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A Potential Vorticity Diagnostic Approach to Upper-Level Frontogenesis within a Developing Baroclinic Wave

A Potential Vorticity Diagnostic Approach to Upper-Level Frontogenesis within a Developing... The process of tropopause folding is studied in the context of the life cycle of baroclinic waves. Previous studies of upper-level frontogenesis have emphasized the role of the vertical circulation in driving stratospheric air down into the midtroposphere. Here, a potential vorticity–based approach is adopted that focuses on the generation of a folded tropopause. To facilitate comparison of the two approaches, the diagnosis is applied to the upper-level front previously simulated and studied by Rotunno et al. The potential vorticity approach clarifies the primary role played by the horizontal nondivergent wind in producing a fold and explains why folding should be a common aspect of baroclinic development. Between the trough and upstream ridge, prolonged subsidence within a region of weak system-relative flow generates a tropopause depression oriented at an angle to the large-scale flow. The large-scale vertical shear then locally increases the slope of the tropopause, eventually leading to a tropopause fold. In contrast, tropopause folding in the base of the trough is caused by the nondivergent cyclonic circulation associated with the surface thermal wave. The winds associated with the thermal wave amplify the potential vorticity wave aloft, and these winds, which decrease with height, rapidly generate a tropopause fold within the trough. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences American Meteorological Society

A Potential Vorticity Diagnostic Approach to Upper-Level Frontogenesis within a Developing Baroclinic Wave

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Publisher
American Meteorological Society
Copyright
Copyright © 1999 American Meteorological Society
ISSN
1520-0469
DOI
10.1175/1520-0469(2001)058<3918:APVDAT>2.0.CO;2
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The process of tropopause folding is studied in the context of the life cycle of baroclinic waves. Previous studies of upper-level frontogenesis have emphasized the role of the vertical circulation in driving stratospheric air down into the midtroposphere. Here, a potential vorticity–based approach is adopted that focuses on the generation of a folded tropopause. To facilitate comparison of the two approaches, the diagnosis is applied to the upper-level front previously simulated and studied by Rotunno et al. The potential vorticity approach clarifies the primary role played by the horizontal nondivergent wind in producing a fold and explains why folding should be a common aspect of baroclinic development. Between the trough and upstream ridge, prolonged subsidence within a region of weak system-relative flow generates a tropopause depression oriented at an angle to the large-scale flow. The large-scale vertical shear then locally increases the slope of the tropopause, eventually leading to a tropopause fold. In contrast, tropopause folding in the base of the trough is caused by the nondivergent cyclonic circulation associated with the surface thermal wave. The winds associated with the thermal wave amplify the potential vorticity wave aloft, and these winds, which decrease with height, rapidly generate a tropopause fold within the trough.

Journal

Journal of the Atmospheric SciencesAmerican Meteorological Society

Published: Mar 15, 1999

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