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Open Access Publications from the University of California

On the sizes and lifetimes of cold pools

  • Author(s): Romps, DM
  • Jeevanjee, N
  • et al.

Published Web Location

© 2016 Royal Meteorological Society. Cold pools of air, which are formed by evaporating precipitation, play a critical role in the triggering of new precipitation. Despite their recognized importance, little effort has been devoted to building simple models of their dynamics. Here, analytical equations are derived for the radius, height, and buoyancy of a cylindrical cold pool as a function of time, and a scale analysis reveals that entrainment is a dominant influence. These governing equations yield simple expressions for the maximum sizes and lifetimes of cold pools. The terminal radius of a cold pool is relatively insensitive to its initial conditions, with a typical maximum radius of about 14 times the initial radius, give or take a factor of 2. The terminal time of a cold pool, on the other hand, can vary over orders of magnitude depending on its initial potential and kinetic energies. These predictions are validated against large-eddy simulations.

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