An Analysis of Frontogenesis in Numerical Simulations of Baroclinic Waves

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

Using a primitive equation (PE) model, we revisit two canonical flows that were previously studied using a semigeostrophic equation (SG) model. In a previous paper, the authors showed that the PE and the SG models can have significantly different versions of the large-scale dynamics—here they report on the implications of this difference for frontogenesis. The program for the study of frontogenesis developed by B. J. Hoskins and collaborators is followed to show how, in the PE version of the canonical cases, the surface warm front develops before the cold front, and why the upper-level front is a long, nearly continuous feature going from ridge to trough. The frontogenesis experienced by an air parcel is computed following the parcel to illustrate better the mechanisms involved. As the present calculations are carried out longer than most previous ones, the relation of the upper frontogenesis to the formation of the upper-level “cutoff” cyclone is also examined. Trajectory and three-dimensional graphical analyses show, with respect to the latter, the extreme distortions of the isentropic surfaces and mixing-induced variations in the potential vorticity field.

Abstract

Using a primitive equation (PE) model, we revisit two canonical flows that were previously studied using a semigeostrophic equation (SG) model. In a previous paper, the authors showed that the PE and the SG models can have significantly different versions of the large-scale dynamics—here they report on the implications of this difference for frontogenesis. The program for the study of frontogenesis developed by B. J. Hoskins and collaborators is followed to show how, in the PE version of the canonical cases, the surface warm front develops before the cold front, and why the upper-level front is a long, nearly continuous feature going from ridge to trough. The frontogenesis experienced by an air parcel is computed following the parcel to illustrate better the mechanisms involved. As the present calculations are carried out longer than most previous ones, the relation of the upper frontogenesis to the formation of the upper-level “cutoff” cyclone is also examined. Trajectory and three-dimensional graphical analyses show, with respect to the latter, the extreme distortions of the isentropic surfaces and mixing-induced variations in the potential vorticity field.

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