Impact of along-valley orographic variations on the dispersion of passive tracers in a stable atmosphere
A numerical model is used to investigate the transport of passive tracers in an idealized Alpine valley during stable wintertime conditions after the evening transition. The valley is composed of an upstream-valley section, which opens on a narrower downstream valley section, which opens onto a plain. The ratio between the valley-floor widths of the upstream and downstream sections is either 4 (simulation P1) or 11.5 (P2). The change in the thermal structure of the atmosphere in the along-valley direction and over the plain leads to the development of an along-valley flow. This flow is up-valley in the upstream section during the first three hours of the P1 simulation, reversing to the down-valley direction afterwards, but remains up-valley during the six hours of the P2 simulation. The effect of wind dynamics on the dispersion of passive scalars is identified by tracking areas prone to stagnation, recirculation, and ventilation using the methodology developed by Allwine and Whiteman (1994). Zones identified as prone to stagnation are consistent with those of high tracer concentration in both simulations. The narrowing of the valley is found to significantly reduce ventilation in the upstream section, an observation quantified by a ventilation efficiency.