Mesoscale Convective Vortices Observed during BAMEX. Part II: Influences on Secondary Deep Convection

Stanley B. Trier National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado

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Christopher A. Davis National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado

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Abstract

Observations from the Bow Echo and Mesoscale Convective Vortex (MCV) Experiment are used to examine the role of the five mesoscale convective vortices described in Part I on heavy precipitation during the daytime heating cycle. Persistent widespread stratiform rain without deep convection occurs for two strong MCVs in conditionally stable environments with strong vertical shear. Two other MCVs in moderate-to-strong vertical shear have localized redevelopment of deep convection (termed secondary convection) on their downshear side, where conditional instability exists. The strongest of the five MCVs occurs in weak vertical shear and has widespread secondary convection, which is most intense on its conditionally unstable southeast periphery. The two MCVs with only localized secondary convection have well-defined mesoscale vertical motion couplets with downshear ascent and upshear descent above the planetary boundary layer (PBL). Although the amplitude is significantly greater, the kinematically derived vertical motion dipole resembles that implied by steady, vortex-relative isentropic flow, consistent with previous idealized (dry) simulations and diagnoses based on operational model analyses. In the other three cases with either widespread precipitation or weak environmental vertical shear, the kinematic and isentropic vertical motion patterns are poorly correlated. Vertical motions above the PBL provide a focus for secondary convection through adiabatic cooling downshear and adiabatic warming upshear of the MCV center. The MCVs occur within surface frontal zones with large temperature and moisture gradients across the environmental vertical shear vector (Part I). Thus, the effect of vertical motions on conditional instability is reinforced by horizontal advections of high equivalent potential temperature air downshear, and low equivalent potential temperature air upshear within the PBL. On average, the quadrant immediately right of downshear (typically southeast of the MCV center) best supports deep convection because of the juxtaposition of greatest mesoscale ascent, high equivalent potential temperature PBL air, and MCV-induced enhancement of the vertical shear.

* The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Corresponding author address: Stanley B. Trier, National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000. Email: trier@ucar.edu

Abstract

Observations from the Bow Echo and Mesoscale Convective Vortex (MCV) Experiment are used to examine the role of the five mesoscale convective vortices described in Part I on heavy precipitation during the daytime heating cycle. Persistent widespread stratiform rain without deep convection occurs for two strong MCVs in conditionally stable environments with strong vertical shear. Two other MCVs in moderate-to-strong vertical shear have localized redevelopment of deep convection (termed secondary convection) on their downshear side, where conditional instability exists. The strongest of the five MCVs occurs in weak vertical shear and has widespread secondary convection, which is most intense on its conditionally unstable southeast periphery. The two MCVs with only localized secondary convection have well-defined mesoscale vertical motion couplets with downshear ascent and upshear descent above the planetary boundary layer (PBL). Although the amplitude is significantly greater, the kinematically derived vertical motion dipole resembles that implied by steady, vortex-relative isentropic flow, consistent with previous idealized (dry) simulations and diagnoses based on operational model analyses. In the other three cases with either widespread precipitation or weak environmental vertical shear, the kinematic and isentropic vertical motion patterns are poorly correlated. Vertical motions above the PBL provide a focus for secondary convection through adiabatic cooling downshear and adiabatic warming upshear of the MCV center. The MCVs occur within surface frontal zones with large temperature and moisture gradients across the environmental vertical shear vector (Part I). Thus, the effect of vertical motions on conditional instability is reinforced by horizontal advections of high equivalent potential temperature air downshear, and low equivalent potential temperature air upshear within the PBL. On average, the quadrant immediately right of downshear (typically southeast of the MCV center) best supports deep convection because of the juxtaposition of greatest mesoscale ascent, high equivalent potential temperature PBL air, and MCV-induced enhancement of the vertical shear.

* The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Corresponding author address: Stanley B. Trier, National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000. Email: trier@ucar.edu

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