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Observational aspects of tropical mesoscale convective systems over southeast India

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To enhance the knowledge of various physical mechanisms related to the evolution of Tropical Mesoscale Convective Systems (MCSs), detailed analysis has been performed using suite of observations (weather radar, electric field mill, surface weather station, flux tower, microwave radiometer and wind profilers) available at Gadanki (13.5°N/79.2°E), located over southeast India. Analysis suggests that these systems developed in warm, moist environment associated with large scale low level convergence. Significant variations in cloud to ground (CG) lightning activity indicate the storm electrification. Deep (shallow) vertical extents with high (low) reflectivity and cloud liquid water; dominant upward (downward) motion reveals variant distribution in convective (stratiform) portions. Existence of both +CG and –CG flashes in convective regions, dominant –CG in stratiform regions explains the relation between lightning polarity and rain and cloud type. Sharp changes in surface meteorological variables and variations in surface fluxes are noticed in connection to cold pool of the system. Increase (decrease) in temperature, moisture and equivalent potential temperature (θe) within the boundary layer in convective (stratiform) regions associated with latent heat warming (cooling) of air parcel are apparent. Presence of updrafts and downdrafts in convective region and dominant downdrafts in stratiform regions are evident from vertical velocity measurements. Isentropic upgliding (downgliding) illustrate the existence of isentropic ascents (descent) of air parcels in the storm vicinity. Veering (backing) of wind due to warm (cold) and moist (dry) air advections demonstrated the formation of θe ridge in storm environment. Blend of observations provided considerable insight of electrical, microphysical, thermodynamic, dynamic and kinematic features of MCS.

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This research was funded by National Atmospheric Research Laboratory (NARL) under the Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) program sponsored by Department of Space (DOS), India. The first author was funded to carry out her PhD work under this program. Authors gratefully acknowledge Director, NARL for his support and encouragement in providing necessary facilities and observations to carry out this work. The in-situ observational datasets utilized in the present study can be accessed by filling the data request form under data dissemination tab and data services (available data) at https://www.narl.gov.in/. The DWR data can be obtained by requesting Deputy Director General of Meteorology, India Meteorological Department (IMD), Chennai (http://www.imdchennai.gov.in/). Special thanks to technical staff of Doppler Weather Radar Division, IMD, Chennai, India for their support in archiving the DWR data. NASA Goddard Earth Science Data and Information Services Centre is acknowledged for providing MERRA data (http://disc.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/daac-bin/DataHoldings. pl). We would like to thank Dr. Ashim Kumar Mitra, India Meteorological Department (IMD), Delhi for retrieving the Kalpana Satellite Data. We also like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive reviews which helped us to improve the quality of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to A Madhulatha.

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Communicated by N V Chalapathi Rao

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Madhulatha, A., Rajeevan, M., Mohan, T.S. et al. Observational aspects of tropical mesoscale convective systems over southeast India. J Earth Syst Sci 129, 65 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12040-019-1300-9

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  • Mesoscale convective systems
  • cloud to ground lightning
  • isentropic sloping
  • wind profiler
  • microwave radiometer
  • doppler weather radar