Three dimensional airflow through fronts and midlatitude cyclones
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Three-Dimensional Airflow Through Fronts and Midlatitude Cyclones. Importance of Air Flows. Great insights into cyclone structures and evolution can be derived from understanding the air flows in midlatitude systems.

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Importance of air flows
Importance of Air Flows Cyclones

  • Great insights into cyclone structures and evolution can be derived from understanding the air flows in midlatitude systems.

  • Great advances have been possible during the past several decades using model output.

  • Air flows and trajectories provide a more fundamental understanding than traditional (frontal) approaches. (Not all key structures are associated with fronts!)


Some history
Some History Cyclones


1800 s
1800’s Cyclones

  • Thermal Theory conceptual model was dominant in the 1830s and for several subsequent decades.

  • Warm core with hurricane-like circulation

Low

Espy 1831



Loomis 1841 first air flow schematic over cold front
Loomis (1841): First Air CyclonesFlow Schematic Over Cold Front


By 1860s the idea of two main airflows warm and cold was becoming accepted
By 1860s the idea of two main airflows (warm and cold) was becoming accepted

cold

Fitz-Roy

1863

warm


By the beginning of the 20 th century the idea of three main airflows was being suggested
By the beginning of the 20 becoming acceptedth century the idea of three main airflows was being suggested.


The Norwegian Cyclone Model (Bjerknes 1918 and later) was the First to Connect the Concept of Three-Dimensional Airflows with the Cloud and Temperature Structures of Midlatitude Fronts and Cyclones

  • A huge advance, but as we will see it had its deficiencies


Norwegian cyclone model concept of air flows in cyclones
Norwegian Cyclone Model Concept of Air Flows in Cyclones the First to Connect the Concept of Three-Dimensional Airflows with the Cloud and Temperature Structures of Midlatitude Fronts and Cyclones


Missing key ingredients
Missing Key Ingredients the First to Connect the Concept of Three-Dimensional Airflows with the Cloud and Temperature Structures of Midlatitude Fronts and Cyclones

  • Dry descending airstreams in the mid to upper troposphere.

  • Forward-tilting frontal structures and airflows

  • Relationships of upper level short wave troughs and ridges with lower tropospheric structures.

  • And more…


1930s 1950s
1930s-1950s the First to Connect the Concept of Three-Dimensional Airflows with the Cloud and Temperature Structures of Midlatitude Fronts and Cyclones

  • The availability of radiosonde data painted a revised pictures of three-dimensional airflows and structures.


Palmen and newton 1969
Palmen and Newton (1969) the First to Connect the Concept of Three-Dimensional Airflows with the Cloud and Temperature Structures of Midlatitude Fronts and Cyclones


Airflow studies 1950s 1980s
Airflow Studies: 1950s-1980s the First to Connect the Concept of Three-Dimensional Airflows with the Cloud and Temperature Structures of Midlatitude Fronts and Cyclones

  • Many of these studies used relative flow isentropic analysis---assuming system is in steady state, that air and displayed flow relative to the system to give a picture of trajectories and vertical motions.

  • Air trajectories follow theta or thetae surfaces depending whether air parcels are unsaturated or saturated.

  • Eliassen and Kleinschmidt 57, Browning and Harrold 69, Harold 73, Carlson 80, Browning 86, Young et al., 87, Browning 90


Conveyor belts
Conveyor Belts the First to Connect the Concept of Three-Dimensional Airflows with the Cloud and Temperature Structures of Midlatitude Fronts and Cyclones

  • Many of these studies described the major airflows in cyclones as occurring in a limited number of discrete airstreams or conveyor belts.


The conveyor belt model of cyclone airflows carlson 1980
The Conveyor Belt Model of Cyclone Airflows the First to Connect the Concept of Three-Dimensional Airflows with the Cloud and Temperature Structures of Midlatitude Fronts and Cyclones(Carlson, 1980)


Clearer version
Clearer Version! the First to Connect the Concept of Three-Dimensional Airflows with the Cloud and Temperature Structures of Midlatitude Fronts and Cyclones


Three main airstreams or conveyor belts
Three Main Airstreams or “Conveyor Belts” the First to Connect the Concept of Three-Dimensional Airflows with the Cloud and Temperature Structures of Midlatitude Fronts and Cyclones

  • Warm conveyor belt (WCB)

    • associated with most of clouds and precipitation in cyclones.

    • begins at low levels within the southern part of the warm sector and climbs anticyclonically above the warm front.


  • Cold conveyor belt (CCB) the First to Connect the Concept of Three-Dimensional Airflows with the Cloud and Temperature Structures of Midlatitude Fronts and Cyclones

    • Originates in cold, low-level anticyclonic flow to the northeast of the cyclone and moves westward (relative to the eastward-moving cyclone) north of the warm front.

    • Undercuts the warm conveyor belt (WCB moves over the CCB)

    • Two ideas what happens next:

      • Carlson (1980): Cold conveyor belt then rises and emerges beneath the western edge of the WCB (producing the western extension of the comma head) and then ascends anticyclonically to merge with the WCB.

      • Browning (1990): part of the CCB descends cyclonically around the low center to a position behind the cold front.


  • Dry Airstream or dry intrusion the First to Connect the Concept of Three-Dimensional Airflows with the Cloud and Temperature Structures of Midlatitude Fronts and Cyclones

    • Descends cyclonically from the upper troposphere or lower stratosphere into the lower troposphere and then ascend over the cyclone

    • Often advances over the warm sector of the cyclone

    • The warm sector is often NOT a region of uniform warm, moist air!


The conveyor belt model of cyclone airflows carlson 19801
The Conveyor Belt Model of Cyclone Airflows the First to Connect the Concept of Three-Dimensional Airflows with the Cloud and Temperature Structures of Midlatitude Fronts and Cyclones(Carlson, 1980)


Airflow and Conveyor-Belt Studies Have Suggested Structures Not Described in the Norwegian Cyclone Model

Split Front and Upper “Cold” Front (Browning and Monk 1982)

  • Forward-tilting

  • Upper front is more of a moisture than temperature front

  • Leads to potential instability


Split cold front
Split “Cold” Front Not Described in the Norwegian Cyclone Model

  • Often see this on satellite pictures, with a separation between surface front and middle/upper clouds.


Terminology anafront versus katafront
Terminology: Anafront versus Katafront Not Described in the Norwegian Cyclone Model

  • Anafront: backward leaning. Sinking on cold side and rising motion on warm side.

warm

cold


  • Katafront Not Described in the Norwegian Cyclone Model: descent on both sides of cold front (generally stronger descent on warm side). Not much precipitation with front

warm

cold


Strengths and weaknesses of the conveyor belt model
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Conveyor Belt Model Not Described in the Norwegian Cyclone Model

  • Strengths

    • If you ignore the details, one can often identify three main broad air streams in cyclones and fronts

    • Gets us away from thinking that all the weather action is related to frontal boundaries. Not all vertical motion or interesting weather is directly related to fronts.

  • Weaknessess

    • It is can be a great simplification to consider only three air streams

    • There are all kinds of intermediary trajectories


1980s now the model revolution
1980s-now: The Model Revolution Not Described in the Norwegian Cyclone Model

  • Realistic model simulation at high resolution allows the creation of three-dimensional trajectories, with few assumptions.

  • Modern graphics promotes visualization—a major challenge.

  • An early example: The President’s Day Storm of 1993:http://www.atmos.washington.edu/academic/videos/PresidentsDayStorm.html


Trajectories for a Relatively “Classical” Case over North America: December 14-16, 1987 (Mass and Shultz,1993)


Realistic mm5 simulation
Realistic MM5 Simulation North America: December 14-16, 1987 (Mass and Shultz,1993)


Model-Based North America: December 14-16, 1987 (Mass and Shultz,1993)

Trajectories


Dry North America: December 14-16, 1987 (Mass and Shultz,1993)

Moist





Before occlusion
Before Leads the Cold Front?Occlusion


The ocean ranger storm 1982
The Ocean Ranger Storm (1982) Leads the Cold Front?


Why warm air near low center
Why Warm Air Near Low Center? Leads the Cold Front?


Schultz conclusions based on model trajectories
Schultz Conclusions Based on Model Trajectories Leads the Cold Front?

  • Airflow in the vicinity of the warm front is shown to be composed of three different airstreams: air-parcel trajectories belonging to the ascending warm conveyor belt, air-parcel trajectories belonging to the cyclonic path of the cold conveyor belt that originate from the lower troposphere, and air-parcel trajectories belonging to the anticyclonic path of the cold conveyor belt that originate within the midtroposphere.

  • The anticyclonic path represents a transition between the warm conveyor belt and the cyclonic path of the cold conveyor belt, which widens with height.


Schultz
Schultz Leads the Cold Front?

  • The anticyclonic path of the cold conveyor belt is related to the depth of the closed circulation associated with the cyclone, which increases as the cyclone deepens and evolves. When the closed circulation is strong and deep, the anticyclonic path of the cold conveyor belt is not apparent and the cyclonic path of thecold conveyor belt dominates






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