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Terry L. Clark, Teddie Keller, Janice Coen, Peter Neilley, Hsiao-ming Hsu, and William D. Hall


Numerical simulations of terrain-induced turbulence associated with airflow over Lantau Island of Hong Kong are presented. Lantau is a relatively small island with three narrow peaks rising to between 700 and 950 m above mean sea level. This research was undertaken as part of a project to better understand and predict the nature of turbulence and shear at the new airport site on the island of Chek Lap Kok, which is located to the lee of Lantau. Intensive ground and aerial observations were taken from May through June 1994, during the Lantau Experiment (LANTEX). This paper focuses on flow associated with the passage of Tropical Storm Russ on 7 June 1994, during which severe turbulence was observed.

The nature of the environmental and topographic forcing on 7 June 1994 resulted in the turbulence and shear being dominated by the combination of topographic effects and surface friction. High-resolution numerical simulations, initialized using local sounding data, were performed using the Clark model. The simulation results indicate that gravity-wave dynamics played a very minor role in the flow distortion and generation of turbulence. As a result of this flow regime, relatively high vertical and horizontal resolution was required to simulate the mechanically generated turbulence associated with Tropical Storm Russ.

Results are presented using a vertical resolution of 10 m near the surface and with horizontal resolutions of both 125 and 62.5 m over local, nested domains of about 13–24 km on a side. The 125-m model resolution simulated highly distorted flow in the lee of Lantau, with streaks emanating downstream from regions of sharp orographic gradients. At this resolution the streaks were nearly steady in time. At the higher horizontal resolution of 62.5 m the streaks became unstable, resulting in eddies advecting downstream within a distorted streaky mean flow similar to the 125-m resolution simulation. The temporally averaged fields changed little with the increase in resolution; however, there was a three- to fourfold increase in the temporal variability of the flow, as indicated by the standard deviation of the wind from a 10-min temporal average. Overall, the higher resolution simulations compared quite well with the observations, whereas the lower resolution cases did not. The high-resolution experiments also showed a much broader horizontal and vertical extent for the transient eddies. The depth of orographic influence increased from about 200 m to over 600 m with the increase in resolution. A physical explanation, using simple linear arguments based on the blocking effects of the eddies, is presented. The nature of the flow separation is analyzed using Bernoulli’s energy form to display the geometry of the separation bubbles. The height of the 80 m2 s−2 energy surface shows eddies forming in regions of large orographic gradients and advecting downstream.

Tests using both buoyancy excitation and stochastic backscatter to parameterize the underresolved dynamics at the 125-m resolution are presented, as well as one experiment testing the influence of static stability suppressing turbulence development. All these tests showed no significant effect. Implications of these results to the parameterization of mechanically induced turbulence in complex terrain are discussed.

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