Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Spring 3-13-2023


Howard, L., Houston A. The Influence of Complex Coastlines on the Sea Breeze and Convection Initiation in Coastal North Carolina. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 2023.


Copyright Logan Howard and Adam Houston 2023.


The sea breeze is a common phenomenon in coastal regions around the world. Their development and propagation can be treated as a density current. It is well known that many factors influence density current propagation, including wind. Depending on the orientation, the wind speed and shear can enhance or inhibit the development of the sea breeze. In places like eastern North Carolina, complex coastal geography can create river and sound breezes that, upon collision, have the potential to initiate thunderstorms. Using Cloud Model 1, simulations were conducted to model the behavior of the sea breezes in eastern North Carolina and determine favorable wind profiles for convection initiation along the sea breeze fronts.

Convection initiation occurred most often under southerly winds at the surface with a northerly shear, of values between 1-4 m s-1 greater than the ambient wind speed, up to a depth of 2 km. Initiation was possible in several different locations, most notably along the front propagating south of the Albemarle Sound. Precipitation values from 0.01 in. to nearly 1 in. were observed from these storms. These experiments can help provide a basis for the forecasting of the behavior of the sea breeze and the potential for convection initiation in eastern North Carolina and other locations with complex coastlines. These results also have implications for collisions between the sea breeze and thunderstorm outflow boundaries, cold fronts, and other boundaries that could additionally initiate convection.