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Title: Low-level Updraft Intensification in Response to Environmental Wind Profiles
Abstract Supercell storms can develop a “dynamical response” whereby upward accelerations in the lower troposphere amplify as a result of rotationally induced pressure falls aloft. These upward accelerations likely modulate a supercell’s ability to stretch near-surface vertical vorticity to achieve tornadogenesis. This study quantifies such a dynamical response as a function of environmental wind profiles commonly found near supercells. Self-organizing maps (SOMs) were used to identify recurring low-level wind profile patterns from 20,194 model-analyzed, near-supercell soundings. The SOM nodes with larger 0–500 m storm-relative helicity (SRH) and streamwise vorticity ( ω s ) corresponded to higher observed tornado probabilities. The distilled wind profiles from the SOMs were used to initialize idealized numerical simulations of updrafts. In environments with large 0–500 m SRH and large ω s , a rotationally induced pressure deficit, increased dynamic lifting, and a strengthened updraft resulted. The resulting upward-directed accelerations were an order of magnitude stronger than typical buoyant accelerations. At 500 m AGL, this dynamical response increased the vertical velocity by up to 25 m s –1 , vertical vorticity by up to 0.2 s –1 , and pressure deficit by up to 5 hPa. This response specifically augments the near-ground updraft (the midlevel updraft properties are almost identical across the simulations). However, dynamical responses only occurred in environments where 0–500 m SRH and ω s exceeded 110 m 2 s –2 and 0.015 s –1 , respectively. The presence vs. absence of this dynamical response may explain why environments with higher 0–500 m SRH and ω s correspond to greater tornado probabilities.  more » « less
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Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
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National Science Foundation
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