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Mesoscale dynamics and its application in torrential rainfall systems in China

  • Gao, Shouting1
  • Tan, Zhemin2
  • Zhao, Sixiong1
  • Luo, Zhexian3
  • Lu, Hancheng4
  • Wang, Donghai5
  • Cui, Chunguang6
  • Cui, Xiaopeng1
  • Sun, Jianhua1
  • 1 Chinese Academy of Sciences, Laboratory of Cloud-precipitation Physics and Severe Storms, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Beijing, 100029, China , Beijing (China)
  • 2 Nanjing University, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Nanjing, 10093, China , Nanjing (China)
  • 3 Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Remote Sensing College, Nanjing, 210044, China , Nanjing (China)
  • 4 PLA University of Science and Technology, Meteorological College, Nanjing, 211101, China , Nanjing (China)
  • 5 Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, 1000081, China , Beijing (China)
  • 6 China Meteorological Administration, Institute of Heavy Rain, Wuhan, 430074, China , Wuhan (China)
Published Article
Advances in Atmospheric Sciences
Science Press
Publication Date
Dec 17, 2014
DOI: 10.1007/s00376-014-0005-x
Springer Nature


Progress over the past decade in understanding moisture-driven dynamics and torrential rain storms in China is reviewed in this paper. First, advances in incorporating moisture effects more realistically into theory are described, including the development of a new parameter, generalized moist potential vorticity (GMPV) and an improved moist ageostrophic Q vector (Qum). Advances in vorticity dynamics are also described, including the adoption of a “parcel dynamic” approach to investigate the development of the vertical vorticity of an air parcel; a novel theory of slantwise vorticity development, proposed because vorticity develops easily near steep isentropic surfaces; and the development of the convective vorticity vector (CVV) as an effective new tool. The significant progress in both frontal dynamics and wave dynamics is also summarized, including the geostrophic adjustment of initial unbalanced flow and the dual role of boundary layer friction in frontogenesis, as well as the interaction between topography and fronts, which indicate that topographic perturbations alter both frontogenesis and frontal structure. For atmospheric vortices, mixed wave/vortex dynamics has been extended to explain the propagation of spiral rainbands and the development of dynamical instability in tropical cyclones. Finally, we review wave and basic flow interaction in torrential rainfall, for which it was necessary to extend existing theory from large-scale flows to mesoscale fields, enriching our knowledge of mesoscale atmospheric dynamics.

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