28 Mar 2023
 | 28 Mar 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

The climatology and nature of warm-season convective cells in cold-frontal environments over Germany

George Pacey, Stephan Pfahl, Lisa Schielicke, and Kathrin Wapler

Abstract. Cold fronts provide an environment particularly favourable for convective initiation in the mid-latitudes and can also be associated with convective hazards such as wind, rain and hail. We build a climatology of cold-frontal convective cells between 2007–2016 for April–September in a cell-front distance framework by combining a radar-based cell detection and tracking dataset and automatic front detection methods applied to reanalysis data. We find that on average around twice as many cells develop on cold-frontal cell days compared to non-cold-frontal cell days. Using the 700 hPa level as a reference point we show the maximum cell frequency is 350–400 km ahead of the 700 hPa front which is marginally ahead of the mean surface front location. The 700 hPa front location marks the minimum cell frequency and a clear shift in regime between cells with a weakened diurnal cycle on the warm-side of the 700 hPa cold front and strongly diurnally driven cells on the cold-side of the 700 hPa front. High cell frequencies are found several hundreds of kilometres ahead of the surface front and cells in this region are most likely to be associated with mesocyclones, intense convective cores and lightning. These results are an important step towards a better understanding of cold-frontal convection climatology and links between cold fronts and convective hazards.

George Pacey et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2023-39', Anonymous Referee #1, 04 Apr 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2023-39', Anonymous Referee #2, 18 Apr 2023
  • RC3: 'Comment on nhess-2023-39', Anonymous Referee #3, 05 May 2023

George Pacey et al.

George Pacey et al.


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Short summary
Cold fronts are often associated with areas of intense precipitation (cells) and sometimes with hazards such as wind, extreme rainfall and hail. We find that cold-frontal cell days are associated with higher cell frequency and that cells are typically more intense. We also show both spatially and temporally where cells are most frequent depending on their cell-front distance. These results are an important step towards a deeper understanding of cold-frontal storms and improved forecasting.