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Synoptic Control of Convective Rainfall Rates and Cloud-to-Ground Lightning Frequencies in Warm-Season Mesoscale Convective Systems over North China

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  • 1 State Key Laboratory of Severe Weather, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China
  • | 2 State Key Laboratory of Severe Weather, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China, and Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland
  • | 3 Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster/Pacific Typhoon Research Centre, Nanjing University of Information Sciences and Technology, Nanjing, and Wuhan Central Meteorological Observatory, Wuhan, China
  • | 4 Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster/Pacific Typhoon Research Centre, Nanjing University of Information Sciences and Technology, Nanjing, China
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Abstract

This study examines whether environmental conditions can control convective rainfall rates and cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning frequencies in mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) over north China (NC). A total of 60 identified MCSs over NC during June–August of 2008–13 were classified into 4 categories based on their high/low convective rainfall rates (HR/LR) and high/low CG lightning frequencies (HL/LL) (i.e., HRHL, HRLL, LRHL, and LRLL MCSs). MCSs with HR (HL) occurred most frequently in July (August), while those with LR or LL occurred most frequently in June; they followed closely seasonal changes. All MCSs were apt to form during afternoon hours. HRLL MCSs also formed during evening hours while HRHL MCSs could occur at any time of a day. A composite analysis of environmental conditions shows obvious differences and similarities among the HRHL, HRLL, and LRLL categories, while the LRHL MCSs exhibited little differences from the climatological mean because of its small sample size. Both the HRHL and HRLL MCSs occurred in the presence of upper-level anomalous divergence, a midlevel trough, and the lower-tropospheric southwesterly transport of tropical moist air. In contrast, LRLL MCSs took place as a result of daytime heating over mountainous regions, with little midlevel forcing over NC. The HRHL, HRLL, LRHL, and LRLL categories exhibited orders of the highest-to-smallest convective available potential energy and precipitable water but the smallest-to-largest convective inhibition and lifted indices. It is concluded that environmental conditions determine to some extent convective rainfall rates and CG lightning activity, although some other processes (e.g., cloud microphysics) also play certain roles, especially in CG lightning production.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Dr. Rudi Xia, xiard@cma.gov.cn

Abstract

This study examines whether environmental conditions can control convective rainfall rates and cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning frequencies in mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) over north China (NC). A total of 60 identified MCSs over NC during June–August of 2008–13 were classified into 4 categories based on their high/low convective rainfall rates (HR/LR) and high/low CG lightning frequencies (HL/LL) (i.e., HRHL, HRLL, LRHL, and LRLL MCSs). MCSs with HR (HL) occurred most frequently in July (August), while those with LR or LL occurred most frequently in June; they followed closely seasonal changes. All MCSs were apt to form during afternoon hours. HRLL MCSs also formed during evening hours while HRHL MCSs could occur at any time of a day. A composite analysis of environmental conditions shows obvious differences and similarities among the HRHL, HRLL, and LRLL categories, while the LRHL MCSs exhibited little differences from the climatological mean because of its small sample size. Both the HRHL and HRLL MCSs occurred in the presence of upper-level anomalous divergence, a midlevel trough, and the lower-tropospheric southwesterly transport of tropical moist air. In contrast, LRLL MCSs took place as a result of daytime heating over mountainous regions, with little midlevel forcing over NC. The HRHL, HRLL, LRHL, and LRLL categories exhibited orders of the highest-to-smallest convective available potential energy and precipitable water but the smallest-to-largest convective inhibition and lifted indices. It is concluded that environmental conditions determine to some extent convective rainfall rates and CG lightning activity, although some other processes (e.g., cloud microphysics) also play certain roles, especially in CG lightning production.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Dr. Rudi Xia, xiard@cma.gov.cn
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