3.2 North foehn in the Alpine Inn Valley - an example of foehn on the windward side of the Alpine crest

Monday, 21 June 2004: 1:45 PM
Günther Zängl, University of Munich, Munich, Germany

This study presents high-resolution numerical simulations of north foehn in the Austrian Inn Valley which have been performed with the Penn State/NCAR mesoscale model MM5. As the Inn Valley is located north of the Alpine crest, north foehn occurs comparatively rarely in this valley, and there are only sparse observations available for this phenomenon. The simulations are used to get a deeper insight into the dynamics of the north foehn. Moreover, the synoptic conditions leading to the occurrence of north foehn in the Inn Valley are investigated.

The simulations indicate that there are at least four different paths for the north foehn to penetrate into the Inn valley. Two of them are running along side valleys entering the upper Inn Valley from the west. These flow paths appear to be most important when the large-scale flow has a significant westerly component. The other possible flow paths enter the Inn Valley from the northwest or north and require a strong northerly component of the large-scale flow. From a dynamical point of view, north foehn appears to be similar to the well researched south foehn in that vertically propagating gravity waves force the descent of the ambient flow into the valley. However, there are also indications that trapped lee waves have a significant impact on the surface wind field, which has not been reported for south foehn so far. Moreover, the model results show that a precondition for the formation of north foehn in the Inn Valley is the absence of significant orographic precipitation. Evaporative cooling induced by precipitation falling into subsaturated air not only reduces the surface temperatures but also inhibits the formation of large-amplitude gravity waves, suppressing the development of stormy surface winds.

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