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Dynamics of the MAP IOP 15 severe Mistral event: Observations and high-resolution numerical simulations

Abstract : This paper investigates the fundamental processes involved in a severe Mistral event that occurred during the Mesoscale Alpine Program (from 6 to 9 November 1999). The Mistral refers to a violent north/north-westerly wind blowing in south-eastern France from the Rhône valley to the French Riviera. The study is based on measurements from radiosoundings launched from Lyon and Nîmes and from two UHF wind profilers located near Marseille and Toulon allowing a good description of the flow in the complex terrain formed by the south-western Alps. Observational results are compared with RAMS non-hydrostatic numerical simulations performed with 27 km, 9 km and 3 km nested grids. The numerical simulations capture the flow complexity both upstream of the Alps and in the coastal area affected by the Mistral. They correctly reproduce horizontal wind speeds and directions, vertical velocities, virtual potential temperature and relative humidity documented by the observational network. The simulations are used to point out the main dynamical processes generating the Mistral. It is found that flow splitting around the Alps and around the isolated peaks bordering the south-eastern part of the Rhône valley (Mont Ventoux 1909 m, Massif du Lubéron 1425 m) induces the low-level jet observed near Marseille that lasts for 36 hours. The high-resolution simulation indicates that the transient low-level jet lasting for only 9 hours observed at Toulon is due to a gravity wave breaking over local topography (the Sainte Baume 1147 m) where hydraulic jumps are involved. A mountain wake with two opposite-sign potential-vorticity banners is generated. The mesoscale wake explains the westward progression of the large-scale Alpine wake.
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Submitted on : Monday, July 3, 2006 - 2:40:04 PM
Last modification on : Friday, January 10, 2020 - 3:42:14 PM



V. Guénard, Philippe Drobinski, Jean-Luc Caccia, Gilles Tedeschi, P. Currier. Dynamics of the MAP IOP 15 severe Mistral event: Observations and high-resolution numerical simulations. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, Wiley, 2006, 616, pp.757-777. ⟨10.1256/qj.05.59⟩. ⟨hal-00083650⟩



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