Typical environmental conditions associated with horizontal convective rolls (HCRs) and cellular convection have been known for over 50 years. Yet our ability to predict whether HCRs, cellular convection, or no discernable organized (null) circulation will occur within a well-mixed convective boundary layer based upon easily observed environmental variables has been limited. Herein, a large database of 50 cases each of HCR, cellular convection, and null events is created that includes observations of mean boundary layer wind and wind shear, boundary layer depth; surface observations of wind, temperature, and relative humidity; and estimates of surface sensible heat flux. Results from a multiclass linear discriminant analysis applied to these data indicate that environmental conditions can be useful in predicting whether HCRs, cellular convection, or no circulation occurs, with the analysis identifying the correct circulation type on 72% of the case days. This result is slightly better than using amean convective boundary layer (CBL) wind speed of 6ms21 to discriminate between HCRs and cells. However, the mean CBL wind speed has no ability to further separate out cases with no CBL circulation. The key environmental variables suggested by the discriminant analysis are mean sensible heat flux, friction velocity, and the Obukhov length.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atmospheric Science