Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 151, Issue 2, pp 353–371 | Cite as

Seasonal Cycle of the Near-Surface Diurnal Wind Field Over the Bay of La Paz, Mexico

  • Cuauhtémoc Turrent
  • Oleg Zaitsev


The results of numerical simulations of the troposphere over the Bay of La Paz, calculated for the months of January, April, July and October during the period 2006–2010 with the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF v3.5) regional model, are used to describe the seasonal features of the diurnal cycle of planetary boundary-layer winds. Two distinct near-surface diurnal flows with strong seasonal variability were identified: (1) a nocturnal and matutinal breeze directed from the subtropical Pacific Ocean, over the Baja California peninsula and the Bay of La Paz, into the Gulf of California that is associated with the regional sea-surface temperature difference between those two major water bodies; and (2) a mid to late afternoon onshore sea-breeze related to the peninsula’s daily cycle of insolation heating that evolves with counter-clockwise rotation over the Bay of La Paz. The model results reveal the interaction over Baja California of opposing afternoon sea-breeze fronts that originate from the subtropical Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California, with a convergence line forming over the peaks of the peninsula’s topography and the associated presence of a closed vertical circulation cell over the Bay of La Paz and the adjacent Gulf. The collision of the opposing sea-breeze fronts over the narrow peninsula drives convection that is relatively weak due to the reduced heat source and only appears to produce precipitation sporadically. The spatial structure of the sea-breeze fronts over the Bay of La Paz region is complex due to shoreline curvature and nearby topographic features. A comparison of the numerical results with available meteorological near-surface observations indicates that the modelling methodology adequately reproduced the observed features of the seasonal variability of the local planetary boundary-layer diurnal wind cycle and confirms that the low-level atmospheric circulation over the Bay of La Paz is dominated by kinetic energy in the diurnal band. The strongest (weakest) diurnal flows occur during the summer (winter) in response to the seasonally varying magnitudes of the daily land–sea thermal contrast and the regional subtropical Pacific Ocean–Gulf of California sea-surface temperature difference.


Diurnal cycle Gulf of California Regional atmospheric modelling Sea-breeze Sea-surface temperature contrast Seasonal variability 



This work was supported by the Mexican National Science and Technology Council (CONACyT) through a postdoctoral grant to the first author (Reference No. 82741) and by Research Grants from the National Polytechnic Institute (SIP–IPN Projects No. 20101287 and 20111073). We are grateful for the insightful comments of an anonymous reviewer and to the Northwest Biological Research Centre (CIBNOR) and the Mexican National Water Commission for providing the meteorological surface station data. The Matlab mapping package ‘M_Map’, developed by Dr. Rich Pawlowicz and available online at, was used to produce some of the figures presented in this paper.


  1. Atkins N, Wakimoto RM (1997) Influence of the synoptic-scale flow on sea breezes observed during CaPE. Mon Weather Rev 125:2112–2130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Azorin-Molina C, Chen D (2009) A climatological study of the influence of synoptic-scale flows on sea breeze evolution in the Bay of Alicante (Spain). Theor Appl Climatol 96:249–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Badan-Dangon A, Dorman CE, Merrifield MA, Winant CD (1991) The lower atmosphere over the Gulf of California. J Geophys Res 96:16877–16896CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beier E (1997) A numerical investigation of the annual variability of the Gulf of California. J Phys Oceanogr 27:615–632CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bitan A (1981) Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) and its exceptional wind system. Boundary-Layer Meteorol 21:477–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chiba O (1993) The turbulent characteristics in the lowest part of the sea breeze front in the atmospheric surface layer. Boundary-Layer Meteorol 65:181–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen F, Dudhia J (2001) Coupling an advanced land surface-hydrology model with the Penn State-NCAR MM5 modeling system. Part I: model implementation and sensitivity. Mon Weather Rev 129:569–585CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ciesielski P, Johnson R (2008) Diurnal cycle of surface flows during 2004 NAME and comparison to model reanalysis. J Clim 21:3890–3913CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crosman E, Horel J (2010) Sea and lake breezes: a review of numerical studies. Boundary-Layer Meteorol 137:1–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Delgado-Gonzalez O, Ocampo-Torres F (1994) Las brisas durante algunos meses de primavera y verano en el noroeste del Golfo de California. Ciencias Marinas 20(3):421–440Google Scholar
  11. Dudhia J (1989) Numerical study of convection observed during the winter monsoon experiment using a mesoscale two-dimensional model. J Atmos Sci 46(20):3077–3107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Emery WJ, Thomson RE (2003) Data analysis methods in physical oceanography. Elsevier, New York, 638 ppGoogle Scholar
  13. Farfán LM (2005) Development of convective systems over Baja California during Tropical Cyclone Linda (2003). Weather Forecast 20:801–811CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Federico S, Dalu GA, Bellecci C, Colacino M (2000) Mesoscale energetics and flows induced by sea-land and mountain-valley contrasts. Ann Geophys 18:235–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fovell RG, Dailey PS (2001) Numerical simulation of the interaction between the sea-breeze front and horizontal convective rolls. Part II: alongshore ambient flow. Mon Weather Rev 129:2057–2072CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gille ST, Llewellyn-Smith SG, Lee SM (2003) Measuring the sea breeze from QuikSCAT scatterometry. Geophys Res Lett 30(3):1114. doi: 10.1029/2002GL016230 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gilliam RC, Raman S, Niyogi DDS (2004) Observational and numerical study on the influence of large-scale flow direction and coastline shape on sea-breeze evolution. Boundary-Layer Meteorol 111:275–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gonella J (1972) A rotary-component method for analyzing meteorological and oceanographical vector time-series. Deep-Sea Res 19:833–846Google Scholar
  19. Haurwitz B (1947) Comments on the sea breeze circulation. J Meteorol 4(1):1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hendrickson J, MacMahan J (2009) Diurnal sea-breeze effects on inner-shelf cross-shore exchange. Cont Shelf Res 29(18):2195–2206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hunter E, Chant R, Bowers L, Glenn S, Kohut J (2007) Spatial and temporal variability of diurnal wind forcing in the coastal ocean. Geophys Res Lett 34:L03607Google Scholar
  22. Johnson R, Ciesielski P, L’ecuyer T, Newman A (2010) Diurnal cycle of convection during the 2004 North American Monsoon Experiment. J Clim 23:1060–1078CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Joseph B, Bhatt BC, Koh TY, Chen S (2008) Sea breeze simulation over Malay Peninsula over an intermonsoon period. J Geophys Res 113:D20122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kain JS (2004) The Kain–Fritsch convective parametrization: an update. J Appl Meteorol 43:170–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kusuda M, Alpert P (1983) Anti-clockwise rotation of the wind hodograph. Part I: theoretical study. J Atmos Sci 40:487–499CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lapworth A (2005) Collision of two sea-breeze fronts observed in Wales. Weather 60(11):316–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Marinone SG, Lavín MF, Parés-Sierra A (2011) A quantitative characterization of the seasonal Lagrangian circulation of the Gulf of California from a three-dimensional numerical model. Cont Shelf Res 31: 1420–1426Google Scholar
  28. Mesinger F et al (2006) North American regional reanalysis. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 87:343–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Miller STK, Keim BD, Talbot RW, Mao H (2003) Sea breeze: structure, forecasting, and impacts. Rev Geophys 41(3):1011. doi: 10.1029/2003RG000124 Google Scholar
  30. Muppa SK, Anandan VK, Kesarkar KA, Bhaskara-Rao SV, Reddy PN (2012) Study on deep inland penetration of sea breeze over complex terrain in the tropics. Atmos Res 104–105:209–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pidgeon EJ, Winant CD (2005) Diurnal variability in currents and temperature on the continental shelf between central and southern California. J Geophys Res 110:C03024Google Scholar
  32. Pielke RA (1974) A three-dimensional numerical model of the sea breezes over south Florida. Mon Weather Rev 102:115–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Simpson JE (1994) Sea breeze and local winds. Cambridge University Press, UK, 248 ppGoogle Scholar
  34. Sobarzo M, Bravo L, Moffat C (2010) Diurnal-period, wind-forced ocean variability on the inner shelf off Concepcion, Chile. Cont Shelf Res 30:2043–2056CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Thomsen GL, Smith RK (2006) Simulation of low-level convergence lines over north-eastern Australia. Q J R Meteorol Soc 132:691–707CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Xian Z, Pielke RA (1991) The effects of width of landmasses on the development of sea breezes. J Appl Meteorol 30:1280–1304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zaitsev O, Rabinovich A, Thomson R, Silverberg N (2010) Intense diurnal surface currents in the Bay of La Paz, Mexico. Cont Shelf Res 30:608–619CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Zhang X, DiMarco SF, Smith DC IV, Howard MK, Jochens AE, Hetland RD (2009) Near-resonant ocean response to sea breeze on a stratified continental shelf. J Phys Oceanogr 39:2137–2155CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Oceanografía FísicaCentro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de EnsenadaEnsenadaMexico
  2. 2.Departamento de OceanologíaCentro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas–Instituto Politécnico NacionalLa PazMexico

Personalised recommendations