The Impact of Moisture on Mountain Waves During T-REX
UNIVERSITY CORP FOR ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH MONTEREY CA
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The impact of moist processes on mountain waves over Sierra Nevada Mountain Range is investigated in this study. Aircraft measurements over Owens Valley obtained during the Terrain-induced Rotor Experiment T-REX indicate that mountain waves were generally weaker when the relative humidity maximum near the mountaintop level was above 70. Four moist cases with a RH maximum near the mountaintop level greater than 90 have been further examined using a mesoscale model and a linear wave model. Two competing mechanisms governing the influence of moisture on mountain waves have been identified. The first mechanism involves low-level moisture that enhances flow-terrain interaction by reducing windward flow blocking. In the second mechanism, the moist airflow tends to damp mountain waves through destratifying the airflow and reducing the buoyancy frequency. The second mechanism dominates in the presence of a deep moist layer in the lower to middle troposphere, and the wave amplitude is significantly reduced associated with a smaller moist buoyancy frequency. With a shallow moist layer and strong low-level flow, the two mechanisms can become comparable in magnitude and largely offset each other.