Energetics of Deep Alpine Valleys in Pooling and Draining Configurations

G. Arduini, Charles Chemel, C. Staquet

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The Weather Research and Forecast numerical model is used to investigate the nocturnal atmospheric boundary layer in a valley that opens either on a wider valley (draining configuration) or on a narrower valley (pooling configuration). One draining case and three weak to strong pooling cases are considered. Results show that the structure of the nocturnal boundary layer is substantially different for the draining and pooling configurations. The greater the pooling, the deeper and colder is the boundary layer. Down-valley winds are weaker for pooling and draining configurations than in an equivalent valley opening directly on a plain. For the strong pooling case, an up-valley flow develops from the narrower to the wider valley during the evening transition, affecting the mass budget of the wider valley during that period. Considering the heat budget of the valley system, the contribution of the diabatic processes, when appropriately weighted, hardly varies along the valley axis. Conversely, the contribution of advection varies along the valley axis: it decreases for a pooling configuration and increases for a draining configuration. Consequently, for a pooling configuration, the heat transfer between the valley and the plain is reduced, thereby increasing the temperature difference between them. For the strong pooling case, this temperature difference can be explained by the valley-volume effect once the down-valley flow has developed. This occurs in a valley when the `extra' heat loss within the valley due to the surface sensible heat flux balances the heat input due to advection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2105-2124
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Early online date24 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • boundary layer
  • valley/mountain flows
  • numerical analysis/modelling


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