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Paraskevi Giannakaki and Olivia Martius

Abstract

An accurate representation of synoptic-scale Rossby waves in numerical weather forecast models is very important as these waves are closely linked to weather formation at the surface. Enhanced potential vorticity (PV) gradients at the tropopause levels act as waveguides for synoptic-scale Rossby waves, so spatial errors in the waveguides imply errors in the amplification and propagation of Rossby waves. This paper focuses on evaluating the forecast representation of these waveguides and presents an object-based forecast verification tool. In both forecast and the verification data, Rossby waveguide objects are defined based on enhanced PV gradient fields on isentropic surfaces. The tool automatically pairs the complex objects, compares their properties, and assesses the number of objects without a matching partner in either the forecast or the reanalysis. In the last step, error measures are calculated for the area and the location of the objects. As proof-of-concept application of the method for the year 2008, five lead times of the Integrated Forecast System (IFS) from the ECMWF are compared with the ECMWF reanalysis dataset. The majority of the waveguide objects are found to be in the correct position, and there are no systematic positional errors; however, the forecast objects and hence the areas of enhanced PV gradients are smaller.

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Julian F. Quinting and Sarah C. Jones

Abstract

Many studies have highlighted the importance of recurving tropical cyclones (TCs) in triggering Rossby waves. This study investigates the impact of western North Pacific (WNP), south Indian Ocean, and North Atlantic recurving TCs on the amplitude and frequency of synoptic-scale Rossby wave packets (RWPs) over a 30-yr period. The results indicate a significant increase of RWP frequency downstream of WNP and south Indian Ocean TCs. A statistically significant RWP amplitude anomaly downstream of these TCs suggests that RWPs, which are associated with TCs, are stronger than those that generally occur in midlatitudes. North Atlantic TCs do not seem to be associated with a statistically significant increase in RWP frequency and amplitude downstream.

Processes that contribute to Rossby wave amplification are identified by creating composites for WNP TCs with and without downstream development. Potential vorticity, eddy kinetic energy, and quasigeostrophic forcing diagnostics highlight dynamical mechanisms that contribute to the synergistic interaction between the TC and the midlatitude flow. The existence of an upstream Rossby wave favors a downstream development. Diabatically enhanced upper-level divergent flow that can be attributed to the nonlinear interaction between the TC and the midlatitude flow impedes the eastward propagation of the upstream trough, amplifies the downstream ridge, and intensifies the jet. The amplified midlatitude flow provides upper-level forcing, which helps to maintain the predominantly diabatically driven divergent flow.

Forecast uncertainties that are related to these complex TC–midlatitude flow interactions may spread into downstream regions. A climatological analysis of ensemble reforecast data emphasizes the importance of TC–midlatitude flow interactions and Rossby wave amplification on downstream predictability.

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Franziska Teubler and Michael Riemer

Abstract

Rossby wave packets (RWPs) have been associated with increased atmospheric predictability but also with the growth and propagation of forecast uncertainty. To address the important question of under which conditions RWPs imply high and low predictability, a potential vorticity–potential temperature (PV–θ) framework is introduced to diagnose RWP dynamics. Finite-amplitude RWPs along the midlatitude waveguide are considered and are represented by the synoptic-scale, wavelike undulations of the tropopause. The evolution of RWPs is examined by the amplitude evolution of the individual troughs and ridges. Troughs and ridges are identified as PV anomalies on θ levels intersecting the midlatitude tropopause. By partitioning the PV-tendency equation, individual contributions to the amplitude evolution are identified. A novel aspect is that the important role of the divergent flow and the diabatic PV modification is quantified explicitly. Arguably, prominent upper-tropospheric divergent flow is associated to a large extent with latent-heat release below and can thus be considered as an indirect diabatic impact. A case study of an RWP evolution over 7 days illustrates the PV–θ diagnostic. In general, baroclinic coupling and, important, the divergent flow make contributions to the amplitude evolution of individual troughs and ridges that are comparable in magnitude to the wave’s group propagation. Diabatic PV modification makes a subordinate contribution to the evolution. The relative importance of the different processes exhibits considerable variability between individual troughs and ridges. A discussion of the results in light of recent studies on forecast errors and predictability concludes the paper.

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Yannick Barton, Paraskevi Giannakaki, Harald von Waldow, Clément Chevalier, Stephan Pfahl, and Olivia Martius

Abstract

Temporal clustering of extreme precipitation events on subseasonal time scales is of crucial importance for the formation of large-scale flood events. Here, the temporal clustering of regional-scale extreme precipitation events in southern Switzerland is studied. These precipitation events are relevant for the flooding of lakes in southern Switzerland and northern Italy. This research determines whether temporal clustering is present and then identifies the dynamics that are responsible for the clustering.

An observation-based gridded precipitation dataset of Swiss daily rainfall sums and ECMWF reanalysis datasets are used. Also used is a modified version of Ripley’s K function, which determines the average number of extreme events in a time period, to characterize temporal clustering on subseasonal time scales and to determine the statistical significance of the clustering. Significant clustering of regional-scale precipitation extremes is found on subseasonal time scales during the fall season.

Four high-impact clustering episodes are then selected and the dynamics responsible for the clustering are examined. During the four clustering episodes, all heavy precipitation events were associated with an upper-level breaking Rossby wave over western Europe and in most cases strong diabatic processes upstream over the Atlantic played a role in the amplification of these breaking waves. Atmospheric blocking downstream over eastern Europe supported this wave breaking during two of the clustering episodes. During one of the clustering periods, several extratropical transitions of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic contributed to the formation of high-amplitude ridges over the Atlantic basin and downstream wave breaking. During another event, blocking over Alaska assisted the phase locking of the Rossby waves downstream over the Atlantic.

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Kirstin Kober, Annette M. Foerster, and George C. Craig

Abstract

Stochastic parameterizations allow the representation of the small-scale variability of parameterized physical processes. This study investigates whether additional variability introduced by a stochastic convection parameterization leads to improvements in the precipitation forecasts. Forecasts are calculated with two different ensembles: one considering large-scale and convective variability with the stochastic Plant–Craig convection parameterization and one considering only large-scale variability with the standard Tiedtke convection parameterization. The forecast quality of both ensembles is evaluated in comparison with radar observations for two case studies with weak and strong synoptic forcing of convection and measured with neighborhood and probabilistic verification methods. The skill of the ensemble based on the Plant–Craig convection parameterization relative to the ensemble with the Tiedtke parameterization strongly depends on the synoptic situation in which convection occurs. In the weak forcing case, where the convective precipitation is highly intermittent, the ensemble based on the stochastic parameterization is superior, but the scheme produces too much small-scale variability in the strong forcing case. In the future, the degree of stochastic variability could be tuned, and these results show that parameters should be chosen in a regime-dependent manner.

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Tobias Selz and George C. Craig

Abstract

The growth of small-amplitude, spatially uncorrelated perturbations has been studied in a weather forecast of a 4-day period in the summer of 2007, using a large domain covering Europe and the eastern Atlantic and with explicitly resolved deep convection. The error growth follows the three-stage conceptual model of Zhang et al., with rapid initial growth (e-folding time about 0.5 h) on all scales, relaxing over about 20 h to a slow growth of the large-scale perturbations (e-folding time 12 h). The initial growth was confined to precipitating regions, with a faster growth rate where conditional instability was large. Growth in these regions saturated within 3–10 h, continuing for the longest where the precipitation rate was large. While the initial growth was mainly in the divergent part of the flow, the eventual slow growth on large scales was more in the rotational component.

Spectral decomposition of the disturbance energy showed that the rapid growth in precipitating regions projected onto all Fourier components; however, the amplitude at saturation was too small to initiate the subsequent large-scale growth. Visualization of the disturbance energy showed it to expand outward from the precipitating regions at a speed corresponding to a deep tropospheric gravity wave. These results suggest a physical picture of error growth with a rapidly growing disturbance to the vertical mass transport in precipitating regions that spreads to the radius of deformation while undergoing geostrophic adjustment, eventually creating a balanced perturbation that continues to grow through baroclinic instability.

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Gabriel Wolf and Volkmar Wirth

Abstract

Upper-tropospheric Rossby wave packets have received increased attention recently. In most previous studies wave packets have been detected by computing the envelope of the meridional wind field using either complex demodulation or a Hilbert transform. The latter requires fewer choices to be made and appears, therefore, preferable. However, the Hilbert transform is fraught with a significant problem, namely, a tendency that fragments a single wave packet into several parts. The problem arises because Rossby wave packets show substantial deviations from the almost-plane wave paradigm, a feature that is well represented by semigeostrophic dynamics. As a consequence, higher harmonics interfere with the reconstruction of the wave envelope leading to undesirable wiggles. A possible cure lies in additional smoothing (e.g., by means of a filter) or resorting to complex demodulation (which implies smoothing, too). Another possibility, which does not imply any smoothing, lies in applying the Hilbert transform in semigeostrophic coordinate space. It turns out beneficial to exclude planetary-scale wavenumbers from this transformation in order to avoid problems in cases when the wave packet travels on a low wavenumber quasi-stationary background flow.

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Michael Riemer, Marlene Baumgart, and Sven Eiermann

Abstract

During extratropical transition (ET), tropical cyclones exert a significant impact on the midlatitude circulation. Archetypical features of this impact are jet streak formation, amplification of the downstream trough, and modification of the associated downstream cyclogenesis. This study investigates the relative importance of the jet streak and the upper-level trough for cyclone development by quantifying the respective contributions to midtropospheric vertical motion using the Q-vector partitioning by J. C. Jusem and R. Atlas. Their framework is here extended from quasigeostrophic theory to alternative balance. The Q vector under alternative balance involves the nondivergent wind, instead of the geostrophic wind, and therefore represents more accurately the balanced dynamics associated with vertical motion, in particular downstream of ET where the flow often exhibits significant curvature associated with the amplified trough.

An idealized ET scenario and three real cases, the cyclones downstream of Hanna (2008), Choi-wan (2008), and Jangmi (2009), are analyzed. In all cases, the trough plays a prominent role in cyclone development. The jet streak plays a prominent, favorable role in the idealized ET scenario and downstream of Hanna. In contrast, the role of the jet streak downstream of Choi-wan is clearly of secondary importance. Interestingly, downstream of Jangmi the jet streak has a prominent but detrimental impact. It is concluded that amplified jet streaks associated with ET have the potential to be of significant importance for downstream cyclone development. The few cases considered in this study, however, point to a large case-to-case variability of the role of the jet streak.

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Julia H. Keller, Sarah C. Jones, and Patrick A. Harr

Abstract

The extratropical transition (ET) of Hurricane Hanna (2008) and Typhoon Choi-Wan (2009) caused a variety of forecast scenarios in the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Ensemble Prediction System (EPS). The dominant development scenarios are extracted for two ensemble forecasts initialized prior to the ET of those tropical storms, using an EOF and fuzzy clustering analysis. The role of the transitioning tropical cyclone and its impact on the midlatitude flow in the distinct forecast scenarios is examined by conducting an analysis of the eddy kinetic energy budget in the framework of downstream baroclinic development. This budget highlights sources and sinks of eddy kinetic energy emanating from the transitioning tropical cyclone or adjacent upstream midlatitude flow features. By comparing the budget for several forecast scenarios for the ET of each of the two tropical cyclones, the role of the transitioning storms on the development in downstream regions is investigated. Distinct features during the interaction between the tropical cyclone and the midlatitude flow turned out to be important. In the case of Hurricane Hanna, the duration of baroclinic conversion from eddy available potential into eddy kinetic energy was important for the amplification of the midlatitude wave pattern and the subsequent reintensification of Hanna as an extratropical cyclone. In the case of Typhoon Choi-Wan, the phasing between the storm and the midlatitude flow was one of the most critical factors for the future development.

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Julian F. Quinting, Michael M. Bell, Patrick A. Harr, and Sarah C. Jones

Abstract

The structure and the environment of Typhoon Sinlaku (2008) were investigated during its life cycle in The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment (THORPEX) Pacific Asian Regional Campaign (T-PARC). On 20 September 2008, during the transformation stage of Sinlaku’s extratropical transition (ET), research aircraft equipped with dual-Doppler radar and dropsondes documented the structure of the convection surrounding Sinlaku and low-level frontogenetical processes. The observational data obtained were assimilated with the recently developed Spline Analysis at Mesoscale Utilizing Radar and Aircraft Instrumentation (SAMURAI) software tool. The resulting analysis provides detailed insight into the ET system and allows specific features of the system to be identified, including deep convection, a stratiform precipitation region, warm- and cold-frontal structures, and a dry intrusion. The analysis offers valuable information about the interaction of the features identified within the transitioning tropical cyclone. The existence of dry midlatitude air above warm-moist tropical air led to strong potential instability. Quasigeostrophic diagnostics suggest that forced ascent during warm frontogenesis triggered the deep convective development in this potentially unstable environment. The deep convection itself produced a positive potential vorticity anomaly at midlevels that modified the environmental flow. A comparison of the operational ECMWF analysis and the observation-based SAMURAI analysis exhibits important differences. In particular, the ECMWF analysis does not capture the deep convection adequately. The nonexistence of the deep convection has considerable implications on the potential vorticity structure of the remnants of the typhoon at midlevels. An inaccurate representation of the thermodynamic structure of the dry intrusion has considerable implications on the frontogenesis and the quasigeostrophic forcing.

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