The relative roles of lateral boundaries, initial conditions, and topography in mesoscale simulations of lee cyclogenesis

P. Alpert*, S. O. Krichak, T. N. Krishnamurti, U. Stein, M. Tsidulko

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The contributions of boundary factors, which may be considered to be independent of the physics or the dynamics of the mesoscale model, are explored in a consistent approach for a widely investigated Alpine Experiment (ALPEX) lee cyclogenesis case. The roles of the lateral boundaries and the initial fields in conjunction with that of the topography, as well as their possible nonlinear interactions in various model settings, are calculated with the aid of the recently developed factor separation method. Focus is given to the influences of the extent of the model domain and of the running period prior to the climax of the lee cyclone development during 3-6 March 1982. It is shown that the initial conditions are dominant in the first 9-15 h, during which time the topography and lateral boundaries play negative roles because of the adjusting processes. The nonlinear interaction BI between lateral boundaries (B) and the initial conditions (I) was found to be the major contributor to the cyclone deepening during the adjustment period. For longer running periods, some equilibrium is reached in which both the BI interaction and the lateral boundary dominate. The topographic contribution to the lee cyclone deepening in this ALPEX case was indeed limited to about 20% only, as already indicated by earlier studies. Testing several distances of the western lateral boundary suggests the existence of an optimal distance for good results. Both too distant and too close lateral boundaries yield worse results. Testing with frozen boundary conditions shows that the update of the lateral boundaries at a specific time of +36 h was crucial to the development. The results are clearly dependent to some extent on the model type and the particular case under investigation, as well as on the boundary conditions, the initialization procedures, and other model characteristics. The current experiments, however, provide a quantitative approach for estimating the relative roles of the aforementioned boundary factors in mesoscale developments with the aid of the Pennsylvania State University-National Center for Atmospheric Research MM4 mesoscale model and The Florida State University regional system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1091-1099
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1996


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