Analysis of a Southerly Buster Event and Associated Solitary Waves

Australian Bureau of Meteorology
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Southern Hemisphere Earth Systems Science, 2020
Issue Date:
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This paper is a detailed case study of the southerly buster of October 6-7, 2015, along the New South Wales coast. It takes advantage of recently available Himawari-8 high temporal- and spatial-resolution satellite data, and other observational data. The data analyses support the widespread view that the southerly buster is a density current, coastally trapped by the Great Dividing Range. In addition, it appears that solitary waves develop in this event because the prefrontal boundary layer is shallow and stable. A simplified density current model produced speeds matching well with observational southerly buster data, at both Nowra and Sydney airports. Extending the density current theory, to include inertia-gravity effects, suggests that the solitary waves travel at speeds approximately 20% faster than the density current. This speed difference is consistent with the high-resolution satellite data, which shows the solitary waves moving increasingly ahead of the leading edge of the density current.
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