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Organized Convection Parameterization for the ITCZ

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  • 1 Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  • | 2 National Center for Atmospheric Research, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

Mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) are of fundamental importance in the dynamics of the atmospheric circulation and the climate system. They are often observed to develop over significant terrain in ambient shear flows in midlatitudes and embedded within the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) and convectively coupled equatorial wave (CCEW) envelopes, as well as in the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ). Yet general circulation models (GCMs) fail to resolve these systems, and their underlying convective parameterizations are not directed to represent organized circulations. Shear-parallel MCSs, which are common in the ITCZ, have a three-dimensional structure and, as such, present a serious modeling challenge. Here, a previously developed multicloud model (MCM) is modified to parameterize MCSs. One of the main modifications is the parameterization of stratiform condensation to capture extended stratiform outflows, which characterize MCSs, resulting from strong upper-level jets. Linear analysis shows that, under the influence of a typical double African and equatorial jet shear flow, this modification results in an additional new scale-selective instability peaking at the mesoalpha scale of roughly 400 km. Nonlinear simulations conducted with the modified MCM on a 400 km × 400 km doubly periodic domain, without rotation, resulted in the spontaneous transition from a quasi-two-dimensional shear-perpendicular convective system, consistent with linear theory, to a fully three-dimensional flow structure. The simulation is characterized by shear-parallel bands of convection, moving slowly eastward, embedded in stratiform systems that expand perpendicularly and propagate westward with the upper-level jet. The mean circulation and the implications for the domain-averaged vertical transport of momentum and potential temperature are discussed.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JAS-D-15-0006.s1.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Boualem Khouider, Mathematics and Statistics, University of Victoria, P.O. Box 3045, STN CSC, Victoria BC V8W 3P4, Canada. E-mail: khouider@math.uvic.ca

Abstract

Mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) are of fundamental importance in the dynamics of the atmospheric circulation and the climate system. They are often observed to develop over significant terrain in ambient shear flows in midlatitudes and embedded within the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) and convectively coupled equatorial wave (CCEW) envelopes, as well as in the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ). Yet general circulation models (GCMs) fail to resolve these systems, and their underlying convective parameterizations are not directed to represent organized circulations. Shear-parallel MCSs, which are common in the ITCZ, have a three-dimensional structure and, as such, present a serious modeling challenge. Here, a previously developed multicloud model (MCM) is modified to parameterize MCSs. One of the main modifications is the parameterization of stratiform condensation to capture extended stratiform outflows, which characterize MCSs, resulting from strong upper-level jets. Linear analysis shows that, under the influence of a typical double African and equatorial jet shear flow, this modification results in an additional new scale-selective instability peaking at the mesoalpha scale of roughly 400 km. Nonlinear simulations conducted with the modified MCM on a 400 km × 400 km doubly periodic domain, without rotation, resulted in the spontaneous transition from a quasi-two-dimensional shear-perpendicular convective system, consistent with linear theory, to a fully three-dimensional flow structure. The simulation is characterized by shear-parallel bands of convection, moving slowly eastward, embedded in stratiform systems that expand perpendicularly and propagate westward with the upper-level jet. The mean circulation and the implications for the domain-averaged vertical transport of momentum and potential temperature are discussed.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JAS-D-15-0006.s1.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Boualem Khouider, Mathematics and Statistics, University of Victoria, P.O. Box 3045, STN CSC, Victoria BC V8W 3P4, Canada. E-mail: khouider@math.uvic.ca

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