Microphysical and thermodynamic structure and evolution of the trailing stratiform regions of mesoscale convective systems during BAMEX. Part I: Observations

Andrea M. Smith, Greg M. McFarquhar, Robert M. Rauber, Joseph A. Grim, Michael S. Timlin, Brian F. Jewett, David P. Jorgensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study used airborne and ground-based radar and optical array probe data from the spiral descent flight patterns and horizontal flight legs of the NOAA P-3 aircraft in the trailing stratiform regions (TSRs) of mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) observed during the Bow Echo and Mesoscale Convective Vortex Experiment (BAMEX) to characterize microphysical and thermodynamic variations within the TSRs in the context of the following features: the transition zone, the notch region, the enhanced stratiform rain region, the rear anvil region, the front-to-rear flow, the rear-to-front flow, and the rear inflow jet axis. One spiral from the notch region, nine from the enhanced stratiform rain region, and two from the rear anvil region were analyzed along with numerous horizontal flight legs that traversed these zones. The spiral performed in the notch region on 29 June occurred early in the MCS life cycle and exhibited subsaturated conditions throughout its depth. The nine spirals performed within the enhanced stratiform rain region exhibited saturated conditions with respect to ice above and within the melting layer and subsaturated conditions below the melting layer. Spirals performed in the rear anvil region showed saturation until the base of the anvil, near -1°C, and subsaturation below. These data, together with analyses of total number concentration and the slope to gamma fits to size distributions, revealed that sublimation above the melting layer occurs early in the MCS life cycle but then reduces in importance as the environment behind the convective line is moistened from the top down. Evaporation below the melting layer was insufficient to attain saturation below the melting layer at any time or location within the MCS TSRs. Relative humidity was found to have a strong correlation to the component of wind parallel to the storm motion, especially within air flowing from front to rear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1165-1185
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Volume137
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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