How does vertical wind shear influence entrainment in squall lines?

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California
  • | 2 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

The influence of vertical wind shear on updraft entrainment in squall lines is not well understood. To address this knowledge gap, a suite of high-resolution idealized numerical model simulations of squall lines were run in various vertical wind shear (hereafter “shear”) environments to study the effects of shear on entrainment in deep convective updrafts. Low-level horizontal mass flux into the leading edge of the cold pool was strongest in the simulations with the strongest low-level shear. These simulations consequently displayed wider updrafts, less entrainment-driven dilution, and larger buoyancy than the simulations with comparatively weak low-level shear. An analysis of vertical accelerations along trajectories that passed through updrafts showed larger net accelerations from buoyancy in the simulations with stronger low-level shear, which demonstrates how less entrainment-driven dilution equated to stronger updrafts. The effects of upper-level shear on entrainment and updraft vertical velocities were generally less pronounced than the effects of low-level shear. We argue that in addition to the outflow boundary-shear interactions and their effect on updraft tilt established by previous authors, decreased entrainment-driven dilution is yet another beneficial effect of strong low-level shear on squall line updraft intensity.

Corresponding Author Address: Jake P. Mulholland, Naval Postgraduate School, Department of Meteorology. Email: jake.mulholland@nps.edu

Abstract

The influence of vertical wind shear on updraft entrainment in squall lines is not well understood. To address this knowledge gap, a suite of high-resolution idealized numerical model simulations of squall lines were run in various vertical wind shear (hereafter “shear”) environments to study the effects of shear on entrainment in deep convective updrafts. Low-level horizontal mass flux into the leading edge of the cold pool was strongest in the simulations with the strongest low-level shear. These simulations consequently displayed wider updrafts, less entrainment-driven dilution, and larger buoyancy than the simulations with comparatively weak low-level shear. An analysis of vertical accelerations along trajectories that passed through updrafts showed larger net accelerations from buoyancy in the simulations with stronger low-level shear, which demonstrates how less entrainment-driven dilution equated to stronger updrafts. The effects of upper-level shear on entrainment and updraft vertical velocities were generally less pronounced than the effects of low-level shear. We argue that in addition to the outflow boundary-shear interactions and their effect on updraft tilt established by previous authors, decreased entrainment-driven dilution is yet another beneficial effect of strong low-level shear on squall line updraft intensity.

Corresponding Author Address: Jake P. Mulholland, Naval Postgraduate School, Department of Meteorology. Email: jake.mulholland@nps.edu
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