Potential Vorticity Analysis of Low Level Thunderstorm Dynamics in an Idealized Supercell Simulation
NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA
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Potential vorticity thinking has been used to infer the balanced dynamics of predominately synoptic-scale weather features. This is accomplished through the use of the invertibility principle in which the wind and mass fields can be retrieved from the three-dimensional distribution of potential vorticity PV. The most common use of PV thinking has been applied to various forms of synoptic-scale cyclogenesis and the sensitivity of certain weather features had on the subsequent development. Utilizing the non-linear balance PV inversion developed by Davis and Emanuel 1991 this study extends the current use of PV diagnostics to atmospheric features and motions on the order of the meso- and storm-scale. This study, in essence becomes a feasibility study to examine whether a primarily synoptic-scale diagnostic tool can be applied to much smaller scales and inherently more complex fields of motion that occur within a supercell thunderstorm. An idealized supercell simulation from the ARW will be used to examine the low level thunderstorm dynamics from a PV perspective. The results show promise that the PV diagnostic can be applied to thunderstorm dynamics given the qualitative results presented here. Refinements are necessary to improve the quantitative accuracy of this technique.