On the nature of turbulent kinetic energy in a steep and narrow Alpine valley

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Abstract

This contribution investigates the nature of turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) in a steep and narrow Alpine valley under fair-weather summertime conditions. The Riviera Valley in southern Switzerland was chosen for a detailed case study, in which the evaluation of aircraft data (obtained from the MAP-Riviera field campaign) is combined with the application of high-resolution (350-m horizontal grid spacing) large-eddy simulations using the numerical model ARPS. The simulations verify what has already been observed on the basis of measurements: TKE profiles scale surprisingly well if the convective velocity scale w * is obtained from the sun-exposed eastern slope rather than from the surface directly beneath the profiles considered. ARPS is then used to evaluate the TKE-budget equation, showing that, despite sunny conditions, wind shear is the dominant production mechanism. Therefore, the surface heat flux (and thus w *) on the eastern slope does not determine the TKE evolution directly but rather, as we believe, indirectly via the interaction of thermally-driven cross-valley and along-valley flows. Excellent correlation between w * and the up-valley wind speed solidifies this hypothesis.

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