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Structure of Thunderstorm Gust Fronts with Topographic Effects


doi: 10.1007/s00376-001-0030-4

  • Surface meteorological observations, associated with gust fronts produced by thunderstorm outflows over Tehran, an area surrounded by mountains, have been analyzed. Distinctive features are sudden drop in air temperature, up to 10℃, sharp increase in wind speed, up to 30 m s-1, with wind shift, to northwesterly, ressure jump, up to 4 hPa, humidity increase, up to 40%, and rain after some 20 min. Gust fronts which often occur in spring time, have a typical thickness of about 1.5 km and produce vertical wind shear of the order of 10-2s-1. Although these features seem to be common for most of the events, their intensities differ from one event to another, indicating that the gust fronts may occur in different sizes and shapes. Apart from a dominant effect on the formation of the original thunderstorms, topography appears to break up the frontal structure of the gust fronts. The internal Rossby radius of deformation for these flows is small enough (~ 100 km) for rotational effects to be minor.A laboratory model of the gust front (gravity current) also shows that it initially has a distinctive head with a turbulent wake, and can be broken up by topography. It is shown that when the environment is stratified, turbulence due to lobes and clefts instabilities near the nose of the current is suppressed. When the ground is rough, these instabilities are highly amplified and the internal Froude number of the flow is reduced. The bottom slope in the presence of rough topography leads to the break up of the current head and produces a broad and highly non-uniform head, recognized in the density signals.
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Manuscript History

Manuscript received: 10 November 2001
Manuscript revised: 10 November 2001
通讯作者: 陈斌, bchen63@163.com
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    沈阳化工大学材料科学与工程学院 沈阳 110142

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Structure of Thunderstorm Gust Fronts with Topographic Effects

  • 1. Institute of Geophysics, Tehran University, P.O. Box 14155-6466, Tehran. I.R. Iran,Institute of Geophysics, Tehran University, P.O. Box 14155-6466, Tehran. I.R. Iran

Abstract: Surface meteorological observations, associated with gust fronts produced by thunderstorm outflows over Tehran, an area surrounded by mountains, have been analyzed. Distinctive features are sudden drop in air temperature, up to 10℃, sharp increase in wind speed, up to 30 m s-1, with wind shift, to northwesterly, ressure jump, up to 4 hPa, humidity increase, up to 40%, and rain after some 20 min. Gust fronts which often occur in spring time, have a typical thickness of about 1.5 km and produce vertical wind shear of the order of 10-2s-1. Although these features seem to be common for most of the events, their intensities differ from one event to another, indicating that the gust fronts may occur in different sizes and shapes. Apart from a dominant effect on the formation of the original thunderstorms, topography appears to break up the frontal structure of the gust fronts. The internal Rossby radius of deformation for these flows is small enough (~ 100 km) for rotational effects to be minor.A laboratory model of the gust front (gravity current) also shows that it initially has a distinctive head with a turbulent wake, and can be broken up by topography. It is shown that when the environment is stratified, turbulence due to lobes and clefts instabilities near the nose of the current is suppressed. When the ground is rough, these instabilities are highly amplified and the internal Froude number of the flow is reduced. The bottom slope in the presence of rough topography leads to the break up of the current head and produces a broad and highly non-uniform head, recognized in the density signals.

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