National Weather Center Colloquium

Meso-beta-scale vortices in heavily raining convective systems: symptom or cause of extreme precipitation? 
(or both?)

Dr. Russ Schumacher

Assistant Professor
Colorado State University

26 April 2016, 4:00 PM

National Weather Center, Room 1313
120 David L. Boren Blvd.
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK

It is well known that vertical gradients of latent heating in convection are related to the development of potential vorticity anomalies, which have been hypothesized to support the maintenance of convective systems.  However, these anomalies, commonly referred to as mesoscale convective vortices (MCVs), have generally been considered at spatial scales on the order of 100 km, and explained as a result of the latent heating from both convective and stratiform precipitation regions.  Yet, in some cases of convection with large rain rates and accumulations, radar observations and numerical simulations reveal low-level vortices at smaller spatial scales. These vortices raise several questions. Are their formation mechanisms similar to the generally larger, longer-lived MCVs?  Should they be considered more akin to supercell thunderstorms?  Are they simply a response to net latent heating and the removal of precipitation mass in the column above, or can they also act to increase rainfall rates via feedback mechanisms? This presentation will explore the processes responsible for the development and maintenance of these vortices, their role in extreme precipitation events, and their representation in high-resolution numerical simulations.

Speaker bio

National Weather Center Colloquium Seminar Series website