What is it about?

On fair-weather days, the European Alps often trigger thunderstorms. These thunderstorms contribute substantially to the overall precipitation during summer and are thus an important component of the hydrological cycle in Central Europe. Here we investigate how the representation of the mountains in an atmospheric model affects the thunderstorm activity. If the orography is represented in more detail, the day-time thunderstorm activity over the mountains is less intense and leads to less precipitation. During the night, on the other hand, the thunderstorms that form over the plains surrounding the Alps are more persistent and lead to much more precipitation.

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Why is it important?

These findings are interesting because higher-resolved atmospheric models provide a more detailed representation of mountains. Thus, we can expect the forecast of thunderstorms to change substantially in higher-resolved models with respect to the intensity, timing and location of the cells. These changes do not result from the more detailed representation of the atmospheric processes but directly relate to the representation of the mountains.

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This page is a summary of: The Influence of the Resolution of Orography on the Simulation of Orographic Moist Convection, Monthly Weather Review, June 2020, American Meteorological Society, DOI: 10.1175/mwr-d-19-0247.1.
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