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Title: Effects of trade-wind strength and direction on the leeside circulations and rainfall of the island of Hawaii

Author: Yang, Yang; Chen, Yi-Leng; Fujioka, Francis M.;

Date: 2009

Source: Monthly Weather Review. 136: 4799-4818.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: The leeside circulations and weather of the island of Hawaii were studied from the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–NCAR Mesoscale Model (MM5) land surface model simulations for eight strong (∼7.9 m s−1) and eight weak (∼5.2 m s−1) trade-wind days and for five days with southeasterly trades (∼7.1 m s−1) during summer 2004. The objective is to investigate the effects of trade-wind strength and directions on the leeside circulations and rainfall and the modification of these effects by the land surface thermal forcing. For the small wake on the lee side of the Kohala Mountains (1700 m, lower than the trade-wind inversion at 2000 m) over northern Hawaii, the hydraulic jump is present with stronger downslope winds and warmer and drier conditions on the lee side and a weaker westerly reversed flow offshore when trades are stronger. In contrast, the westerly reversed flow along the large wake axis off the central Kona leeside coast (behind massive mountains with tops >4000 m) is 1–1.5 m s−1 stronger and 200–300 m deeper with higher moisture content when trades are stronger. Over the Kona slopes, the daytime thermally direct circulation cell is more significant when trades are stronger because of descending airflow aloft with less cloudiness. In the evening, the convergence between the westerly reversed flow offshore along the wake axis and the offshore/katabatic flow in the Kona coastal region is more significant with higher evening rainfall when trades are stronger. During the day, the lee side of the Kohala Mountains is characterized by a reversed flow (∼4 m s−1) merging with sea-breeze circulations along the coast. When trades are stronger, the convergence between the anabatic winds and the descending flow from the upper slopes is greater. However, the simulated cloud water there is less under strong trades because of warmer and drier conditions due to significant adiabatic descent in the lee. At night, when trades are stronger, the combined downslope/katabatic flow prevails without a reversed flow offshore. Under a southeasterly trade-wind flow with a lower trade-wind inversion (1.5 km), the westerly reversed flow is shallower; the adiabatic descent aloft on the southwestern leeside areas is more significant with warmer temperatures (0.5 K), a larger negative potential vorticity maximum [0.2 potential vorticity units (PVU), 1 PVU = 10−6 K m2 s−1 kg−1], and a more pronounced anticyclonic vortex offshore. The westerly reversed flow off the Kona coast shifts northward.

Keywords: Atmospheric circulation, Orographic effects, Rainfall, Pacific Ocean

Publication Notes:

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Yang, Y.; Chen, Y.-L.; Fujioka, F.M. 2009. Effects of trade-wind strength and direction on the leeside circulations and rainfall of the island of Hawaii. Monthly Weather Review. 136: 4799-4818.


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