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Weather and Climate Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/wcd-2019-8
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/wcd-2019-8
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 01 Oct 2019

Submitted as: research article | 01 Oct 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Weather and Climate Dynamics (WCD).

Idealised simulations of cyclones with robust symmetrically-unstable sting jets

Ambrogio Volonté1,2, Peter A. Clark1, and Suzanne L. Gray1 Ambrogio Volonté et al.
  • 1Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, RG6 6BB, UK
  • 2National Centre for Atmospheric Science-Climate, University of Reading, Reading, RG6 6BB, UK

Abstract. Idealised simulations of Shapiro-Keyser cyclones developing a sting jet (SJ) are presented. Thanks to an improved and accurate implementation of thermal wind balance in the initial state, it has been possible to use more realistic environments than in previous idealised studies. As a consequence, this study provides further insight in SJ evolution and dynamics and explores SJ robustness to different environmental conditions, assessed via a wide and different range of sensitivity experiments.

The control simulation contains a cyclone that fits the Shapiro-Keyser conceptual model and develops a SJ whose dynamics are associated with the evolution of mesoscale instabilities including symmetric instability (SI) along the airstream. The SJ undergoes a strong descent while leaving the cloud-head banded tip and markedly accelerating towards the frontal-fracture region, revealed as an area of buckling of the already-sloped moist isentropes. A substantial amount of SI, generated by slantwise frontal motions in the cloud head, is released along the SJ during its descent. This supports the role of SI in the airstream’s dynamics proposed in a conceptual model outlined in a previous study.

Sensitivity experiments illustrate that the SJ is a robust feature of intense Shapiro-Keyser cyclones, highlighting a range of different environmental conditions in which SI contributes to the evolution of this airstream, conditional on the model having adequate resolution. The results reveal that several environmental factors can modulate the strength of the SJ. However, a positive relationship between the strength of the SJ, both in terms of peak speed and amount of descent, and the amount of instability occurring along it can still be identified.

In summary, the idealised simulations presented in this study show the robustness of SJ occurrence in intense Shapiro-Keyser cyclones and support and clarify the role of dry instabilities in SJ dynamics.

Ambrogio Volonté et al.
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Ambrogio Volonté et al.
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Latest update: 09 Dec 2019
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Short summary
Sting jets (SJs) descend into the frontal-fracture region of intense extratropical cyclones leading to strong surface winds. In this study we look at idealised simulations of SJ-containing cyclones produced using an improved initial state and a wide set of sensitivity experiments. The results shed light on SJ evolution and the role of dry instabilities in SJ dynamics, supporting a recent conceptual model. The simulations also highlight the robustness of SJ occurrence in these intense cyclones.
Sting jets (SJs) descend into the frontal-fracture region of intense extratropical cyclones...
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