A numerical study on the effects of Taiwan topography on a convective line during the Mei-Yu season

Chung Chieh Wang, George Tai Jen Chen*, Tzu Chin Chen, Kazuhisa Tsuboki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


During the morning hours on 23 May 2002, a convective line associated with a mei-yu front brought heavy rainfall along the coast of central Taiwan under favorable synoptic conditions of warm air advection and large convective available potential energy (CAPE) of over 3000 m2 s-2. Doppler radar observations indicated that deep convection was organized into a linear shape with a northeast-southwest orientation along the front about 70 km offshore from Taiwan over the northern Taiwan Strait. The system then moved toward Taiwan at a slow speed of about 4 m s-1. In the present study, the effects of Taiwan topography on this convective line and subsequent rainfall distribution were investigated through numerical modeling using the Nagoya University Cloud-Resolving Storm Simulator (CReSS) at a 2-km horizontal grid size. Experiments with different terrain heights of Taiwan, including full terrain (FTRN), half terrain (HTRN), and no terrain (NTRN), were performed. The control run using full-terrain and cold rain explicit microphysics realistically reproduced the evolution of the convective line and the associated weather with many fine details. Two low-level convergence zones were found to be crucial in the development of this convective line and the subsequent rainfall distribution over Taiwan. The first was along the mei-yu front and forced mainly by the front, but was terrain enhanced off the northwestern coast of Taiwan due to the blocking of air on the windward side of the Central Mountain Range (CMR). After formation, convective cells along this zone propagated southeastward and produced rainfall over the northwestern coast. As the front moved closer to Taiwan, a second arc-shaped convergence zone with a nearly north-south orientation along about 120°E formed ahead of the front between the prevailing flow and near-surface offshore flow induced by the blocking. This second zone was terrain induced, and convection initiated near its northern end was found to be responsible for the rainfall maximum observed near the coast of central Taiwan. Its intensity and position were highly sensitive to terrain height. In the HTRN run where the terrain was reduced by half, a weaker zone closer to the CMR (by about 50 km) was produced, and the rain fell mostly over the windward slope of the terrain instead of over the coastal plain. When the terrain was removed in the NTRN run, no such zone with the correct orientation formed. It was also found that the frontal movement near northern Taiwan was slightly delayed with the presence of terrain, and this affected the timing and distribution of local rainfall during the later stages of this event.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3217-3242
Number of pages26
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Nov
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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