Numerical experiments investigating the orographic effects on a heavy rainfall event over the northwestern coast of Taiwan during TAMEX IOP 13

Pay Liam Lin, Yi Leng Chen, Ching Sen Chen, Che Ling Liu, Ching Ying Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

An unusual heavy coastal rainfall event (>231 mm day-1) occurred during the period of 24-25 June 1987 over the lowland (elevation less than 200 m) and coastal areas in northwest and central Taiwan. The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model is used to investigate the role of synoptic forcing, orographic effects and the diurnal heating cycle on the generation of a prefrontal localized low-level convergence zone offshore leading to the observed coastal rainfall maximum. This case is well simulated by the control experiment initialized at 0000 UTC (0800 LST) 24 June 1987 using the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts data. A model sensitivity test without Taiwan's terrain fails to reproduce the observed coastal rainfall maximum. It is apparent that for this case, synoptic forcing by the Mei-Yu jet/front system is inadequate to initiate deep convection leading to the development of coastal heavy precipitation. The generation of the localized low-level convergence zone is closely related to the simulated strong winds with a large southwesterly wind component (or the barrier jet) along the northwestern coast as the surface front approaches. The development of the simulated barrier jet is due to a 50-60% increase in the meridional pressure gradient as a result of orographic blocking. The diurnal heating cycle also impacts the strength of the simulated barrier jet over the northwestern Taiwan coast. The simulated barrier jet is stronger (~3 m s-1) in the early morning than in the afternoon as orographic blocking is most significant when the surface air is the coldest. The representation of the terrain in the model impacts the simulated barrier jet and rainfall. With a coarse horizontal resolution (45 km), orographic blocking is less significant than the control run with a much weaker meridional wind component over the northwestern coast of Taiwan. The coarse resolution model fails to reproduce the observed rainband off the northwestern coast. Thus, to successfully simulate this type of event, high-resolution mesoscale models adequately depicting Taiwan's terrain are required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-50
Number of pages16
JournalMeteorology and Atmospheric Physics
Volume114
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2011

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