values of the stress. Similar methods are used to prescribe the normal flux of heat across the boundary. A related method for imposing stress conditions in two-dimensional vorticity–streamfunction models is also discussed. The effectiveness of the boundary conditions is demonstrated through a series of test problems involving topographic wake flows and thermally driven flows on steep slopes. It is shown that the use of the conventional flat-boundary approximation can lead to substantial errors when the resolved topography is sufficiently steep.

Corresponding author address: Craig C. Epifanio, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843. Email: cepi@tamu.edu

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