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The Compressional Beta Effect and Convective System Propagation

Hing OngaUniversity of California, Davis, Davis, California

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Da YangaUniversity of California, Davis, Davis, California
bLawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California

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Abstract

The compressional beta effect (CBE) arises in a compressible atmosphere with the nontraditional Coriolis terms (NCTs), the Coriolis force from the locally horizontal part of the planetary rotation. Previous studies proposed that the CBE speeds up the eastward propagation and slows down the westward propagation of zonal vertical circulations in a dry atmosphere. Here, we examine how the CBE affects the propagation of convectively coupled tropical waves. We perform 2D (x, z), large-domain cloud-resolving simulations with and without NCTs. This model setup mimics the atmosphere along Earth’s equator, and differences between the simulations highlight the role of the CBE. We analyze precipitation, precipitable water, and surface and upper-level winds from our simulations. Gravity wave signals emerge in all fields. In the no-NCT simulation, eastward and westward gravity waves propagate at the same speed. With NCTs, eastward gravity waves propagate faster than westward gravity waves. To quantify the strength of the CBE, we then measure the difference in gravity wave speed and find that it linearly increases with the system rotation rate. This result is consistent with our theoretical prediction and suggests that the CBE can induce zonal asymmetry in propagation behaviors of convectively coupled waves.

Significance Statement

The rotation of Earth turns eastward motion upward and upward motion westward, and vice versa. This effect is called the nontraditional Coriolis effect and is omitted in most of the current atmospheric models for predicting weather and climate. Using an idealized model with cloud physics, this study suggests that the inclusion of the nontraditional Coriolis effect speeds up eastward-moving rainy systems and slows down westward-moving ones. The speed change agrees with a theory without cloud physics. This study encourages restoring the nontraditional Coriolis effect to the atmospheric models since it increases the accuracy of tropical large-scale weather prediction while the cost is low.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Hing Ong, hxong@ucdavis.edu

Abstract

The compressional beta effect (CBE) arises in a compressible atmosphere with the nontraditional Coriolis terms (NCTs), the Coriolis force from the locally horizontal part of the planetary rotation. Previous studies proposed that the CBE speeds up the eastward propagation and slows down the westward propagation of zonal vertical circulations in a dry atmosphere. Here, we examine how the CBE affects the propagation of convectively coupled tropical waves. We perform 2D (x, z), large-domain cloud-resolving simulations with and without NCTs. This model setup mimics the atmosphere along Earth’s equator, and differences between the simulations highlight the role of the CBE. We analyze precipitation, precipitable water, and surface and upper-level winds from our simulations. Gravity wave signals emerge in all fields. In the no-NCT simulation, eastward and westward gravity waves propagate at the same speed. With NCTs, eastward gravity waves propagate faster than westward gravity waves. To quantify the strength of the CBE, we then measure the difference in gravity wave speed and find that it linearly increases with the system rotation rate. This result is consistent with our theoretical prediction and suggests that the CBE can induce zonal asymmetry in propagation behaviors of convectively coupled waves.

Significance Statement

The rotation of Earth turns eastward motion upward and upward motion westward, and vice versa. This effect is called the nontraditional Coriolis effect and is omitted in most of the current atmospheric models for predicting weather and climate. Using an idealized model with cloud physics, this study suggests that the inclusion of the nontraditional Coriolis effect speeds up eastward-moving rainy systems and slows down westward-moving ones. The speed change agrees with a theory without cloud physics. This study encourages restoring the nontraditional Coriolis effect to the atmospheric models since it increases the accuracy of tropical large-scale weather prediction while the cost is low.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Hing Ong, hxong@ucdavis.edu

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