14th Conference on Mountain Meteorology


Gravity current intrusion originating on a slope


Charles Retallack, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ; and R. Calhoun and H. J. S. Fernando

An atmospheric gravity current intrusion within the lower boundary layer was created by means of the presence of complex terrain as well as ambient air density stratification within Owens Valley, California during the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment. The study of such a flow is motivated by the direct influence of these flows on the boundary layer temperature profile and pollution transport. This flow phenomenon was brought about by a series of events that began with a combination of radiative cooling and drainage flows creating a surface inversion layer upon the valley floor. Differential solar forcing caused a katabatic flow to be established on the west facing slope of the valley that lagged the equivalent east facing slope katabatic flow. The katabatic current descended the west facing slope eventually reaching the top of the established valley floor temperature inversion layer. The katabatic current was not sufficiently dense to penetrate into the surface inversion layer and thus began spreading out atop the inversion layer as an intrusive gravity current. Analysis of the event will be presented along with a discussion of interfacial gravity current intrusions.

Session 4, Boundary Layers and Turbulence in Complex Terrain
Monday, 30 August 2010, 3:30 PM-5:15 PM, Alpine Ballroom A

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