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Life Cycle of a Mesoscale Circular Gust Front Observed by a C-Band Doppler Radar in West Africa

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  • 1 Laboratoire d’Aérologie, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, Toulouse, France
  • | 2 Météo-France, CNRM/GAME, CNRS, Toulouse, France
  • | 3 Parsons Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
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Abstract

On 10 July 2006, during the Special Observation Period (SOP) of the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) campaign, a small convective system initiated over Niamey and propagated westward in the vicinity of several instruments activated in the area, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) C-band Doppler radar and the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) mobile facility. The system started after a typical convective development of the planetary boundary layer. It grew and propagated within the scope of the radar range, so that its entire life cycle is documented, from the precluding shallow convection to its traveling gust front. The analysis of the observations during the transitions from organized dry convection to shallow convection and from shallow convection to deep convection lends support to the significant role played by surface temperature heterogeneities and boundary layer processes in the initiation of deep convection in semiarid conditions. The analysis of the system later in the day, of its growth and propagation, and of its associated density current allows the authors to estimate the wake available potential energy and demonstrate its capability to trigger deep convection itself. Given the quality and density of observations related to this case, and its typical and quasi-textbook characteristics, this is considered a prime case for the study of initiation and evolution of deep convection, and for testing their parameterizations in single-column models.

Corresponding author address: Marie Lothon, Laboratoire d’Aérologie, Centre de Recherches Atmosphériques, 8 route de Lannemezan, 65300 Campistrous, France. E-mail: marie.lothon@aero.obs-mip.fr

Abstract

On 10 July 2006, during the Special Observation Period (SOP) of the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) campaign, a small convective system initiated over Niamey and propagated westward in the vicinity of several instruments activated in the area, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) C-band Doppler radar and the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) mobile facility. The system started after a typical convective development of the planetary boundary layer. It grew and propagated within the scope of the radar range, so that its entire life cycle is documented, from the precluding shallow convection to its traveling gust front. The analysis of the observations during the transitions from organized dry convection to shallow convection and from shallow convection to deep convection lends support to the significant role played by surface temperature heterogeneities and boundary layer processes in the initiation of deep convection in semiarid conditions. The analysis of the system later in the day, of its growth and propagation, and of its associated density current allows the authors to estimate the wake available potential energy and demonstrate its capability to trigger deep convection itself. Given the quality and density of observations related to this case, and its typical and quasi-textbook characteristics, this is considered a prime case for the study of initiation and evolution of deep convection, and for testing their parameterizations in single-column models.

Corresponding author address: Marie Lothon, Laboratoire d’Aérologie, Centre de Recherches Atmosphériques, 8 route de Lannemezan, 65300 Campistrous, France. E-mail: marie.lothon@aero.obs-mip.fr
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