Diagnosing eclipse-induced wind changes
Gray, S. L. and Harrison, R. G. (2012) Diagnosing eclipse-induced wind changes. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 468 (2143). pp. 1839-1850. ISSN 1364-5021
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1098/rspa.2012.0007
Responses in surface winds to solar eclipses have an almost mystical status but are difficult to detect in observations because of their transient nature. High spatial resolution (approx. 1.5 km grid) meteorological models now provide a new technique for their investigation. Measurements from the southern UK meteorological network during the 11 August 1999 total solar eclipse are compared with a high-resolution model ignorant of the lunar shadow’s inﬂuence. Differences between the model output and measurements at the eclipse time show transient eclipse zone temperature decreases of up to 3 degrees C, which also depressed the day’s maximum temperature compared with the model prediction. Coherent responses in temperature, and wind speed and direction measurements are detected in the inland cloud-free region (from 51 to 52 degrees N and −2 to 0 degrees E). A mean regional wind speed decrease of 0.7 m s−1 during the maximum eclipse hour is apparent with a mean anticlockwise wind direction change of 17 degrees; no such changes occurred in the model output. Such regional circulation changes are consistent with Clayton’s 1901 cold-cored eclipse cyclone hypothesis, which may be related to the anecdotal ‘eclipse wind’.