Some laboratory models of flow past the Alpine/Pyrenees mountain complex

D.L. Boyer, R Chen, P. A. Davies

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    A series of laboratory experiments have been conducted to simulate the dynamical effects of the flow over and around a model Alpine/Pyrenean topography. The experimental study has employed a linearly salt-stratified rotating water channel through which the model topography is towed. Data have been collected for ranges of the similarity parameters (Rossby, Burger, Ekman and Froude numbers and the topography height to fluid depth ratio) which accord with their atmospheric values; only four of these parameters are independent. The ratio of the fluid depth to topography width need not be simulated because it does not appear as an independent parameter in the leading terms of the governing equations and boundary conditions. The results demonstrate the effects of flow direction on the horizontal motion patterns at various heights and numerous system parameter combinations. Vortex shedding is shown to occur for parameter ranges similar to those appropriate for the atmosphere; an empirical relation between the Strouhal and Rossby numbers is obtained and it is shown that the shedding periods is approximately twice the inertial period. The experiments demonstrate the flow splitting occurs in the vicinity of Geneva for both westerly and northwesterly flow. The importance of the Froude number in controlling the conditions under which fluid flows over or around the topography is illustrated, and the occurrence of lee waves for different values of the Froude and Rossby numbers (and different locations and flow directions) is described. Finally, it is shown that the advection of a parent cyclone from west to east along a path north of the Alps can generate a cyclone in the lower levels of the atmosphere in the vicinity of the Gulf of Genoa. It is suggested that these dynamical effects may play a role in triggering a lee cyclone which then might grow by other physical processes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)187-200
    Number of pages14
    JournalMeteorology and Atmospheric Physics
    Issue number1-4
    Publication statusPublished - 1987


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