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On the Dynamics of Atmospheric Bores

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
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Abstract

The dynamics of a prototypical atmospheric bore are investigated through a series of two-dimensional numerical simulations and linear theory. These simulations demonstrate that the bore dynamics are inherently finite amplitude. Although the environment supports linear trapped waves, the supported waves propagate in roughly the opposite direction to that of the bore. Qualitative analysis of the Scorer parameter can therefore give misleading indications of the potential for wave trapping, and linear internal gravity wave dynamics do not govern the behavior of the bore. The presence of a layer of enhanced static stability below a deep layer of lower stability, as would be created by a nocturnal inversion, was not necessary for the development of a bore. The key environmental factor allowing bore propagation was the presence of a low-level jet directed opposite to the movement of the bore. Significant turbulence developed in the layer between the jet maximum and the surface, which reduced the low-level static stability behind the bore. Given the essential role of jets and thereby strong environmental wind shear, and given that idealized bores may persist in environments in which the static stability is constant with height, shallow-water dynamics do not appear to be quantitatively applicable to atmospheric bores propagating against low-level jets, although there are qualitative analogies.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Dale R. Durran, drdee@uw.edu

Abstract

The dynamics of a prototypical atmospheric bore are investigated through a series of two-dimensional numerical simulations and linear theory. These simulations demonstrate that the bore dynamics are inherently finite amplitude. Although the environment supports linear trapped waves, the supported waves propagate in roughly the opposite direction to that of the bore. Qualitative analysis of the Scorer parameter can therefore give misleading indications of the potential for wave trapping, and linear internal gravity wave dynamics do not govern the behavior of the bore. The presence of a layer of enhanced static stability below a deep layer of lower stability, as would be created by a nocturnal inversion, was not necessary for the development of a bore. The key environmental factor allowing bore propagation was the presence of a low-level jet directed opposite to the movement of the bore. Significant turbulence developed in the layer between the jet maximum and the surface, which reduced the low-level static stability behind the bore. Given the essential role of jets and thereby strong environmental wind shear, and given that idealized bores may persist in environments in which the static stability is constant with height, shallow-water dynamics do not appear to be quantitatively applicable to atmospheric bores propagating against low-level jets, although there are qualitative analogies.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Dale R. Durran, drdee@uw.edu
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