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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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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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Maxi Boettcher and Heini Wernli

Abstract

Diabatic Rossby waves (DRWs) are low-tropospheric positive potential vorticity (PV) anomalies in moist and sufficiently baroclinic regions. They regenerate continuously by moist-diabatic processes and potentially develop into explosively intensifying cyclones. In this study a specific DRW-tracking algorithm is developed and applied to operational ECMWF analyses to compile a first climatology of DRWs in the Northern Hemisphere for the years 2001–10. DRWs are more frequent over the North Pacific than over the North Atlantic with on average 81 and 43 systems per year, respectively. Less than 15% of these systems intensify explosively, on average 12 per year over the Pacific and 5 over the Atlantic. DRWs are most frequent in summer but most of the explosively intensifying DRWs occur in autumn and winter. DRWs are generated typically between 30°–50°N over the eastern parts of the continents and the western/central parts of the oceans. They propagate fairly zonally along the midlatitude baroclinic zone. The generation of the initial low-tropospheric PV anomalies goes along with precipitation processes in characteristic flow patterns, which correspond to 1) flow around the subtropical high against the midlatitude baroclinic zone, 2) flow induced by an upper-level cutoff or a (tropical) cyclone against the baroclinic zone, 3) upper-level trough-induced ascent at the baroclinic zone, and 4) PV remnants of a tropical cyclone or a mesoscale convective system that are advected into the baroclinic zone where they start propagating as a DRW. In most cases, explosive intensification of DRWs occurs through interaction with a preexisting upper-level trough.

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Andrea Schneidereit, Silke Schubert, Pavel Vargin, Frank Lunkeit, Xiuhua Zhu, Dieter H. W. Peters, and Klaus Fraedrich

Abstract

Several studies show that the anomalous long-lasting Russian heat wave during the summer of 2010, linked to a long-persistent blocking high, appears mainly as a result of natural atmospheric variability. This study analyzes the large-scale flow structure based on the ECMWF Re-Analysis Interim (ERA-Interim) data (1989–2010). The anomalous long-lasting blocking high over western Russia including the heat wave occurs as an overlay of a set of anticyclonic contributions on different time scales. (i) A regime change in ENSO toward La Niña modulates the quasi-stationary wave structure in the boreal summer hemisphere supporting the eastern European blocking. The polar Arctic dipole mode is enhanced and shows a projection on the mean blocking high. (ii) Together with the quasi-stationary wave anomaly, the transient eddies maintain the long-lasting blocking. (iii) Three different pathways of wave action are identified on the intermediate time scale (~10–60 days). One pathway commences over the eastern North Pacific and includes the polar Arctic region; another one runs more southward and crossing the North Atlantic, continues to eastern Europe; a third pathway southeast of the blocking high describes the downstream development over South Asia.

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Maxi Boettcher and Heini Wernli

Abstract

The life cycle of a North Atlantic cyclone in December 2005 that included a rapid propagation phase as a diabatic Rossby wave (DRW) is investigated by means of operational analyses and deterministic forecasts from the ECMWF. A quasigeostrophic omega diagnostic has been applied to assess the impact of upper-level forcing during the genesis, propagation, and intensification phase, respectively. The system was generated in the Gulf of Mexico as a mesoscale convective vortex (MCV) influenced by vertical motion forcing from a nearby upper-level trough. The DRW propagation phase was characterized by a shallow, low-level, diabatically produced potential vorticity (PV) anomaly that rapidly propagated along the southern border of an intense baroclinic zone. No significant upper-level forcing could be identified during this phase of the development. Eventually, explosive intensification occurred as the region of vertical motion forced by an approaching upper-level trough reached the position of the DRW. The rapid intensification of 34 hPa in 24 h led to a mature extratropical cyclone in the central North Atlantic with marked frontal structures associated with a pronounced PV tower.

The performance of four operational deterministic ECMWF forecasts has been investigated for the DRW propagation and cyclone intensification. The forecasts showed a highly variable skill. Despite the fact that the DRW was initially well represented in all forecasts, two of them failed to capture the explosive intensification. By applying a DRW tracking tool, the low-level baroclinicity downstream of the DRW and the moisture supply to the south of the DRW could be identified as the key environmental parameters during DRW propagation. The subsequent cyclone intensification went wrong in two of the forecasts because of the missing interaction of the DRW and the upper-level trough. It is shown that this interaction can fail if the intensity of the DRW and/or the approaching upper-level wave are too weak, or in case of an erroneous structure of the upper-level trough leading to a phasing problem of the vertical interaction with the DRW. Therefore, the DRW intensification bears similar characteristics and forecast challenges as the extratropical reintensification of tropical cyclones.

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Martin Weissmann, Florian Harnisch, Chun-Chieh Wu, Po-Hsiung Lin, Yoichiro Ohta, Koji Yamashita, Yeon-Hee Kim, Eun-Hee Jeon, Tetsuo Nakazawa, and Sim Aberson

Abstract

A unique dataset of targeted dropsonde observations was collected during The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment (THORPEX) Pacific Asian Regional Campaign (T-PARC) in the autumn of 2008. The campaign was supplemented by an enhancement of the operational Dropsonde Observations for Typhoon Surveillance near the Taiwan Region (DOTSTAR) program. For the first time, up to four different aircraft were available for typhoon observations and over 1500 additional soundings were collected.

This study investigates the influence of assimilating additional observations during the two major typhoon events of T-PARC on the typhoon track forecast by the global models of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), and the limited-area Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. Additionally, the influence of T-PARC observations on ECMWF midlatitude forecasts is investigated.

All models show an improving tendency of typhoon track forecasts, but the degree of improvement varied from about 20% to 40% in NCEP and WRF to a comparably low influence in ECMWF and JMA. This is likely related to lower track forecast errors without dropsondes in the latter two models, presumably caused by a more extensive use of satellite data and four-dimensional variational data assimilation (4D-Var) of ECMWF and JMA compared to three-dimensional variational data assimilation (3D-Var) of NCEP and WRF. The different behavior of the models emphasizes that the benefit gained strongly depends on the quality of the first-guess field and the assimilation system.

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Florian Harnisch and Martin Weissmann

Abstract

For the first time, joint tropical cyclone (TC) surveillance missions by several aircraft were conducted in the western North Pacific basin within the framework of The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment (THORPEX) Pacific Asian Regional Campaign (T-PARC) 2008. The collected dropsonde observations were divided into three different subsets depending on their location relative to the TC to investigate which observations are most beneficial for typhoon track forecasting. Data denial experiments with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) global model were performed to analyze the influence of the different dropsonde subsets. In these experiments, the largest TC track forecast improvements are found for observations in the vicinity of the storm, placed at a circular ring at the outer boundary of the TC. In contrast, observations in remote regions indicated to be sensitive by singular vectors seem to have a relatively small influence with a slight positive tendency on average. Observations in the TC core and center lead to large analysis differences, but only very small mean forecast improvements. This is likely related to the fact that even modern high-resolution global models cannot fully resolve the TC center and thus can only use a relatively small part of the information provided by observations within the TC center. Times prior to landfall and recurvature are stronger affected by additional observations, while the influence on the track forecast after recurvature is relatively weak.

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