Presentation on theme: "SO441 Synoptic Meteorology"— Presentation transcript:
1 SO441 Synoptic Meteorology Vorticity and vorticity advection
2 What is vorticity?Many meteorological web sites include some form of vorticity contours on the 500-mb chartsWhy? How does having contours of vorticity help a meteorologist understand the atmosphere?
3 What is vorticity? Vorticity is a measure of spin First, some math:On a weather chart (like the 500 mb chart), want to measure spin about a vertical axisLike if you stuck a pencil or a pinwheel on the 500 mb chart, would it spin? And in what way?So isolate the “vertical vorticity” :This quantity is also often called “relative vorticity”
4 Relative (vertical) vorticity Relative (vertical) vorticity is not a measure of “vertical spin”, but rather a measure of horizontal spinThe word “vertical” comes from the fact that it’s the component of the vorticity vectorAdvantage: in one variable, both u and v wind components are usedExample: calculate the relative vorticity for these two cases:50 nm50 nm50 nm50 nm
5 Relative vorticity Measure of local spin Sign convention: Positive spin, or positive vorticity, is in the same sense as the counter-clockwise rotation of the Earth (the earth would spin counter-clockwise if you looked down on it from above the north pole)Negative vorticity: clockwise spinTwo types of vorticity: curvature and shearPositive vorticityNegative vorticity
6 Earth’s vorticity The Earth is a rotating sphere. It imparts vorticity to fluid parcelsEarth vorticity along the vertical axis is called Coriolis: , where f is Coriolis, Ω is the angular speed of earth’s rotation, and θ is latitudeIn Southern Hemisphere, Earth’s vorticity is negative (why?)Adapted from
7 Geostrophic absolute vorticity To examine the actual spin of an air parcel, need to look at vorticity contributions from both the Earth and the parcels themselves:Absolute vorticity:At 500 mb, flow is nearly geostrophicSo re-name relative vorticity as “geostrophic relative vorticity”Also re-name absolute vorticity as “geostrophic absolute vorticity”
8 Importance of vorticity Remember from Lesson 5 (Extratropical cyclones), vorticity is the quantity that “spins up” (or down) during the development of an extratropical cycloneFigure adapted from
9 Identify relative and absolute vorticity on a weather map
10 Relative & absolute vorticity in higher latitudes (Canada) Note color scale differences
11 Relationship between relative vorticity and geopotential height Use the fact that the 500 mb level is nearly geostrophic to derive another equation for vorticity:(Derivation)
12 Summary of relative vorticity Geostrophic relative vorticity: average difference in geopotential height around a central pointIf average height is higher across the region than at the center point, geostrophic vorticity is positive (i.e. cyclonic)i.e., point is lower than its surroundings, such as in a troughIf average height is lower than at center point, geostrophic vorticity is negative (i.e., anticyclonic)i.e., point is higher than its surroundings, such as in a ridge
13 Summary of vorticity advection Greatest advection of absolute vorticity occurs between ridges and troughsWhy?
15 Physical relationship between vorticity advection and rising motion Cyclonic vorticity advection produces height falls, proportional to the magnitude of the vorticity advection.Cyclonic vorticity is associated with low heights, so if vorticity advection increases with height (i.e., more vorticity advection at 250 mb than at 850 mb), heights will fall more aloft than at the surfaceThus the depth of the atmosphere between the surface and upper levels is decreasingThe depth of a column of air is proportional to its mean temperature, so a less-deep column means a colder columnIf no temperature advection (or any other change) occurs – i.e., the only thing taking place is vorticity advection – then the only way to cool the column of air is for rising motion to take placeVorticity advection occurs at various upper-level heights.More vorticity advection occurs higher in the atmosphere.Deeper trough in upper levels causes a smaller column of air in the trough.Smaller column of air must be associated with cooler temperatures, and the way to cool the air is to lift itThis method is adapted from from C. Doswell and K. Crawford, Univ. Oklahoma School of Meteorology.
16 Vorticity advection at different levels Composite radar reflectivity