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Gap flows: Results from the Mesoscale Alpine Programme

Mayr, Georg J. and Armi, Laurence and Gohm, Alexander and Zängl, Günther and Durran, Dale R. and Flamant, Cyrille and Gabersek, Sasa and Mobbs, Stephen and Ross, Andrew and Weissmann, Martin (2007) Gap flows: Results from the Mesoscale Alpine Programme. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 133, pp. 881-895. DOI: 10.1002/qj.66.

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Official URL: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/113388514/home


An overview of advances in the observation, modelling, forecasting, and understanding of flows through gaps achieved in the Mesoscale Alpine Programme is given. Gaps are lateral constrictions of topography (level gaps) often combined with vertical terrain changes (passes). Of the possible flow configurations, only an asymmetric one (relatively deep and slow upstream, accelerating and thinning downstream), which connects two different reservoirs on each side of the gap, is examined. The flow is strongly nonlinear, making hydraulics (reduced-gravity shallow-water theory) rather than linear theory the simplest conceptual model to describe gap flow. Results from idealized topographical and flow conditions are presented, together with gap flows through a pass in the central Alpine Wipp Valley. For a given depth of the upstream reservoir, the gap controls the mass flux through it and marks the transition from a subcritical flow state upstream to a supercritical one downstream, which eventually adjusts to the downstream reservoir in a hydraulic jump. Three gap flow prototypes were found: a classical layer one with neutral stratification and a capping inversion and two with a continuous stratification, for which a special analytical self-similar hydraulic solution exists. In all three cases, a deepening wedge of nearly mixed and stagnant air forms on top of the gap flow plunging down from the pass. The descent causes a warming and (relative) drying of the air, making gap flows a special case of föhn. Topographical variations smaller than the gap scale cause additional hydraulic jumps, flow separation, vorticity banners, gravity waves, and interactions with cold pools. Turbulent friction cannot be neglected. The climatological frequency of gap flows depends on the establishment of two different reservoirs and reaches 20% for the Wipp

Document Type:Article
Title:Gap flows: Results from the Mesoscale Alpine Programme
AuthorsInstitution or Email of Authors
Mayr, Georg J.Univ. Innsbruck, Innsbruck, A
Armi, LaurenceUniv. of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA
Gohm, AlexanderUniv. Innsbruck, Innsbruck
Zängl, GüntherUniv. München, München
Durran, Dale R.Univ. of Washington, USA
Flamant, CyrilleInstitute Pierre Simon Laplace, F
Gabersek, SasaUniv. of Ljubljana, SLO
Mobbs, StephenUniv. of Leeds, UK
Ross, AndrewUniv. of Leeds, UK
Weissmann, MartinUNSPECIFIED
Date:February 2007
Journal or Publication Title:Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
Refereed publication:Yes
In Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:pp. 881-895
Keywords:mountain, constriction, hydraulics, föhn
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Aeronautics
HGF - Program Themes:L VU - Air Traffic and Environment (old)
DLR - Research area:Aeronautics
DLR - Program:L VU - Air Traffic and Environment
DLR - Research theme (Project):L - Air Traffic and Weather (old)
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Atmospheric Physics > Lidar
Deposited By: Christiane Münster
Deposited On:13 Mar 2008
Last Modified:20 Oct 2014 14:32

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