Use of the Parcel Buoyancy Minimum (Bmin) to Diagnose Simulated Thermodynamic Destabilization. Part II: Composite Analysis of Mature MCS Environments

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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David A. Ahijevych National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado

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Kevin W. Manning National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado

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Abstract

Herein, the parcel buoyancy minimum (Bmin) defined in Part I of this two-part paper is used to examine physical processes influencing thermodynamic destabilization in environments of mature simulated mesoscale convective systems (MCSs). These convection-permitting simulations consist of twelve 24-h forecasts during two 6-day periods characterized by two different commonly occurring warm-season weather regimes that support MCSs over the central United States.

A composite analysis of 22 MCS environments is performed where cases are stratified into surface-based (SB), elevated squall (ES), and elevated nonsquall (ENS) categories. A gradual reduction of lower-tropospheric Bmin to values indicative of small convection inhibition, occurring over horizontal scales >100 km from the MCS leading edge, is a common aspect of each category. These negative buoyancy decreases are most pronounced for the ES and ENS environments, in which convective available potential energy (CAPE) is greatest for air parcels originating above the surface. The implication is that the vertical structure of the mesoscale environment plays a key role in the evolution and sustenance of convection long after convection initiation and internal MCS circulations develop, particularly in elevated systems.

Budgets of Bmin forcing are computed for the nocturnally maturing ES and ENS composites. Though warm advection occurs through the entire 1.5-km-deep layer comprising the vertical intersection of the largest environmental CAPE and smallest environmental Bmin magnitude, the net effect of terms involving vertical motion dominate the destabilization in both composites. These effects include humidity increases in air parcels due to vertical moisture advection and the adiabatic cooling of the environment above.

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. E-mail: trier@ucar.edu

Abstract

Herein, the parcel buoyancy minimum (Bmin) defined in Part I of this two-part paper is used to examine physical processes influencing thermodynamic destabilization in environments of mature simulated mesoscale convective systems (MCSs). These convection-permitting simulations consist of twelve 24-h forecasts during two 6-day periods characterized by two different commonly occurring warm-season weather regimes that support MCSs over the central United States.

A composite analysis of 22 MCS environments is performed where cases are stratified into surface-based (SB), elevated squall (ES), and elevated nonsquall (ENS) categories. A gradual reduction of lower-tropospheric Bmin to values indicative of small convection inhibition, occurring over horizontal scales >100 km from the MCS leading edge, is a common aspect of each category. These negative buoyancy decreases are most pronounced for the ES and ENS environments, in which convective available potential energy (CAPE) is greatest for air parcels originating above the surface. The implication is that the vertical structure of the mesoscale environment plays a key role in the evolution and sustenance of convection long after convection initiation and internal MCS circulations develop, particularly in elevated systems.

Budgets of Bmin forcing are computed for the nocturnally maturing ES and ENS composites. Though warm advection occurs through the entire 1.5-km-deep layer comprising the vertical intersection of the largest environmental CAPE and smallest environmental Bmin magnitude, the net effect of terms involving vertical motion dominate the destabilization in both composites. These effects include humidity increases in air parcels due to vertical moisture advection and the adiabatic cooling of the environment above.

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. E-mail: trier@ucar.edu
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