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A climatology of the coastal low in the SW Cape

By Clive Malcolm Heydenrych

Abstract

Bibliography: leaves 103-109.The Coastal Low is a shallow cyclonic mesoscale weather 'disturbance' which migrates around the southern African subcontinent on a fairly regular basis. It is generated and maintained by the synoptic scale circulations. The movement and surface characteristics have been well documented by a number of authors but few detailed studies have been undertaken on its vertical structure in southern Africa. In addition to this, most of the previous work has been of a meteorological nature. This study has concentrated on a more climatic approach in its investigation of the vertical and· surface features of the Coastal Low as it migrates through the South Western (SW) Cape. The SW Cape is a 'transition region' for the migration of the Coastal Low; situated between the west and south coasts with a distinct local climate due to the complex topography of the region. This fact tends to alter the characteristic features of the Coastal Low system but appears not to prevent the Coastal Low from migrating through the region. The Coastal Low is regarded as being an internal trapped Kelvin wave and corrected surface pressure values best indicate its migration characteristics. However upper air analysis indicates that temperature values (between 950- 900mb) at the level of the inversion, produce one of the best signatures of the Coastal Low's passage. This is related to the strong subsidence from above the 850mb level in the pre-Low period. This strong divergence dynamically compresses the lower layers into low level wind speed maxima on either side of the centre of the system. The Coastal Low appears to have a very complex structure, and two results from this study in the. SW Cape bear particular mention. Firstly the offshore flow at the escarpment level is weakly defined. Secondly also, the longshore spatial extent of the Coastal Low system has been estimated to have an 'inner' diameter of 150-200km and an 'outer' diameter of approximately 1000km

Topics: Geography and Environmental Studies
Publisher: Department of Environmental and Geographical Science
Year: 1987
OAI identifier: oai:open.uct.ac.za:11427/14293

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