Impact of melting snow on the valley flow field and precipitation phase transition

Thériault, Julie M.; Milbrandt, Jason A.; Doyle, Jonathan; Minder, Justin R.; Thompson, Gregory; Sarkadi, Noemi et Geresdi, Istvan (2015). « Impact of melting snow on the valley flow field and precipitation phase transition ». Atmospheric Research, 156, pp. 111-124.

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The prediction of precipitation phase and intensity in complex terrain is challenging when the surface temperature is near 0 °C. In calm weather conditions, melting snow often leads to a 0 °C-isothermal layer. The temperature feedback from melting snow generates cold dense air moving downslope, hence altering the dynamics of the storm. A correlation has been commonly observed between the direction of the valley flow and the precipitation phase transition in complex terrain. This study examines the impact of temperature feedback from melting snow on the direction of the valley flow when the temperature is near 0 °C. Semi-idealized two-dimensional simulations using the Weather Research and Forecasting model were conducted for a case of moderate precipitation in the Pacific Coast Ranges. The results demonstrate that the temperature feedbacks caused by melting snow affect the direction of the flow in valleys. Several microphysics schemes (1-moment bulk, 2-moment bulk, and bin), which parameterize snow in different ways, all produced a valley flow reversal but at different rates. Experiments examining sensitivity to the initial prescribed snow mixing ratio aloft were conducted to study the threshold precipitation at which this change in the direction of the valley flow field can occur. All prescribed snow fields produced a change in the valley wind velocity but with different timings. Finally, the evolution of the rain-snow boundary with the different snowfields was also studied and compared with the evolution of the wind speed near the surface. It was found that the change in the direction of the valley flow occurs after the 0 °C isotherm reaches the base of the mountain. Overall this study showed the importance to account for the latent heat exchange from melting snow. This weak temperature feedback can impact, in some specific weather conditions, the valley flow field in a mountainous area.

Type: Article de revue scientifique
Mots-clés ou Sujets: Precipitation, Complex terrain, Rain–snow boundary, Dynamic meteorology, Microphysics
Unité d'appartenance: Faculté des sciences > Département des sciences de la Terre et de l'atmosphère
Déposé par: Julie Mireille Thériault
Date de dépôt: 21 mars 2016 14:32
Dernière modification: 01 juin 2017 23:10
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