Advances in Atmospheric Sciences

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 385–397 | Cite as

A numerical case study on a mesoscale convective system over the Qinghai-Xizang (Tibetan) Plateau

  • Zhu Guofu 
  • Chen Shoujun 


A mesoscale convective system (MCS) developing over the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau on 26 July 1995 is simulated using the fifth version of the Penn State-NCAR nonhydrostatic mesoscale model (MM5). The results obtained are inspiring and are as follows. (1) The model simulates well the largescale conditions in which the MCS concerned is embedded, which are the well-known anticyclonic Qinghai-Xizang Plateau High in the upper layers and the strong thermal forcing in the lower layers. In particular, the model captures the meso-α scale cyclonic vortex associated with the MCS, which can be analyzed in the 500 hPa observational winds; and to some degree, the model reproduces even its meso-β scale substructure similar to satellite images, reflected in the model-simulated 400 hPa rainwater. On the other hand, there are some distinct deficiencies in the simulation; for example, the simulated MCS occurs with a lag of 3 hours and a westward deviation of 3–5° longitude. (2) The structure and evolution of the meso-α scale vortex associated with the MCS are undescribable for upper-air sounding data. The vortex is confined to the lower troposphere under 450 hPa over the plateau and shrinks its extent with height, with a diameter of 4° longitude at 500 hPa. It is within the updraft area, but with an upper-level anticyclone and downdraft over it. The vortex originates over the plateau, and does not form until the mature stage of the MCS. It lasts for 3–6 hours. In its processes of both formation and decay, the change in geopotential height field is prior to that in the wind field. It follows that the vortex is closely associated with the thermal effects over the plateau. (3) A series of sensitivity experiments are conducted to investigate the impact of various surface thermal forcings and other physical processes on the MCS over the plateau. The results indicate that under the background conditions of the upper-level Qinghai-Xizang High, the MCS involved is mainly dominated by the low-level thermal forcing. The simulation described here is a good indication that it may be possible to reproduce the MCS over the plateau under certain large-scale conditions and with the incorporation of proper thermal physics in the lower layers.

Key words

Qinghai-Xizang (Tibetan) Plateau mesoscale convective system (MCS) numerical simulation 


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Copyright information

© Advances in Atmospheric Sciences 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhu Guofu 
    • 1
  • Chen Shoujun 
    • 2
  1. 1.Chinese Academy of Meteorological SciencesBeijing
  2. 2.National key Laboratory for the Severe Storm Research(LSSR)Peking UniversityBeijing

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