Vorticity and Thermodynamics in a Gulf of Mexico Atmospheric River

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Jose Martínez-Claros
David J. Raymond
Željka Fuchs-Stone


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 Mexi-co. 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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