- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- 3567 to 3584
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Abstract A 6.5-month, convection-permitting simulation is conducted over Argentina covering the Remote Sensing of Electrification, Lightning, And Mesoscale/Microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations and Clouds, Aerosols, and Complex Terrain Interactions (RELAMPAGO-CACTI) field campaign and is compared with observations to evaluate mesoscale convective system (MCS) growth prediction. Observed and simulated MCSs are consistently identified, tracked, and separated into growth, mature, and decay stages using top-of-the-atmosphere infrared brightness temperature and surface rainfall. Simulated MCS number, lifetime, seasonal and diurnal cycles, and various cloud-shield characteristics including growth rate are similar to those observed. However, the simulation produces smaller rainfall areas, greater proportions of heavy rainfall, and faster system propagations. Rainfall area is significantly underestimated for long-lived MCSs but not for shorter-lived MCSs, and rain rates are always overestimated. These differences result from a combination of model and satellite retrieval biases, in which simulated MCS rain rates are shifted from light to heavy, while satellite-retrieved rainfall is too frequent relative to rain gauge estimates. However, the simulation reproduces satellite-retrieved MCS cloud-shield evolution well, supporting its usage to examine environmental controls on MCS growth. MCS initiation locations are associated with removal of convective inhibition more than maximized low-level moisture convergence or instability. Rapid growth is associated with a stronger upper-level jet (ULJ) and a deeper northwestern Argentinean low that causes a stronger northerly low-level jet (LLJ), increasing heat and moisture fluxes, low-level vertical wind shear, baroclinicity, and instability. Sustained growth corresponds to similar LLJ, baroclinicity, and instability conditions but is less sensitive to the ULJ, large-scale vertical motion, or low-level shear. Growth sustenance controls MCS maximum extent more than growth rate.more » « less
Abstract The bow-and-arrow Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) has a unique structure with two convective lines resembling the shape of an archer’s bow and arrow. These MCSs and their arrow convection (located behind the MCS leading line) can produce hazardous winds and flooding extending over hundreds of kilometers, which are often poorly predicted in operational forecasts. This study examines the dynamics of a bow-and-arrow MCS observed over the Yangtze–Huai Plains of China, with a focus on the arrow convection provided. The analysis utilized backward trajectories and Lagrangian vertical momentum budgets to simulations employing the WRF‐ARW and CM1 models. Cells within the arrow in the WRF-ARW simulations of the MCS were elevated, initially forming as convectively unstable air within the low-level jet (LLJ), which gently ascended over the cold pool and converged with the MCS’s mesoscale convective vortex (MCV) at higher altitudes. The subsequent ascent in these cells was enhanced by dynamic pressure forcing due to the updraft being within a layer where the vertical shear changed with height due to the superposition of the LLJ and the MCV. These dynamic forcings initially played a larger role in the ascent than the parcel’s buoyancy. These findings were bolstered by idealized simulations employing the CM1 model. These results illustrate a challenge for accurately forecasting bow-and-arrow MCSs as the updraft magnitude depends on dynamical forcing associated with the interaction between vertical shear associated with the environment and due to convectively generated circulations.more » « less
Observations from the Pre-Depression Investigation of Cloud Systems in the Tropics (PREDICT), Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP), and Intensity Forecast Experiment (IFEX) field campaigns are analyzed to investigate the mesoscale processes leading to the tropical cyclogenesis of Hurricane Karl (2010). Research aircraft missions provided Doppler radar, in situ flight level, and dropsonde data documenting the structural changes of the predepression disturbance. Following the pre-Karl wave pouch, variational analyses at the meso-β and meso-α scales suggest that the convective cycle in Karl alternately built the low- and midlevel circulations leading to genesis episodically rather than through a sustained lowering of the convective mass flux from increased stabilization. Convective bursts that erupt in the vorticity-rich environment of the recirculating pouch region enhance the low-level meso-β- and meso-α-scale circulation through vortex stretching. As the convection wanes, the resulting stratiform precipitation strengthens the midlevel circulation through convergence associated with ice microphysical processes, protecting the disturbance from the intrusion of dry environmental air. Once the column saturation fraction returns to a critical value, a subsequent convective burst below the midlevel circulation further enhances the low-level circulation, and the convective cycle repeats. The analyses suggest that the onset of deep convection and associated low-level spinup were closely related to the coupling of the vorticity and moisture fields at low and midlevels. Our interpretation of the observational analysis presented in this study reaffirms a primary role of deep convection in the genesis process and provides a hypothesis for the supporting role of stratiform precipitation and the midlevel vortex.
Abstract The Remote sensing of Electrification, Lightning, And Mesoscale/microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations (RELAMPAGO) campaign produced unparalleled observations of the South American low-level jet (SALLJ) in central Argentina with high temporal observations located in the path of the jet and upstream of rapidly growing convection. The vertical and temporal structure of the jet is characterized using 3-hourly soundings launched at two fixed sites near the Sierras de Córdoba (SDC), along with high-resolution reanalysis data. Objective SALLJ identification criteria are applied to each sounding to determine the presence, timing, and vertical characteristics of the jet. The observations largely confirm prior results showing that SALLJs most frequently come from the north, occur overnight, and peak in the low levels, though SALLJs notably peaked higher near the end of longer-duration events during RELAMPAGO. This study categorizes SALLJs into shorter-duration events with jet cores peaking overnight in the low levels and longer 5–6-day events with elevated jets near the end of the period that lack a clear diurnal cycle. Evidence of both boundary layer processes and large-scale forcing were observed during shorter-duration events, whereas synoptic forcing dominated the longer 5–6-day events. The highest amounts of moisture and larger convective coverage east of the SDC occurred near the end of the 5–6-day SALLJ events. Significance Statement The South American low-level jet (SALLJ) is an area of enhanced northerly winds that likely contributes to long-lived, widespread thunderstorms in Southeastern South America (SESA). This study uses observations from a recent SESA field project to improve understanding of the variability of the SALLJ and the underlying processes. We related jet occurrence to upper-level environmental patterns and differences in the progression speed of those patterns to varying durations of the jet. Longer-duration jets were more elevated, transported moisture southward from the Amazon, and coincided with the most widespread storms. These findings enable future research to study the role of the SALLJ in the life cycle of storms in detail, leading to improved storm prediction in SESA.more » « less
This study examines microphysical and thermodynamic characteristics of the 20 June 2015 mesoscale convective system (MCS) observed during the Plains Elevated Convection At Night (PECAN) experiment, specifically within the transition zone (TZ), enhanced stratiform rain region (ESR), anvil region, melting layer (ML), and the rear inflow jet (RIJ). Analyses are developed from airborne optical array probe data and multiple-Doppler wind and reflectivity syntheses using data from the airborne NOAA Tail Doppler Radar (TDR) and ground-based Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) radars. Seven spiral ascents/descents of the NOAA P-3 aircraft were executed within various regions of the 20 June MCS. Aggregation modified by sublimation was observed in each MCS region, regardless of whether the sampling was within the RIJ. Sustained sublimation and evaporation of precipitation in subsaturated layers led to a trend of downward moistening across the ESR spirals, with greater degrees of subsaturation maintained when in the vicinity of the descending RIJ. In all cases where melting was observed, the ML acted as a prominent thermodynamic boundary, with differing rates of change in temperature and relative humidity above and below the ML. Two spiral profiles coincident with the rear inflow notch provided unique observations within the TZ and were interpreted in the context of similar observations from the 29 June 2003 Bow Echo and Mesoscale Convective Vortex Experiment MCS. There, sublimation cooling and enhanced descent within the RIJ allowed ice particles to survive to temperatures as warm as +6.8°C before completely sublimating/evaporating.