Mesoscale thermodynamic influences on convection initiation near a surface dryline in a convection-permitting ensemble

Stanley B. Trier, Glen S. Romine, David A. Ahijevych, Robert J. Trapp, Russ S. Schumacher, Michael C. Coniglio, David J. Stensrud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, the authors examine initiation of severe convection along a daytime surface dryline in a 10-member ensemble of convection-permitting simulations. Results indicate that the minimum buoyancy Bmin of PBL air parcels must be small (Bmin > -0.5°C) for successful deep convection initiation (CI) to occur along the dryline. Comparing different ensemble members reveals that CAPE magnitudes (allowing for entrainment) and the width of the zone of negligible Bmin extending eastward from the dryline act together to influence CI. Since PBL updrafts that initiate along the dryline move rapidly northeast in the vertically sheared flow as they grow into the free troposphere, a wider zone of negligible Bmin helps ensure adequate time for incipient storms to mature, which, itself, is hastened by larger CAPE. Local Bmin budget calculations and trajectory analysis are used to quantify physical processes responsible for the reduction of negative buoyancy prior to CI. Here, the grid-resolved forcing and forcing from temperature and moisture tendencies in the PBL scheme (arising from surface fluxes) contribute about equally in ensemble composites. However, greater spatial variability in grid-resolved forcing focuses the location of the greatest net forcing along the dryline. The grid-resolved forcing is influenced by a thermally direct vertical circulation, where time-averaged ascent at the east edge of the dryline results in locally deeper moisture and cooler conditions near the PBL top. Horizontal temperature advection spreads the cooler air eastward above higher equivalent potential temperature air at source levels of convecting air parcels, resulting in a wider zone of negligible Bmin that facilitates sustained CI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3726-3753
Number of pages28
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2015


  • Drylines
  • Severe storms
  • Storm environments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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