, Volume 78, Issue 1-2, pp 115-132

Mesoscale modeling of katabatic winds over Greenland and comparisons with AWS and aircraft data

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Simulations of the katabatic wind system over the Greenland ice sheet for the two months April and May 1997 were performed using the Norwegian Limited Area Model (NORLAM) with a horizontal resolution of 25 km. The model results are intercompared and validated against observational data from automatic weather stations (AWS), global atmospheric analyses and instrumented aircraft observations of individual cases during that period. The NORLAM is able to simulate the synoptic developments and daily cycle of the katabatic wind system realistically. For most of the cases covered by aircraft observations, the model results agree very well with the measured developments and structures of the katabatic wind system in the lowest 400 m. Despite NORLAM’s general ability of reproducing the four-dimensional structure of the katabatic wind, problems occur in cases, when the synoptic background is not well captured by the analyses used as initial and boundary conditions for the model runs or where NORLAM fails to correctly predict the synoptic development. The katabatic wind intensity in the stable boundary layer is underestimated by the model in cases when the simulated synoptic forcing is too weak. An additional problem becomes obvious in cases when the model simulates clouds in contrast to the observations or when the simulated clouds are too thick compared to the observed cloud cover. In these cases, the excessive cloud amount prevents development of the katabatic wind in the model.

Received September 22, 2000/Revised March 16, 2001