The present study aims to determine the factors influencing the transition from shallow to deep convection in the trade winds region using an observational approach, with emphasis in the Yucatan Peninsula in eastern Mexico. The methodology is based on a discrimination of two regimes of convection: a shallow cumulus regime, usually with little or no precipitation associated, and an afternoon deep convection regime, with large amounts of precipitation, preceded by a short period of shallow convection. Then, composites of meteorological fields at surface and several vertical levels, for each of the two convection regimes, are compared to infer which meteorological factors are involved in the development of deep convection in this region. Also, the relationship between meteorological variables and selected regime-transition parameters is evaluated only for deep convection regime days. Results indicate the importance of dynamic factors, such as the meridional wind component, in the transition from shallow to deep convection. As expected, thermodynamic variables, such as the low-level specific humidity in the shallow cumulus layer, also contribute to the regime transition. The presence of a southerly component of wind at low- to mid-levels during the early morning in deep convection days provides the shallow cumulus with a more favorable environment so that transition can occur, since abundant moisture from the Caribbean is supplied through this prevailing southern wind. The results can be relevant for reducing uncertainties regarding some important parameters in global and regional models, which could lead to improved simulations of the transition from shallow to deep convection and precipitation.
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