Dryline bulge evolution in a two-dimensional mixed-layer model

Glenn M. Auslander, Peter R. Bannon

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This study examines the diurnal response of a mixed-layer model of the dryline system to localized anomalies of surface heat flux, topography, mixed-layer depth, and inversion strength. The two-dimensional, mixed-layer model is used to simulate the dynamics of a cool, moist layer east of the dryline capped by an inversion under synoptically quiescent conditions. The modeled domain simulates the sloping topography of the U.S. Great Plains. The importance of this study can be related to dryline bulges that are areas with enhanced convergence that may trigger convection in suitable environmental conditions. All anomalies are represented by a Gaussian function in the horizontal whose amplitude, size, and orientation can be altered. A positive, surface-heat-flux anomaly produces increased mixing that creates a bulge toward the east, while a negative anomaly produces a westward bulge. Anomalies in topography show a similar trend in bulge direction with a peak giving an eastward bulge, and a valley giving a westward bulge. Anomalies in the initial mixed-layer depth yield an eastward bulge in the presence of a minimum and a westward bulge for a maximum. An anomaly in the initial inversion strength results in a westward bulge when the inversion is stronger, and an eastward bulge when the inversion is weak. The bulges observed in this study at 1800 LT ranged from 400 to 600 km along the dryline and from 25 to 80 km across the dryline. When the heating ceases at night, the entrainment and eastward movement of the line stops, and the line surges westward. This westward surge at night has little dependence on the type of anomaly applied. Whether a westward or eastward bulge was present at 1800 LT, the surge travels an equal distance toward the west. However, the inclusion of weak nocturnal friction reduces the westward surge by 100 to 200 km due to mechanical mixing of the very shallow leading edge of the surge. All model runs exhibit peaks in the mixed-layer depth along the dryline at 1800 LT caused by enhanced boundary layer convergence and entrainment of elevated mixed-layer air into the mixed layer. These peaks appear along the section of the dryline that is least parallel to the southerly flow. They vary in amplitude from 4 to 9 km depending on the amplitude of the anomaly. However, the surface-heat-flux anomalies generally result in peaks at the higher end of this interval. It is hypothesized that the formation of these peaks may be the trigger for deep convection along the dryline in the late afternoon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2528-2543
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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