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Tributary, Valley and Sidewall Air Flow Interactions in a Deep Valley

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  • a Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico
  • | b NOAA/WPL, Boulder, Colorado
  • | c Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois
  • | d Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California
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Abstract

Field experiments measuring nocturnal tributary flows have shown complex internal structure. Variations in the flow range from short-term (8–16 min) oscillations (related to tributary/valley flow interactions) to long-term flow changes throughout the night (related to upper ridge slope and tributary sidewall cooling rate changes). The mean vertical structure in the tributary flow shows a three layer structure. Outflow winds are observed near the surface and in an elevated jet up to several hundred meters height. A flow minimum or counterflow exists at about the height of the drainage flow maximum in the main valley. Comparisons of flow volumes and variations from a single large tributary show that 5%–15% of the nocturnal flow in the main valley may be contributed through one tributary. This implies that tributaries may dominate main valley sidewall and midvalley subsidence contributions to valley drainage flows.

Abstract

Field experiments measuring nocturnal tributary flows have shown complex internal structure. Variations in the flow range from short-term (8–16 min) oscillations (related to tributary/valley flow interactions) to long-term flow changes throughout the night (related to upper ridge slope and tributary sidewall cooling rate changes). The mean vertical structure in the tributary flow shows a three layer structure. Outflow winds are observed near the surface and in an elevated jet up to several hundred meters height. A flow minimum or counterflow exists at about the height of the drainage flow maximum in the main valley. Comparisons of flow volumes and variations from a single large tributary show that 5%–15% of the nocturnal flow in the main valley may be contributed through one tributary. This implies that tributaries may dominate main valley sidewall and midvalley subsidence contributions to valley drainage flows.

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