A Mesoscale Gravity Wave Event Observed during CCOPE. Part II: Interactions between Mesoscale Convective Systems and the Antecedent Waves

View More View Less
  • 1 Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
  • | 2 General Sciences Corporation. Laurel, Maryland
© Get Permissions
Full access

Abstract

This paper presents the results of a very detailed investigation into the effects of preexisting gravity waves upon convective systems, as well as the feedback effects of convection of varying intensity upon the waves. The analysis is based on the synthesis of synoptic surface and barograph data with high-resolution surface mesonetwork, radar, and satellite data collected during a gravity wave event described by Koch and Golus in Part I of this series of papers. Use is also made of the synoptic barograph data and satellite imagery to trace the waves beyond the mesonetwork and thus determine their apparent source region just upstream of the mesonetwork.

It is shown that two of the gravity waves modulated convection within a weak squall line as they propagated across the line. The other six waves remained closely linked with convective systems that they appeared to trigger. However, it is shown that the waves were not excited by convection. Furthermore, the waves retained their signatures in the surface mesonetwork fields in the presence of rainshowers. Two episodes of strongest gravity wave activity are identified, each of which consisted of a packet of four wave troughs and ridges displaying wavelengths of ∼150 km. A Mesoscale Convective Complex (MCC) forms rapidly from very strong or severe thunderstorms apparently triggered by the individual members of the second wave packet. It is suggested that the large size and long duration of this complex were due in part to the periodic renewal and organization provided by this wave packet.

Strong convection appears to substantially affect the gravity waves locally by augmenting the wave amplitude, reducing its wavelength, distorting the wave shape, altering the wave phase velocity, and greatly weakening the in-phase covariance between the perturbation wind and pressure (pu*′) fields. These convective effects upon the gravity waves are explained in terms of hydrostatic and nonhydrostatic pressure forces and gust front processes associated with thunderstorms. Despite the implication from these findings of the loss or obscuration of the original wave signal, the gravity wave signal remained intact just outside of the active storm cores and the entire wave-storm system exhibited outstanding spatial coherence over hundreds of kilometers.

The observations are also compared to the predictions from wave-CISK theory. Although qualitative agreement is found, quantitative comparisons give rather unimpressive agreement, due in large measure to simplifications inherent to the theory.

Abstract

This paper presents the results of a very detailed investigation into the effects of preexisting gravity waves upon convective systems, as well as the feedback effects of convection of varying intensity upon the waves. The analysis is based on the synthesis of synoptic surface and barograph data with high-resolution surface mesonetwork, radar, and satellite data collected during a gravity wave event described by Koch and Golus in Part I of this series of papers. Use is also made of the synoptic barograph data and satellite imagery to trace the waves beyond the mesonetwork and thus determine their apparent source region just upstream of the mesonetwork.

It is shown that two of the gravity waves modulated convection within a weak squall line as they propagated across the line. The other six waves remained closely linked with convective systems that they appeared to trigger. However, it is shown that the waves were not excited by convection. Furthermore, the waves retained their signatures in the surface mesonetwork fields in the presence of rainshowers. Two episodes of strongest gravity wave activity are identified, each of which consisted of a packet of four wave troughs and ridges displaying wavelengths of ∼150 km. A Mesoscale Convective Complex (MCC) forms rapidly from very strong or severe thunderstorms apparently triggered by the individual members of the second wave packet. It is suggested that the large size and long duration of this complex were due in part to the periodic renewal and organization provided by this wave packet.

Strong convection appears to substantially affect the gravity waves locally by augmenting the wave amplitude, reducing its wavelength, distorting the wave shape, altering the wave phase velocity, and greatly weakening the in-phase covariance between the perturbation wind and pressure (pu*′) fields. These convective effects upon the gravity waves are explained in terms of hydrostatic and nonhydrostatic pressure forces and gust front processes associated with thunderstorms. Despite the implication from these findings of the loss or obscuration of the original wave signal, the gravity wave signal remained intact just outside of the active storm cores and the entire wave-storm system exhibited outstanding spatial coherence over hundreds of kilometers.

The observations are also compared to the predictions from wave-CISK theory. Although qualitative agreement is found, quantitative comparisons give rather unimpressive agreement, due in large measure to simplifications inherent to the theory.

Save