Role of stratospheric air in a severe weather event: Analysis of potential vorticity and total ozone

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Goering, Melissa
Olsen, Mark
Stanford, John
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Gallus, William
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Geological and Atmospheric Sciences

The Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences offers majors in three areas: Geology (traditional, environmental, or hydrogeology, for work as a surveyor or in mineral exploration), Meteorology (studies in global atmosphere, weather technology, and modeling for work as a meteorologist), and Earth Sciences (interdisciplinary mixture of geology, meteorology, and other natural sciences, with option of teacher-licensure).

The Department of Geology and Mining was founded in 1898. In 1902 its name changed to the Department of Geology. In 1965 its name changed to the Department of Earth Science. In 1977 its name changed to the Department of Earth Sciences. In 1989 its name changed to the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences.

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  • Department of Geology and Mining (1898-1902)
  • Department of Geology (1902-1965)
  • Department of Earth Science (1965-1977)
  • Department of Earth Sciences (1977-1989)

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The role of dry stratospheric air descending to low and middle tropospheric levels in a severe weather outbreak in the midwestern United States is examined using NCEP Eta model output, Rapid Update Cycle (RUC) analyses, and Earth probe Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (EP/TOMS) total ozone data. While stratospheric air was not found to play a direct role in the convection, backward trajectories show stratospheric air descended to 800 hPa just west of the convection. Damaging surface winds not associated with thunderstorms also occurred in the region of greatest stratospheric descent. Small-scale features in the high-resolution total ozone data compare favorably with geopotential heights and potential vorticity fields, supporting the notion that stratospheric air descended to near the surface. A detailed vertical structure in the potential vorticity appears to be captured by small-scale total ozone variations. The capability of the total ozone to identify mesoscale features assists model verification. The total ozone data suggest biases in the RUC analysis and Eta forecast of this event. The total ozone is also useful in determining whether potential vorticity is of stratospheric origin or is diabatically generated in the troposphere.


This article is from Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres 106 (2001): 11813, doi: 10.1029/2000JD900651. Posted with permission.

Mon Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2001