Maximum parcel level

The maximum parcel level (MPL) is the highest level in the atmosphere that a moist convectively rising air parcel will reach after ascending through the free convective layer (FCL) and reaching the equilibrium level (EL), near the tropopause. As the parcel rises through the FCL it expands adiabatically causing its temperature to drop, often below the temperature of its surroundings, and eventually lose buoyancy. Because of this, the EL is approximately the region where the distinct flat tops (called anvils) often observed on cumulonimbus clouds form. If the air parcel ascended quickly enough then it retains momentum after it has cooled and continues rising past EL, ceasing at the MPL (visually represented by the overshooting top, above the anvil).

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