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PhD Proposal: Kenneth Pryor

Monday, August 17, 2020
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Off Campus : via Webex
ADVISOR: Dr. Belay Demoz

TITLE: Examination of the Physical Process of Severe Convective Windstorms

ABSTRACT: Severe windstorms resulting from mesoscale convective systems (MCS) cause major disruption to society, including widespread power outages, tree and structural damage, and transportation accidents that affect multi-state regions and metropolitan areas along their track. Among them, a derecho, defined as a long-lived, widespread severe convective windstorm, composed of numerous downbursts (intense localized storm downdrafts) that are organized into clusters and/or families of clusters. Derechos can produce winds in excess of hurricane force along a track that may exceed several hundred kilometers.

Convective windstorm potential has been expressed as a grouping of stability parameters that are relevant for downburst generation. These include the lower-to-mid-tropospheric temperature and equivalent potential temperature (θe) lapse rates, vertical relative humidity differences, and the amount of convective available potential energy (CAPE) in the troposphere. Downdraft initiation proceeds as a departure from hydrostatic equilibrium. For a volume of air with a high concentration of ice phase precipitation that develops within a convective storm, the resultant force on the volume of precipitation is downward and imparts negative buoyancy. One major environmental factor addressed in the generation of widespread severe convective winds is the presence of an elevated mixed layer, and its associated instability that promotes the generation of both very strong storm updrafts and downdrafts. Another important factor is the development of a rear-inflow jet into an MCS that channels unsaturated mid-tropospheric air into the leading convective storm line. The establishment of an elevated, ascending front-to-rear flow originating from deep, moist convection, overlying a strong and deep outflow-induced cold pool has been found to generate and sustain a strong rear inflow jet. In addition, landfalling tropical cyclones have the capability to produce severe local-scale downburst winds generated by intense convective storms embedded within the eye wall.

Proposal will be held using Webex.