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K. J. Tory, J. D. Kepert, J. A. Sippel, and C. M. Nguyen


This study critically assesses potential vorticity (PV) tendency equations used for analyzing atmospheric convective systems. A generic PV tendency format is presented to provide a framework for comparing PV tendency equations, which isolates the contributions to PV tendency from wind and mass field changes. These changes are separated into forcing terms (e.g., diabatic or friction) and flow adjustment and evolution terms (i.e., adiabatic motions).

One PV tendency formulation analyzed separates PV tendency into terms representing PV advection and diabatic and frictional PV sources. In this form the PV advection is shown to exhibit large cancellation with the diabatic forcing term when used to analyze deep convective systems, which compromises the dynamical insight that the PV tendency analysis should provide. The isentropic PV substance tendency formulation of Haynes and McIntyre does not suffer from this cancellation problem. However, while the Haynes and McIntyre formulation may be appropriate for many convective system applications, there are likely to be some applications in which the formulation is difficult to apply or is not ideal.

This study introduces a family of PV tendency equations in geometric coordinates that is free from the deficiencies of the above formulations. Simpler forms are complemented by more complex forms that expand the vorticity tendency term to offer additional insight into flow dynamics. The more complex forms provide insight similar to the influential Haynes and McIntyre isentropic formulation.

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K. J. Tory, M. T. Montgomery, N. E. Davidson, and J. D. Kepert


This is the second of a three-part investigation into tropical cyclone (TC) genesis in the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Tropical Cyclone Limited Area Prediction System (TC-LAPS). The primary TC-LAPS vortex enhancement mechanism (convergence/stretching and vertical advection of absolute vorticity in convective updraft regions) was presented in Part I. In this paper (Part II) results from a numerical simulation of TC Chris (western Australia, February 2002) are used to illustrate the primary and two secondary vortex enhancement mechanisms that led to TC genesis. In Part III a number of simulations are presented exploring the sensitivity and variability of genesis forecasts in TC-LAPS.

During the first 18 h of the simulation, a mature vortex of TC intensity developed in a monsoon low from a relatively benign initial state. Deep upright vortex cores developed from convergence/stretching and vertical advection of absolute vorticity within the updrafts of intense bursts of cumulus convection. Individual convective bursts lasted for 6–12 h, with a new burst developing as the previous one weakened. The modeled bursts appear as single updrafts, and represent the mean vertical motion in convective regions because the 0.15° grid spacing imposes a minimum updraft scale of about 60 km. This relatively large scale may be unrealistic in the earlier genesis period when multiple smaller-scale, shorter-lived convective regions are often observed, but observational evidence suggests that such scales can be expected later in the process. The large scale may limit the convection to only one or two active bursts at a time, and may have contributed to a more rapid model intensification than that observed.

The monsoon low was tilted to the northwest, with convection initiating about 100–200 km west of the low-level center. The convective bursts and associated upright potential vorticity (PV) anomalies were advected cyclonically around the low, weakening as they passed to the north of the circulation center, leaving remnant cyclonic PV anomalies.

Strong convergence into the updrafts led to rapid ingestion of nearby cyclonic PV anomalies, including remnant PV cores from decaying convective bursts. Thus convective intensity, rather than the initial vortex size and intensity, determined dominance in vortex interactions. This scavenging of PV by the active convective region, termed diabatic upscale vortex cascade, ensured that PV cores grew successively and contributed to the construction of an upright central monolithic PV core. The system-scale intensification (SSI) process active on the broader scale (300–500-km radius) also contributed. Latent heating slightly dominated adiabatic cooling within the bursts, which enhanced the system-scale secondary circulation. Convergence of low- to midlevel tropospheric absolute vorticity by this enhanced circulation intensified the system-scale vortex. The diabatic upscale vortex cascade and SSI are secondary processes dependent on the locally enhanced vorticity and heat respectively, generated by the primary mechanism.

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