Meso-scale surface wind changes associated with the passage of cold fronts along the eastern side of the Southern Alps, New Zealand

A. P. Sturman, R. K. Smith, M. A. Page, R. N. Ridley, J. T. Steiner

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The movement of cold fronts along the eastern side of the Southern Alps has been studied in detail during the Southerly Change Experiment (SOUCHEX). An enhanced network of surface wind monitoring stations was established in the Canterbury region of the South Island to allow detailed study of meso-scale wind fields during the passage of fronts. Five southerly changes occurred during the experiment, one of which failed to produce a clear wind change over much of the area. The often erratic movement of these fronts along the eastern side of the mountains is illustrated by isochrone maps of the onset of the wind change. Other general characteristics of these events include their shallowness (1000-1500 m deep) and in most cases their abrupt onset. Detailed analysis of anemograph data collected during SOUCHEX indicates great variability in the surface wind field associated with passage of the fronts. Maps of the meso-scale wind field plotted for the first southerly change of the 14 January 1988 illustrate the complexity of the wind changes experienced over the eastern South Island in particular. The arrival of the cold fronts at individual sites provided features of air mass interaction which appear to relate to time of day, and regional and local site factors. Variations, in wind, temperature and relative humidity provide clear examples of both single and double air mass changes. However, nocturnal changes seem to be less distinct due to lower ambient temperatures and increased boundary layer stability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-143
Number of pages11
JournalMeteorology and Atmospheric Physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 1990

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