ANALYSIS OF HEAT BUDGET, DISSIPATION AND FRONTOGENESIS IN A SHALLOW DENSITY CURRENT

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Abstract

High frequency wind and temperature measurements, obtained in March 1995 from a 10-m tower array situated in south-east Kansas, are used to analyze the structure of a shallow density current. This current is approximately 7 m deep and exhibits a current head that is estimated to be about twice the current depth. The event lasted approximately 900 s and its origin appears to be a shallow slope 2–:5 km to the west of the site, where cold air drainage occurs. The onset of the event is marked by a 5 °C temperature decrease at the 3-m level, increased variance of temperature and of wind velocity, and increased dissipation of kinetic energy, measured by a hot-wire anemometer at the 3-m level. The primary contributors to temperature changes following the frontal passage are both horizontal and vertical advections; contributions from flux divergences of temperature and of radiation, and from dew formation, do not appear to be significant. Postulated frontogenesis, prior to the arrival of the apparent equilibrated front of approximately 176-m width at the site, is examined by means of a theoretical model. The time required to equilibrate the front, by means of kinetic energy dissipation within the frontal zone, is determined to be less than 300 s, or less than the estimated travel time from the orographic slope to the observational site. The absence of upstream data is determined, however, to be a limitation of the analysis performed.

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