The Moist Available Energy of a Conditionally Unstable Atmosphere

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
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Abstract

The concept of “moist available energy,” defined by Lorenz, is applied to study the potential energy available for cumulus convection in a conditionally unstable atmosphere. A modified version of Lorenz's parcel-moving algorithm is applied to the GATE data to determine the time variations of the moist available energy of the observed tropical atmosphere. Lorenz's algorithm is found to be somewhat impractical, and a new algorithm based on mass exchanges is proposed. Implications for cumulus parameterization are discussed.

Abstract

The concept of “moist available energy,” defined by Lorenz, is applied to study the potential energy available for cumulus convection in a conditionally unstable atmosphere. A modified version of Lorenz's parcel-moving algorithm is applied to the GATE data to determine the time variations of the moist available energy of the observed tropical atmosphere. Lorenz's algorithm is found to be somewhat impractical, and a new algorithm based on mass exchanges is proposed. Implications for cumulus parameterization are discussed.

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