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Department of Atmospheric Science

Tues., Oct. 18, 3:10 pm, EN6085

Diving into Cold Pools

Dr. Sue C. van den Heever

Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University


Cold pools and their associated gust fronts are produced by most precipitating convective storms and are frequent features in both the tropics and mid-latitudes. They form through the evaporation and/or melting of liquid and ice species that produce cold, dense air. Being less buoyant that its environment, this dense air sinks to the surface where it spreads out radially from the parent storm, thus forming the cold pool. Cold pools subsequently dissipate through the entrainment of environmental air, as well as through the impacts of surface fluxes. Cold pools play an important role in storm organization, storm longevity and convective initiation. Given their significant role in convective life cycles recent efforts are being focused on improving their representation within weather forecast models, as well as developing cold pool parameterizations to better represent their impacts within global climate models. Understanding the physical processes governing cold pool formation and dissipation is therefore critical.

Cold pool development is influenced by the microphysical characteristics of storms, including the amount of precipitation being produced and the drop and ice crystal size distributions. These, in turn, are impacted by environmental characteristics including the relative humidity, presence of dry layers, vertical wind shear and aerosol loading and type. Similar environmental characteristics also impact the state of the air being entrained into cold pools and hence their dissipation rates. Cold pool dissipation rates are also determined by the sensible and latent heat fluxes of the surface over which cold pools are flowing, which are in turn a function of the soil and vegetation characteristics, as well as prior precipitation and the diurnal cycle. In this seminar, the relative importance of various environmental factors on cold pool formation and dissipation will be presented. The manner in which such factors are represented in cloud-resolving models will also be analyzed. Finally, the results from a recent field campaign examining cold pools over northern Colorado will be discussed. 

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EN 6034

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Laramie, WY 82071

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