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The Dynamics of Atmospheric Bores
  • Dale Durran,
  • Kevin Haghi
Dale Durran
University of Washington Seattle Campus

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Kevin Haghi
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Atmospheric bores are disturbances whose passage is accompanied by a pressure rise and a semi-permanent upward displacement of the isentropic surfaces. A series of waves often trails behind the bore’s leading edge, and in contrast to density currents, the near-surface temperature remains relatively unchanged, or even warms, after the bore passes. One of the most spectacular and well-studied examples of an atmospheric bore is the “Morning Glory”, which occurs in the Gulf of Carpentaria region of northeastern Australia. Atmospheric bores also occur frequently in the nocturnal environment over the Great Plains of the United States, where they are often initiated by gust fronts and density currents in thunderstorm outflows. In favorable conditions, these nocturnal bores can propagate hundreds of kilometers and trigger new convection through low-level lifting that can grow upscale into large organized convective systems. The dynamics of a prototypical atmospheric bore are investigated through a series of two-dimensional numerical simulations and linear theory. These simulations demonstrate that the bore dynamics are inherently finite amplitude. Although the environment supports linear trapped waves, the supported waves propagate in roughly the opposite direction to that of the bore. Qualitative analysis of the Scorer parameter can therefore give misleading indications of the potential for wave trapping, and linear internal gravity wave dynamics do not govern the behavior of the bore. The presence of a layer of enhanced static stability below a deep layer of lower stability, as would be created by a nocturnal inversion, was not necessary for the development of a bore. The key environmental factor allowing bore propagation was the presence of a low-level jet directed opposite to the movement of the bore. Significant turbulence developed in the layer between the jet maximum and the surface, which reduced the low-level static stability behind the bore. Given the essential role of jets and thereby strong environmental wind shear, and given that idealized bores may persist in environments in which the static stability is constant with height, shallow-water dynamics do not appear to be quantitatively applicable to atmospheric bores propagating against low-level jets, although there are qualitative analogies.