2021 Volume 99 Issue 1 Pages 27-47
Local fronts formed near the coast of the Kanto Plain, mainly in the cold season, called “coastal fronts”, tend to be forecast on the inland side of their actual positions by the operational mesoscale Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP; with a horizontal grid spacing of 5 km) model at the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). In this study, we confirm a systematic NWP error through statistical validations of coastal fronts that occurred with southerly onshore winds during 2015–2018. Using a nonhydrostatic numerical model, we explore the relevant physical mechanisms through sensitivity experiments involving different horizontal resolutions, envelope orography, and physics parameterization schemes for three cases with typical errors. The operational NWP model was shown to have a systematic error, with local fronts being shifted consistently to the inland side of their actual positions when the forecast period exceeds 5 hours, regardless of precipitation. The sensitivity experiments suggested that the systematic error associated with coastal fronts may be caused primarily by an underestimation of the mountain barrier surrounding the Kanto Plain in the model. The northwestward distance error of coastal fronts, averaged over the three illustrative cases, can be reduced by 27 % and 37 % by increasing the horizontal resolution from 5 km to 2 km and 1 km, respectively, and can be eliminated almost entirely by using the envelope orography. Moreover, the evaporative cooling of precipitation shifts coastal fronts seaward.
Most coastal fronts are thought to take the form of cold air trapped on the southeastern slope of the mountains surrounding the Kanto Plain, where the elevation angle of the frontal surface is roughly controlled dynamically. The local front shifts seaward when the ridgelines of the mountains become higher, or by the reduction of the elevation angle when the trapped air becomes colder.