An intercomparison of model-predicted wave breaking for the 11 January 1972 Boulder Windstorm

J. D. Doyle, D. R. Durran, C. Chen, B. A. Colle, M. Georgelin, V. Grubisic, W. R. Hsu, C. Y. Huang, D. Landau, Y. L. Lin, G. S. Poulos, W. Y. Sun, D. B. Weber, M. G. Wurtele, M. Xue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Two-dimensional simulations of the 11 January 1972 Boulder, Colorado, windstorm, obtained from 11 diverse nonhydrostatic models, are intercompared with special emphasis on the turbulent breakdown of topographically forced gravity waves, as part of the preparation for the Mesoscale Alpine Programme field phase. The sounding used to initialize the models is more representative of the actual lower stratosphere than those applied in previous simulations. Upper-level breaking is predicted by all models in comparable horizontal locations and vertical layers, which suggests that gravity wave breaking may be quite predictable in some circumstances. Characteristics of the breaking include the following: pronounced turbulence in the 13-16-km and 18-20-km layers positioned beneath a critical level near 21-km, a well-defined upstream tilt with height, and enhancement of upper-level breaking superpositioned above the low-level hydraulic jump. Sensitivity experiments indicate that the structure of the wave breaking was impacted by the numerical dissipation, numerical representation of the horizontal advection, and lateral boundary conditions. Small vertical wavelength variations in the shear and stability above 10 km contributed to significant changes in the structures associated with wave breaking. Simulation of this case is ideal for testing and evaluation of mesoscale numerical models and numerical algorithms because of the complex wave-breaking response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)901-914
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2000


Dive into the research topics of 'An intercomparison of model-predicted wave breaking for the 11 January 1972 Boulder Windstorm'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this