Study of a Wind Front over the Northern South China Sea Generated by the Freshening of the North-East Monsoon

Alpers, Werner; Wong, Wai; Dagestad, Knut-Frode; Chan, Pak
October 2015
Boundary-Layer Meteorology;Oct2015, Vol. 157 Issue 1, p125
Academic Journal
Wind fronts associated with cold-air outbreaks from the Chinese continent in the winter are often observed over the northern South China Sea and are well studied. However, wind fronts caused by another type of synoptic setting, the sudden increase or freshening of the north-east monsoon, which is caused by the merging of two anticyclonic regions over the Chinese continent, are also frequently encountered over the northern South China Sea. For the first time, such an event is investigated using multi-sensor satellite data, weather radar images, and a high-resolution atmospheric numerical model. It is shown that the wind front generated by the freshening of the north-east monsoon is quite similar to wind fronts generated by cold-air outbreaks. Furthermore, we investigate fine-scale features of the wind front that are visible on synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images through variations of the small-scale sea-surface roughness. The SAR image was acquired by the Advanced SAR of the European Envisat satellite over the South China Sea off the coast of Hong Kong and has a resolution of 150 m. It shows notches (dents) in the frontal line and also radar signatures of embedded rain cells. This (rare) SAR image, together with a quasi-simultaneously acquired weather radar image, provide excellent data with which to test the performance of the pre-operational version of the Atmospheric Integrated Rapid-cycle (AIR) forecast model system of the Hong Kong Observatory with respect to modelling rain cells at frontal boundaries. The calculations using a horizontal resolution with 3-km resolution show that the model reproduces quite well the position of the notches where rain cells are generated. The model shows further that at the position of the notches the vorticity of the airflow is increased leading to the uplift of warmer, moister air from the sea-surface to higher levels. With respect to the 10-km resolution model, the comparison of model data with the near-surface wind field derived from the SAR image shows that the AIR model overestimates the wind speed in the lee of the coastal mountains east of Hong Kong, probably due to the incorrect inclusion of the coastal topography.



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