Idealised simulations of cyclones with robust symmetrically unstable sting jets

Volonté, Ambrogio; Clark, Peter A.; Gray, Suzanne L.

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 was possible to use more realistic environments than in previous idealised studies. As a consequence, this study provides further insight into SJ evolution and dynamics and explores SJ robustness to different environmental conditions, assessed via a wide 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 along the airstream, including symmetric instability (SI). 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. Dry instabilities, generated by vorticity tilting via slantwise frontal motions in the cloud head, exist in similar proportions to moist instabilities at the start of the SJ descent and are then released along the SJ. The observed evolution 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.

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Volonté, Ambrogio / Clark, Peter A. / Gray, Suzanne L.: Idealised simulations of cyclones with robust symmetrically unstable sting jets. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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