Sensitivity of cyclone tracks to the initial moisture distribution: A moist potential vorticity perspective
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In this study, the characteristics of moist potential vorticity (MPV) in the vicinity of a surface cyclone center and their physical processes are investigated. A prognostic equation of surface absolute vorticity is then used to examine the relationship between the cyclone tracks and negative MPV (NMPV) using numerical simulations of the life cycle of an extratropical cyclone. It is shown that the MPV approach developed herein, i.e., by tracing the peak NMPV, can be used to help trace surface cyclones during their development and mature stages. Sensitivity experiments are conducted to investigate the impact of different initial moisture fields on the effectiveness of the MPV approach. It is found that the lifetime of NMPV depends mainly on the initial moisture field, the magnitude of condensational heating, and the advection of NMPV. When NMPV moves into a saturated environment at or near a cyclone center, it can trace better the evolution of the surface cyclone due to the conservative property of MPV. It is also shown that the NMPV generation is closely associated with the coupling of large potential temperature and moisture gradients as a result of frontogenesis processes. Analyses indicate that condensation, confluence and tilting play important but different roles in determining the NMPV generation. NMPV is generated mainly through the changes in the strength of baroclinicity and in the direction of the moisture gradient due to moist and/or dry air mass intrusion into the baroclinic zone.
Key wordscyclone tracks moist potential vorticity mid-latitude cyclones
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