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Vanda Grubišić, Johannes Sachsperger, and Rui M. A. Caldeira


The island of Madeira is well known for giving rise to atmospheric wakes. Strong and unsteady atmospheric wakes, resembling a von Kármán vortex street, are frequently observed in satellite images leeward of Madeira, especially during summer months, when conditions favoring the formation of atmospheric wakes occur frequently under the influence of the Azores high.

Reported here is the analysis of the first airborne measurements of Madeira’s wake collected during the 2010 Island-induced Wake (I-WAKE) campaign. High-resolution in situ and remote sensing data were collected in the I-WAKE by a research aircraft. The measurements reveal distinctive wake signatures, including strong lateral wind shear zones and warm and dry eddies downwind of the island. A strong anticorrelation of the horizontal wind speed and sea surface temperature (SST) was found within the wake.

High-resolution numerical simulations with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model were used to study the dynamics of the wake generation and its temporal evolution. The comparison of the model results and observations reveals a remarkable fidelity of the simulated wake features within the marine boundary layer (MBL). Strong potential vorticity (PV) anomalies were found in the simulated MBL wake, emanating from the flanks of the island. The response of the wake formation within the MBL to surface friction and enhanced thermal forcing is explored through the model sensitivity analyses.

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