The "Triple point" on 24 May 2002 during IHOP. Part II: Ground-Radar and in situ boundary layer analysis of cumulus development and convection initiation

Conrad L. Ziegler, Erik N. Rasmussen, Michael S. Buban, Yvette P. Richardson, L. Jay Miller, Robert M. Rabin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations


Cumulus formation and convection initiation are examined near a cold front-dryline "triple point" intersection on 24 May 2002 during the International H2O Project (IHOP). A new Lagrangian objective analysis technique assimilates in situ measurements using time-dependent Doppler-derived 3D wind fields, providing output 3D fields of water vapor mixing ratio, virtual potential temperature, and lifted condensation level (LCL) and water-saturated (i.e., cloud) volumes on a subdomain of the radar analysis grid. The radar and Lagrangian analyses reveal the presence of along-wind (i.e., longitudinal) and cross-wind (i.e., transverse) roll circulations in the boundary layer (BL). A remarkable finding of the evolving radar analyses is the apparent persistence of both transverse rolls and individual updraft, vertical vorticity, and reflectivity cores for periods of up to 30 min or more while moving approximately with the local BL wind. Satellite cloud images and single-camera ground photogrammetry imply that clouds tend to develop either over or on the downwind edge of BL updrafts, with a tendency for clouds to elongate and dissipate in the downwind direction relative to cloud layer winds due to weakening updrafts and mixing with drier overlying air. The Lagrangian and radar wind analyses support a parcel continuity principle for cumulus formation, which requires that rising moist air parcels achieve their LCL before moving laterally out of the updraft. Cumuli form within penetrative updrafts in the elevated residual layer (ERL) overlying the moist BL east of the triple point, but remain capped by a convection inhibition (CIN)-bearing layer above the ERL. Dropsonde data suggest the existence of a convergence line about 80 km east of the triple point where deep lifting of BL moisture and locally reduced CIN together support convection initiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2443-2472
Number of pages30
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2007


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

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