Impacts of topography and land degradation on the sea breeze over eastern Spain

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A three-dimensional non-hydrostatic atmospheric model RAMS, version3b, is used to examine the impact of complex topography on the sea breeze under heterogeneous and degradation land use characteristics. In the study, it is shown that topography plays an important role in the sea-breeze circulation by aligning the sea breeze front to the coastline and locating the convergence zones close to the mountain range. When the sea breeze is coupled with the upslope wind, the sea-breeze circulation is strengthened by the topography. Sensitivity analyses are carried out to determine the influence of vegetation and soil moisture, i.e., land surface modifications, to this thermally driven flow. Land degradation results in an enhanced sea-breeze circulation which is characterized by a stronger onshore flow, a stronger return current, a larger updraft velocity associated with the sea-breeze front and further inland penetration. Other important features are a deeper sea-breeze depth, a larger downdraft velocity behind the sea-breeze front, and a longer offshore extent. The results also show how land changes modify the sea breeze temporal evolution resulting in an earlier onset and later end. The study stresses the convenience of using three-dimensional models with detailed land surface information to model the sea breeze in complex terrain where land use is rapidly modified.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-170
JournalMeteorology and Atmospheric Physics
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • mesoscale circulations
  • coastal environment
  • numerical-model
  • surface fluxes
  • soil-moisture
  • lake breeze
  • james-bay
  • vegetation
  • heat
  • desertification


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