AbstractThe idealized supercell simulations from our previous study are further analyzed to clarify the physical mechanisms leading to differences in mesocyclone intensification between an experiment with surface friction applied to the full wind (FWFRIC) and an experiment with friction applied to the environmental wind only (EnvFRIC). The low-level mesocyclone intensifies rapidly during the 3 minutes preceding tornadogenesis in FWFRIC, while the intensification during the same period is much weaker in EnvFRIC, which fails to produce a tornado. To quantify the mechanisms responsible for this discrepancy in mesocyclone evolution, material circuits enclosing the low-level mesocyclone are initialized and traced back in time, and circulation budgets for these circuits are analyzed. The results show that in FWFRIC, surface drag directly generates a substantial proportion of the final circulation around the mesocyclone, especially below 1 km AGL; in EnvFRIC, circulation budgets indicate the mesocyclone circulation is overwhelmingly barotropic. It is proposed that the import of near-ground, frictionally-generated vorticity into the low-level mesocyclone in FWFRIC is a key factor causing the intensification and lowering of the mesocyclone towards ground, creating a large upward vertical pressure gradient force that leads to tornadogenesis. Similar circulation analyses are also performed for circuits enclosing the tornado at its genesis stage. The frictionally generated circulation component is found to contribute more than half of the final circulation for circuits enclosing the tornado vortex below 400 m AGL, and the frictional contribution decreases monotonically with the height of the final circuit.
Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences – American Meteorological Society
Published: Jul 6, 2017
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