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A Local Energetics Analysis of the Life Cycle Differences between Consecutive, Explosively Deepening, Continental Cyclones

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
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Abstract

Local energetics diagnostics of the life cycles of consecutive, explosively deepening, extratropical cyclones that migrated across central North America in April 2001 are presented. Both storms developed rapidly and followed nearly identical tracks through the region. Despite similar mature-stage intensities, the two storms underwent vastly different evolutions during cyclolysis; the first decayed as rapidly as it had developed, and the second decayed very slowly. Examination of the volume-integrated eddy kinetic energy (EKE) budget for each storm reveals that the sea level pressure minimum associated with the first cyclone developed well after its associated EKE center had reached its maximum intensity. In contrast, the second cyclone’s sea level pressure minimum developed much more in concert with the development of its associated EKE center. As a consequence, the first cyclone began losing EKE through downstream energy fluxes even as it was developing at the surface, whereas the second cyclone did not disperse EKE downstream until later in its life cycle. Consideration of the EKE budget results in terms of baroclinic wave packets demonstrates that the first cyclone developed and decayed on the upstream edge of a wave packet, whereas the second cyclone developed in the midst of a wave packet, only decaying once it had reached the upstream edge. Thus, it is suggested that postmature phase decay is dynamically linked to a cyclone’s position in a given wave packet.

Corresponding author address: Jonathan E. Martin, Dept. of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 1225 W. Dayton St., Madison, WI 53705. Email: jon@aos.wisc.edu

Abstract

Local energetics diagnostics of the life cycles of consecutive, explosively deepening, extratropical cyclones that migrated across central North America in April 2001 are presented. Both storms developed rapidly and followed nearly identical tracks through the region. Despite similar mature-stage intensities, the two storms underwent vastly different evolutions during cyclolysis; the first decayed as rapidly as it had developed, and the second decayed very slowly. Examination of the volume-integrated eddy kinetic energy (EKE) budget for each storm reveals that the sea level pressure minimum associated with the first cyclone developed well after its associated EKE center had reached its maximum intensity. In contrast, the second cyclone’s sea level pressure minimum developed much more in concert with the development of its associated EKE center. As a consequence, the first cyclone began losing EKE through downstream energy fluxes even as it was developing at the surface, whereas the second cyclone did not disperse EKE downstream until later in its life cycle. Consideration of the EKE budget results in terms of baroclinic wave packets demonstrates that the first cyclone developed and decayed on the upstream edge of a wave packet, whereas the second cyclone developed in the midst of a wave packet, only decaying once it had reached the upstream edge. Thus, it is suggested that postmature phase decay is dynamically linked to a cyclone’s position in a given wave packet.

Corresponding author address: Jonathan E. Martin, Dept. of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 1225 W. Dayton St., Madison, WI 53705. Email: jon@aos.wisc.edu

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