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Long-range transport of terrain-induced turbulence from high-resolution numerical simulations

Author(s): M. Katurji | S. Zhong | P. Zawar-Reza

Journal: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
ISSN 1680-7316

Volume: 11;
Issue: 22;
Start page: 11793;
Date: 2011;
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Over complex terrain, an important question is how various topographic features may generate or alter wind turbulence and how far the influence can be extended downstream. Current measurement technology limits the capability in providing a long-range snapshot of turbulence as atmospheric eddies travel over terrain, interact with each other, change their productive and dissipative properties, and are then observed tens of kilometers downstream of their source. In this study, we investigate through high-resolution numerical simulations the atmospheric transport of terrain-generated turbulence in an atmosphere that is neutrally stratified. The simulations are two-dimensional with an isotropic spatial resolution of 15 m and run to a quasi-steady state. They are designed in such a way to allow an examination of the effects of a bell-shaped experimental hill with varying height and aspect ratio on turbulence properties generated by another hill 20 km upstream. Averaged fields of the turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) imply that terrain could have a large influence on velocity perturbations at least 30H (H is the terrain height) upstream and downstream of the terrain, with the largest effect happening in the area of the largest pressure perturbations. The results also show that downstream of the terrain the TKE fields are sensitive to the terrain's aspect ratio with larger enhancement in turbulence by higher aspect ratio, while upstream there is a suppression of turbulence that does not appear to be sensitive to the terrain aspect ratio. Instantaneous vorticity fields shows very detailed flow structures that resemble a multitude of eddy scales dynamically interacting while shearing oppositely paired vortices. The knowledge of the turbulence production and modifications by topography from these high-resolution simulations can be helpful in understanding long-range terrain-induced turbulence and improving turbulence parameterizations used in lower resolution weather prediction models.
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