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Yanan Meng, Jianhua Sun, Yuanchun Zhang, and Shenming Fu


Hourly blackbody temperature data from the warm seasons (May–September) of 2009–18 were used to detect mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) generated in the southwest mountain area (elevation ≥ 500 m) of China. A total of 3059 MCSs were grouped into four categories (C1, C2, C3, and C4) according to their generation positions using K-means clustering. Major characteristics of the four types of MCSs and their synoptic environmental conditions were investigated. The MCSs had a peak in July and a minimum in May, and usually lasted from 3 to 21 h. The C1 MCSs generated in the northeast of the Tibetan Plateau developed faster, were largest, and had a longer lifespan. The C2 and C4 MCSs had greater intensity and were initiated in the southeast of the Tibetan Plateau and the west of the Yungui Plateau, and near the Wuling and Xuefeng Mountains, respectively. The C3 MCSs initiated in the Qinling, Ta-pa, and Wushan Mountains were smallest. The C1 and C2 MCSs contributed more than 30% to total precipitation, which was more than the C3 and C4 MCSs (<25%), and the contribution rate of MCSs to short-duration heavy rainfall affected by local MCSs was over 60%. Composite synoptic circulations of the four types of MCSs showed several factors, including the locations and intensities of cyclones in the Bay of Bengal and high pressure in the Indochina Peninsula in the low-to-middle troposphere, and vortexes or southwesterly winds in the low-level troposphere, regulate the location and intensity of convection.

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Shen-Ming Fu, Rui-Xin Liu, and Jian-Hua Sun


Persistent heavy rainfall events (PHREs) are the product of the combined effects of multiscale systems. A PHRE that occurred during the 2016 mei-yu season was selected to further the understanding of the scale interactions accounting for the persistence of this type of event. The scale interactions were analyzed quantitatively using a piecewise energy budget based on temporal scale separation. Results show that the strongest interactions between the precipitation-related eddy flow and its background circulation (BC) occur in the mid- to lower troposphere, where a significant downscale kinetic energy (KE) cascade alone dominates eddy flow persistence. An obvious upscale KE cascade (i.e., a feedback effect) appears in the mid- to upper troposphere but has a negligible effect on the BC. Overall, within the precipitation region, the downscale KE cascade is primarily dependent on BC signals with shorter periods, whereas the upscale KE cascade is more dependent on BC signals with longer periods. Thus, the BC has asymmetric effects on the KE cascades. The most significant BC signal as determined via wavelet analysis [i.e., quasi-biweekly (10–18 days) oscillations in this event] does not play the leading role in the downscale KE cascade. Instead, the quasi-weekly oscillations provide the maximum amount of energy for eddy flow maintenance. Semi-idealized simulations of various BC signals show similar results: precipitation and the intensities of lower-level shear lines and transversal troughs (both of which are closely related to the precipitation-related eddy flow) are more sensitive to the quasi-weekly oscillation than to the quasi-biweekly oscillation.

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Shen-Ming Fu, Zi Mai, Jian-Hua Sun, Wan-Li Li, Yang Ding, and Ya-Qiang Wang


In summer, convective activity over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) is vigorous, with some of it moving eastward and vacating the plateau [defined as the eastward-moving type (EMT)]. Although the EMT only accounts for a small proportion, it is closely related to heavy precipitation east of the TP. This study investigates EMT impacts based on a series of composite semi-idealized simulations and piecewise potential vorticity (PV) inversion. The main results are as follows. (i) An EMT begins to affect downstream precipitation before it vacates the TP. A weaker EMT tends to cause the main downstream rainband to reduce in intensity and move southward. (ii) The EMT contributes to the formation of an eastward-moving plateau vortex (PLV) by enhancing convergence-induced stretching. Over the TP, the PLV mainly enhances/maintains the EMT, whereas during the vacating stage, the PLV dissipates (since convergence decreases rapidly when sensible heating from the TP reduces), which substantially reduces the intensity of the EMT. (iii) After PLV dissipation, a southwest vortex (SWV) forms around the Sichuan basin mainly due to convergence-induced stretching, convection-related tilting, and background transport. Piecewise PV inversion indicates that an EMT can directly contribute to SWV formation via lowering geopotential height and enhancing cyclonic wind perturbations around the Sichuan basin (even before its vacating stage), while neither of them governs the SWV formation. Sensitivity runs show that an EMT is not necessary for SWV formation, but can modify the SWV formation time and location, as well as its displacement, which significantly affects downstream precipitation.

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Shen-Ming Fu, Jing-Ping Zhang, Jian-Hua Sun, and Tian-Bao Zhao


A 14-yr climatology is presented of the mesoscale vortices generated in the vicinity of the Dabie Mountains [Dabie vortices (DBVs)] in the Yangtze River valley. Analyzing these vortices using the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR), DBVs were found to be a frequent type of summer mesoscale weather system, with a mean monthly frequency of 12.2. DBVs were mainly located in the middle and lower troposphere, and ~92% of them triggered precipitation. Most DBVs were short lived, and only 19.5% persisted for more than 12 h. Latent heat release associated with precipitation is a dominant factor for the DBV’s three-dimensional geometry features, life span, and intensity.

The long-lived DBVs, all of which triggered torrential rainfall, were analyzed using a composite analysis under the normalized polar coordinates. Results indicate that these vortices generally moved eastward and northeastward, which corresponded to the vortices’ orientation, divergence, vorticity budget, and kinetic energy budget. The evolution of long-lived DBVs featured significant unevenness: those octants located at the front and on the right side of the vortices’ moving tracks were more favorable for their development and maintenance, while those octants located at the back and on the left side acted conversely. Convergence-related shrinking was the most favorable factor for the vortices’ development and persistence, while the tilting effect was a dominant factor accounting for their attenuation. Long-lived DBVs featured strong baroclinity, and the baroclinic energy conversion acted as the main energy source for the vortices’ evolution. In contrast, the barotropic energy conversion favored the vortices’ development and maintenance at first, and later triggered their dissipation.

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Shen-Ming Fu, Jian-Hua Sun, Ya-Li Luo, and Yuan-Chun Zhang


Regions around Dabie Mountain (DBM) in the Yangtze River basin (YRB) are the source of a mesoscale vortex: the Dabie vortex (DBV). Based on a 14-yr statistical study, 11 long-lived heavy-rain-producing DBVs were composited for convection-permitting semi-idealized simulations. A control simulation, initialized 12 h before the composite vortex formation, successfully reproduced a DBV, with all the salient characteristics of the 11 events. Sensitivity experiments were designed to understand the impacts of large-scale environmental conditions, regional topography, and latent heating on DBV formation. The main results were as follows: (i) Supposition of a 500-hPa shortwave trough with an east–west-oriented lower-level transversal trough around the DBM is crucial for the formation of vortices. A nocturnal lower-level jet on the southern side of the transversal trough accelerates DBV formation by enhancing convergence, triggering/sustaining convection, and producing cyclonic vorticity. (ii) During the simulation period, the topography east of the second-step mountain ranges, including the DBM, significantly affects nearby precipitation and convective activity, whereas this is not crucial for DBV formation. (iii) Latent heating is not required for generating DBVs, but it enhances the intensity, longevity, and eastward progression of these vortices along the shear line associated with the transversal trough. (iv) The vorticity budget suggests the convergence-related (horizontal) shrinking and vertical transport dominate the cyclonic-vorticity increase associated with DBVs, whereas tilting and horizontal transport mainly act in the opposite manner.

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