Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Adam Houston. Lincoln, Nebraska: November, 2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Noah A. Lock


Initiation is the part of the convective life cycle which is currently least understood and least well forecast. The inability to properly forecast the timing and/or location of deep convection initiation degrades forecast skill, especially during the warm season. The goals of this research are examine the spatiotemporal distribution of thunderstorm initiation points and to determine which atmospheric parameters (and ultimately processes) are most important for the initiation of thunderstorms. The spatiotemporal distribution of thunderstorm initiation points shows the expected peaks during summer and during the afternoon. The warm season also produces significant concentrations of initiation points near mountains, mainly in the western part of the analysis domain. The selected atmospheric parameters computed at initiation points are compared with those obtained from nearby areas where storms did not form. Analysis of these parameters shows that there is no threshold of any single parameter that effectively discriminates between initiation and non-initiation in all cases. However, case-by-case comparison of the values showed that lift is most often the factor that distinguishes the thunderstorm initiation environment from other areas.

Adviser: Adam Houston