How to make a tornado—Ideas emerging from decades of theory, simulation, and field observations
I will discuss the physics of tornadogenesis within atmospheric convection, particularly supercell thunderstorms, which are responsible for virtually all strong tornadoes. Updrafts driven by condensational heating, downdrafts driven by evaporative cooling, and vertical wind shear (that is, the vertical variation of the horizontal wind) are all critical for tornado formation. I will explain how, based on the constraints imposed by theoretical fluid dynamics and what we’ve learned from decades of field observations and numerical simulations. Lastly, I will discuss some of the ideas emerging from the recently completely Second Verification of the Origin of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX2) and directions for future research.