Articles | Volume 24, issue 6
03 Jul 2006
 | 03 Jul 2006

Thermally driven circulation in a region of complex topography: comparison of wind-profiling radar measurements and MM5 numerical predictions

L. Bianco, B. Tomassetti, E. Coppola, A. Fracassi, M. Verdecchia, and G. Visconti

Abstract. The diurnal variation of regional wind patterns in the complex terrain of Central Italy was investigated for summer fair-weather conditions and winter time periods using a radar wind profiler. The profiler is located on a site where interaction between the complex topography and land-surface produces a variety of thermally and dynamically driven wind systems. The observational data set, collected for a period of one year, was used first to describe the diurnal evolution of thermal driven winds, second to validate the Mesoscale Model 5 (MM5) that is a three-dimensional numerical model. This type of analysis was focused on the near-surface wind observation, since thermally driven winds occur in the lower atmosphere. According to the valley wind theory expectations, the site – located on the left sidewall of the valley (looking up valley) – experiences a clockwise turning with time. Same characteristics in the behavior were established in both the experimental and numerical results.

Because the thermally driven flows can have some depth and may be influenced mainly by model errors, as a third step the analysis focuses on a subset of cases to explore four different MM5 Planetary Boundary Layer (PBL) parameterizations. The reason is to test how the results are sensitive to the selected PBL parameterization, and to identify the better parameterization if it is possible. For this purpose we analysed the MM5 output for the whole PBL levels. The chosen PBL parameterizations are: 1) Gayno-Seaman; 2) Medium-Range Forecast; 3) Mellor-Yamada scheme as used in the ETA model; and 4) Blackadar.