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Numerical Simulation of Thunderstorm Gust Fronts

Report Number: AFGL TR 83-0329
Author(s): Seitter, K. L.
Corporate Author: Air Force Geophysics Laboratory
Date of Publication: 1983-12-13
Pages: 34
AD Number: ADA141214

The thunderstorm gust front is an important feature for both the maintenance and initiation of storms. Previous studies have shown that the thunderstorm outflow producing the gust front can be treated as an atmospheric density current to a good approximation. In this study, a new version of the density current speed equation, based on the surface pressure rise, is derived. This equation is shown to give much better results than other commonly used forms when applied to twenty previously reported gust front observations. A two-dimensional numerical model is used to investigate the dynamics of atmospheric density currents. Simulations with this model show the effects of the environmental wind relative to the storm and the wind shear on the propagation of the gust front and the depth of the thunderstorm outflow. The results of these simulations are discussed in terms of the conditions necessary for the gust front to remain in a position that is beneficial for the maintenance of the storm. Moist processes are included in the model and simulations are made to investigate atmospheric density current propagation through a moist atmosphere. The lifting that occurs during gust front passage is calculated and it is found that even when this lifting is sufficient to bring moist parcels above their level of free convection; deep convection is prohibited by other aspects of the circulation. The generation of an arc cloud by the gust front is found to result in a less intense and slower gust front compared to an outflow that did not produce an arc cloud. This result is interpreted in terms of the gust front speed equation based on the surface pressure rise.

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