Articles | Volume 12
26 Jun 2007
26 Jun 2007

Predictability of intense rain storms in the Central Mediterraneanbasin: sensitivity to upper-level forcing

S. Federico, E. Avolio, C. Bellecci, A. Lavagnini, and R. L. Walko

Abstract. This study investigates the sensitivity of a moderate-intense storm that occurred over Calabria, southern Italy, to upper-tropospheric forcing from a Potential Vorticity (PV) perspective. A prominent mid-troposheric trough can be identified for this event, which occurred between 22–24 May 2002, and serves as the precursor agent for the moderate-intense precipitation recorded.

The working hypothesis is that the uncertainty in the representation of the upper-level disturbance has a major impact on the precipitation forecast and we test the hypothesis in a two-step approach. First, we examine the degree of uncertainty by comparing five different scenarios in a Limited area model Ensemble Prediction System (LEPS) framework which utilizes the height of the dynamical tropopause as the discriminating variable. Pseudo water vapour images of different scenarios are compared to the corresponding METEOSAT 7 water vapour image at a specific time, antecedent to the rain occurrence over Calabria, in order to evaluate the reliability of the different precipitation scenarios simulated by the LEPS.

Second, we examine the impact of upper tropospheric PV variations on precipitation by comparing model simulations with slightly different initial PV fields. Initial velocity and mass fields in each case are balanced with the chosen PV perturbation using a PV inversion technique. The results of this study support the working hypothesis.