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Tropopause Undulations and the Development of Extratropical Cyclones. Part I. Overview and Observations from a Cyclone Event

Paul A. HirschbergDepartment of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

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J. Michael FritschDepartment of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

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Abstract

The hypothesis that the development of extratropical cyclones is influenced by the evolution of tropopause undulations is described and examined. These undulations exhibit large temperature and potential vorticity anomalies, and are often observed prior to and during surface cyclogenesis. Typically, an undulation has a half wavelength of approximately 2000 km and a vertical amplitude of over 200 mb. Warm and cold temperature anomalies which lie respectively over the low and under the high portions of the undulation, are often embedded within strong upper-level flow, so that large temperature advections are found upstream and over developing cyclones. A case analysis of a cyclone event indicates that the distributions of tropospheric height change and vorticity change can be strongly sensitive to the undulation-related temperature changes in the lower stratosphere, especially near 200 mb.

Abstract

The hypothesis that the development of extratropical cyclones is influenced by the evolution of tropopause undulations is described and examined. These undulations exhibit large temperature and potential vorticity anomalies, and are often observed prior to and during surface cyclogenesis. Typically, an undulation has a half wavelength of approximately 2000 km and a vertical amplitude of over 200 mb. Warm and cold temperature anomalies which lie respectively over the low and under the high portions of the undulation, are often embedded within strong upper-level flow, so that large temperature advections are found upstream and over developing cyclones. A case analysis of a cyclone event indicates that the distributions of tropospheric height change and vorticity change can be strongly sensitive to the undulation-related temperature changes in the lower stratosphere, especially near 200 mb.

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