Supercell low-level mesocyclones in simulations with a sheared convective boundary layer

Christopher J. Nowotarski, Paul M. Markowski, Yvette P. Richardson, George H. Bryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Simulations of supercell thunderstorms in a sheared convective boundary layer (CBL), characterized by quasi-two-dimensional rolls, are compared with simulations having horizontally homogeneous environments. The effects of boundary layer convection on the general characteristics and the low-level mesocyclones of the simulated supercells are investigated for rolls oriented either perpendicular or parallel to storm motion, as well as with and without the effects of cloud shading. Bulk measures of storm strength are not greatly affected by the presence of rolls in the near-storm environment. Though boundary layer convection diminishes with time under the anvil shadow of the supercells when cloud shading is allowed, simulations without cloud shading suggest that rolls affect the morphology and evolution of supercell low-level mesocyclones. Initially, CBL vertical vorticity perturbations are enhanced along the supercell outflow boundary, resulting in nonnegligible near-ground vertical vorticity regardless of roll orientation.At later times, supercells thatmove perpendicular to the axes of rolls in their environment have low-level mesocyclones with weaker, less persistent circulation compared to those in a similar horizontally homogeneous environment. For storms moving parallel to rolls, the opposite result is found: that is, low-level mesocyclone circulation is often enhanced relative to that in the corresponding horizontally homogeneous environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-297
Number of pages26
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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