The bimodal downslope windstorms at Kvísker
Downslope windstorms at Kvísker in Southeast Iceland are explored using a mesoscale model, observations and numerical analysis of the atmosphere. Two different types of gravity-wave induced windstorms are identified. At the surface, their main difference is in the horizontal extent of the lee-side accelerated flow. Type S (Short) is a westerly windstorm, which is confined to the lee-slopes of Mount Öræfajökull, while a Type E (Extended) windstorm occurs in the northerly flow and is not confined to the lee-slopes but continues some distance downstream of the mountain. The Type S windstorm may be characterized as a more pure gravity-wave generated windstorm than the Type E windstorm which bears a greater resemblance to local flow acceleration described by hydraulic theory. The low-level flow in the Type E windstorm is of arctic origin and close to neutral with an inversion well above the mountain top level. At middle tropospheric levels there is a reverse vertical windshear. The Type S windstorm occurs in airmasses of southerly origin. It also has a well-mixed, but a shallower boundary-layer than the Type E windstorms. Aloft, the winds increase with height and there is an amplified gravity wave. Climate projections indicate a possible decrease in windstorm frequency up to the year 2050.
This study is partly funded by Kvískerjasjóður and is carried out in connection with the RÁV project which is supported by the Icelandic Research Fund (RANNÍS). We also acknowledge the contribution of Vegagerðin to the monitoring of the windstorms. Furthermore, the contribution of two anonymous reviewers is acknowledged.
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