Potential Vorticity Diagnosis of a Tropopause Polar Cyclone

Cavallo, Steven M.; Hakim, Gregory J.
April 2009
Monthly Weather Review;Apr2009, Vol. 137 Issue 4, p1358
Academic Journal
Long-lived coherent vortices located near the tropopause are often found over polar regions. Although these vortices are a commonly observed feature of the Arctic, and can have lifetimes longer than one month, little is known about the mechanisms that control their evolution. This paper examines mechanisms of intensity change for a cyclonic tropopause polar vortex (TPV) using an Ertel potential vorticity (EPV) diagnostic framework. Results from a climatology of intensifying cyclonic TPVs suggest that the essential dynamics are local to the vortex, rather than a consequence of larger-scale processes. This fact motivates a case study using a numerical model to investigate the role of diabatic mechanisms in the growth and decay of a particular cyclonic vortex. A component-wise breakdown of EPV reveals that cloud-top radiational cooling is the primary diabatic mechanism that intensifies the TPV during the growth phase. Increasing amounts of moisture become entrained into the vortex core at later times near Hudson Bay, allowing the destruction of potential vorticity near the tropopause due to latent heat release to become comparable to the radiational tendency to create potential vorticity.


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