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Olivier M. Pauluis and Agnieszka A. Mrowiec

Abstract

This paper analyzes the convective mass transport by sorting air parcels in terms of their equivalent potential temperature to determine an isentropic streamfunction. By averaging the vertical mass flux at a constant value of the equivalent potential temperature, one can compute an isentropic mass transport that filters out reversible oscillatory motions such as gravity waves. This novel approach emphasizes the fact that the vertical energy and entropy transports by convection are due to the combination of ascending air parcels with high energy and entropy and subsiding air parcels with lower energy and entropy. Such conditional averaging can be extended to other dynamic and thermodynamic variables such as vertical velocity, temperature, or relative humidity to obtain a comprehensive description of convective motions. It is also shown how this approach can be used to determine the mean diabatic tendencies from the three-dimensional dynamic and thermodynamic fields.

A two-stream approximation that partitions the isentropic circulation into a mean updraft and a mean downdraft is also introduced. This offers a straightforward way to identify the mean properties of rising and subsiding air parcels. The results from the two-stream approximation are compared with two other definitions of the cloud mass flux. It is argued that the isentropic analysis offers a robust definition of the convective mass transport that is not tainted by the need to arbitrarily distinguish between convection and its environment, and that separates the irreversible convective overturning from oscillations associated with gravity waves.

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Agnieszka A. Mrowiec, Stephen T. Garner, and Olivier M. Pauluis

Abstract

This paper discusses the possible existence of hurricanes in an atmosphere without water vapor and analyzes the dynamic and thermodynamic structures of simulated hurricane-like storms in moist and dry environments. It is first shown that the “potential intensity” theory for axisymmetric hurricanes is directly applicable to the maintenance of a balanced vortex sustained by a combination of surface energy and momentum flux, even in the absence of water vapor. This theoretical insight is confirmed by simulations with a high-resolution numerical model. The same model is then used to compare dry and moist hurricanes. While it is found that both types of storms exhibit many similarities and fit well within the theoretical framework, there are several differences, most notably in the storm inflow and in the relationship between hurricane size and intensity. Such differences indicate that while water vapor is not necessary for the maintenance of hurricane-like vortices, moist processes directly affect the structure of these storms.

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Agnieszka A. Mrowiec, Olivier M. Pauluis, and Fuqing Zhang

Abstract

Hurricanes, like many other atmospheric flows, are associated with turbulent motions over a wide range of scales. Here the authors adapt a new technique based on the isentropic analysis of convective motions to study the thermodynamic structure of the overturning circulation in hurricane simulations. This approach separates the vertical mass transport in terms of the equivalent potential temperature of air parcels. In doing so, one separates the rising air parcels at high entropy from the subsiding air at low entropy. This technique filters out oscillatory motions associated with gravity waves and separates convective overturning from the secondary circulation.

This approach is applied here to study the flow of an idealized hurricane simulation with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. The isentropic circulation for a hurricane exhibits similar characteristics to that of moist convection, with a maximum mass transport near the surface associated with a shallow convection and entrainment. There are also important differences. For instance, ascent in the eyewall can be readily identified in the isentropic analysis as an upward mass flux of air with unusually high equivalent potential temperature. The isentropic circulation is further compared here to the Eulerian secondary circulation of the simulated hurricane to show that the mass transport in the isentropic circulation is much larger than the one in secondary circulation. This difference can be directly attributed to the mass transport by convection in the outer rainband and confirms that, even for a strongly organized flow like a hurricane, most of the atmospheric overturning is tied to the smaller scales.

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Agnieszka A. Mrowiec, O. M. Pauluis, A. M. Fridlind, and A. S. Ackerman

Abstract

Application of an isentropic analysis of convective motions to a simulated mesoscale convective system is presented. The approach discriminates the vertical mass transport in terms of equivalent potential temperature. The scheme separates rising air at high entropy from subsiding air at low entropy. This also filters out oscillatory motions associated with gravity waves and isolates the overturning motions associated with convection and mesoscale circulation. The mesoscale convective system is additionally partitioned into stratiform and convective regions based on the radar reflectivity field. For each of the subregions, the mass transport derived in terms of height and an isentropic invariant of the flow is analyzed. The difference between the Eulerian mass flux and the isentropic counterpart is a significant and symmetric contribution of the buoyant oscillations to the upward and downward mass fluxes. Filtering out these oscillations results in substantial reduction of the diagnosed downward-to-upward convective mass flux ratio. The analysis is also applied to graupel and snow mixing ratios and number concentrations, illustrating the relationship of the particle formation process to the updrafts.

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