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Convective Stabilization in Midlatitudes

Guang Jun ZhangCanadian Climate Centre, Atmospheric Environment Service, Downsview, Ontario, Canada

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Norman A. McFarlaneCanadian Climate Centre, Atmospheric Environment Service, Downsview, Ontario, Canada

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Abstract

The upper-air sounding data from PRE-STORM are used to investigate the convective stabilization effect on the large-scale atmosphere. To facilitate comparison between different stages of cumulus convection, the data are divided into four categories: environment, presystem, insystem, and postsystem. It is found that the convective available potential energy of the atmosphere is reduced substantially after cumulus convection, most of which is consumed during the transition from presystem to insystem. Examination of the temperature and moisture changes during cumulus convection suggests that cooling and drying in the subcloud layer are the most important factors in stabilizing the atmosphere. In general, virtual potential temperature profiles in all categories are close to reversible moist adiabats below the 600-mb level and nearly parallel to moist pseudoadiabats above it.

The effect of entrainment on parcel buoyancy is also studied. It is found that a small amount of entrainment of ambient air can lead to a pronounced decrease of parcel buoyancy. Furthermore, for diluted parcel ascent, the convective available potential energy is greater for the insystem category than for the postsystem one, whereas the opposite is true for undiluted parcel ascent.

Abstract

The upper-air sounding data from PRE-STORM are used to investigate the convective stabilization effect on the large-scale atmosphere. To facilitate comparison between different stages of cumulus convection, the data are divided into four categories: environment, presystem, insystem, and postsystem. It is found that the convective available potential energy of the atmosphere is reduced substantially after cumulus convection, most of which is consumed during the transition from presystem to insystem. Examination of the temperature and moisture changes during cumulus convection suggests that cooling and drying in the subcloud layer are the most important factors in stabilizing the atmosphere. In general, virtual potential temperature profiles in all categories are close to reversible moist adiabats below the 600-mb level and nearly parallel to moist pseudoadiabats above it.

The effect of entrainment on parcel buoyancy is also studied. It is found that a small amount of entrainment of ambient air can lead to a pronounced decrease of parcel buoyancy. Furthermore, for diluted parcel ascent, the convective available potential energy is greater for the insystem category than for the postsystem one, whereas the opposite is true for undiluted parcel ascent.

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