Diabatic Processes and the Evolution of Two Contrasting Summer Extratropical Cyclones

Oscar Martínez-Alvarado National Centre for Atmospheric Science–Atmospheric Physics and Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom

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Suzanne L. Gray Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom

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John Methven Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom

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Abstract

Extratropical cyclones are typically weaker and less frequent in summer as a result of differences in the background state flow and diabatic processes with respect to other seasons. Two extratropical cyclones were observed in summer 2012 with a research aircraft during the Diabatic Influences on Mesoscale Structures in Extratropical Storms (DIAMET) field campaign. The first cyclone deepened only down to 995 hPa; the second cyclone deepened down to 978 hPa and formed a potential vorticity (PV) tower, a frequent signature of intense cyclones. The objectives of this article are to quantify the effects of diabatic processes and their parameterizations on cyclone dynamics. The cyclones were analyzed through numerical simulations incorporating tracers for the effects of diabatic processes on potential temperature and PV. The simulations were compared with radar rainfall observations and dropsonde measurements. It was found that the observed maximum vapor flux in the stronger cyclone was twice as strong as in the weaker cyclone; the water vapor mass flow along the warm conveyor belt of the stronger cyclone was over half that typical in winter. The model overestimated water vapor mass flow by approximately a factor of 2 as a result of deeper structure in the rearward flow and humidity in the weaker case. An integral tracer interpretation is introduced, relating the tracers with cross-isentropic mass transport and circulation. It is shown that the circulation around the cyclone increases much more slowly than the amplitude of the diabatically generated PV tower. This effect is explained using the PV impermeability theorem.

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This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

Corresponding author address: Oscar Martínez-Alvarado, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Earley Gate, P.O. Box 243, Reading RG6 6BB, United Kingdom. E-mail: o.martinezalvarado@reading.ac.uk

This article is included in the Diabatic Influence on Mesoscale Structures in Extratropical Storms (DIAMET) special collection.

Abstract

Extratropical cyclones are typically weaker and less frequent in summer as a result of differences in the background state flow and diabatic processes with respect to other seasons. Two extratropical cyclones were observed in summer 2012 with a research aircraft during the Diabatic Influences on Mesoscale Structures in Extratropical Storms (DIAMET) field campaign. The first cyclone deepened only down to 995 hPa; the second cyclone deepened down to 978 hPa and formed a potential vorticity (PV) tower, a frequent signature of intense cyclones. The objectives of this article are to quantify the effects of diabatic processes and their parameterizations on cyclone dynamics. The cyclones were analyzed through numerical simulations incorporating tracers for the effects of diabatic processes on potential temperature and PV. The simulations were compared with radar rainfall observations and dropsonde measurements. It was found that the observed maximum vapor flux in the stronger cyclone was twice as strong as in the weaker cyclone; the water vapor mass flow along the warm conveyor belt of the stronger cyclone was over half that typical in winter. The model overestimated water vapor mass flow by approximately a factor of 2 as a result of deeper structure in the rearward flow and humidity in the weaker case. An integral tracer interpretation is introduced, relating the tracers with cross-isentropic mass transport and circulation. It is shown that the circulation around the cyclone increases much more slowly than the amplitude of the diabatically generated PV tower. This effect is explained using the PV impermeability theorem.

Denotes Open Access content.

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

Corresponding author address: Oscar Martínez-Alvarado, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Earley Gate, P.O. Box 243, Reading RG6 6BB, United Kingdom. E-mail: o.martinezalvarado@reading.ac.uk

This article is included in the Diabatic Influence on Mesoscale Structures in Extratropical Storms (DIAMET) special collection.

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