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  • Author or Editor: Jinwon Kim x
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Jinwon Kim and Hyun-Suk Kang

Abstract

To understand the influence of the Sierra Nevada on the water cycle in California the authors have analyzed low-level winds and water vapor fluxes upstream of the mountain range in regional climate model simulations. In a low Froude number (Fr) regime, the upstream low-level wind disturbances are characterized by the rapid weakening of the crosswinds and the appearance of a stagnation point over the southwestern foothills. The weakening of the low-level inflow is accompanied by the development of along-ridge winds that take the form of a barrier jet over the western slope of the mountain range. Such upstream wind disturbances are either weak or nonexistent in a high-Fr case. A critical Fr (Frc) of 0.35 inferred in this study is within the range of those suggested in previous observational and numerical studies. The depth of the blocked layer estimated from the along-ridge wind profile upstream of the northern Sierra Nevada corresponds to Frc between 0.3 and 0.45 as well. Associated with these low-level wind disturbances are significant low-level southerly moisture fluxes over the western slope and foothills of the Sierra Nevada in the low-Fr case, which result in significant exports of moisture from the southern Sierra Nevada to the northern region. This along-ridge low-level water vapor transport by blocking-induced barrier jets in a low-Fr condition may result in a strong north–south precipitation gradient over the Sierra Nevada.

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