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Modulation of precipitation by conditional symmetric instability release

Glinton, M. R., Gray, S. L., Chagnon, J. M. and Morcrette, C. J. (2017) Modulation of precipitation by conditional symmetric instability release. Atmospheric Research, 185. pp. 186-201. ISSN 0169-8059

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosres.2016.10.013


Although many theoretical and observational studies have investigated the mechanism of conditional symmetric instability (CSI) release and associated it with mesoscale atmospheric phenomena such as frontal precipitation bands, cloud heads in rapidly developing extratropical cyclones and sting jets, its climatology and contribution to precipitation have not been extensively documented. The aim of this paper is to quantify the contribution of CSI release, yielding slantwise convection, to climatological precipitation accumulations for the North Atlantic and western Europe. Case studies reveal that CSI release could be common along cold fronts of mature extratropical cyclones and the North Atlantic storm track is found to be a region with large CSI according to two independent CSI metrics. Correlations of CSI with accumulated precipitation are also large in this region and CSI release is inferred to be occurring about 20% of the total time over depths of over 1km. We conclude that the inability of current global weather forecast and climate prediction models to represent CSI release (due to insufficient resolution yet lack of subgrid parametrization schemes) may lead to errors in precipitation distributions, particularly in the region of the North Atlantic storm track.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:68024
Uncontrolled Keywords:Conditional symmetric instability; Slantwise convective available potential energy; Convective available potential energy; Vertically integrated extent of realisable symmetric (VRS) instability


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