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Anastassia M. Makarieva
,
Victor G. Gorshkov
,
Andrei V. Nefiodov
,
Alexander V. Chikunov
,
Douglas Sheil
,
Antonio Donato Nobre
,
Paulo Nobre
,
Günter Plunien
, and
Ruben D. Molina

Abstract

While water lifting plays a recognized role in the global atmospheric power budget, estimates for this role in tropical cyclones vary from no effect to a major reduction in storm intensity. To better assess this impact, here we consider the work output of an infinitely narrow thermodynamic cycle with two streamlines connecting the top of the boundary layer in the vicinity of maximum wind (without assuming gradient-wind balance) to an arbitrary level in the inviscid free troposphere. The reduction of a storm’s maximum wind speed due to water lifting is found to decline with increasing efficiency of the cycle and is about 5% for maximum observed Carnot efficiencies. In the steady-state cycle, there is an extra heat input associated with the warming of precipitating water. The corresponding positive extra work is of an opposite sign and several times smaller than that due to water lifting. We also estimate the gain of kinetic energy in the outflow region. Contrary to previous assessments, this term is found to be large when the outflow radius is small (comparable to the radius of maximum wind). Using our framework, we show that Emanuel’s maximum potential intensity (E-PI) corresponds to a cycle where total work equals work performed at the top of the boundary layer (net work in the free troposphere is zero). This constrains a dependence between the outflow temperature and heat input at the point of maximum wind, but does not constrain the radial pressure gradient. We outline the implications of the established patterns for assessing real storms.

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Luoqin Liu
,
Srinidhi N. Gadde
, and
Richard J. A. M. Stevens

Abstract

We develop innovative analytical expressions for the mean wind and potential temperature flux profiles in convective boundary layers (CBLs). CBLs are frequently observed during daytime as Earth’s surface is warmed by solar radiation. Therefore, their modeling is relevant for weather forecasting, climate modeling, and wind energy applications. For CBLs in the convective-roll-dominated regime, the mean velocity and potential temperature in the bulk region of the mixed layer are approximately uniform. We propose an analytical expression for the normalized potential temperature flux profile as a function of height, using a perturbation method approach in which we employ the horizontally homogeneous and quasi-stationary characteristics of the surface and inversion layers. The velocity profile in the mixed layer and the entrainment zone is constructed based on insights obtained from the proposed potential temperature flux profile and the convective logarithmic friction law. Combining this with the well-known Monin–Obukhov similarity theory allows us to capture the velocity profile over the entire boundary layer height. The proposed profiles agree excellently with large-eddy simulation results over the range of −L/z 0 ∈ [3.6 × 102, 0.7 × 105], where L is the Obukhov length and z 0 is the roughness length.

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A. Addison Alford
,
Michael I. Biggerstaff
, and
Gordon Carrie

Abstract

Asymmetric dynamics in tropical cyclones (TCs) are vital to understanding intensity change and convective distribution at landfall. The growth of barotropic–convective instability (e.g., mesovortices), vortical hot towers, and vortex Rossby waves (VRWs) have been considered through numerical modeling studies, often by mean–eddy partitioning of the tangential wind tendency. Unfortunately, few observational datasets exist that are sufficient for such study. A University of Oklahoma Shared Mobile Atmospheric Research and Teaching radar observed major Hurricane Harvey (2017) as it intensified just before landfall near Port Aransas, Texas. Combined with a coastal WSR-88D radar, dual-Doppler derived kinematic analyses were constructed every ∼6 min at 1-km spatial resolution during Hurricane Harvey’s landfall. In this study, observations of asymmetric mesovortices on the interior edge of Harvey’s eyewall are documented. The asymmetries promoted a dual exchange of vorticity in the TC eyewall and represent an example of an eddy mechanism of intensity change on various time scales. Considering the combined effects of resolvable asymmetries, we examine the change in the tangential wind as a function of mean–eddy kinematics before and after landfall. Before landfall, the low-level eddy contribution was positive to the low-level tangential wind tendency. Following landfall, the contribution from the low-level eddy became weakly positive to weakly negative. Finally, the evolution of some asymmetric features in Harvey’s eyewall are shown to manifest in a VRW-like response that initiates rainbands just outside of Harvey’s eyewall.

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Carsten Abraham
and
Colin Goldblatt

Abstract

Recently, we presented a classification of “primitive” relative humidity (RH) profiles into eight distinct clusters over Earth’s oceans, based on about 18 years (2003–20) of observations from the AIRS on NASA’s Aqua satellite. Here we investigate the seasonal variability and decadal trends, both in the vertical structure of these RH profiles, and in their associated area of occurrence. Since vertical structures (except in the marine boundary layer) of each RH class are generally robust across all seasons and change only weakly in a warming climate, seasonal or decadal changes to their occurrence areas shift patterns of global moisture distribution. Globally, the marine boundary layer exhibits nonlinear moistening effects after about 2010, the end of the warming hiatus. Annual time series of ocean areas dominated by RH classes have linear trends, which are positive only for the most moist and driest RH classes (in terms of the free troposphere) associated with deep convection and large-scale subsidence favoring conditions for low-level stratocumulus clouds, respectively. Based on estimated linear trends of RH-class occurrences and sea surface temperatures, we infer projected linear responses of RH in a warming climate. Ocean areas dominated by most moist and driest RH classes (in terms of the free atmosphere) are estimated to increase by about 1% and 2%, respectively (corresponding to about 2.5% K−1 and 4.5% K−1, respectively). The averaged global and tropical RH structure remain almost constant in a warming climate. While this is consistent with other studies, our results show how increases in most moist and dry areas compensate each other, indicating possible increases in the frequency or persistence of future extreme events.

Open access
Yi Dai
,
Margaret S. Torn
,
Ian N. Williams
, and
William D. Collins

Abstract

The effects of longwave radiation on tropical cyclone intensification, with an emphasis on the mature stage, are explored in an idealized modeling framework. Results show that although the cloud-radiative effect aids in early intensification of the vortex, it does not promote increase in the maximum tangential wind (Vmax) and could even reduce Vmax at the mature stage. At later stages, maximum radiative heating is located outside the eyewall and promotes convection there, and the secondary circulation encourages convergence of absolute angular momentum outside the eyewall instead of near the eyewall region, based on a budget analysis. Clear-sky radiative cooling helps invigorate domainwide convection, also limiting the Vmax increase at later stages. The area-averaged frozen moist static energy (FMSE) variance increases even though Vmax decreases. In this sense, the FMSE variance is similar to the monotonically growing integrated kinetic energy, and is more indicative of the system-scale strength than of Vmax. Sensitivity experiments are performed with random initial perturbations and varied initial soundings. An axisymmetric model with a 10-member ensemble not only confirms the results from three-dimensional simulations, but also demonstrates that the weak radiative heating outside the eyewall is indeed able to slow down Vmax within 1 day.

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Akshaya C. Nikumbh
,
A. B. S. Thakur
,
Arindam Chakraborty
,
G. S. Bhat
, and
Jai Sukhatme

Abstract

Large-scale extreme rainfall events (LEREs) over central India are produced by monsoon low pressure systems (LPSs) when assisted by a secondary cyclonic vortex (SCV). Both the LPS and the SCV are embedded in a monsoon trough and form mainly during the positive phase of the boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation. Here, we observe that tropical–extratropical interactions exist during LEREs. Using ray tracing, we show that extratropical Rossby waves propagate to the Indian subcontinent during the summer monsoon season. Stationary Rossby wave rays originating over the North Atlantic Ocean reach India following approximately a great circle path at midtropospheric levels. This pathway appears to play an important role in tropical–extratropical interactions during LEREs. Seventy-seven percent of LEREs are preceded by a North Atlantic blocking high and 90% by a quasi-stationary central Asian high. The Atlantic blocking high triggers a quasi-stationary Rossby wave response and strengthens the downstream central Asian high. In turn, the quasi-stationary central Asian high facilitates Rossby wave breaking, transporting high-PV streamers and cutoffs equatorward. The central Asian high is in close proximity to the monsoon trough in the mid- and lower troposphere. It interacts with the monsoon trough over the northwest Indian subcontinent. The equatorial monsoon trough is strengthened due to the supply of dynamic forcing and static instabilities from the extratropics. This additional forcing from the extratropics creates an environment that is conducive for LEREs.

Open access
David A. Schecter

Abstract

Tropical cyclones are commonly observed to have appreciable vertical misalignments prior to becoming full-strength hurricanes. The vertical misalignment (tilt) of a tropical cyclone is generally coupled to a pronounced asymmetry of inner-core convection, with the strongest convection tending to concentrate downtilt of the surface vortex center. Neither the mechanisms by which tilted tropical cyclones intensify nor the time scales over which such mechanisms operate are fully understood. The present study offers some insight into the asymmetric intensification process by examining the responses of tilted tropical cyclone–like vortices to downtilt diabatic forcing (heating) in a 3D nonhydrostatic numerical model. The magnitude of the heating is adjusted so as to vary the strength of the downtilt convection that it generates. A fairly consistent picture of intensification is found in various simulation groups that differ in their initial vortex configurations, environmental shear flows, and specific positionings of downtilt heating. The intensification mechanism generally depends on whether the low-level convergence σb produced in the vicinity of the downtilt heat source exceeds a critical value dependent on the local velocity of the low-level nondivergent background flow in a reference frame that drifts with the heat source. Supercritical σb causes fast spinup initiated by downtilt core replacement. Subcritical σb causes a slower intensification process. As measured herein, the supercritical intensification rate is approximately proportional to σb . The subcritical intensification rate has a more subtle scaling, and expectedly becomes negative when σb drops below a threshold for frictional spindown to dominate. The relevance of the foregoing results to real-world tropical cyclones is discussed.

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Daniel Bäumer
,
Sabine Hittmeir
, and
Rupert Klein

Abstract

Quasigeostrophic (QG) theory is of fundamental importance in the study of large-scale atmospheric flows. In recent years, there has been growing interest in extending the classical QG plus Ekman friction layer model (QG–Ekman) to systematically include additional physical processes known to significantly contribute to real-life weather phenomena. This paper lays the foundation for combining two of these developments, namely, Smith and Stechmann’s family of precipitating quasigeostrophic (PQG) models on the one hand, and the extension of QG–Ekman for dry air by a strongly diabatic layer (DL) of intermediate height (QG–DL–Ekman) on the other hand. To this end, Smith and Stechmann’s PQG equations for soundproof motions are first corroborated within a general asymptotic modeling framework starting from a full compressible flow model. The derivations show that the PQG model family is naturally embedded in the asymptotic hierarchy of scale-dependent atmospheric flow models introduced by one of the present authors. Particular emphasis is then placed on an asymptotic scaling regime for PQG that accounts for a generic Kessler-type bulk microphysics closure and is compatible with QG–DL–Ekman theory. The detailed derivation of a moist QG–DL–Ekman model is deferred to a future publication.

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Anne K. Smith
,
Lesley J. Gray
, and
Rolando R. Garcia

Abstract

The semiannual oscillation (SAO) in zonally averaged zonal winds develops just above the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) and dominates the seasonal variability in the tropical upper stratosphere and lower mesosphere. The magnitude, seasonality, and latitudinal structure of the SAO vary with the phase of the QBO. There is also an annual oscillation (AO) whose magnitude at the equator is smaller than those of the SAO and QBO but not negligible. This work presents the relation between the SAO, QBO, AO, and time-mean wind in the tropical upper stratosphere and lower mesosphere using winds derived from satellite geopotential height observations. The winds are generally more westerly during the easterly phase of the QBO. The SAO extends to lower altitudes during periods where the QBO is characterized by deep easterly winds. The differences in the SAO associated with the QBO are roughly confined to the latitudes where the QBO has appreciable amplitude, suggesting that the mechanism is controlled by vertical coupling. The westerly phases of the SAO and AO show downward propagation with time. This analysis suggests that forcing by dissipation of waves with westerly momentum is responsible for the westerly acceleration of both the SAO and AO. The timing and structure of the easterly phases of the SAO and AO near the stratopause are consistent with the response to meridional advection of momentum across the equator during solstices; it is not apparent that local wave processes play important roles in the easterly phases in the region of the stratopause.

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Jun Peng
,
Zongheng Li
,
Lifeng Zhang
,
Yuan Wang
, and
Hanyan Wu

Abstract

A new formulation of the spectral budget of vertical vorticity and horizontal divergence suitable for the mesoscale atmosphere on an f plane is derived. Compared to previous formulations in large-scale studies, there are three main improvements: (i) both the squared vorticity (SV; i.e., enstrophy as usual) and squared divergence (SD) spectra are taken into account, (ii) the spectral transfers of SV and SD between scales are exactly constructed under the nonlinear advection of the full horizontal velocity, and (iii) the general relationship between spectral energy and SV/SD transfers is derived. With this new formulation, the atmospheric spectra of divergent and rotational motion components are investigated through numerical simulation of idealized dry baroclinic waves. Spectral budget analysis shows that, in the present dry simulation, the upper troposphere is almost completely dominated by the downscale SV transfer at all scales, while the lower stratosphere is dominated by the downscale SV transfer at synoptic scales and by the downscale SD transfer at mesoscales. The pressure-related term is largely cancelled out by the conversion term between SV and SD at both levels, but at the small-scale end of lower-stratospheric mesoscales there exists a significant net positive forcing, accounting for the distinct spectral transition of the total spectrum there. An explicit association between spectral energy and SV/SD transfers is further made. In the upper troposphere, the downscale energy cascade is mainly governed by the downscale SV transfer, while in the lower stratosphere, it is mainly governed by the residual term related to nonuniformly distributed vertical velocity.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to explore the dynamics underlying the atmospheric spectra of divergent and rotational motion components. The traditional analysis of enstrophy is first extended to include both squared vertical vorticity (SV) as usual and squared horizontal divergence (SD), and then a new formulation of the spectral SV and SD budget suitable for the mesoscale atmosphere is derived, with application to the dry baroclinic waves simulation. Our results clearly reveal the different physical processes governing the vorticity and divergence spectra at different heights. We also derive the general relationship between spectral energy and SV/SD transfers, which allows explicitly associating spectral energy and SV/SD fluxes and thus provides additional physical views on the mesoscale energy cascade. Further work should consider the effects of other physical processes neglected here.

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