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Thermal belt and cold air drainage on the mountain slope and cold air lake in the basin at quiet, clear night

Yoshino, M. M.
GeoJournal 1997 v.8 no.3 pp. 235-250
air, air flow, air temperature, basins, cold, cold zones, drainage, lakes, mountains, topography, valleys, watersheds, wind speed
This paper reviews results of recent observations on the thermal belt, cold air drainage and cold air lake, which are striking in local climatic phenomena in mountain areas.The height (A) of the warmer part, the thermal belt, of the mountain slopes changes with time from early evening, midnight to early morning and also seasonally and differs according to the velocity of the upper general wind and cloudiness, but is generalized by the height difference (H) between the bottom of the basin and the surrounding mountain ridges. Roughly speaking, A = (0.25–0.30) H.On the mountain slopes, cold air flows down intermittently. The air temperature shows positive correlation to the wind speed of cold air drainage in the source region of cold air drainage. On the other hand, however, there is a negative correlation between the wind speed and air temperature in the drainage region at the lower part of the slope. Above the downslope cold air drainage, there is an anti-down-slope wind. The relatively large drainages are formed at frequencies corresponding to periods of oscillation of 1–2 hours and the smaller ones are of several minutes.In the basin or valley bottom, cold air lakes are formed. They are well defined by a strong inversion in air temperature. In most cases, the stagnant air in the cold air lake flows down slowly in accordance with inclination of the basin or valley floor. Above the cold air lake, we find the neutral or weak inversion layer. In some periods the drained cold air flows into this layer from the side slopes of the mountains. However, the radiation cooling of the basin or valley floor seems to be more effective for the formation of the cold air lake. Above the neutral or weak inversion layer, there is a layer of the general wind caused by the synoptic scale circulation systems. Their effects are controlled by the surrounding topography as well as the basin or the valley itself.In short, the structure of thermal belt, cold air drainage and cold air lake is a good example of the small-scale climatic processes under the influence of the synoptic scale phenomena and the one-order-greater scale topography.