Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 110, Issue 3, pp 455–470

Local Initiation of Deep Convection on the Canadian Prairie Provinces


  • John M. Hanesiak
    • Centre for Earth Observation Science (CEOS)University of Manitoba
  • Richard L. Raddatz
    • Atmospheric & Hydrological Sciences DivisionMeteorological Service of Canada, Prairie and Northern Region, Environment Canada
  • Scott Lobban
    • Centre for Earth Observation Science (CEOS)University of Manitoba

DOI: 10.1023/B:BOUN.0000007242.89023.e5

Cite this article as:
Hanesiak, J.M., Raddatz, R.L. & Lobban, S. Boundary-Layer Meteorology (2004) 110: 455. doi:10.1023/B:BOUN.0000007242.89023.e5


Our study found that local mesoscale circulations associated with highlandareas, and transient evapotranspiration discontinuities, are likely to influencethe timing and location of the initiation of deep convection across the Canadianprairie provinces when synoptic-scale forcing is weak (e.g., weak low level windsand no frontal boundaries). The cumulus congestus and cumulonimbus clouds thatformed over the highland areas were initiated by anabatic wind induced mesoscalecirculations. These deep convective clouds generally formed relatively early in theday (about 1030 Central Standard Time (CST)). In the relatively flat cropped grasslandregion, transient evapotranspiration gradients influenced the location of deep convectioninitiation, and the average soil moisture in the root zone had a direct impact on theirtiming. As root zone soil moisture declined from greater than 70% to less than 30%,convection initiation was delayed from about 0930 to 1630 CST. Cumulus congestusand cumulonimbus clouds that formed over the ephemeral evapotranspiration gradientswere initiated by land-land circulations. The study has improved the understanding ofthe influence of local surface forcing on the development of deep convective cloud onthe Canadian prairie provinces. The identification of areas where deep convection islikely to be initiated with weak synoptic forcing will also aid in the forecasting ofthunderstorms in this region.

ConvectionEvapotranspirationSurface-atmosphere interactions

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004