Observational Analysis of an Upper-Level Inverted Trough during the 2004 North American Monsoon Experiment

Finch, Zachary O.; Johnson, Richard H.
September 2010
Monthly Weather Review;Sep2010, Vol. 138 Issue 9, p3540
Academic Journal
Upper-level inverted troughs (IVs) associated with midlatitude breaking Rossby waves or tropical upper-troposphere troughs (TUTTs) have been identified as important contributors to the variability of rainfall in the North American monsoon (NAM) region. However, little attention has been given to the dynamics of these systems owing to the sparse observational network over the NAM region. High temporal and spatial observations taken during the 2004 North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) are utilized to analyze a significant IV that passed over northwestern Mexico from 10 to 13 July 2004. The Colorado State University gridded dataset, which is independent of model analysis over land, is the primary data source used in this study. Results show that the 10-13 July IV disturbance was characterized by a warm anomaly around 100 hPa and a cold anomaly that extended from 200 to 700 hPa. The strongest cyclonic circulation was in the upper levels around 200 hPa. Quasigeostrophic (QG) diagnostics indicate that the upper-level low forced weak subsidence (weak rising motion) to the west (east) of its center. Net downward motion to the west was a result of the Laplacian of thermal advection (forcing subsidence) outweighing differential vorticity advection (forcing weak upward motion). Despite the QG forcing of downward motion west of the upper-level IV, enhanced convection occurred west of the IV center along the western slopes of the Sierra Madre Occidental (SMO). This seemingly contradictory behavior can be explained by noting that the upper-level IV induced a midlevel cyclonic circulation, with northeasterly (southeasterly) midlevel flow to the west (east) of its center. Increased mesoscale organization of convection along the SMO foothills was found to be collocated with IV-enhanced northeasterly midlevel flow and anomalous northeasterly shear on the western (leading) flank of the system. It is proposed that the upper-level IV increased the SMO-perpendicular midlevel flow as well as the wind shear, thereby creating an environment favorable for convective storms to grow upscale as they moved off the high terrain.


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