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Upper-Level Frontogenesis

Upper-Level Frontogenesis

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Upper-Level Frontogenesis

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  1. Upper-Level Frontogenesis Cliff Mass University of Washington

  2. Early Days • In the first half of the 20th century there was no concept of upper-level fronts. • Most studies described a polar front that extended from the surface to the tropopause. • The tropopause was considered an extensive and impenetrable barrier between the troposphere and stratosphere.

  3. 1920s-1950: Polar Front Bjerknes and Palmen 1937

  4. During the 50’s and 60’s Some Nations Conducted Upper-Ground Testing of Nuclear Weapons

  5. Radioactivity • It was thought the above ground tests were not a problem: • Radioactivity injected into the stratosphere would stay there. • Radioactivity injected into troposphere (in remote areas!!) would fall out rapidly or would be removed by precipitation. • But that did not prove to be the case. High concentrations of radioactivity showed up in the U.S. and other locations. High levels of strontium-90 were found in milk, for example.

  6. How did the radioactive material get into the midlatitude troposphere??

  7. Upper- level fronts and stratosphere-troposphere transport • To answer this question, a number of synoptic studies and field experiments took place in the 1950s and 1960s. • They found a new meteorological animals: • the upper level front • Tropopause folding and gaps • Stratosphere-troposphere exchange

  8. The First Study of Upper Level Fonts: Reed 1957

  9. Vertical Cross Section

  10. A Series of Aircraft-Based Field Experiments Described the Structure of Upper Level Fronts for A First Time

  11. Potential Vorticity As a Tracer of Air Parcel Origin • Potential vorticity is high in the stratosphere because of the large stability there. Ertel Potential Vorticity (PV): • The aircraft studies found stratospheric values of potential vorticity transported into the troposphere through upper level fronts.

  12. Radioactivity • Measurements of radioactivity showed that high levels of radioactivity in the stratosphere were entering the troposphere through upper level fronts.

  13. More Detailed Aircraft Data Showed the Details of Upper-Level Fronts

  14. “Official” Definition

  15. Upper Level Front Characteristics • Usually associated with midlatitude jet. • Can extend down to 900-800 mb • Close association with upper level troughs. • Often associate with substantial clear air turbulence. • Associated with a folding or “extrusion” of the tropopause. • Can also be associated with high ozone values.

  16. Tropopause Folding

  17. Stratospheric Air Injected into the Troposphere

  18. Ozone and Upper Level Fronts • Ozone levels are generally higher in the stratosphere than the troposphere. • Ozone can be injected into the troposphere through upper level fronts • The ozone associate with enhanced upper-level fronts can frequently be observed at the surface, particularly at mountain and higher-elevation observation sites.

  19. Ozone Measured By Aircraft

  20. Many studies have document such stratospheric ozone in the troposphere

  21. Remotely Sensed Ozone During an Upper Level Front

  22. Simulated PV Structure at Same Time

  23. Good correlation between Ozone and PV

  24. Why Large Clear-Air Turbulence (CAT) Associated with Upper-Level Fronts?

  25. CAT Associated With Upper Level Front and the Lower Stratosphere

  26. Richardson Number (small less stable)

  27. Turbulence is Maximum Above and Below the Jet Due to Large Shear Large Shear Jet Core Level Large Shear

  28. Turbulence

  29. Upper Level Frontogenesis for the 1987 Storm

  30. 400 hPa 1000 hPa

  31. Why Upper Level Fronts?

  32. Upper Level Frontal Frontogenesis • Tilting frontogenesis associated with differential vertical motion is often dominant! • Horizontal confluent frontogenesis is also important, but usually secondary.

  33. Frontogenesis

  34. Tilting Frontogenesis

  35. Tilting Frontogenesis

  36. Keyser et al (1986) 2-D Primitive Equation Simulation

  37. Did we see this in the fully 3D simulations of the 1987 Event?

  38. The End

  39. Theoretical Studies Have Shown That A Jet Streak/Shortwave Associated with Cold Advection Shows the Appropriate Vertical Motion Pattern (Sinking on the Warm Air Side)