Quasi-Geostrophic Frontogenesis over Topography

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  • 1 Depatment of the Geophysical Sciences, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637
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Abstract

The problem of quasi-geostrophic frontogenesis due to a horizontal deformation field is re-examined. Exact analytic solutions of all flow fields for all times are found for the case of a vertically semi-infinite, uniformly stratified, Boussinesq atmosphere. The imposed horizontal deformation field is assumed independent of height but may translate horizontally relative to the initial potential temperature distribution and to the variable bottom topography. Only straight, infinitely long fronts and ridge-like topographies are considered. The solutions in the absence of orography confirm and extend earlier investigations for surface and occluded fronts.

It is shown that the presence of monotonically sloping topography below a region of deformation leads to the formation of a surface discontinuity in potential temperature in the absence of an initial horizontal thermal gradient. The associated secondary circulation is the sum of a closed thermally direct and indirect component.

The analysis for a translating deformation field interacting with an isolated orographic feature yields many interesting features. A cyclone-anticyclone couplet initially forms over the high ground. The cyclonic low pressure disturbance of reduced static stability can descend the leeside of the mountain before the arrival of the deformation field. The cold anticyclone remains fixed over the orography. A surface front translating with the imposed deformation field experiences a reduction in static stability before and after its passage over the mountain. An increase in static stability occurs while the front is over the mountain. The horizontal temperature gradient of a cold front is temporarily weakened as it approaches the mountain and strengthened after climbing the mountain peak. The ageostrophic vertical deformation field associated with the mountain acts to retard and weaken a surface cold front and to tilt its frontal zone (i.e., axis of maximum horizontal potential temperature gradient) toward the vertical on the upslope side of the mountain. The converse holds on the downslope. The subsequent interaction of a surface cold front with the leeside orographic cyclone leads to an increase in the low-level baroclinicity.

Abstract

The problem of quasi-geostrophic frontogenesis due to a horizontal deformation field is re-examined. Exact analytic solutions of all flow fields for all times are found for the case of a vertically semi-infinite, uniformly stratified, Boussinesq atmosphere. The imposed horizontal deformation field is assumed independent of height but may translate horizontally relative to the initial potential temperature distribution and to the variable bottom topography. Only straight, infinitely long fronts and ridge-like topographies are considered. The solutions in the absence of orography confirm and extend earlier investigations for surface and occluded fronts.

It is shown that the presence of monotonically sloping topography below a region of deformation leads to the formation of a surface discontinuity in potential temperature in the absence of an initial horizontal thermal gradient. The associated secondary circulation is the sum of a closed thermally direct and indirect component.

The analysis for a translating deformation field interacting with an isolated orographic feature yields many interesting features. A cyclone-anticyclone couplet initially forms over the high ground. The cyclonic low pressure disturbance of reduced static stability can descend the leeside of the mountain before the arrival of the deformation field. The cold anticyclone remains fixed over the orography. A surface front translating with the imposed deformation field experiences a reduction in static stability before and after its passage over the mountain. An increase in static stability occurs while the front is over the mountain. The horizontal temperature gradient of a cold front is temporarily weakened as it approaches the mountain and strengthened after climbing the mountain peak. The ageostrophic vertical deformation field associated with the mountain acts to retard and weaken a surface cold front and to tilt its frontal zone (i.e., axis of maximum horizontal potential temperature gradient) toward the vertical on the upslope side of the mountain. The converse holds on the downslope. The subsequent interaction of a surface cold front with the leeside orographic cyclone leads to an increase in the low-level baroclinicity.

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