National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1993

A comparison of gradient and observed over-the-water winds along a mountainous coast

Macklin, S.A., P.J. Stabeno, and J.D. Schumacher

J. Geophys. Res., 98(C9), 16,555–16,569, doi: 10.1029/93JC01506 (1993)

Surface winds measured from April 11, 1987, through August 16, 1987, at five locations off the southeastern coast of the Alaska Peninsula indicate the complexity of coastal wind structure as a function of proximity to a mountainous coast. Proxy winds were computed for the same five locations from digitized sea level pressure fields using a simple geotriptic wind model. Shoreward of the Rossby deformation radius, the friction parameters of the geotriptic model vary from their open-ocean values, slowing the winds and rotating them farther counterclockwise. These changing friction parameters account for the effect of the mountains on the surface wind distribution. Proxy winds and observed surface winds are coherent for periods longer than about 2 days and are better correlated farther seaward from the coast and for northeasterly alongshore winds and southeasterly onshore winds. Estimates of numbers of storms, regional wind stress, and regional vorticity determined from proxy winds are qualitatively accurate.

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