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Braun, Scott A. One hypothesis suggests that the surface circulation forms from a "top-down" approach in which a storm s rotating circulation begins at middle levels of the atmosphere and builds down to the surface through processes related to light "stratiform" horizontally extensive precipitation.
Another hypothesis suggests a bottom-up approach in which deep thunderstorm towers convection play the major role in spinning up the flow at the surface. These "hot towers" form in the area of the mid-level circulation and strongly concentrate this rotation at low levels within their updrafts. Merger of several of these hot towers then intensifies the surface circulation to the point in which a storm forms.
This paper examines computer simulations of Tropical Storm Gertwhich formed in the Gulf of Mexico during the National Aeronautics and Space Administration s NASA Tropical Cloud Systems and Processes TCSP Experiment, to investigate the development of low-level circulation and, in particular, whether stratiform or hot tower processes were responsible for the storm s formation. Data from NASA satellites and from aircraft were used to show that the model did a good job of reproducing the formation and evolution of Gert.
The simulation shows that a mix of both stratiform and convective rainfall occurred within Gert. While the ESO Trading System rainfall clearly acted to increase rotation at middle levels, the diverging outflow beneath the stratiform rain worked against spinning up the low-level winds. The hot towers appeared to dominate the low-level flow, producing intense rotation within their cores and often being associated with significant pressure falls at the surface. Over time, many of these hot towers merged, with each.