Scale Interactions Involved in the Initiation, Structure, and Evolution of the 15 December 1992 MCS Observed during TOGA COARE. Part I: Synoptic-Scale Processes

A. Protat Centre d'études des Environnements Terrestre et Planétaires, Velizy, France

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Y. Lemaître Centre d'études des Environnements Terrestre et Planétaires, Velizy, France

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Abstract

This paper, the first of a series, examines the synoptic-scale mechanisms involved in the initiation, structure, and evolution of a mesoscale convective system observed during TOGA COARE. This study relies upon the use of the Japanese Geosynchronous Meteorological Satellite-4 imagery and ECMWF model outputs, from which diagnostic parameters are derived and interpreted. This mesoscale convective system consists initially of two groups of convective entities that progressively move toward each other and merge. It is shown that the synoptic-scale flow creates a favorable environment for the formation of this large convective system through the production of convective available potential energy (CAPE) by horizontal advection and the enhancement of low-level convergence in the region where the convective system formed. Moreover, the general evolution of the system is found to be governed by the synoptic-scale circulation and, more precisely, by the temporal evolution of CAPE and low-level convergence. The mechanisms leading to the initiation and general evolution of the system are examined. The easterly equatorial jet at 500 hPa triggered positive potential vorticity areas that propagated westward and generated an anticyclonic circulation. This anticyclonic circulation was enhanced during the development phase of the convective system through vortex stretching and tilting, which accelerated the low-level westerlies (corresponding to the southern branch of this circulation) and enhanced the low-level convergence associated with the studied convective system.

In a companion paper, the mesoscale and convective-scale processes involved in the internal organization of this mesoscale convective system are examined using the airborne Doppler radar dataset collected within the system from 1700 to 2100 UTC. The downscale interactions (i.e., from synoptic scale to mesoscale and convective scale) are scrutinized using both the synoptic-scale context described in this paper and the mesoscale and convective-scale characteristics derived from the airborne radar observations.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Alain Protat, CETP–UVSQ, 10–12 Avenue de l'Europe, 78140 Vélizy, France. Email: protat@cetp.ipsl.fr

Abstract

This paper, the first of a series, examines the synoptic-scale mechanisms involved in the initiation, structure, and evolution of a mesoscale convective system observed during TOGA COARE. This study relies upon the use of the Japanese Geosynchronous Meteorological Satellite-4 imagery and ECMWF model outputs, from which diagnostic parameters are derived and interpreted. This mesoscale convective system consists initially of two groups of convective entities that progressively move toward each other and merge. It is shown that the synoptic-scale flow creates a favorable environment for the formation of this large convective system through the production of convective available potential energy (CAPE) by horizontal advection and the enhancement of low-level convergence in the region where the convective system formed. Moreover, the general evolution of the system is found to be governed by the synoptic-scale circulation and, more precisely, by the temporal evolution of CAPE and low-level convergence. The mechanisms leading to the initiation and general evolution of the system are examined. The easterly equatorial jet at 500 hPa triggered positive potential vorticity areas that propagated westward and generated an anticyclonic circulation. This anticyclonic circulation was enhanced during the development phase of the convective system through vortex stretching and tilting, which accelerated the low-level westerlies (corresponding to the southern branch of this circulation) and enhanced the low-level convergence associated with the studied convective system.

In a companion paper, the mesoscale and convective-scale processes involved in the internal organization of this mesoscale convective system are examined using the airborne Doppler radar dataset collected within the system from 1700 to 2100 UTC. The downscale interactions (i.e., from synoptic scale to mesoscale and convective scale) are scrutinized using both the synoptic-scale context described in this paper and the mesoscale and convective-scale characteristics derived from the airborne radar observations.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Alain Protat, CETP–UVSQ, 10–12 Avenue de l'Europe, 78140 Vélizy, France. Email: protat@cetp.ipsl.fr

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