Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Gravity waves and tornados

Are atmospheric gravity waves - the "ripples" created when any force disturbs the ocean of air surrounding Earth - strong enough to affect the weather? I was surprised to learn the answer was "yes." As meteorologist Tim Coleman explains in this article, a gravity wave created by, say, a sudden wind shear, will "push" on a rotating thunderstorm and compress it slightly out of shape. He says, "There is also wind shear in a gravity wave, and the storm can take that wind shear and tilt it and make even more spin. All of these factors may increase storm rotation, making it more powerful and more likely to produce a tornado." Doppler radar can track both the waves and the thunderstorms/tornados and observe this dynamic in action.

Thanks to Kris Winkler for sending me this item.

No comments: