Using the translation speed and vertical structure of gust fronts to infer buoyancy deficits within thunderstorm outflow

Abby Hutson, Christopher Weiss, George Bryan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

This study investigates whether the thermodynamics of supercell rear-flank outflow can be inferred from the propagation speed and vertical structure of the rear-flank gust front. To quantify the relationship between outflow thermodynamic deficit and gust front structure, CM1 is applied as a two-dimensional cold pool model to assess the vertical slope of cold pools of varying strength in different configurations of ambient shear. The model was run with both free-slip and semislip lower boundary conditions and the results were compared to observations of severe thunderstorm outflow captured by the Texas Tech University Ka-band mobile radars. Simulated cold pools in the free-slip model achieve the propagation speeds predicted by cold pool theory, while cold pool speeds in the semislip model propagate slower. Density current theory is applied to the observed cold pools and predicts the cold pool speed to within about 2 m s-1. Both the free-slip and semislip model results reveal that, in the same sheared flow, the edge of a strong cold pool is less inclined than that of a weaker cold pool. Also, a cold pool in weak ambient shear has a steeper slope than the same cold pool in stronger ambient shear. Nonlinear regressions performed on data from both models capture the proper dependence of slope on buoyancy and shear, but the free-slip model does not predict observed slopes within acceptable error, and the semislip model overpredicts the cold pool slope for all observed cases, but with uncertainty due to shear estimation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3575-3594
Number of pages20
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Volume147
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

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