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Convective Initiation at the Dryline: A Modeling Study

Conrad L. ZieglerNOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Tsengdar J. LeeDepartment of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Roger A. Pielke Sr.Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Abstract

A nonhydrostatic, three-dimensional version of the Colorado State University Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (CSU-RAMS) is used to deduce the processes responsible for the formation of drylines and the subsequent initiation of deep, moist dryline convection. A range of cumuliform cloud types are explicitly simulated along drylines on 15, 16, and 26 May 1991 in accordance with observations.

In the simulations, narrow convergence bands along the dryline provide the lift to initiate deep moist convection. The thermally direct secondary convective boundary layer (CBL) circulations along the dryline are frontogenetic and solenoidally forced. Maximum updrafts reach 5 m s−1 and the bands are 3–9 km wide and 10–100 km or more in length. The updrafts penetrate and are decelerated by the overlying stable air above the CBL, reaching depths of about 2000 m in the cases studied. Moisture convergence along the mesoscale updraft bands destabilizes the local sounding to deep convection, while simultaneously decreasing the CIN to zero where storms subsequently develop. The lapse rates of vapor mixing ratio and potential temperature in the mesoscale updrafts are rather small, indicating that increases of the lifted condensation level (LCL) and level of free convection (LFC) due to mixing following the parcel motion are also small. Simulated convective clouds of all modes, including shallow forced cumulus and storms, develop in regions where the CIN ranges from zero up to the order of the peak kinetic energy of the boundary layer updraft and moisture is sufficiently deep to permit water saturation to develop in the boundary layer.

The findings suggest that classic cloud models may not adequately simulate the early development of dryline storms due to their use of thermal bubbles to initiate convection and their assumption of a horizontally homogeneous environment. In contrast, cautious optimism may be warranted in regard to operational numerical prediction of drylines and the threat of attendant deep convection with mesoscale models.

* Current affiliation: Planning Research Corporation, McLean, Virginia.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Conrad L. Ziegler, National Severe Storms Laboratory, Mesoscale Research and Applications Division, 1313 Halley Circle, Norman, OK 73069.

Email: ziegler@nssl.uoknor.edu

Abstract

A nonhydrostatic, three-dimensional version of the Colorado State University Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (CSU-RAMS) is used to deduce the processes responsible for the formation of drylines and the subsequent initiation of deep, moist dryline convection. A range of cumuliform cloud types are explicitly simulated along drylines on 15, 16, and 26 May 1991 in accordance with observations.

In the simulations, narrow convergence bands along the dryline provide the lift to initiate deep moist convection. The thermally direct secondary convective boundary layer (CBL) circulations along the dryline are frontogenetic and solenoidally forced. Maximum updrafts reach 5 m s−1 and the bands are 3–9 km wide and 10–100 km or more in length. The updrafts penetrate and are decelerated by the overlying stable air above the CBL, reaching depths of about 2000 m in the cases studied. Moisture convergence along the mesoscale updraft bands destabilizes the local sounding to deep convection, while simultaneously decreasing the CIN to zero where storms subsequently develop. The lapse rates of vapor mixing ratio and potential temperature in the mesoscale updrafts are rather small, indicating that increases of the lifted condensation level (LCL) and level of free convection (LFC) due to mixing following the parcel motion are also small. Simulated convective clouds of all modes, including shallow forced cumulus and storms, develop in regions where the CIN ranges from zero up to the order of the peak kinetic energy of the boundary layer updraft and moisture is sufficiently deep to permit water saturation to develop in the boundary layer.

The findings suggest that classic cloud models may not adequately simulate the early development of dryline storms due to their use of thermal bubbles to initiate convection and their assumption of a horizontally homogeneous environment. In contrast, cautious optimism may be warranted in regard to operational numerical prediction of drylines and the threat of attendant deep convection with mesoscale models.

* Current affiliation: Planning Research Corporation, McLean, Virginia.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Conrad L. Ziegler, National Severe Storms Laboratory, Mesoscale Research and Applications Division, 1313 Halley Circle, Norman, OK 73069.

Email: ziegler@nssl.uoknor.edu

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