The third Euromech Colloquium on this topic was held at FISBAT in Bologna in August 1990, in succession to those in 1979 at Munich (No. 113) and 1983 at Delphi (No. 173). About 30 participants came from 10 countries. At the Colloquium it became clear that there have been some significant developments since 1983 in theoretical analysis, computational modelling and field experiments, with new kinds of measurement. As well as papers on improvements in the quantification and understanding of the main, well-known features of these flows, there were also papers on phenomena that had not previously been studied; for example new computations of flows over undulating surfaces driven by buoyancy forces, caused by heating the surface, showed that secondary flows are produced with vorticity parallel to the undulations, while wind tunnel experiments on flows perpendicular to the crests showed secondary flow with vorticity perpendicular to the crests, and with a scale consistent with Craik's (1982) theory which predicted these novel kinds of Langmuir cells. The magnitude of the net drag force on undulating surfaces in neutrally stratified turbulent flows now appears to be moderately well established by different methods, including computations, laboratory experiments, and theoretical analyses. These have clarified the relative magnitudes of a number of contributing mechanisms. The role of Coriolis accelerations (f) in atmospheric flow over simple terrain features (lengthscale L, height H) on the mesoscale (order 30 km upwards) is now better understood. For stratified air flow impinging onto hills rising from a flat plain the Rossby radius (lR = HN/f) is the relevant lengthscale (where N is the buoyancy frequency), but in neutral or convective conditions, such as those which occur when southerly winds are channelled down the Rhine valley, the turning of the wind on a scale of the terrain less than the Rossby radius can also be significantly influenced by Coriolis accelerations.
The recent field measurements by Doppler-sodar (which are installed in several French power stations) produce useful data for comparing with computational models; they also emphasize the need to solve the theoretical question of how best to combine model calculations and measurements within the flow field that exceed the number required to specify the flow in the model. Models of the mean flow and the turbulence have improved to the extent that they can be used in other scientific and practical problems, such as being incorporated into models of dispersion of pollutants, or in models of microphysics and chemical processes in polluted clouds over hills.
Following the Colloquium an ERCOFTACt Workshop was held in which the computer codes of such models were presented and compared in detail. It was decided that i t is necessary to have a systematic intercomparison of such codes, and also detailed comparisons with the extensive sets of data now available from recent field and laboratory experiments.
The wide range of scales that occur in these complex atmospheric flows (10−2 m to 105 m) all have to be considered and calculated in detail, because simple assumptions about the flow (such as that the mean velocity has a logarithmic profile up to a significant height above the surface) are erroneous. Computational models were described that range in complexity from those based on analytical solutions (at low computational cost) to those based on solving discretized equations with large variations in grid sizes to accommodate the range of scales. Novel interactive software was used that enables graphs from different models to be requested and then rapidly displayed simultaneously on a screen for comparisons to be made. This software opens out significant new possibilities for scientific meetings and workshops involving computational fluid dynamics.