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  • Air–Sea Interactions from the Diurnal to the Intraseasonal during the PISTON, MISOBOB, and CAMP2Ex Observational Campaigns in the Tropics x
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Benjamin A. Toms, Susan C. van den Heever, Emily M. Riley Dellaripa, Stephen M. Saleeby, and Eric D. Maloney

Abstract

While the boreal summer Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is commonly defined as a planetary-scale disturbance, the convective elements that constitute its cloud dipole exhibit pronounced variability in their morphology. We therefore investigate the relationship between the intraseasonal cloud anomaly of the MJO and the convective elements that populate its interior by simulating a boreal summer MJO event over the Maritime Continent using a cloud-resolving model. A progressive relationship between convective cell morphology and the MJO within the convectively enhanced region of the MJO was identified and characterized as follows: anomalously long-lasting cells in the initial phases, followed by an increased number of cells in the intermediate phases, progressing into more expansive cells in the terminal phases. A progressive relationship does not seem to exist within the convectively suppressed region of the MJO within the simulated domain, however. Within the convectively enhanced region of the MJO, the progressive relationship is partially explained by the evolution of bulk atmospheric characteristics, such as instability and wind shear. Positive midlevel moisture anomalies coincide with anomalously long-lasting convective cells, which is hypothesized to further cascade into an increase in convective cell volume, although variability in the number of convective cells seems to be related to an unidentified variable. This intraseasonal relationship between convective cell morphology and the boreal summer MJO within the Maritime Continent may have broader implications for the large-scale structure and evolution of the MJO, related to both convective moistening and cloud-radiative feedbacks.

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Kenneth G. Hughes, James N. Moum, and Emily L. Shroyer

Abstract

The daily formation of near-surface ocean stratification caused by penetrating solar radiation modifies heat fluxes through the air–sea interface, turbulence dissipation in the mixed layer, and the vertical profile of lateral transport. The transport is altered because momentum from wind is trapped in a thin near-surface layer, the diurnal warm layer. We investigate the dynamics of this layer, with particular attention to the vertical shear of horizontal velocity. We first develop a quantitative link between the near-surface shear components that relates the crosswind component to the inertial turning of the along-wind component. Three days of high-resolution velocity observations confirm this relation. Clear colocation of shear and stratification with Richardson numbers near 0.25 indicate marginal instability. Idealized numerical modeling is then invoked to extrapolate below the observed wind speeds. This modeling, together with a simple energetic scaling analysis, provides a rule of thumb that the diurnal shear evolves differently above and below a 2 m s−1 wind speed, with limited sensitivity of this threshold to latitude and mean net surface heat flux. Only above this wind speed is the energy input sufficient to overcome the stabilizing buoyancy flux and thereby induce marginal instability. The differing shear regimes explain differences in the timing and magnitude of diurnal sea surface temperature anomalies.

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D. A. Cherian, E. L. Shroyer, H. W. Wijesekera, and J. N. Moum

Abstract

We describe the seasonal cycle of mixing in the top 30–100 m of the Bay of Bengal as observed by moored mixing meters (χpods) deployed along 8°N between 85.5° and 88.5°E in 2014 and 2015. All χpod observations were combined to form seasonal-mean vertical profiles of turbulence diffusivity K T in the top 100 m. The strongest turbulence is observed during the southwest and postmonsoon seasons, that is, between July and November. The northeast monsoon (December–February) is a period of similarly high mean K T but an order of magnitude lower median K T, a sign of energetic episodic mixing events forced by near-inertial shear events. The months of March and April, a period of weak wind forcing and low near-inertial shear amplitude, are characterized by near-molecular values of K T in the thermocline for weeks at a time. Strong mixing events coincide with the passage of surface-forced downward-propagating near-inertial waves and with the presence of enhanced low-frequency shear associated with the Summer Monsoon Current and other mesoscale features between July and October. This seasonal cycle of mixing is consequential. We find that monthly averaged turbulent transport of salt out of the salty Arabian Sea water between August and January is significant relative to local EP. The magnitude of this salt flux is approximately that required to close model-based salt budgets for the upper Bay of Bengal.

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Emily M. Riley Dellaripa, Eric D. Maloney, Benjamin A. Toms, Stephen M. Saleeby, and Susan C. van den Heever

Abstract

Cloud-resolving simulations are used to evaluate the importance of topography to the diurnal cycle (DC) of precipitation (DCP) over Luzon, Philippines, and surrounding ocean during the July–August 2016 boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation (BSISO) event. Composites of surface precipitation for each 30-min time increment during the day are made to determine the mean DCP. The mean DCP is computed separately for suppressed and active BSISO conditions and compared across three simulations with varying topography—flat, true, and doubled topographic height. The magnitude of the topographic height helps to dictate the timing, intensity, and location of diurnal precipitation over and near Luzon. For example, the mean DCP in the true topography run peaks 1.5 h later, is broader by 1 h, and has a 9% larger amplitude during active conditions relative to suppressed conditions. By contrast, the flat run mean DCP is earlier and narrower by 0.5 h with a 5% smaller amplitude during active conditions versus suppressed conditions. Within the suppressed or active BSISO conditions, the mean DCP peak and amplitude increase as the topographic height increases. The presence of elevated topography focuses precipitation over the coastal mountains during suppressed conditions, while dictating which side of the domain (i.e., east Luzon and the Philippine Sea vs west Luzon and the South China Sea) more precipitation occurs in during active conditions. These topographic-induced changes are discussed in terms of mechanical and thermodynamic forcing differences between the two large-scale BSISO regimes for the three runs.

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Michael B. Natoli and Eric D. Maloney

Abstract

Precipitation in the region surrounding the South China Sea over land and coastal waters exhibits a strong diurnal cycle associated with a land–sea temperature contrast that drives a sea-breeze circulation. The boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation (BSISO) is an important modulator of diurnal precipitation patterns, an understanding of which is a primary goal of the field campaign Propagation of Intraseasonal Tropical Oscillations (PISTON). Using 21 years of CMORPH precipitation for Luzon Island in the northern Philippines, it is shown that the diurnal cycle amplitude is generally maximized over land roughly 1 week before the arrival of the broader oceanic convective envelope associated with the BSISO. A strong diurnal cycle in coastal waters is observed in the transition from the inactive to active phase, associated with offshore propagation of the diurnal cycle. The diurnal cycle amplitude is in phase with daily mean precipitation over Mindanao but is nearly out of phase over Luzon. The BSISO influence on the diurnal cycle on the eastern side of topography is nearly opposite to that on the western side. Using wind, moisture, and radiation products from the ERA5 reanalysis, it is proposed that the enhanced diurnal cycle west of the mountains during BSISO suppressed phases is related to increased insolation and weaker prevailing onshore winds that promote a stronger sea-breeze circulation when compared with the May–October mean state. Offshore propagation is suppressed until ambient midlevel moisture increases over the surrounding oceans during the transition to the active BSISO phase. In BSISO enhanced phases, strong low-level winds and increased cloudiness suppress the sea-breeze circulation.

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Wei-Ting Chen, Shih-Pei Hsu, Yuan-Huai Tsai, and Chung-Hsiung Sui

ABSTRACT

We studied the scale interactions of the convectively coupled Kelvin waves (KWs) over the South China Sea (SCS) and Maritime Continent (MC) during December 2016. Three KWs were observed near the equator in this month while the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) was inactive. The impacts of these KWs on the rainfall variability of various time scales are diagnosed, including synoptic disturbances, diurnal cycle (DC), and the onset of the Australian monsoon. Four interaction events between the KWs and the westward-propagating waves over the off-equatorial regions were examined; two events led to KW enhancements and the other two contributed to the formation of a tropical depression/tropical cyclone. Over the KW convectively active region of the MC, the DC of precipitation was enhanced in major islands and neighboring oceans. Over the land, the DC hot spots were modulated depending on the background winds and the terrain effects. Over the ocean, the “coastal regime” of the DC appeared at specific coastal areas. Last, the Australian summer monsoon onset occurred with the passage of a KW, which provided favorable conditions of low-level westerlies and initial convection over southern MC and the Arafura Sea. This effect may be helped by the warm sea surface temperature anomalies associated with the La Niña condition of this month. The current results showcase that KWs and their associated scale interactions can provide useful references for weather monitoring and forecast of this region when the MJO is absent.

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Corinne B. Trott, Bulusu Subrahmanyam, Heather L. Roman-Stork, V. S. N. Murty, and C. Gnanaseelan

Abstract

Intraseasonal oscillations (ISOs) significantly impact southwest monsoon precipitation and Bay of Bengal (BoB) variability. The response of ISOs in sea surface salinity (SSS) to those in the atmosphere is investigated in the BoB from 2005 to 2017. The three intraseasonal processes examined in this study are the 30–90-day and 10–20-day ISOs and 3–7-day synoptic weather signals. A variety of salinity data from NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) and the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite missions and from reanalysis using the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) and operational analysis of Climate Forecast System version 2 (CFSv2) were utilized for the study. It is found that the 30–90-day ISO salinity signal propagates northward following the northward propagation of convection and precipitation ISOs. The 10–20-day ISO in SSS and precipitation deviate largely in the northern BoB wherein the river runoff largely impacts the SSS. The weather systems strongly impact the 3–7-day signal in SSS prior to and after the southwest monsoon. Overall, we find that satellite salinity products captured better the SSS signal of ISO due to inherent inclusion of river runoff and mixed layer processes. CFSv2, in particular, underestimates the SSS signal due to the misrepresentation of river runoff in the model. This study highlights the need to include realistic riverine freshwater influx for better model simulations, as accurate salinity simulation is mandatory for the representation of air–sea coupling in models.

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Sebastian Essink, Verena Hormann, Luca R. Centurioni, and Amala Mahadevan

Abstract

A cluster of 45 drifters deployed in the Bay of Bengal is tracked for a period of four months. Pair dispersion statistics, from observed drifter trajectories and simulated trajectories based on surface geostrophic velocity, are analyzed as a function of drifter separation and time. Pair dispersion suggests nonlocal dynamics at submesoscales of 1–20 km, likely controlled by the energetic mesoscale eddies present during the observations. Second-order velocity structure functions and their Helmholtz decomposition, however, suggest local dispersion and divergent horizontal flow at scales below 20 km. This inconsistency cannot be explained by inertial oscillations alone, as has been reported in recent studies, and is likely related to other nondispersive processes that impact structure functions but do not enter pair dispersion statistics. At scales comparable to the deformation radius L D, which is approximately 60 km, we find dynamics in agreement with Richardson’s law and observe local dispersion in both pair dispersion statistics and second-order velocity structure functions.

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Wei-Ting Chen, Chien-Ming Wu, and Hsi-Yen Ma

Abstract

The present study aims to identify the precipitation bias associated with the interactions among fast physical processes in the Community Atmospheric Model, version 5 (CAM5), during the abrupt onset of the South China Sea (SCS) summer monsoon, a key precursor of the overall East Asia summer monsoon (EASM). The multiyear hindcast approach is utilized to obtain the well-constrained synoptic-scale horizontal circulation each year during the onset period from the years 1998 to 2012. In the pre-onset period, the ocean precipitation over the SCS is insufficiently suppressed in CAM5 hindcasts and thus weaker land–ocean precipitation contrasts. This is associated with the weaker and shallower convection simulated over the surrounding land, producing weaker local circulation within the SCS basin. In the post-onset period, rainfall of the organized convection over the Philippine coastal ocean is underestimated in the hindcasts, with overestimated upper-level heating. These biases are further elaborated as the underrepresentation of the convection diurnal cycle and coastal convection systems, as well as the issue of precipitation sensitivity to environmental moisture during the SCS onset period. The biases identified in hindcasts are consistent with the general bias of the EASM in the climate simulation of CAM5. The current results highlight that the appropriate representation of land–ocean–convection interactions over coastal areas can potentially improve the simulation of seasonal transition over the monsoon regions.

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Adam V. Rydbeck, Tommy G. Jensen, and Matthew R. Igel

Abstract

The atmospheric response to sea surface temperature (SST) variations forced by oceanic downwelling equatorial Rossby waves is investigated using an idealized convection-resolving model. Downwelling equatorial Rossby waves sharpen SST gradients in the western Indian Ocean. Changes in SST cause the atmosphere to hydrostatically adjust, subsequently modulating the low-level wind field. In an idealized cloud model, surface wind speeds, surface moisture fluxes, and low-level precipitable water maximize near regions of strongest SST gradients, not necessarily in regions of warmest SST. Simulations utilizing the steepened SST gradient representative of periods with oceanic downwelling equatorial Rossby waves show enhanced patterns of surface convergence and precipitation that are linked to a strengthened zonally overturning circulation. During these conditions, convection is highly organized, clustering near the maximum SST gradient and ascending branch of the SST-induced overturning circulation. When the SST gradient is reduced, as occurs during periods of weak or absent oceanic equatorial Rossby waves, convection is much less organized and total rainfall is decreased. This demonstrates the previously observed upscale organization of convection and rainfall associated with oceanic downwelling equatorial Rossby waves in the western Indian Ocean. These results suggest that the enhancement of surface fluxes that results from a steepening of the SST gradient is the leading mechanism by which oceanic equatorial Rossby waves prime the atmospheric boundary layer for rapid convective development.

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