The Land-Sea Breeze of the Red Sea: Observations, Simulations, and Relationships to Regional Moisture Transport

Shannon R. Davis, J. Thomas Farrar, Robert A. Weller, Houshuo Jiang, Lawrence J. Pratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Unique in situ observations of atmospheric conditions over the Red Sea and the coastal Arabian Peninsula are examined to study the dynamics and regional impacts of the local land-sea breeze cycle (LSBC). During a 26-month data record spanning 2008–2011, observed LSBC events occurred year-round, frequently exhibiting cross-shore wind velocities in excess of 8 m/s. Observed onshore and offshore features of both the land- and sea-breeze phases of the cycle are presented, and their seasonal modulation is considered. Weather Research and Forecasting climate downscaling simulations and satellite measurements are used to extend the analysis. In the model, the amplitude of the LSBC is significantly larger in the vicinity of the steeper terrain elements encircling the basin, suggesting an enhancement by the associated slope winds. Observed and simulated conditions also reflected distinct gravity-current characteristics of the intrinsic moist marine air mass during both phases of the LSBC. Specifically, the advance and retreat of marine air mass was directly tied to the development of internal boundary layers onshore and offshore throughout the period of study. Convergence in the lateral moisture flux resulting from this air mass ascending the coastal topography (sea-breeze phase) as well as colliding with air masses from the opposing coastline (land-breeze phase) further resulted in cumulous cloud formation and precipitation.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13803-13825
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number24
StatePublished - Nov 16 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KSA00011, USA00001, USA00002
Acknowledgements: This study was supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant OCE-1435665 and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Grants 80NSSC18K1494 and NNX14AM71G. Further support for Lawrence Pratt was provided by NSF Grant OCE-1154641. The authors wish to thank Sarah Gille for insightful conversations related to this work. GLDAS data used in this study were acquired as part of the mission of NASA's Earth Science Division and archived and distributed by the Goddard Earth Sciences (GES) Data and Information Services Center (DISC). We further acknowledge the use of data and imagery from LANCE FIRMS operated by the NASA/GSFC/Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS) with funding provided by NASA/HQ. The in situ data from the WHOI/KAUST mooring is available at a WHOI repository ( for academic and research purposes. The mooring data collected during the WHOI-KAUST collaboration was made possible by awards USA00001, USA00002, and KSA00011 to WHOI by the KAUST in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The buoy and tower data collection was a result of the work of the WHOI Upper Ocean Processes Group and staff at KAUST; John Kemp, Jason Smith, Paul Bouchard, Sean Whelan, Yasser Abualnaja, Yasser Kattan, and Abdulaziz Al-Suwailem all made major contributions.


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