Effects of Finite Height Topography on Nongeostrophic Baroclinic Instability: Implications to Theories of Lee Cyclogenesis

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  • 1 CNR Fisbat, Bologna, Italy
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Abstract

Baroclinic instability in the presence of steep finite amplitude topography is studied in the primitive equation model. The quasi-geostrophic theory of Alpine cyclogenesis of Speranza et al. is reanalyzed and discussed in this context.

The present model is a generalization of the one used by Stone to include topographic effects, lateral shear of the basic wind, and/or lateral walls. We focus in particular on the differences between this formulation and the quasi-geostrophic one when the meridional scale of the topography is very small (of the order of 100 km). We find that only in the primitive equation model does a small-volume mountain, of height and width comparable with those of the Alps, introduce significant large-scale modifications to the baroclinic modes. The most unstable mode attains its maximum amplitude to the southern side of the mountain. We show that these results do not depend upon the specification of the lateral boundary conditions provided the basic state baroclinicity is meridionally confined.

Abstract

Baroclinic instability in the presence of steep finite amplitude topography is studied in the primitive equation model. The quasi-geostrophic theory of Alpine cyclogenesis of Speranza et al. is reanalyzed and discussed in this context.

The present model is a generalization of the one used by Stone to include topographic effects, lateral shear of the basic wind, and/or lateral walls. We focus in particular on the differences between this formulation and the quasi-geostrophic one when the meridional scale of the topography is very small (of the order of 100 km). We find that only in the primitive equation model does a small-volume mountain, of height and width comparable with those of the Alps, introduce significant large-scale modifications to the baroclinic modes. The most unstable mode attains its maximum amplitude to the southern side of the mountain. We show that these results do not depend upon the specification of the lateral boundary conditions provided the basic state baroclinicity is meridionally confined.

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