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Weather regimes and orographic circulation around New Caledonia

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The local climate and island-scale circulation around New Caledonia is investigated using a 4-km resolution mesoscale atmospheric model in concert with QuikSCAT scatterometer winds at 12.5-km resolution. The mesoscale atmospheric weather regimes are first examined through an objective classification applied to the remote sensed winds for nine warm seasons from 1999 to 2008. Four main weather types are identified. Their corresponding synoptic-scale circulation reveals that they are strongly discernable through the position and intensity of the South Pacific Convergence zone (SPCZ), the mid-latitude systems, and the subtropical jet stream. The link between the mesoscale weather types and the two dominant large-scale modes of variability, namely the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), is also described in terms of their influence on the occurrence of each weather type. It shows that their occurrence is significantly controlled by both MJO and ENSO, through modulation of the SPCZ. The large-scale modes of variability are scaled down to island-scale circulation through synoptic and mesoscale regimes, and are eventually modulated by orographic and thermal control. The island-scale circulation is inferred in this study by applying the compositing method to both observed and simulated winds. Their comparison clearly shows the ability of the mesoscale model to capture the local circulation and its spatial and temporal variability. A scaling analysis conducted from the simulated atmospheric parameters shows that the mountain range of New Caledonia is hydrodynamically steep. As a result of trade-wind obstruction by the mountainous island, the flow is shaped by coastally trapped mesoscale responses, i.e., blocking, flow splitting and corner winds, with a spatial scale of about 150 km. Two main obstacles, Mont Panié and Mont Humboldt play a significant role on the dynamical behavior of the low-level flow, while the diurnal heating cycle in the vicinity of the Mainland strongly modulates the local circulation. Moreover, nocturnal drainage flow of cold air occurs on the leeside slope of Mont Humboldt and inhibits vertical mixing over the ocean, which results in a deceleration of surface winds.
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hal-00765751 , version 1 (18-01-2023)



Jérôme Lefèvre, Patrick Marchesiello, Nicolas C. Jourdain, Christophe E. Menkès, Anne Leroy. Weather regimes and orographic circulation around New Caledonia. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 2010, 61 (7-12), pp.413-431. ⟨10.1016/j.marpolbul.2010.06.012⟩. ⟨hal-00765751⟩
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