Multiple-Doppler radar observations of the evolution of vorticity extrema in a convective boundary layer

Paul Markowski, Christina Hannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Overdetermined, dual-Doppler wind syntheses are used to document the evolution, structure, and dynamics of vertical vorticity extrema observed in a convective boundary layer during the 12 June 2002 International H2O Project (IHOP) mission. Discrete vertical vorticity extrema having horizontal scales of 1-2 km can be observed continuously for periods exceeding an hour. The evolution of the vorticity field is characterized by complex interactions among vorticity extrema and between the vertical vorticity and vertical velocity fields. The most prominent vorticity maxima have amplitudes of approximately 0.01 s-1 and are associated with retrieved pressure deficits of order 0.1 mb. The vorticity extrema weaken with height and tilt in the presence of vertical wind shear. Advection and propagation both contribute substantially to the motion of the vorticity extrema. Amplifications of vertical vorticity are closely linked to the intensification of updrafts. Both stretching and tilting can contribute significantly to the vorticity budgets of the air parcels comprising the vorticity extrema, and their relative importance varies with elevation, evolutionary stage, and from one vorticity extremum to another. It is therefore difficult to generalize about the dynamics of the vorticity extrema. It also is difficult to generalize about the helicity of the vorticity maxima and suppression of mixing for similar reasons. The weakening of vertical vorticity extrema is closely tied to the weakening of updrafts. In some cases, downward-directed vertical pressure gradient forces due to vertical gradients of rotation bring about updraft weakening and vorticity demise. An improved understanding of the nature of boundary layer vortices could have large relevance to convection initiation owing to feedbacks between vertical velocity and vorticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-374
Number of pages20
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Multiple-Doppler radar observations of the evolution of vorticity extrema in a convective boundary layer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this