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Title: Near-Cloud Atmospheric Ingredients for Deep Convection Initiation

A lack of routine environmental observations located near deepening cumulus congestus clouds limits verification of important theorized and simulated updraft–environment interaction processes occurring during deep convection initiation (CI). We analyze radiosonde profiles collected during several hundred CI events near a mountain range in central Argentina during the CACTI field campaign. Statistical analyses illustrate environmental conditions supporting radar-observed CI outcomes that span a spectrum of convective cell depths, widths, and durations, as well as events lacking precipitating convection. Tested environmental factors include a large variety of sounding-derived measurements of CAPE, CIN, moisture, terrain-relative winds, vertical shear, and lifted parcel properties, with supplemental model reanalysis of background larger-scale vertical motion. CAPE and CIN metrics do not consistently differentiate CI success from failure. Only a few environmental factors contain consistent monotonic relationships among the spectrum of cloud depths achieved during CI: (i) the depth and strength of background ascent, and (ii) the component of low-level flow oriented parallel to the ridgeline. These metrics suggest that the ability of the surrounding flow to lift parcels to their LFC and terrain-modified flow are consistently relevant processes for CI. Low- to midlevel relative humidity strongly discriminated between CI and non-CI events, likely reflecting entrainment-driven dilution processes. However, we could not confidently conclude that relative humidity similarly discriminated robust from marginal CI events. Circumstantial evidence was found linking cell width, an important cloud property governing the probability of CI, to LCL height, boundary layer depth, depth and magnitude of the CIN layer, and ambient wind shear.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
American Meteorological Society
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Weather Review
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 1247-1267
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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