The Effects of Latent Heating on Mid-Latitude Cyclones


  • Evelyn Girardi Aspiring Scientists’ Summer Internship Program Intern
  • Mary Korendyke Aspiring Scientists’ Summer Internship Program Co-mentor
  • Dr. David Straus Aspiring Scientists’ Summer Internship Program Primary Mentor
  • Dr. Erik Swenson Aspiring Scientists’ Summer Internship Program Primary Mentor



While the heat that’s generated within storms from condensation is a well-known process, the impact of this heating on the development and evolution of the storms is yet to be fully understood. The main goal of this project has been to document details of cyclone-related heating derived from ERA-5 (Cyclone tracking algorithm - Dr. Swenson), which is the most modern dataset for global atmospheric circulation. To attain this goal, figures were coded in the coding language Python from pre-collected storm data in which we analyzed where in the storm the most heating occurred and the degree of heating based on location relative to the storm center. The figures produced include plots such as the mean heating per atmospheric layer in a storm and in which layer the heating occurred most often. From these plots, it’s been found that 1000-925 hPa (Layer 0) and 775-650 hPa (Layer 3) of the storms have the most instances of maximum heating per storm. It’s also been observed that there is more surface (Layer 0) heating towards the southwest of storms whereas, in the northeast, the most heating occurs in Layer 3. The results of this project give a good idea of what natural variability occurs, and what levels are important, in the latent heating of mid-latitude cyclones.





College of Science: Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic & Earth Sciences