AbstractThe successive stages of nocturnal atmospheric structure inside a small isolated basin are investigated when a katabatically driven flow on an adjacent tilted plain advects cold air over the basin rim. Data came from the Arizona Meteor Crater during Intensive Observing Period 4 of the Second Meteor Crater Experiment (METCRAX II) when a mesoscale flow above the plain was superimposed on the katabatic flow leading to a flow acceleration and then deceleration over the course of the night. Following an overflow initiation phase, the basin atmosphere over the upwind inner sidewall progressed through 3 stages as the katabatic flow accelerated: 1) a cold air intrusion phase in which the overflowing cold air accelerated down the upwind inner sidewall, 2) a bifurcation phase in which the katabatic stable layer lifted over the rim included both a non-negatively buoyant upper layer that flowed horizontally over the basin and a negatively buoyant lower layer (the cold air intrusion) that continued on the slope below to create a hydraulic jump at the foot of the sidewall, and 3) a final warm air intrusion phase in which shear instability in the upper overflowing layer produced a lee wave that brought warm air from the elevated residual layer downward into the basin. Strong winds during the 3rd phase penetrated to the basin floor, stirring the pre-existing, intensely stable, cold pool. Later in the night a wind direction change aloft decelerated the katabatic wind and the atmosphere progressed back through the bifurcation and cold air intrusion phases. A conceptual diagram illustrates the first four evolutionary phases.
Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology – American Meteorological Society
Published: Mar 2, 2018
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