The Effect of Mesoscale Heterogeneity on the Genesis and Structure of Mesovortices within Quasi-Linear Convective Systems

Wheatley, Dustan M.; Trapp, Robert J.
November 2008
Monthly Weather Review;Nov2008, Vol. 136 Issue 11, p4220
Academic Journal
This study examines the structure and evolution of quasi-linear convective systems (QLCSs) within complex mesoscale environments. Convective outflows and other mesoscale features appear to affect the rotational characteristics and associated dynamics of these systems. Thus, real-data numerical simulations of two QLCS events have been performed to (i) identify and characterize the various ambient mesoscale features that modify the structure and evolution of simulated QLCSs; and then to (ii) determine the nature of interaction of such features with the systems, with an emphasis on the genesis and evolution of low-level mesovortices. Significant low-level mesovortices develop in both simulated QLCSs as a consequence of mechanisms internal to the system—consistent with idealized numerical simulations of mesovortex-bearing QLCSs—and not as an effect of system interaction with external heterogeneity. However, meso-γ-scale (order of 10 km) heterogeneity in the form of a convective outflow boundary is sufficient to affect mesovortex strength, as air parcels populating the vortex region encounter enhanced convergence at the point of QLCS–boundary interaction. Moreover, meso-β-scale (order of 100 km) heterogeneity in the form of interacting air masses provides for along-line variations in the distributions of low- to midlevel vertical wind shear and convective available potential energy. The subsequent impact on updraft strength/tilt has implications on the vortex stretching experienced by leading-edge mesovortices.


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