The Diagnosis of Synoptic-Scale Vertical Motion in an Operational Environment

Dale R. Durran Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112

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Leonard W. Snellman Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112

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Abstract

The physical reason for quasi-geostrophic vertical motion is reviewed. Various techniques for estimating synoptic-scale vertical motion are examined, and their utility (or lack thereof) is illustrated by a case study. The Q-vector approach appears to provide the best means of calculating vertical motions numerically. The vertical motion can be estimated by eye with reasonable accuracy by examining the advection of vorticity by the thermal wind or by examining the relative wind and the isobar field on an isentropic chart. The traditional form of the omega equation is not well suited for practical calculation.

Abstract

The physical reason for quasi-geostrophic vertical motion is reviewed. Various techniques for estimating synoptic-scale vertical motion are examined, and their utility (or lack thereof) is illustrated by a case study. The Q-vector approach appears to provide the best means of calculating vertical motions numerically. The vertical motion can be estimated by eye with reasonable accuracy by examining the advection of vorticity by the thermal wind or by examining the relative wind and the isobar field on an isentropic chart. The traditional form of the omega equation is not well suited for practical calculation.

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