AbstractExtratropical cyclones develop due to baroclinic instability, but their intensification is often substantially amplified by diabatic processes, most importantly latent heating (LH) through cloud formation. Although this amplification is well understood for individual cyclones, there is still need for a systematic and quantitative investigation of how LH affects cyclone intensification in different, particularly warmer and moister, climates. For this purpose the authors introduce a simple diagnostic to quantify the contribution of LH to cyclone intensification within the potential vorticity (PV) framework. The two leading terms in the PV tendency equation, diabatic PV modification and vertical advection, are used to derive a diagnostic equation to explicitly calculate the fraction of a cyclone’s positive lower-tropospheric PV anomaly caused by LH. The strength of this anomaly is strongly coupled to cyclone intensity and the associated impacts in terms of surface weather. To evaluate the performance of the diagnostic, sensitivity simulations of 12 Northern Hemisphere cyclones with artificially modified LH are carried out with a numerical weather prediction model. Based on these simulations it is demonstrated that the PV diagnostic captures the mean sensitivity of the cyclones’ PV structure to LH as well as parts of the strong case-to-case variability. The simple and versatile PV diagnostic will be the basis for future climatological studies of LH effects on cyclone intensification.
Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences – American Meteorological Society
Published: Aug 15, 2017
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