AbstractIn situ aircraft observations are used to interrogate the ability of a numerical weather prediction model to represent flow structure and turbulence at a narrow cold front. Simulations are performed at a range of nested resolutions with grid spacings of 12 km down to 100 m and the convergence with resolution is investigated. The observations include the novel feature of a low-altitude circuit around the front that is closed in the frame of reference of the front, thus allowing the direct evaluation of area-average vorticity and divergence values from circuit integrals. As such, the observational strategy enables a comparison of flow structures over a broad range of spatial scales, from the size of the circuit itself (≈100 km) to small-scale turbulent fluctuations (≈10 m). It is found that many aspects of the resolved flow converge successfully towards the observations with resolution if sampling uncertainty is accounted for, including the area-average vorticity and divergence measures and the narrowest observed cross-frontal width. In addition, there is a gradual handover from parametrized to resolved turbulent fluxes of moisture and momentum as motions in the convective boundary layer behind the front become partially-resolved in the highest resolution simulations. In contrast, the parametrized turbulent fluxes associated with subgrid-scale shear-driven turbulence ahead of the front do not converge on the observations. The structure of frontal rainbands associated with a shear instability along the front also does not converge with resolution, indicating that the mechanism of the frontal instability may not be well represented in the simulations.
Monthly Weather Review – American Meteorological Society
Published: Sep 14, 2017
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