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Topographic Effect on Geostrophic Adjustment and Frontogenesis


doi: 10.1007/s00376-001-0042-0

  • Three conservative principles: potential vorticity, absolute momentum and potential temperature are used to study the influence of topography on the local frontogenesis and geostrophic adjustment, which are induced by the inhomogeneous thermal fields. It is found that the horizontal distribution of the initial potential temperature and its position relative to the mountain play important roles during the geostrophic adjustment and local frontogenesis. The frontogenesis is weakened by the mountain when the initial thermal perturbation is located at the base of the upwind slope. The frontal discontinuity cannot occur unless the horizontal contrast of the initial potential temperature is great enough. Whereas, the situation is opposite when the initial thermal disturbance is mainly situated near the peak of the mountain. Complementary to the aforementioned cases, the effect of topography on the frontogenesis depends on the stratification of the flow when the initial thermal disturbance lies at the foot of lee slope. For weak stratification, topography is favorable to the formation of frontal discontinuity, vice versa. This discrepancy is attributed to the difference of subsidence warming, caused by the mountain, when the stratification is either strong or weak. Furthermore, the energy conversion ratio between the kinetic and potential energy during the geostrophic adjustment process is also affected by the topography. In contrast to the flat bottom case, the ratio is reduced (increased) when the initial thermal perturbation lies in the up-wind slope (lee slope). The reason is that the gravity force does negative work in the former case while does positive work in the latter case.
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Manuscript History

Manuscript received: 10 July 2001
Manuscript revised: 10 July 2001
通讯作者: 陈斌, bchen63@163.com
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Topographic Effect on Geostrophic Adjustment and Frontogenesis

  • 1. The Key Laboratory of Mesoscale Sever Weather MOE, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093,The Key Laboratory of Mesoscale Sever Weather MOE, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093

Abstract: Three conservative principles: potential vorticity, absolute momentum and potential temperature are used to study the influence of topography on the local frontogenesis and geostrophic adjustment, which are induced by the inhomogeneous thermal fields. It is found that the horizontal distribution of the initial potential temperature and its position relative to the mountain play important roles during the geostrophic adjustment and local frontogenesis. The frontogenesis is weakened by the mountain when the initial thermal perturbation is located at the base of the upwind slope. The frontal discontinuity cannot occur unless the horizontal contrast of the initial potential temperature is great enough. Whereas, the situation is opposite when the initial thermal disturbance is mainly situated near the peak of the mountain. Complementary to the aforementioned cases, the effect of topography on the frontogenesis depends on the stratification of the flow when the initial thermal disturbance lies at the foot of lee slope. For weak stratification, topography is favorable to the formation of frontal discontinuity, vice versa. This discrepancy is attributed to the difference of subsidence warming, caused by the mountain, when the stratification is either strong or weak. Furthermore, the energy conversion ratio between the kinetic and potential energy during the geostrophic adjustment process is also affected by the topography. In contrast to the flat bottom case, the ratio is reduced (increased) when the initial thermal perturbation lies in the up-wind slope (lee slope). The reason is that the gravity force does negative work in the former case while does positive work in the latter case.

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