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Research: Impact of Convectively-Generated Gravity Waves on Mesoscale Convective Systems

This is a collaborative project with Rebecca Adams-Selin of AER, Inc., to better understand the generation of gravity waves by mesoscale convective systems, and how those waves influence their environments. In particular, considering that even small changes in the surrounding environment or internal circulation have been shown to affect MCS development, improved understanding of these wave processes is important to successful MCS prediction.

This study will address four science questions: 1) What types/modes of gravity waves are produced during the evolution of an MCS? 2) How do those waves modify the surrounding environment, for example by changing CAPE/CIN or low-level shear? 3) How do the changes caused by these waves affect the initial MCS, both directly (through changes in the internal circulation of the MCS) and indirectly (through modifications to the surrounding environment)? 4) How does modification to the microphysics, and therefore the latent heating/cooling profiles, of an MCS affect these generation and feedback processes?

Idealized model simulations will be used to address these questions in environments of varying instability and shear. Because gravity wave generation is so intimately connected to the system latent heating profile, the sensitivity of the generated gravity waves to the uncertainty in the MCS microphysical structure will also be investigated. The conceptual model developed from the simulations will be evaluated using observations from the PECAN field campaign.

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