Idealized numerical simulations of mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) over a range of instabilities and shears were conducted to examine low-frequency gravity waves generated during initial and mature stages of convection. In all simulations, at initial updraft development a first-order wave was generated by heating extending through the depth of the troposphere. Additional first-order wave modes were generated each time the convective updraft reintensified. Each of these waves stabilized the environment in advance of the system. As precipitation descended below cloud base, and as a stratiform precipitation region developed, second-order wave modes were generated by cooling extending from the midlevels to the surface. These waves destabilized the environment ahead of the system but weakened the 0–5 km shear. Third-order wave modes could be generated by midlevel cooling caused by rear inflow intensification; these wave modes cooled the midlevels destabilizing the environment. The developing stage of each MCS was characterized by a cyclical process: developing updraft, generation of n = 1 wave, increase in precipitation, generation of n = 2 wave, and subsequent environmental destabilization reinvigorating the updraft. After rearward expansion of the stratiform region, the MCSs entered their mature stage and the method of updraft reinvigoration shifted to absorbing discrete convective cells produced in advance of each system. Higher-order wave modes destabilized the environment, making it more favorable to development of these cells and maintenance of the MCS. As initial simulation shear or instability increased, the transition from cyclical wave/updraft development to discrete cell/updraft development occurred more quickly.

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