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James D. Doyle

Abstract

The impact of ocean surface waves on the structure and intensity of three tropical cyclones and a topographically forced bora event is investigated using a coupled atmosphere–ocean wave modeling system. The coupled system is capable of representing surface momentum fluxes that are enhanced due to young ocean waves in fetch-limited conditions, which yield surface roughness lengths that significantly depart from the conventional Charnock-type formulation. In general, the impact of ocean-wave-induced stress on the tropical cyclone central pressure was quite variable with ocean wave feedback resulting in changes ranging from 8 hPa deeper to 3 hPa shallower. The increased low-level stress due to the ocean waves reduced the near-surface winds by 2–3 m s−1, with local differences in excess of 10 m s−1, which directly led to a 10% reduction in the significant wave height maxima. The reduced significant wave heights in the coupled model were in closer agreement with observations for Tropical Cyclone Bonnie than for the uncoupled model. The tropical cyclone tracks were generally insensitive to ocean wave feedback effects. The boundary layer structure was found to be generally insensitive to large roughness enhancements associated with coupled ocean wave feedbacks for topographically forced high wind phenomena, such as the bora.

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James D. Doyle

Abstract

The role of mesoscale orography along the central California coast in the development and evolution of a coastal jet and rainband is investigated using a high-resolution, triply nested, nonhydrostatic numerical model. Comparison of the model simulations, which use horizontal grid increments of 5 and 2 km on the inner computational meshes, with a coastal mesoscale observation network indicates that the finescale structure of the jet and rainband dynamics are adequately simulated, although phase and orientation errors occur. The observed and simulated near-surface winds have maximum speeds that exceed 22 m s−1 and a direction nearly parallel to the coastline and topography.

Force balance analysis indicates that blocking in the lowest 500 m and flow over the coastal range above this layer contribute to mesoscale pressure perturbations, including pressure ridging upstream of the coastal mountains, which forces the ageostrophic dynamics of the coastal jet. Pressure perturbations associated with the topographic flows induce a complex mesoscale response that adds rich mesoscale structure to the jet including a wake region that forms on the lee side of the coastal range that limits the horizontal scale of the jet. Sensitivity test results underscore the multiprocess character of the coastal dynamics and the importance of the coastal topography and differential frictional drag at the land–sea interface for the formation and amplification of the jet. The mesoscale response to steep coastal topography results in a 45% enhancement to the near-surface jet strength. The onshore movement of line convection at the leading edge of a weak front is impeded by steep coastal topography in both the radar observations and numerical simulations. Low-level blocking forces the rainband to emulate a wedge-shaped structure with a coastal jet that is dynamically trapped between the steep coastal topography and the front.

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Qingfang Jiang and James D. Doyle

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Two topographically generated cirrus plume events have been examined through satellite observations and real-data simulations. On 30 October 2002, an approximately 70-km-wide cirrus plume, revealed by a high-resolution Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image and a series of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) images, originated from the Sierra Nevada ridge and extended northeastward for more than 400 km. On 5 December 2000, an approximately 400-km-wide cloud plume originated from the Southern Rocky Mountain massif and extended eastward for more than 500 km, the development of which was captured by a series of GOES images. The real-data simulations of the two cirrus plume events successfully capture the presence of these plumes and show reasonable agreement with the MODIS and GOES images in terms of the timing, location, orientation, length, and altitude of these cloud plumes. The synoptic and mesoscale aspects of the plume events, and the dynamics and microphysics relevant to the plume formation, have been discussed. Two common ingredients relevant to the cirrus plume formation have been identified, namely, a relatively deep moist layer aloft with high relative humidity and low temperature (≤−40°C near the cloud top), and strong updrafts over high terrain and slow descent downstream in the upper troposphere associated with terrain-induced inertia–gravity waves. The rapid increase of the relative humidity associated with strong updrafts creates a high number concentration of small ice crystals through homogeneous nucleation. The overpopulated ice crystals decrease the relative humidity, which, in return, inhibits small crystals from growing into large crystals. The small crystals with slow terminal velocities (<0.2 m s−1) can be advected hundreds of kilometers before falling out of the moist layer.

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Qingfang Jiang and James D. Doyle

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The impact of diurnal forcing on a downslope wind event that occurred in Owens Valley in California during the Sierra Rotors Project (SRP) in the spring of 2004 has been examined based on observational analysis and diagnosis of numerical simulations. The observations indicate that while the upstream flow was characterized by persistent westerlies at and above the mountaintop level the cross-valley winds in Owens Valley exhibited strong diurnal variation. The numerical simulations using the Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) capture many of the observed salient features and indicate that the in-valley flow evolved among three states during a diurnal cycle. Before sunrise, moderate downslope winds were confined to the western slope of Owens Valley (shallow penetration state). Surface heating after sunrise weakened the downslope winds and mountain waves and eventually led to the decoupling of the well-mixed valley air from the westerlies aloft around local noon (decoupled state). The westerlies plunged into the valley in the afternoon and propagated across the valley floor (in-valley westerly state). After sunset, the westerlies within the valley retreated toward the western slope, where the downslope winds persisted throughout the night.

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Qingfang Jiang and James D. Doyle

Abstract

The characteristics of gravity waves excited by the complex terrain of the central Alps during the intensive observational period (IOP) 8 of the Mesoscale Alpine Programme (MAP) is studied through the analysis of aircraft in situ measurements, GPS dropsondes, radiosondes, airborne lidar data, and numerical simulations.

Mountain wave breaking occurred over the central Alps on 21 October 1999, associated with wind shear, wind turning, and a critical level with Richardson number less than unity just above the flight level (∼5.7 km) of the research aircraft NCAR Electra. The Electra flew two repeated transverses across the Ötztaler Alpen, during which localized turbulence was sampled. The observed maximum vertical motion was 9 m s−1, corresponding to a turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) maximum of 10.5 m2 s−2. Spectrum analysis indicates an inertia subrange up to 5-km wavelength and multiple energy-containing spikes corresponding to a wide range of wavelengths.

Manual analysis of GPS dropsonde data indicates the presence of strong flow descent and a downslope windstorm over the lee slope of the Ötztaler Alpen. Farther downstream, a transition occurs across a deep hydraulic jump associated with the ascent of isentropes and local wind reversal. During the first transverse, the turbulent region is convectively unstable as indicated by a positive sensible heat flux within the turbulent portion of the segment. The TKE derived from the flight-level data indicates multiple narrow spikes, which match the patterns shown in the diagnosed buoyancy production rate of TKE. The turbulence is nonisotropic with the major TKE contribution from the υ-wind component. The convectively unstable zone is advected downstream during the second transverse and the turbulence becomes much stronger and more isotropic.

The downslope windstorm, flow descent, and transition to turbulence through a hydraulic jump are captured by a real-data Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Predition System (COAMPS) simulation. Several idealized simulations are performed motivated by the observations of multiscale waves forced by the complex terrain underneath. The simulations indicate that multiscale terrain promotes wave breaking, increases mountain drag, and enhances the downslope winds and TKE generation.

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Qingfang Jiang and James D. Doyle

Abstract

The diurnal variation of mountain waves and wave drag associated with flow past mesoscale ridges has been examined using the Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) and an analytical boundary layer (BL) model. The wave drag exhibits substantial diurnal variation in response to the change in the atmospheric BL characteristics, such as the BL depth, shape factor, and stability. During daytime, a convective BL develops, characterized by a shallow shear layer near the surface and a deep well-mixed layer aloft, both of which tend to decrease the wave drag. As a result, the convective BL could significantly weaken mountain waves and reduce the momentum flux by up to 90%. Near the surface, the flow pattern resembles a potential flow with a surface wind maximum located near the ridge crest. During nighttime, a shallow stable BL develops, and the modulation of wave drag by the stable nocturnal BL is governed by the BL Froude number (Fr). If the BL flow is supercritical, the drag increases as Fr decreases toward unity and reaches the maximum around Fr = 1, where the drag could be several times larger than the corresponding free-slip hydrostatic wave drag. If the BL flow is subcritical because of excessive cooling, the drag decreases with decreasing Froude number and the flow pattern near the surface resembles a typical subcritical solution with the wind maximum located near the ridge crest.

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Qingfang Jiang and James D. Doyle

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The impact of moist processes on mountain waves over Sierra Nevada Mountain Range is investigated in this study. Aircraft measurements over Owens Valley obtained during the Terrain-induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) indicate that mountain waves were generally weaker when the relative humidity maximum near the mountaintop level was above 70%. Four moist cases with a RH maximum near the mountaintop level greater than 90% have been further examined using a mesoscale model and a linear wave model. Two competing mechanisms governing the influence of moisture on mountain waves have been identified. The first mechanism involves low-level moisture that enhances flow–terrain interaction by reducing windward flow blocking. In the second mechanism, the moist airflow tends to damp mountain waves through destratifying the airflow and reducing the buoyancy frequency. The second mechanism dominates in the presence of a deep moist layer in the lower to middle troposphere, and the wave amplitude is significantly reduced associated with a smaller moist buoyancy frequency. With a shallow moist layer and strong low-level flow, the two mechanisms can become comparable in magnitude and largely offset each other.

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James D. Doyle and Thomas T. Warner

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A nonhydrostatic version of the Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model, with a horizontal resolution of 5 km, is used with measurements taken during intensive observation period 2 of the Genesis of Atlantic Lows Experiment to study the offshore mesobeta-scale coastal front structure. Results from the 24-h model simulation and Doppler radar data indicate that precipitation bands, with embedded convective elements, are present along the coastal front in the vicinity of the Gulf Stream. As the frontogenesis evolves, the simulated surface frontal zone becomes fractured, and discontinuous lines of confluence and mesoscale ascent become apparent. A collapse of the cross-frontal thermal gradient is driven by intense gradients of the surface fluxes in the vicinity of the Gulf Stream.

A mesoscale wave train, consisting of a series of shallow, weak vortices with horizontal scales between 50 and 100 km, forms along the front in agreement with the Doppler radar data and surface observations. Diagnostic analysis of the model simulation and a series of model sensitivity experiments indicate that shearing instability along the frontal zone focuses the lower-tropospheric convergence. Subsequently, stretching of cyclonic vorticity, modulated by latent heating associated with the banded precipitation, leads to the generation of the mesobeta-scale vortices along the coastal front. The formation mechanisms of these vortices may have important implications for the genesis of coastal cyclones and polar lows along shallow baroclinic zones.

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John W. Glendening and James D. Doyle

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Mesoscale variation of the boundary-layer (BL) front produced by a surface temperature interface depends upon the scale of meander along that interface. For a relatively large-scale meander, the circulations are quasi two-dimensional relative to the local interface boundary, and a meander signature appears in the BL structure. For a relatively small-scale meander, alongfront blending eliminates organization about individual meanders to produce a quasi two-dimensional circulation and gradients oriented perpendicular to the mean front. The fundamental atmospheric scale controlling this transition is the mesoscale deformation radius, which depends upon the warm-side BL depth. With strong large-scale geostrophic forcing, however, the resulting alongfront advection length scale increases the meander size required to approach the large-scale limit. Large-scale meanders typically create two local maxima of vertical velocity, whereas small-scale meanders develop a single maximum on the warm side of the frontal zone. At intermediate scales, variations of the vertical velocity maximum are particularly complex when large-scale geostrophic winds are relatively weak.

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James D. Doyle and Thomas T. Warner

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The Pennsylvania State University-NCAR Mesoscale Model is used to examine the structure and dynamics of coastal frontogenesis and mesoscale cyclogenesis observed during intensive observation period 2 (IOP 2) of the Genesis of Atlantic lows Experiment (GALE). The model accurately simulates many of the observed mesoscale Features including cold-air damming to the cast of the Appalachian Mountains, a coastal trough, coastal frontogenesis, and mesoscale cyclogenesis.

The coastal front becomes apparent approximately 6 h after the formation of a coastal trough in the vicinity of the Gulf Stream. An analysis of the model results indicates that both latent beating from banded precipitation over the Gulf Stream and surface sensible heating contribute to trough development. The deformation resulting from the isallobaric accelerations, associated with the pressure changes that occur as the coastal trough forms, initiates the coastal frontogenesis. Numerical sensitivity tests reveal that the diabatic processes dominate the coastal trough and front development. Initially, the frontogenetic effects of the deformation over the Gulf Stream are opposed by the frontolytic differential diabatic effects. The frontogenctic effects of differential diabatic heating at the coastline promote the westward movement of the northern portion of the front. With this westward movement of the coastal front, the deformation and diabatic effects act in concert to significantly strengthen the baroclinic zone.

A small-scale weak cyclone develops along the coastal front as a result of the strong low-level diabatic forcing associated with intense marine atmospheric boundary layer sensible heating and latent heating from copious precipitation. The mesoscale cyclone is characterized by a warm-core structure, with areas of ascent, cyclonic vorticity, and convergence confined to the lowest 3 km of the atmosphere. As the coastal cyclone moves northward along the coastal front, the baroclinic zone weakens substantially to its rear due to diabatic heating of the postfrontal air mass and strengthening westerlies to the rear of the cyclone.

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