Borneo Vortex and Meso-scale Convective Rainfall

Monday, 15 December 2014
Tieh-Yong Koh1, Shunya Koseki1 and Chee-Kiat Teo2, (1)Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore, (2)Nanyang Technological Univ., Singapore, Singapore
We have investigated how the Borneo vortex develops over the equatorial South China Sea under cold surge conditions in December during the Asian winter monsoon. Composite analysis using reanalysis and satellite datasets has revealed that absolute vorticity and water vapour are transported by strong cold surges from upstream of the South China Sea to around the equator. Rainfall is correspondingly enhanced over the equatorial South China Sea. A semi-idealized experiment reproduced the Borneo vortex over the equatorial South China Sea during a perpetual cold surge. The Borneo vortex is manifested as a meso-alpha cyclone with a comma-shaped rainband in the northeast sector of the cyclone. Vorticity budget analysis showed that the growth/maintenance of the meso-alpha cyclone was achieved mainly by the vortex stretching. This vortex stretching is due to the upward motion forced by the latent heat release around the cyclone centre. The comma-shaped rainband consists of clusters of meso-beta scale rainfall cells. The intense rainfall in the comma-head (comma-tail) is generated by the confluence of the warmer and wetter cyclonic easterly flow (cyclonic southeasterly flow) and the cooler and drier northeasterly surge in the northwestern (northeastern) sector of the cyclone. Intense upward motion and heavy rainfall resulted due to the low-level convergence and the favourable thermodynamic profile at the confluence zone. In particular, the convergence in the northwestern sector is responsible for maintenance of the meso-alpha cyclone system. At both meso-alpha and meso-beta scales, the convergence is ultimately caused by the deviatoric strain in the confluence wind pattern but is significantly self-enhanced by the nonlinear dynamics.

Reference: Koseki, S., T.-Y. Koh and C.-K. Teo (2014), Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 14, 4539-4562, doi:10.5194/acp-14-4539-2014, 2014.