Numerical simulations of conditionally unstable flows over a mountain ridge

AMS Citation:
Miglietta, M. M., and R. Rotunno, 2009: Numerical simulations of conditionally unstable flows over a mountain ridge. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 66, 1865-1885, doi:10.1175/2009JAS2902.1.
Resource Type:article
Title:Numerical simulations of conditionally unstable flows over a mountain ridge
Abstract: Numerical simulations of conditionally unstable flows impinging on a mesoscale mountain ridge have been performed with an explicitly resolving cloud model to investigate the statistically stationary features of the solution precipitation characteristics. The simulations are performed on a three-dimensional domain and at high resolution (grid spacing: 250 m) to properly resolve cellular-scale features. Although the environmental conditions are specified by a simplified idealized conditionally unstable sounding, there are still quite a few external parameters, so only a limited portion of the parameter space was explored. Numerical solutions were first carried out for different uniform-wind profiles impinging on a bell-shaped ridge 2000 m high. In the experiments with weaker environmental wind speeds (2.5 m s(-1)), the cold-air outflow, caused by the evaporative cooling of rain from precipitating convective cells, is the main mechanism for cell redevelopment and movement; this outflow produces new convective cells near the head of the up- and downstream density currents, which rapidly propagate far from the ridge so that no rainfall is produced close to the ridge at later times. For larger wind speeds (10 and 20 m s(-1)), there is less time for upwind, evaporation-induced cold-pool formation before air parcels reach the ridge top and descend downwind. For the intermediate wind speed (10 m s(-1)), evaporation is effective in generating a cold pool only on the downstream side of the ridge, in a region where the air is unsaturated and slow moving. Further experiments with different ridge heights and half-widths were carried out in order to analyze their effect on the distribution and intensity of precipitation. Dimensional analysis reveals that the maximum (nondimensional) rainfall rate mainly depends on the ratio of mountain height to the level of free convection, the ridge aspect ratio, and a parameter that measures the ratio of advective to convective time scales.
Peer Review:Refereed
Copyright Information:Copyright 2009 American Meteorological Society (AMS).
OpenSky citable URL: ark:/85065/d7tb18pp
Publisher's Version: 10.1175/2009JAS2902.1
  • Mario Marcello Miglietta
  • Richard Rotunno - NCAR/UCAR
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