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AGU journal highlights -- Dec. 31, 2008
Date:1/2/2009

structures influence larger-scale phenomena. For instance, previous studies have demonstrated that the structure, dynamics, and evolution of thunderstorms are very sensitive to cloud microphysical parameters. However, those studies used resolutions too coarse to resolve tornadoes or tornado-like circulations and were therefore not able to study the sensitivity of tornadogenesis to microphysics. Snook and Xue have now conducted simulations of severe tornadic thunderstorms using a grid of 100-meter (328-feet) spacing. They find that when the sizes of rain and hail drops are large, weaker cold pools due to reduced evaporative cooling/melting over smaller geographic regions result. Such weak cold pools are found to produce conditions that enhance low-level rotation. The authors' simulations show that strong, sustained vertical updrafts are positioned near and above the low-level circulation centers, providing strong dynamic lifting and vertical stretching to the air at the lower levels, which favors the creation of tornadoes.

Title: Effects of microphysical drop size distribution on tornadogenesis in supercell thunderstorms.

Authors: Nathan Snook and Ming Xue: School of Meteorology and Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, U.S.A.

Source: Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) paper 10.1029/2008GL035866, 2008; http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2008GL035866


3. Speediest sand dunes clocked from space

Monitoring the speeds of migrating dunes and the volumes of sand transported over time is important to understanding how arid landscapes respond to wind-driven changes. Traditionally, scientists have monitored such changes through detailed field surveys or long-term surveillance of stakes planted in dune fields. Vermeesch and Drake have developed a new and more convenient approach to monitoring the speed a
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Contact: Peter Weiss
pweiss@agu.org
202-777-7507
American Geophysical Union
Source:Eurekalert

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