The Energetics of the Lagrangian Evolution of Tropical Convective Systems

Hirohiko Masunaga aInstitute for Space-Earth Environmental Research, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan

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Hanii Takahashi bJet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

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Abstract

The convective life cycle is often conceptualized to progress from congestus to deep convection and develop further to stratiform anvil clouds, accompanied by a systematic change in the vertical structure of vertical motion. This archetype scenario has been developed largely from the Eulerian viewpoint, and it has yet to be explored whether the same life cycle emerges itself in a moving system tracked in the Lagrangian manner. To address this question, Lagrangian tracking is applied to tropical convective systems in combination with a thermodynamic budget analysis forced by satellite-retrieved precipitation and radiation. A new method is devised to characterize the vertical motion profiles in terms of the column import or export of moisture and moist static energy (MSE). The bottom-heavy, midheavy, and top-heavy regimes are identified for every 1° × 1° grid pixel accompanying tracked precipitation systems, making use of the diagnosed column export/import of moisture and MSE. The major findings are as follows. The Lagrangian evolution of convective systems is dominated by a state of dynamic equilibrium among different convective regimes rather than a monotonic progress from one regime to the next. The transition from the bottom-heavy to midheavy regimes is fed with intensifying precipitation presumably owing to a negative gross moist stability (GMS) of the bottom-heavy regime, whereas the transition from the midheavy to top-heavy regimes dissipates the system. The bottom-heavy to midheavy transition takes a relaxation time of about 5 h in the equilibrating processes, whereas the relaxation time is estimated as roughly 20 h concerning the midheavy to top-heavy transition.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Hirohiko Masunaga, masunaga@nagoya-u.jp

Abstract

The convective life cycle is often conceptualized to progress from congestus to deep convection and develop further to stratiform anvil clouds, accompanied by a systematic change in the vertical structure of vertical motion. This archetype scenario has been developed largely from the Eulerian viewpoint, and it has yet to be explored whether the same life cycle emerges itself in a moving system tracked in the Lagrangian manner. To address this question, Lagrangian tracking is applied to tropical convective systems in combination with a thermodynamic budget analysis forced by satellite-retrieved precipitation and radiation. A new method is devised to characterize the vertical motion profiles in terms of the column import or export of moisture and moist static energy (MSE). The bottom-heavy, midheavy, and top-heavy regimes are identified for every 1° × 1° grid pixel accompanying tracked precipitation systems, making use of the diagnosed column export/import of moisture and MSE. The major findings are as follows. The Lagrangian evolution of convective systems is dominated by a state of dynamic equilibrium among different convective regimes rather than a monotonic progress from one regime to the next. The transition from the bottom-heavy to midheavy regimes is fed with intensifying precipitation presumably owing to a negative gross moist stability (GMS) of the bottom-heavy regime, whereas the transition from the midheavy to top-heavy regimes dissipates the system. The bottom-heavy to midheavy transition takes a relaxation time of about 5 h in the equilibrating processes, whereas the relaxation time is estimated as roughly 20 h concerning the midheavy to top-heavy transition.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Hirohiko Masunaga, masunaga@nagoya-u.jp

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