Observations and Numerical Simulations of Subrotor Vortices during T-REX

James D. Doyle, Vanda Grubišić, William O. J. Brown, Stephan F. J. De Wekker, Andreas Dörnbrack, Qingfang Jiang, Shane D. Mayor, Martin Weissmann
2009 Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences  
High-resolution observations from scanning Doppler and aerosol lidars, wind profiler radars, as well as surface and aircraft measurements during the Terrain-induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) provide the first comprehensive documentation of small-scale intense vortices associated with atmospheric rotors that form in the lee of mountainous terrain. Although rotors are already recognized as potential hazards for aircraft, it is proposed that these small-scale vortices, or subrotors, are the most
more » ... gerous features because of strong wind shear and the transient nature of the vortices. A life cycle of a subrotor event is captured by scanning Doppler and aerosol lidars over a 5-min period. The lidars depict an amplifying vortex, with a characteristic length scale of ;500-1000 m, that overturns and intensifies to a maximum spanwise vorticity greater than 0.2 s 21 . Radar wind profiler observations document a series of vortices, characterized by updraft/downdraft couplets and regions of enhanced reversed flow, that are generated in a layer of strong vertical wind shear and subcritical Richardson number. The observations and numerical simulations reveal that turbulent subrotors occur most frequently along the leading edge of an elevated sheet of horizontal vorticity that is a manifestation of boundary layer shear and separation along the lee slopes. As the subrotors break from the vortex sheet, intensification occurs through vortex stretching and in some cases tilting processes related to threedimensional turbulent mixing. The subrotors and ambient vortex sheet are shown to intensify through a modest increase in the upstream inversion strength, which illustrates the predictability challenges for the turbulent characterization of rotors.
doi:10.1175/2008jas2933.1 fatcat:uoebpw3udncqfowq4ujkocondi