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Processes controlling the evolution of deep moist convection in the summertime West African Sahel

Provod, Miroslav (2016) Processes controlling the evolution of deep moist convection in the summertime West African Sahel. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Deep moist convection and mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) are integral to the West African monsoon and, as the main rain-producing mechanism in the Sahel, are essential to the livelihoods of millions. Current operational forecasting models struggle to predict rainfall with a good precision. It is therefore necessary to study the processes controlling deep moist convection in detail, in order to understand them better and to be able to evaluate simulations to identify errors for future model development. In this thesis properties of cold pools from Sahelian MCSs were characterised from surface observations. It was observed that early season cold pools were stronger and drier, likely due to drier mid-levels before the monsoon onset. The properties of observed cold pools were used to evaluate a Unified Model (UM) convection-permitting simulation. The comparison showed that simulated cold pools are generally weaker than observed. Cold pools and MCS structure were further investigated in two case studies. This enabled an analysis of MCS vertical structure. Processes controlling the diurnal cycle of convection were analysed using observations and UM simulations. This showed that while surface CAPE follows a diurnal cycle with a maximum in the afternoon and minimum in the early morning, elevated CAPE was found to have a nearly opposite cycle, due to advection of high equivalent potential temperature air overnight by the nocturnal low-level jet. In addition, the low-level jet provides low-level wind shear which balances the cold-pool related vorticity and helps to maintain the MCS until morning, when the jet decays and MCSs tend to dissipate. The jet also creates moisture flux convergence overnight, supporting MCSs. Finally, mechanisms underlying storm initiation and regeneration were analysed in UM simulations, showing the roles of soil moisture boundaries, pre-existing cold pools and bookend vortices.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Related URLs:
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Earth and Environment (Leeds) > Institute for Atmospheric Science (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.693077
Depositing User: Mr Miroslav Provod
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2016 10:54
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2018 09:52
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13875

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