Expansion of a holepunch cloud by a gravity wave front

AMS Citation:
Muraki, D. J., R. Rotunno, and H. Morrison, 2016: Expansion of a holepunch cloud by a gravity wave front. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 73, 693-707, doi:10.1175/JAS-D-15-0211.1.
Resource Type:article
Title:Expansion of a holepunch cloud by a gravity wave front
Abstract: A holepunch cloud is a curious phenomenon where a disturbance in a thin cloud layer initiates an expanding circular hole of clear air. Usually triggered by the passage of aircraft, observations of these holes in clouds date back to the earliest days of aviation, but only recently has a holepunch cloud been simulated within a full-physics numerical model. These computations confirm that ice crystal growth through the Wegener–Bergeron–Findeisen process creates a small cloud-free region whose subsequent outward spread defines the holepunch. The mechanics behind this continued expansion, however, has yet to be definitively identified. In this article, the motion of the cloud edge is explained as a propagating gravity wave front. To support this idea, a hierarchy of three idealizations is analyzed: a full-physics numerical model, a fluid mechanical model with simplified moisture effects, and a conservation law analysis for front motion. The essence of the holepunch cloud is established to be a moist air layer that is unsaturated (clear) and weakly stratified within the hole but saturated (cloudy) and moist neutral outside of it. The cloud edge thus represents a barrier to the outward propagation of gravity waves within the clear air--the result of this collision is a wave front whose velocity determines the growth rate of the hole.
Peer Review:Refereed
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OpenSky citable URL: ark:/85065/d7qr4zp9
Publisher's Version: 10.1175/JAS-D-15-0211.1
  • David Muraki
  • Richard Rotunno - NCAR/UCAR
  • Hugh Morrison - NCAR/UCAR
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