Vortex streets to the lee of Madeira in a kilometre-resolution regional climate model

Atmospheric vortex streets are a widely studied dynamical effect of isolated mountainous islands. Observational evidence comes from case studies and satellite imagery, but the climatology and annual cycle of vortex shedding are often poorly understood. Using the non-hydrostatic limited-area COSMO model driven by the ERA-Interim reanalysis, we conducted a 10-year-long simulation over a mesoscale domain covering the Madeira and Canary archipelagos at high spatial (grid spacing of 1 km) and temporal resolutions. Basic properties of vortex streets were analysed and validated through a 6 d long case study in the lee of Madeira Island. The simulation compares well with satellite and aerial observations and with existing literature on idealised simulations. Our results show a strong dependency of vortex shedding on local and synoptic-flow conditions, which are to a large extent governed by the location, shape and strength of the Azores high. As part of the case study, we developed a vortex identification algorithm. The algorithm is based on a set of criteria and enabled us to develop a climatology of vortex shedding from Madeira Island for the 10-year simulation period. The analysis shows a pronounced annual cycle with an increasing vortex-shedding rate from April to August and a sudden decrease in September. This cycle is consistent with mesoscale wind conditions and local inversion height patterns.


Publication status:
Authors: Gao, Qinggang, Zeman, Christian, Vergara-Temprado, Jesus, Lima, Daniela, Molnar, Peter, Schär, Christoph

On this site: Qinggang Gao
2 February, 2023
Weather and Climate Dynamics / 4
23pp / 189-211
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