Variability of three-dimensional sea breeze structure in southern France: Observations and evaluation of empirical scaling laws

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Abstract

Sea-breeze dynamics in southern France is investigated using an airborne Doppler lidar, a meteorological surface station network and radiosoundings, in the framework of the ESCOMPTE experiment conducted during summer 2001 in order to evaluate the role of thermal circulations on pollutant transport and ventilation. The airborne Doppler lidar WIND contributed to three-dimensional (3-D) mapping of the sea breeze circulation in an unprecedented way. The data allow access to the onshore and offshore sea breeze extents (xsb), and to the sea breeze depth (zsb) and intensity (usb). They also show that the return flow of the sea breeze circulation is very seldom seen in this area due to (i) the presence of a systematic non zero background wind, and (ii) the 3-D structure of the sea breeze caused by the complex coastline shape and topography. A thorough analysis is conducted on the impact of the two main valleys (Rhône and Durance valleys) affecting the sea breeze circulation in the area.<br /><br />Finally, this dataset also allows an evaluation of the existing scaling laws used to derive the sea breeze intensity, depth and horizontal extent. The main results of this study are that (i) latitude, cumulative heating and surface friction are key parameters of the sea breeze dynamics; (ii) in presence of strong synoptic flow, all scaling laws fail in predicting the sea breeze characteristics (the sea breeze depth, however being the most accurately predicted); and (iii) the ratio zsb/usb is approximately constant in the sea breeze flow.

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Drobinski, P., Bastin, S., Dabas, A., Delville, P., & Reitebuch, O. (2006). Variability of three-dimensional sea breeze structure in southern France: Observations and evaluation of empirical scaling laws. Annales Geophysicae, 24(7), 1783–1799. https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-24-1783-2006

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