Numerical Simulation of Coastal Flows when Solar Radiation is Blocked by Smoke

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  • 1 Atmospheric and Geophysical Sciences Division, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory University of California, Livermore, California
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Abstract

Smoke from fires ignited in a large-scale nuclear exchange would greatly reduce the flux of solar radiation at the ground and lead to rapid cooling over continental regions. Because of its large heat capacity, the ocean would cool more slowly so that a thermal gradient would tend to develop at the continental coastlines. In order to investigate the hypothesis that these thermal gradients would lead to zones of persistent precipitation along the coastlines, a modified version of the Colorado State University Mesoscale Model has been used to simulate the evolution of atmospheric flows for both West and East coasts assuming a moderate westerly synoptic flow of 5 m s−1. In both cases a layer of fog forms over the ground, effectively limiting the rate of cooling over land. This fog layer grows in height as the atmosphere aloft cools, forming a stratus cloud. Moisture from the ocean surface, mixed vertically into a radiatively cooled atmosphere, causes a cloud layer to form over the ocean as well. With both land and sea covered by clouds, there is no differential cooling, anomalous flow fields, or enhanced precipitation. These simulations also demonstrate the important role of moisture in moderating the initial rate of atmospheric cooling when solar radiation is blocked by smoke.

Abstract

Smoke from fires ignited in a large-scale nuclear exchange would greatly reduce the flux of solar radiation at the ground and lead to rapid cooling over continental regions. Because of its large heat capacity, the ocean would cool more slowly so that a thermal gradient would tend to develop at the continental coastlines. In order to investigate the hypothesis that these thermal gradients would lead to zones of persistent precipitation along the coastlines, a modified version of the Colorado State University Mesoscale Model has been used to simulate the evolution of atmospheric flows for both West and East coasts assuming a moderate westerly synoptic flow of 5 m s−1. In both cases a layer of fog forms over the ground, effectively limiting the rate of cooling over land. This fog layer grows in height as the atmosphere aloft cools, forming a stratus cloud. Moisture from the ocean surface, mixed vertically into a radiatively cooled atmosphere, causes a cloud layer to form over the ocean as well. With both land and sea covered by clouds, there is no differential cooling, anomalous flow fields, or enhanced precipitation. These simulations also demonstrate the important role of moisture in moderating the initial rate of atmospheric cooling when solar radiation is blocked by smoke.

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