Two-way one-dimensional high-resolution air-sea coupled modelling applied to Mediterranean heavy rain events

Abstract : South-eastern France is prone to heavy rain events during the autumn. For these extreme precipitation events, the Mediterranean Sea fuels the atmospheric boundary layer in heat and moisture and sometimes contributes to flooding, owing to the large swell and waves produced in these situations. The aim of this study is to examine how the severe atmospheric conditions over the sea associated with these events alter the ocean mixed layer, and what feedback the ocean contributes to the precipitation events. To address these questions, a high-resolution air-sea coupled system is developed between the atmospheric MESO-NH model and a one-dimensional ocean model. It is applied for short range (24 h) and high-resolution (2-3 km) simulations of three representative torrential rainfall events: 12-13 November 1999 (Aude case), 8-9 September 2002 (Gard case) and 3 December 2003 (Hérault case). In those meteorological situations characterized by moderate to intense low-level winds, the Mediterranean Sea globally loses energy, to the benefit of the convective precipitating systems. The result is an overall decrease of the thermal content all along the simulation of the events. Significant cooling and deepening of the ocean mixed layer are found in the areas of intense low-level winds. A notable result of the study concerns the impact of the torrential rainfall on the ocean mixed layer. The most important disturbances of the ocean mixed layer are indeed found underneath the heavy precipitation. The salt content is decreased all along the ocean mixed layer depth, but more significantly in the first ten metres near the air-sea interface, with the formation of a salt barrier. By performing both two-way and one-way coupled simulations, it is found that the interactive coupling tends to moderate both the atmospheric and ocean responses compared with the one-way mode. The differences between the two-way and one-way coupled simulations are, however, found to be relatively small considering the atmospheric short-range forecast.
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Submitted on : Monday, February 2, 2009 - 2:01:27 PM
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Cindy Lebeaupin Brossier, Véronique Ducrocq, Hervé Giordani. Two-way one-dimensional high-resolution air-sea coupled modelling applied to Mediterranean heavy rain events. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, Wiley, 2009, 135 (638), pp.187-204. ⟨10.1002/qj.338⟩. ⟨meteo-00357923⟩



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