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Topographic Influence and Atmospheric Dynamics in the Indian Wells Valley
AuthorUher, Erich Johan
AdvisorKaplan, Michael L.
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Indian Wells Valley (IWV) is home to the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) whose operations necessitate regional forecasting and weather analysis relevant to aviation and plume release scenarios. In order to better understand the terrain influenced mesoscale circulations in the varied complex terrain of Indian Wells Valley surrounding Ridgecrest, four seasonal WRF simulations were analyzed using linear shallow water theory and nonlinear theory for flows over two-dimensional mountains. The goal is to better understand the relationships between atmospheric dynamical processes and the wind/thermal structure of the mesoscale at Indian Wells Valley. This will involve exploring relationships linking theoretical meteorology in complex terrain and advanced high resolution atmospheric modeling in this region. The WRF simulation results show several distinct circulations which rely on the interaction between complex terrain and the background weather conditions:1) In calm synoptic conditions, diurnal processes guide the evolution of boundary layer stability and slope flows.2) In periods of greatest seasonal surface heating (i.e. summer), the pressure gradient across the Sierra Nevada drives near surface westerlies across IWV.3) In conditions with strong synoptic scale increase in stability and meridional winds across the Sierra Nevada, a downslope windstorm can develop in IWV. The downslope winds and compensatory gravity wave activity over IWV will conclude once there is a significant change in conditions aloft, or an increase in convective instability at the surface of IWV which prevents air aloft from sinking towards the surface. These results provide a better understanding of the mesoscale meteorology in this region and improve forecast and analysis for plume transport and aviation needs while also laying the groundwork for future projects managing environmental concerns in this region.