The control mechanisms of a katabatic jump in Coats Land, Antarctica: idealised simulations

Y Yu, Xiaoming Cai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


For the first time, results from a high-resolution numerical simulation (with horizontal grid spacing of 35m) were used to reveal the detailed structure near an atmospheric katabatic jump over an idealized slope. The simulation represents flow over the slopes of Coats Land, Antarctica for austral winter conditions. The katabatic jump is characterised by an updraft with vertical velocities of order 1ms(-1) and serves as a possible forcing mechanism for the gravity waves frequently observed over the ice shelves around the Antarctic. Results also indicate that strong turbulence is generally confined within a mixing zone near the top of the katabatic layer upstream of the jump and extends downstream through the top of the strong updraft associated with the jump. Detailed analyses of momentum and heat budgets across the katabatic jump indicate that, upstream of the jump, turbulent mixing is important in decelerating the upper part of the katabatic layer, while within the jump the upslope pressure gradient force associated with the pool of cold air plays a role in decelerating the flow near the surface. The heat budget near the jump reveals a simple two-term balance: the turbulent heat flux divergence is balanced by the advection. A comparison of model results with available theories indicates that mixing between layers of different potential temperature structure indeed plays some role in the development of katabatic flow jumps, especially for strong jumps. Theories used to study katabatic jumps should include this mixing process, of which the amount depends on the intensity of the jump. A conceptual model of a katabatic jump, including the main dynamical processes, is constructed from these detailed analyses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-555
Number of pages29
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2006


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