CAPE - Convective Available Potential Energy

CAPE Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) is measure of the amount of energy available for convection. CAPE is directly related to the maximum potential vertical speed within an updraft; thus, higher values indicate greater potential for severe weather.


Observed values in thunderstorm environments often may exceed 1,000 joules per kilogram (j/kg), and in extreme cases may exceed 5,000 j/kg. However, as with other indices or indicators, there are no threshold values above which severe weather becomes imminent. CAPE is represented on a sounding diagram by the area enclosed between the environmental temperature profile and the path of a rising air parcel, over the layer within which the latter is warmer than the former. (This area often is called positive area). However, when estimating thunderstorm probability one should also always have a look at the Lifted Index.


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