Vorticity and Thermodynamics in a Gulf of Mexico Atmospheric River

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Jose Martinez-Claros
David Raymond
Zeljka Fuchs-Stone

Abstract

This paper examines the interaction of tropical moisture with an atmospheric river. The analysis of this paper
is focused mainly on  dropsonde data collected during the fifth day of the Convective Processes Experiment
(CPEX). An area of interest is chosen over the central Gulf of Mexico, where the remnant moisture of the
tropical system Beatriz penetrated from the Eastern Pacific after making landfall in the western coast of
Mexico. Results in this study show an eastward-tilting pattern of enhanced mid-level vorticity, coupled with
high saturation fraction and low instability index in the predominantly stratiform regime present in the
region. An inverse relation between saturation fraction and instability index, as indicated by moisture
quasi-equilibrium (MQE), is found in a previously-dominant convective regime. Strong vertical shear signals
that the vorticity pattern within this stratiform system is being advected poleward into mid-latitudes.
Poleward-moving moisture plumes in narrow channels called atmospheric rivers (ARs) are observed during the
mission. We provide insights into vorticity and MQE as conceptual tools to characterize the moisture
mechanism of atmospheric rivers near the tropics, where the physical processes behind these river-like
structures are less well-understood.

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Author Biographies

Jose Martinez-Claros, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology 801 Leroy Place Socorro, NM 87801

Atmospheric Physics PhD Candidate

David Raymond, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology 801 Leroy Place Socorro, NM 87801

Emeritus Professor
Physics Department and Climate and Water Consortium

Zeljka Fuchs-Stone, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology 801 Leroy Place Socorro, NM 87801

Research Associate Professor
Physics Department and Climate and Water Consortium

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