The influence of synoptic wind on land–sea breezes

Mohammad Allouche, Elie Bou-Zeid, Juho Iipponen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Particularly challenging classes of heterogeneous surfaces are ones where strong secondary circulations are generated, potentially dominating the flow dynamics. In this study, we focus on land–sea breeze (LSB) circulations resulting from surface thermal contrasts, in the presence of increasing synoptic pressure forcing. The relative importance and orientation of the thermal and synoptic forcings are measured through two dimensionless parameters: a heterogeneity Richardson number (measuring the relative strength of geostrophic wind and convection induced by buoyancy), and the angle α between the shore and geostrophic wind. Large-eddy simulations reveal the emergence of various regimes where the dynamics are asymmetric with respect to α. Along-shore cases result in deep LSBs similar to the scenario with no synoptic background, irrespective of the geostrophic wind strength. Across-shore simulations exhibit a circulation cell that decreases in height with increasing synoptic forcing. However, at the highest synoptic winds simulated, the circulation cell is advected away with sea-to-land winds, while a shallow circulation persists for land-to-sea cases. Scaling analysis that relates the internal parameters Qshore (net shore volumetric flux) and qshore (net shore advected kinematic heat flux) to the external input parameters results in a succinct model of the shore fluxes that also helps explain the physical implications of the identified LSBs. Finally, the vertical profiles of the shore-normal velocity and shore-advected heat flux are used, with the aid of k-means clustering, to independently classify the LSBs into four regimes (canonical, sea-driven, land-driven, and advected), corroborating our visual categorization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3198-3219
Number of pages22
JournalQuarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
Issue number757
StatePublished - Oct 1 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • coastal zones
  • land–sea breeze
  • secondary circulations
  • thermal circulation


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