TITLE

Dynamical Aspects of Wintertime Cold-Air Pools in an Alpine Valley System

AUTHOR(S)
Zängl, Günther
PUB. DATE
September 2005
SOURCE
Monthly Weather Review;Sep2005, Vol. 133 Issue 9, p2721
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
This study presents high-resolution numerical simulations in order to examine the dynamical mechanisms controlling the persistence of wintertime cold-air pools in an Alpine valley system. First, a case study of a cold-pool episode is conducted, the formation of which was related to the passage of a warm front north of the Alps. While the preexisting cold air was rapidly advected away in the Alpine foreland, a persistent cold pool was maintained in the inner-Alpine part of the valley system, associated with sustained horizontal temperature differences of up to 10 K over a distance of 30 km. The case study is complemented by a series of semi-idealized simulations, combining realistic topography with idealized large-scale flow conditions. These simulations consider a range of different ambient wind directions in order to investigate their impact on the cold-pool persistence. The results indicate that the most important dynamical mechanism controlling the persistence of cold-air pools in deep Alpine valleys is cold-air drainage toward the Alpine foreland. The preferred direction for such a drainage flow is down the pressure gradient imposed by the (geostrophically balanced) ambient flow. Thus, for a given valley geometry and a given strength of the ambient flow, the probability for persistent cold-air pools mainly depends on the ambient wind direction. If the direction of the imposed pressure gradient matches a sufficiently wide connection to the foreland (a valley or a low pass), then a drainage flow will lead to a rapid removal of the cold air. However, the presence of pronounced lateral constrictions in the connecting valley may strongly reduce the drainage efficiency. Cold-pool erosion by turbulent vertical mixing seems to play a comparatively minor role in deep valley systems as considered in this study.
ACCESSION #
18339079

 

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