Evolution of an Atmospheric Kármán Vortex Street From High‐Resolution Satellite Winds: Guadalupe Island Case Study

Á. Horváth, W. Bresky, J. Daniels , J. Vogelzang , A. Stoffelen , J.L. Carr, D.L. Wu, C. Seethala, T. Günther, and S.A. Buehler

Vortex streets formed in the stratocumulus‐capped wake of mountainous islands are the
atmospheric analogues of the classic Kármán vortex street observed in laboratory flows past bluff bodies.
The quantitative analysis of these mesoscale unsteady atmospheric flows has been hampered by the lack of
satellite wind retrievals of sufficiently high spatial and temporal resolution. Taking advantage of the
cutting‐edge Advanced Baseline Imager, we derived kilometer‐scale cloud‐motion winds at 5‐min frequency
for a vortex street in the lee of Guadalupe Island imaged by Geostationary Operational Environmental
Satellite‐16. Combined with Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer data, the geostationary
imagery also provided accurate stereo cloud‐top heights. The time series of geostationary winds,
supplemented with snapshots of ocean surface winds from the advanced scatterometer, allowed us to
capture the wake oscillations and measure vortex shedding dynamics. The retrievals revealed a markedly
asymmetric vortex decay, with cyclonic eddies having larger peak vorticities than anticyclonic eddies at the
same downstream location. Drawing on the vast knowledge accumulated about laboratory bluff body flows,
we argue that the asymmetric island wake arises from the combined effects of Earth's rotation and
Guadalupe's nonaxisymmetric shape resembling an inclined flat plate at low angle of attack. However,
numerical simulations will need to establish whether or not the selective destabilization of the shallow
atmospheric anticyclonic eddies is caused by the same mechanisms that destabilize the deep columnar
anticyclones of laboratory flows, such as three‐dimensional vertical perturbations due to centrifugal or
elliptical instabilities.

Bibliografische gegevens

Á. Horváth, W. Bresky, J. Daniels , J. Vogelzang , A. Stoffelen , J.L. Carr, D.L. Wu, C. Seethala, T. Günther, and S.A. Buehler. Evolution of an Atmospheric Kármán Vortex Street From High‐Resolution Satellite Winds: Guadalupe Island Case Study
Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Volume: 125, Year: 2020, First page: e2019JD032121, doi: https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JD032121