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Moisture transport in mid-latitude cyclones

By I. A. Boutle, S. E. Belcher and R. S. Plant

Abstract

We discuss how synoptic-scale variability controls the transport of atmospheric water vapour by mid-latitude cyclones. Idealised simulations are used to investigate quantitatively what factors determine the magnitude of cyclone moisture transport. It is demonstrated that large-scale ascent on the warmconveyor belt and shallow cumulus convection are equally important for ventilating moisture from the boundary layer into the free troposphere, and that ventilated moisture can be transported large distances eastwards and polewards by the cyclone, before being returned to the surface as precipitation. The initial relative humidity is shown to have little affect on the ability of the cyclone to transport moisture, whilst the absolute temperature and meridional temperature gradient provide much stronger controls. Scaling arguments are presented to quantify the dependence of moisture transport on large-scale and boundary-layer parameters. It is shown that ventilation by shallow convection and warm-conveyor belt advection vary in the same way with changes to large-scale parameters. However, shallow convective ventilation has a much stronger dependence on boundary-layer parameters than warm-conveyor belt ventilation

Publisher: Royal Meteorological Society
Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:centaur.reading.ac.uk:19144

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