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Convectively-Generated Negative Potential Vorticity Enhancing the Jet Stream Though an Inverse Energy Cascade During the Extratropical Transition of Hurricane Irma

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  • 1 Atmospheric Science Program, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Abstract

A tropical cyclone (TC) that recurves into the midlatitudes can lead to significant downstream flow amplification by way of a favorable interaction with the midlatitude waveguide. Current conceptualizations emphasize the role of the meso-α- to synoptic-scale diabatically enhanced vertical redistribution of potential vorticity in facilitating downstream flow amplification following the interaction of a TC with the midlatitude waveguide. Less understood, however, is the extent to which this downstream flow amplification may be facilitated by the convective-scale diabatically enhanced horizontal redistribution of potential vorticity. Consequently, this study aims to diagnose the role that deep, moist convection in an associated predecessor rain event north of the TC played in influencing the midlatitude waveguide and potentially the downstream evolution.

A convection-allowing numerical simulation is performed on a predecessor rain event which precedes the interaction of North Atlantic TC Irma in September 2017 with the midlatitude waveguide. Horizontal gradients in microphysical heating result in intense convective-scale potential vorticity dipoles aligned perpendicular to the vertical wind shear vector, with the negative anomaly poleward (and thus closer to the midlatitude waveguide) of the large-scale southwesterly vertical wind shear vector. Regions of intensely negative potential vorticity persist for multiple hours after their formation as they become deformed by the large-scale strain field that is aligned parallel to the background vertical wind shear vector. The deformation-driven thinning of the negative potential-vorticity is associated with a transfer of energy to the large-scale flow, suggesting a non-negligible impact to the TC-midlatitude waveguide interaction by the collection of convective cells embedded in the predecessor rain event.

Corresponding author address: Kevin Prince University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences P.O. Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413 Email: kprince@uwm.edu

Abstract

A tropical cyclone (TC) that recurves into the midlatitudes can lead to significant downstream flow amplification by way of a favorable interaction with the midlatitude waveguide. Current conceptualizations emphasize the role of the meso-α- to synoptic-scale diabatically enhanced vertical redistribution of potential vorticity in facilitating downstream flow amplification following the interaction of a TC with the midlatitude waveguide. Less understood, however, is the extent to which this downstream flow amplification may be facilitated by the convective-scale diabatically enhanced horizontal redistribution of potential vorticity. Consequently, this study aims to diagnose the role that deep, moist convection in an associated predecessor rain event north of the TC played in influencing the midlatitude waveguide and potentially the downstream evolution.

A convection-allowing numerical simulation is performed on a predecessor rain event which precedes the interaction of North Atlantic TC Irma in September 2017 with the midlatitude waveguide. Horizontal gradients in microphysical heating result in intense convective-scale potential vorticity dipoles aligned perpendicular to the vertical wind shear vector, with the negative anomaly poleward (and thus closer to the midlatitude waveguide) of the large-scale southwesterly vertical wind shear vector. Regions of intensely negative potential vorticity persist for multiple hours after their formation as they become deformed by the large-scale strain field that is aligned parallel to the background vertical wind shear vector. The deformation-driven thinning of the negative potential-vorticity is associated with a transfer of energy to the large-scale flow, suggesting a non-negligible impact to the TC-midlatitude waveguide interaction by the collection of convective cells embedded in the predecessor rain event.

Corresponding author address: Kevin Prince University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences P.O. Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413 Email: kprince@uwm.edu
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