Break-up of a stratospheric streamer observed by MST radar

G. Vaughan, R. M. Worthington

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The break-up of a stratospheric streamer over the British Isles is described, using satellite, Mesosphere-Stratosphere-Troposphere (MST) radar and in situ observations together with European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts analyses. The streamer started as a thin ribbon of high potential vorticity to the west of the British Isles. As this was strained by the background flow it broke up into a series of mesoscale vortices. MST radar and ozonesonde observations delineated a tropopause fold to the west of the initial streamer, taking the form of a thin layer of stratospheric air embedded in a deep layer of descending upper-tropospheric air. The fold appears to have been mixed out by small-scale turbulence as the streamer broke up. This break-up also generated strong inertia-gravity waves, which broke just above the tropopause introducing extensive mixing to the lowermost stratosphere. One of the mesoscale vortices returned over the MST radar, showing a very indistinct tropopause typical of a synoptic-scale cut-off low. This vortex was also responsible for the development of a rain band on its eastern flank, which brought significant rainfall to the British Isles at a time when the synoptic flow pattern was strongly anticyclonic.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1751-1769
    Number of pages18
    JournalQuarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
    Issue number566
    Publication statusPublished - 2000


    • Atmospheric dynamics
    • Potential vorticity
    • Tropopause


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