A Diagnosis of the Explosive Development of Two Extratropical Cyclones

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  • 1 Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
  • | 2 Department of Physics, University of Quebec at Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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Abstract

This paper examines the 24-h explosive development periods of two extratropical cyclones, the first occurring over the Gulf Stream off the coast of New England from 18 to 19 January 1979 and the second occurring over the southeastern United States from 20 to 21 January 1979. The data used in this study are the First GARP (Global Atmospheric Research Program) Global Experiment (FGGE) level IIIb (SOP I) global analyses on a 4° latitude × 5&deg longitude grid. The parameter used to diagnose development is the geostrophic relative vorticity tendency calculated using an extended form of the Zwack-Okossi development equation. This development equation is similar to the Petterssen-Sutcliffe development equation, but is shown to be more complete by explicitly coupling surface development with forcing at all levels above the surface. Cyclonic-vorticity advection, warm-air advection, and latent heat release act to develop the two cyclones, while adiabatic cooling in the ascending air opposes development. Further, vertical profiles of the development quantities for these two cases reveal that vorticity and temperature advection maximize in the 200–300-mb layer, while the latent heat release maximum is typically below 500 mb.

Abstract

This paper examines the 24-h explosive development periods of two extratropical cyclones, the first occurring over the Gulf Stream off the coast of New England from 18 to 19 January 1979 and the second occurring over the southeastern United States from 20 to 21 January 1979. The data used in this study are the First GARP (Global Atmospheric Research Program) Global Experiment (FGGE) level IIIb (SOP I) global analyses on a 4° latitude × 5&deg longitude grid. The parameter used to diagnose development is the geostrophic relative vorticity tendency calculated using an extended form of the Zwack-Okossi development equation. This development equation is similar to the Petterssen-Sutcliffe development equation, but is shown to be more complete by explicitly coupling surface development with forcing at all levels above the surface. Cyclonic-vorticity advection, warm-air advection, and latent heat release act to develop the two cyclones, while adiabatic cooling in the ascending air opposes development. Further, vertical profiles of the development quantities for these two cases reveal that vorticity and temperature advection maximize in the 200–300-mb layer, while the latent heat release maximum is typically below 500 mb.

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