A diagnostic study on the environmental influence of a mesoscale convective system over southern China in Meiyu season

George Tai Jen Chen*, Chung Chieh Wang, Chang Sheng Hsieh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


During the Post-TAMEX forecast experiment of Taiwan in 1992, a mesoscale convective system (MCS) developed on June 5-6 over southern China. As this system matured, it produced readily apparent cirrus outflow on satellite imageries while the upper level flow also exhibited a diffluent pattern. The purpose of the current study is to examine the possible changes in its environment associated with the development of this MCS. By using 12-h data from 1200 UTC June 5 to 1200 UTC June 6, objective analyses were performed for a 1° _xt× 1° latitude/longitude grid using sounding data and a low-pass filter. To facilitate the diagnosis, a band-pass filter was further applied to separate mesoscale features from macroscale ones, while the apparent heat source and apparent moisture sink defined by Yanai et al (1973) were also calculated. Results suggest that the MCS exerted clearly discernable effects on its environment. The latent heat release led to the development of a warm core and mesoscale high-pressure disturbance at upper levels when the system matured. Ageostrophic winds and diffluent flow patterns together with strong anticyclonic vorticity at 200 hPa near the MCS were associated with the mesohigh. After the mature stage, weak cooling occurred above 350 hPa, likely due to radiative emission from the cloud top. However, a mid-level cyclonic vortex, often present in MCSs over the North America, was not apparent here due to weak environmental vorticity and small Coriolis parameter f. The level of maximum divergence was initially located at 500 hPa, but rose to 200 hPa as the MCS matured. In response, the upward motion not only intensified, but the level at which strongest rising occurred also ascended from 700 to 350 hPa. Results from the apparent heat source and moisture sink calculation suggest that this slow ascent of maximum heating was partially due to vertical transport of sensible heat by updrafts. During the MCS's mature stage, under the stratiform clouds to the west of the strongest convection, a cold mesohigh formed at the surface due to evaporative cooling in downdrafts, and a gust front appeared along the leading edge of the outflow boundary. A trailing mesolow was also observed, likely due to near-adiabatic warming in drier downdrafts since no precipitation was associated with it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-55
Number of pages23
JournalMeteorology and Atmospheric Physics
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Aug
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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