Low-level mesocyclonic concentration by nonaxisymmetric transport. Part I: Supercell and mesocyclone evolution

Brian J. Gaudet, William R. Cotton

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An idealized simulation of a supercell using the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) was a to produce a low-level mesocyclone near the intersection of the forward- and rear-flank downdrafts. The creation of the low-level mesocyclone is similar to previous studies. After 3600 s, the low-level mesocyclone underwent a period of rapid intensification, during which its form changed from an elongated patch to a compact center. This transition was also accompanied by a sudden decrease in pressure (to 12 mb below that of the neighboring flow), and was found to occur even in the absence of nested grids. It is shown that the stage of strong intensification does not begin aloft, as in the dynamic pipe effect, and then descend to the surface. Rather, the vortex is initiated near the surface, and then builds upward. The process is completed in 5 min, and the final vortex can be clearly distinguished from the larger-scale mesocyclone at the cloud base. The reduction of pressure can be explained as a consequence of the evacuation of mass in the horizontal convergence equation. This is in contrast to axisymmetric models of vortex intensification, which generally rely on the evacuation of mass in the vertical divergence equation. In the latter cases a positive horizontal convergence tendency is what initiates the concentrated vortex. However, nondivergent models prove that vorticity concentration can occur in the absence of any horizontal convergence. Here the concentration is associated with a negative horizontal convergence tendency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1113-1133
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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