Synoptic conditions related to soil moisture-atmosphere interactions and unorganized convection in Oklahoma Academic Article uri icon


  • 2015. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Atmospheric modification by anomalously dry or wet soils can both enhance and suppress convective activity. However, the local-scale and mesoscale feedback governing soil moisture-precipitation coupling are embedded within the larger synoptic-scale environment. Despite their importance, synoptic-scale atmospheric conditions are rarely considered in studies examining soil moisture-atmosphere interactions. We combine self-organizing maps of 500 hPa geopotential height, spatial synoptic classification, and Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory model air mass trajectories to determine if the synoptic-scale environment affects the ability of the land surface to force unorganized convection in Oklahoma. We identify several synoptic patterns that significantly impact the frequency of unorganized convection. Synoptic patterns characterized by midlevel troughs over the Southern Great Plains are less frequently associated with unorganized convective events. These patterns exhibit cool air advection in the midlevel and lower level of the atmosphere and are linked to suppression of convective activity. The synoptic patterns characterized by 500 hPa ridging over the study region are more frequently associated with unorganized convective events. These patterns likely result in increased net radiation, vapor pressure deficit, and more homogenously dry soils. Unorganized convective events that occur during these synoptic conditions initiate preferentially over dry soils. We present evidence that the synoptic-scale environment can influence whether and how the land surface has an impact on convection.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Ford, T. W., Quiring, S. M., Frauenfeld, O. W., & Rapp, A. D.

citation count

  • 23

complete list of authors

  • Ford, Trent W||Quiring, Steven M||Frauenfeld, Oliver W||Rapp, Anita D

publication date

  • November 2015