Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics

, Volume 103, Issue 1–4, pp 187–194 | Cite as

Generation of internal gravity waves by a katabatic wind in an idealized alpine valley



The dynamics of the atmospheric boundary layer in an alpine valley at night or in winter is dominated by katabatic (or down-slope) flows. As predicted by McNider (1982) oscillations along the slope are expected to occur if the fluid is stably-stratified, as a result of buoyancy and adiabatic cooling/warming effects. Internal gravity waves must also be generated by the katabatic flows because of the stable stratification. The aim of the present paper is to identify and characterize the oscillations in the katabatic flow as well as the internal gravity wave field emitted by this flow. Numerical simulations with the ARPS code are performed for this purpose, for an idealized configuration of the Chamonix valley. We show that the oscillations near the slope are non propagating motions, whose period is well predicted by the single particle model of McNider (1982) and equal to 10 to 11 mn. As for the wave field, its frequency is close to 0.85 N, where N is the value of the Brunt-Väisälä frequency in the generation region of the waves, consistently with previous academic studies of wave emission by turbulent motions in a stratified fluid. This leads to a wave period of 7 to 8 mn.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire des Ecoulements Géophysiques et IndustrielsCNRS/UJF/INPGGrenobleFrance
  2. 2.Centre for Atmospheric and Instrumentation ResearchUniversity of HerfordshireHatfieldUK

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