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Observations of Thermally-Driven Winds in a Small Valley during the 21 August 2017 Solar Eclipse

Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903, USA
Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA
Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany
Earth Research Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Atmosphere 2019, 10(7), 389;
Received: 26 June 2019 / Revised: 6 July 2019 / Accepted: 8 July 2019 / Published: 12 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Atmosphere: Climatology and Meteorology)
PDF [28422 KB, uploaded 12 July 2019]


On the afternoon of 21 August 2017, a partial solar eclipse occurred over the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia, USA. High-resolution meteorological observations were made on the floor of a small valley to investigate the effect of eclipse-induced cooling on thermally-driven winds. Measurements taken both at the surface and in the lower atmosphere indicate cooling throughout much of the atmospheric boundary layer. Multiple surface weather stations observed wind rotations that occurred both during and after the eclipse, as wind direction shifted from upvalley to downvalley and back to upvalley. The direction of these rotations (clockwise vs. counterclockwise) varied between stations and was strongly influenced by the proximity of the stations to topographic features in the valley. Doppler lidar observations over the valley floor show a 300 m thick layer of downvalley winds that formed below a deeper layer of upvalley winds. Changes in boundary layer winds and structure during the solar eclipse are similar to changes during the morning and evening transitions. However, the subtle differences in the direction of wind rotations between diurnal- and eclipse-transition periods provided important new insights into the interaction between slope- and valley flows, incoming solar radiation, and topographic features. View Full-Text
Keywords: solar eclipse; atmospheric boundary layer; valley winds solar eclipse; atmospheric boundary layer; valley winds

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Supplementary material

  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3257670
    Description: Timelapse photos of cloud cover between 12:00 - 16:00 EDT on 21 August 2017.

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Palomaki, R.T.; Babić, N.; Duine, G.-J.; van den Bossche, M.; De Wekker, S.F.J. Observations of Thermally-Driven Winds in a Small Valley during the 21 August 2017 Solar Eclipse. Atmosphere 2019, 10, 389.

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