Wintertime observations of mesoscale cellular convection (MCC) over the East China Sea have resulted in criteria that have a remarkable similarity to those reported by Woodcock (1975) in the study of thermals and gull flight behavior. It has been determined that the surface wind speed (V) and the air-sea temperature difference (δT) prescribe unique and compatible conditons for both the occurrence of MCC and soaring by sea gulls. Specifically, the onset of MCC when V is between 5 and 9 m s−1 is inversely proportional to δT in the range 5 to 7 °C. Elsewhere, the onset of MCC occurs under conditions of direct proportionality between V and δT. Necessary conditions for the occurrence of MCC due to heating from below are δT ⩾ 5 °C and V ⩾ 5 m s−1. The boundaries of the convective regime for MCC are discussed and interpreted in accordance with the regime for sea-gull soaring and similarity concepts.
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