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Evolution of Slantwise Vertical Motions in NCEP’s Mesoscale Eta Model

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  • 1 National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Washington, D.C.
  • | 2 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey
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Abstract

Numerical forecasts from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s mesoscale version of the η coordinate–based model, hereafter referred to as MESO, have been analyzed to study the roles of conditional symmetric instability (CSI) and frontogenesis in copious precipitation events. A grid spacing of 29 km and 50 layers are used in the MESO model. Parameterized convective and resolvable-scale condensation, radiation physics, and many other physical processes are included. Results focus on a 24-h forecast from 1500 UTC 1 February 1996 in the region of a low-level front and associated deep baroclinic zone over the southeastern United States. Predicted precipitation amounts were close to the observed, and the rainfall in the model was mainly associated with the resolvable-scale condensation.

During the forecast deep upward motion amplifies in a band oriented west-southwest to east-northeast, nearly parallel to the mean tropospheric thermal wind. This band develops from a sloping updraft in the low-level nearly saturated frontal zone, which is absolutely stable to upright convection, but susceptible to CSI. The updraft is then nearly vertical in the middle troposphere where there is very weak conditional instability. We regard this occurrence as an example of model-produced deep slantwise convection (SWC). Negative values of moist potential vorticity (MPV) occur over the entire low-level SWC area initially. The vertical extent of SWC increases with the lifting upward of the negative MPV area. Characteristic features of CSI and SWC simulated in some high-resolution nonhydrostatic cloud models also develop within the MESO. As in the nonhydrostatic SWC, the vertical momentum transport in the MESO updraft generates a subgeostrophic momentum anomaly aloft, with negative absolute vorticity on the baroclinically cool side of the momentum anomaly where outflow winds are accelerated to the north.

Contribution of various processes to frontogenesis in the SWC area is investigated. The development of indirect circulation leads to low-level frontogenesis through the tilting term. The axis of frontogenesis nearly coincides with the axis of maximum vertical motion when the SWC is fully developed. Results suggest that strong vertical motions in the case investigated develop due to release of symmetric instability in a moist atmosphere (CSI), and resultant circulations lead to weak frontogenesis in the SWC area.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Mukut B. Mathur, NCEP/Environmental Modeling Center, W/NP22, Rm 205, WWBG, NOAA, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746-4304.

Email: wd23mm@sgi79.wwb.noaa.gov

Abstract

Numerical forecasts from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s mesoscale version of the η coordinate–based model, hereafter referred to as MESO, have been analyzed to study the roles of conditional symmetric instability (CSI) and frontogenesis in copious precipitation events. A grid spacing of 29 km and 50 layers are used in the MESO model. Parameterized convective and resolvable-scale condensation, radiation physics, and many other physical processes are included. Results focus on a 24-h forecast from 1500 UTC 1 February 1996 in the region of a low-level front and associated deep baroclinic zone over the southeastern United States. Predicted precipitation amounts were close to the observed, and the rainfall in the model was mainly associated with the resolvable-scale condensation.

During the forecast deep upward motion amplifies in a band oriented west-southwest to east-northeast, nearly parallel to the mean tropospheric thermal wind. This band develops from a sloping updraft in the low-level nearly saturated frontal zone, which is absolutely stable to upright convection, but susceptible to CSI. The updraft is then nearly vertical in the middle troposphere where there is very weak conditional instability. We regard this occurrence as an example of model-produced deep slantwise convection (SWC). Negative values of moist potential vorticity (MPV) occur over the entire low-level SWC area initially. The vertical extent of SWC increases with the lifting upward of the negative MPV area. Characteristic features of CSI and SWC simulated in some high-resolution nonhydrostatic cloud models also develop within the MESO. As in the nonhydrostatic SWC, the vertical momentum transport in the MESO updraft generates a subgeostrophic momentum anomaly aloft, with negative absolute vorticity on the baroclinically cool side of the momentum anomaly where outflow winds are accelerated to the north.

Contribution of various processes to frontogenesis in the SWC area is investigated. The development of indirect circulation leads to low-level frontogenesis through the tilting term. The axis of frontogenesis nearly coincides with the axis of maximum vertical motion when the SWC is fully developed. Results suggest that strong vertical motions in the case investigated develop due to release of symmetric instability in a moist atmosphere (CSI), and resultant circulations lead to weak frontogenesis in the SWC area.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Mukut B. Mathur, NCEP/Environmental Modeling Center, W/NP22, Rm 205, WWBG, NOAA, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746-4304.

Email: wd23mm@sgi79.wwb.noaa.gov

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