Thursday, February 24, 2022

High Knob As A Self-Organizing System

This brief section is devoted to Self-Organization, 
a concept vital to understanding and dealing with problems facing planet Earth.

(Written for Earth Day upcoming on 22 April 2022)

High Knob is nested within the Climate (Earth) System as an extraordinarily complex system in its own right that is dominated by gradients that keep it continuously in a state of non-equilibrium.

This was exemplified on 23 February 2022.

23 February 2022 
Standing Above The Clouds
High Knob Massif Flow Blocking
View From Eagle Knob Summit
Cody Blankenbecler Image © All Rights Reserved

Dramatic weather conditions were featured in 
wake of the latest heavy rainfall event during 
23 February 2022.

This is merely a single example of how the great High Knob Massif is a self-organizing system as part of the complex natural world.

23 February 2022
Looking Across Cloud Tops
High Knob Massif Flow Blocking
Cross-Barrier Thermal Gradient
Virginia-Kentucky Communications © All Rights Reserved

Multiple layers of orographic clouds developed as low-level cold air, flowing from right to left in the above time lapse, was forced to rise against its natural tendency (to sink).  This thermally indirect circulation played a role in both terrain blocking and vertical sheaing of the flow that produced rotating tubes of horizontally spinning air.

Random, chaotic movements of air molecules became increasingly self-organized as thermal gradients formed across the mountain barrier.

23 February 2022
Enhanced Thermal Gradient
High-Eagle Gap Cross-Barrier Flow
Virginia-Kentucky Communications © All Rights Reserved

Please observe the counter-clockwise trajectories of air streaming through the high gap between the peaks of High Knob (with Lookout) and Eagle Knob, curving 
from right to left in the above time lapse.

Looking east from Eagle Knob, the massif crest possessed a nearly stationary, ragged cloud mass.  If not knowing better, one would think that the mountain was on fire!

23 February 2022 at 4:54 PM
Looking East Across High Knob Massif
Cody Blankenbecler Image © All Rights Reserved

This cloud marked an interface between colder and 
milder air with the edge being a condensation line 
where orographic lifting was battling against vertical 
stability (warmer air above colder, low-level air).

23 February 2022 at 7:00 PM
NAM Model Interpolated Sounding

From another perspective, this orographic cloud also had a rolling shelf cloud-like appearance but with a downward slope to the surface of the crest.

24 February 2022
Orographic Pilatus (Cap) Cloud
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

Following yet another wave of significant rainfall, persistent orographic clouds lingered across upper elevations of the High Knob Massif throughout the daylight hours of 24 February 2022.

Orographic pilatus clouds are dynamic, ever-changing and are maintained by gradients that drive flows of mass and energy as part of a self-organizing setting.

In this section I have mainly looked at self-organization in the atmosphere, using relatively simple examples of complex settings.  In reality, given that the atmosphere is a highly nested system, these examples are intimately linked 
to the entire Climate (Earth) System.

Climate System Components:

The Climate System is an open composite 
system consisting of five, major heterogeneous components linked by non-linear fluxes of mass, energy, and momentum across space and time.

The great High Knob Massif functions as a natural laboratory within which these important processes and components can be studied.