Squall line response to coastal mid-atlantic thermodynamic heterogeneities

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Idealized 3D numerical simulations are used to quantify the impact of moving marine atmospheric boundary layers (MABLs) on squall lines in an environment representative of the U.S. mid-Atlantic coastal plain. Characteristics of the MABL, including depth and potential temperature, are varied. Squall lines are most intense while moving over the deepest MABLs, while the storm encountering no MABL is the weakest. Storm intensity is only sensitive to MABL temperature when the MABL is sufficiently deep. Collisions between the storm cold pools and MABLs transition storm lift from surface-based cold pools to wavelike features, with the resulting ascent mechanism dependent on MABL density, not depth. Bores form when the MABL is denser than the cold pool and hybrid cold pool-bores form when the densities are similar. While these features support storms over the MABL, the type of lifting mechanism does not control storm intensity alone. Storm intensity depends on the amplification and maintenance of these features, which is determined by the ambient conditions. Isolated convective cells form ahead of squall lines prior to the cold pool-MABL collision, resulting in a rain peak and the eventual discrete propagation of the storms. Cells form as storm-generated high-frequency gravity waves interact with gravity waves generated by the moving marine layers, in the presence of reduced stability by the squall line itself. No cells form in the presence of the storm or the MABL alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4143-4170
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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