Mesoscale Features and Cloud Organization on 10–12 December 1978 over the South China Sea

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  • 1 Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville 22903
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Abstract

Aircraft data from Winter MONEX have been combined with other data to study mesoscale features, and organization of cumulus clouds, on 10–12 December 1978. A moderate cold surge in the northeasterly monsoon flow, toward cloudiness in an equatorial trough off Borneo, peaked on 11 December.

Clouds in the northeasterly monsoon flow were similar to those in the trades, with variations in convective regime on length scales on the order of 100 km. Marked mid-tropospheric subsidence was accompanied by low-level divergence near 20°N. During 10 December, anvil clouds near Borneo expanded; cumulus congestus and cumulonimbus formed on the periphery of this area. The approach of the low-level northeasterlies to the area of anvils was marked by a diminution of subsidence, conditional instability, and a weak field of low-level convergence, with randomly organized cumulus of increasing height. A low-level easterly jet was found in this transition zone, downstream from cloudiness over the Philippines. South of Vietnam, a clear area was associated with low air temperatures, and not subsidence. Congestus and cumulonimbus clouds formed near the eastern coast of the Malay Peninsula.

Cloud streets were seen from latitude 19°N to the Malaysian coast (with a break south of Vietnam). These clouds were confined below the level of an inflection point in the profile of winds normal to the street direction. Greatest spacings of streets occurred with greatest vertical shears of the cross-winds. Cloud number densities were more closely related to the instability of the vertical stratification than to any other parameter.

Cross-wind organization of clouds occurred in circumstances of unstable, stratification and apparently of net ascent. Alignment of clouds was at an angle to the directions of both winds and vertical wind shears. It is inferred that when convergence was strong, deep clouds occurred along lines of convergence in the surface streamlines.

Abstract

Aircraft data from Winter MONEX have been combined with other data to study mesoscale features, and organization of cumulus clouds, on 10–12 December 1978. A moderate cold surge in the northeasterly monsoon flow, toward cloudiness in an equatorial trough off Borneo, peaked on 11 December.

Clouds in the northeasterly monsoon flow were similar to those in the trades, with variations in convective regime on length scales on the order of 100 km. Marked mid-tropospheric subsidence was accompanied by low-level divergence near 20°N. During 10 December, anvil clouds near Borneo expanded; cumulus congestus and cumulonimbus formed on the periphery of this area. The approach of the low-level northeasterlies to the area of anvils was marked by a diminution of subsidence, conditional instability, and a weak field of low-level convergence, with randomly organized cumulus of increasing height. A low-level easterly jet was found in this transition zone, downstream from cloudiness over the Philippines. South of Vietnam, a clear area was associated with low air temperatures, and not subsidence. Congestus and cumulonimbus clouds formed near the eastern coast of the Malay Peninsula.

Cloud streets were seen from latitude 19°N to the Malaysian coast (with a break south of Vietnam). These clouds were confined below the level of an inflection point in the profile of winds normal to the street direction. Greatest spacings of streets occurred with greatest vertical shears of the cross-winds. Cloud number densities were more closely related to the instability of the vertical stratification than to any other parameter.

Cross-wind organization of clouds occurred in circumstances of unstable, stratification and apparently of net ascent. Alignment of clouds was at an angle to the directions of both winds and vertical wind shears. It is inferred that when convergence was strong, deep clouds occurred along lines of convergence in the surface streamlines.

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