Relationship between the Midlatitude Tropopause Potential Temperature and the Thermodynamics of Surface Air

George Chimonas School of Geophysical Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia

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Robert J. Rossi School of Geophysical Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia

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Abstract

It is postulated that a simple relationship exists between the thermodynamic state of surface air supporting severe storm convection and the potential temperature of the overlaying tropopause. The thesis is tested using tropopause observations taken at Wallops Island, Virginia, and associated surface observations over a five-year period. It is found that during the summer months the relationship provides a valid link between local surface conditions and the tropopause, but the local relationship does not hold in the other seasons. Further investigation suggests that in the nonsummer period the tropopause over Wallops Island is defined by upwind convective activity, notably storm systems over the Gulf of Mexico. Limited tests support the thermodynamic relationship applied in this nonlocal manner.

Abstract

It is postulated that a simple relationship exists between the thermodynamic state of surface air supporting severe storm convection and the potential temperature of the overlaying tropopause. The thesis is tested using tropopause observations taken at Wallops Island, Virginia, and associated surface observations over a five-year period. It is found that during the summer months the relationship provides a valid link between local surface conditions and the tropopause, but the local relationship does not hold in the other seasons. Further investigation suggests that in the nonsummer period the tropopause over Wallops Island is defined by upwind convective activity, notably storm systems over the Gulf of Mexico. Limited tests support the thermodynamic relationship applied in this nonlocal manner.

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