Cyclogenesis - A historical overview


Research on cyclogenesis has a long history, spanning more than 100 years. Many summaries of the relevant approaches and developments exist in the literature (see below).

Cyclogenesis research incorporates three components: "observations; diagnosis, including dynamical modelling; and theory". It leads to the construction of Conceptual Models (CM), and so, many CMs have been developed (Shapiro 1999) that describe cyclogenesis either as a whole process, or as only part of a more general process.

From about 1960, satellite images and data have been available with steadily improving quality and detail. While satellite data, in form of remote sensing data, have been included in the long history of cyclogenesis research, satellite images have not played an important role in the relevant literatures.

The intention of SatManu is to start the process of weather diagnosis and/or research by looking at the satellite images: recognising the typical and recurring cloud configurations and structures that accompany different meteorological and physical processes.

As cyclogenesis is a process (rather than an object), the focus in the relevant "Cyclogenesis" chapters must be on the phases of development.

Phases of cyclogenesis development and associated conceptual models in SatManu

This chapter presents an outline of the different of the different phases of the historical development of cyclogenesis research, and compares the CMs that have been developed with those treated in SatManu, with a focus on typical appearances in satellite images.

During the early stages of cyclogenesis research, two main theories developed in parallel:

In SatManu, fronts are treated as important CMs in the main chapters of Cold Fronts, Warm Fronts and Occlusions chapters. In these chapters, the types of fronts are differentiated mostly by their appearance in satellite images, as well as by their differing appearance in orographically different regions. The Polar Front Theory is presented briefly below, and in detail in extratropical cyclones "Polar front theory".

In SatManu many CMs refer to the interaction of frontal cloud bands and the jet streak, such as FIbyJet (Frontal intensification by jet streak), Split front and Front Decay.

However, not all waves develop into a cyclone: this is dependent on the interaction with the upper-level trough and horizontal wind shear and shear vorticity.

These developments and the associated CMs are described in SatManu in "Wave" and "Upper Wave"; whereby the latter is an example of a non-developing wave.

In SatManu this is most often seen and presented in the CM of Rapid Cyclogenesis.

In SatManu, the Shapiro-Keyser CM is presented briefly below and in detail in the chapter of extratropical cyclones "Shapiro-Keyser cyclogenesis".

In SatManu, cyclones are presented as conveyor belts in the chapter of extratropical cyclones "Conveyor Belt theory". Additionally, for all CMs in SatManu, the relevant involved conveyor belts are discussed in the meteorological and physical background chapter. Some recurring cloud configurations are optically so clearly related to a conveyor belt, that this is also included in the name of the conceptual models, such as Warm conveyor belt, Cold conveyor belt occlusion and Warm conveyor belt occlusion.

In SatManu these CMs are Comma and the processes of Instant Occlusion and Cold Air Development (CAD).


David M. Schultz at al: Extratropical Cyclones: A Century of Research on Meteorology's Centerpiece; Meteorological Monographs 59, 1; Chapter 16;2019.

Promet 2020: Außertropische Zyklonen. Heft 103.