Inter-Comparison of WRF Model Simulated Winds and MISR Stereoscopic Winds Embedded within Mesoscale von Kármán Wake Vortices

Friday, 19 December 2014
Christopher G. Nunalee, North Carolina State University at Raleigh, Raleigh, NC, United States, Akos Horvath, Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, Leipzig, Germany and Kevin Joseph Mueller, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States
Several distinct wake regimes are possible when considering atmospheric flow past a steep mountainous island. Of these regimes, coherent vortex shedding in low-Froude number flow is particularly interesting because it can produce laterally focused paths of counter rotating eddies capable of extending downstream for hundreds of kilometers (i.e., a von Kármán vortex street). Given the spatial scales of atmospheric von Kármán vortices, which typically lies on the interface of the meso-scale and the micro-scale, they are uniquely challenging to model using conventional numerical weather prediction platforms. In this presentation, we present high resolution (1-km horizontally) numerical modeling results using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, of multiple real-world von Kármán vortex shedding events associated with steep islands (e.g., Madeira island, Gran Canaria island, etc.). In parallel, we also present corresponding cloud-motion wind and cloud-top height measurements from the satellite-based Multiangle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument. The MISR stereo algorithm enables experimental retrieval of the horizontal wind vector (both along-track and cross-track components) at 4.4-km resolution, in addition to the operational 1.1-km resolution cross-track wind and cloud-top height products. These products offer the fidelity appropriate for inter-comparison with the numerically simulated vortex streets. In general, we find an agreement between the instantaneous simulated cloud level winds and the MISR stereoscopic winds; however, discrepancies in the vortex street length and localized horizontal wind shear were documented. In addition, the simulated fields demonstrate sensitivity to turbulence closure and input terrain height data.