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James F. Booth, Catherine M. Naud, and Jeff Willison

Abstract

The representation of extratropical cyclone (ETC) precipitation in general circulation models (GCMs) and the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model is analyzed. This work considers the link between ETC precipitation and dynamical strength and tests if parameterized convection affects this link for ETCs in the North Atlantic basin. Lagrangian cyclone tracks of ETCs in ERA-Interim (ERAI), GISS and GFDL CMIP5 models, and WRF with two horizontal resolutions are utilized in a compositing analysis. The 20-km-resolution WRF Model generates stronger ETCs based on surface wind speed and cyclone precipitation. The GCMs and ERAI generate similar composite means and distributions for cyclone precipitation rates, but GCMs generate weaker cyclone surface winds than ERAI. The amount of cyclone precipitation generated by the convection scheme differs significantly across the datasets, with the GISS model generating the most, followed by ERAI and then the GFDL model. The models and reanalysis generate relatively more parameterized convective precipitation when the total cyclone-averaged precipitation is smaller. This is partially due to the contribution of parameterized convective precipitation occurring more often late in the ETC’s life cycle. For reanalysis and models, precipitation increases with both cyclone moisture and surface wind speed, and this is true if the contribution from the parameterized convection scheme is larger or not. This work shows that these different models generate similar total ETC precipitation despite large differences in the parameterized convection, and these differences do not cause unexpected behavior in ETC precipitation sensitivity to cyclone moisture or surface wind speed.

Open access
Motoki Nagura, J. P. McCreary, and H. Annamalai

Abstract

This study investigates biases of the climatological mean state of the northern Arabian Sea (NAS) in 31 coupled ocean–atmosphere models. The focus is to understand the cause of the large biases in the depth of the 20°C isotherm that occur in many of them. Other prominent biases are the depth and temperature of Persian Gulf water (PGW) and the wintertime mixed-layer thickness (MLT) along the northern boundary.

For models that lack a Persian Gulf (group 1), is determined by the wintertime MLT bias through the formation of an Arabian Sea high-salinity water mass (ASHSW) that is too deep. For models with a Persian Gulf (group 2), if > MLT (group 2B), PGW remains mostly trapped to the western boundary and, again, directly controls . If MLT (group 2A), PGW spreads into the NAS and impacts because > 20°C; nevertheless still influences indirectly through its impact on .

The thick wintertime mixed layer is driven primarily by surface cooling during the fall. Nevertheless, variations in ΔMLT among the models are more strongly linked to biases in the density stratification (jump) across the bottom of the mixed layer than to biases. The jump is in turn determined primarily by sea surface salinity biases (ΔSSS) advected into the NAS by the West India Coastal Current, and the source of ΔSSS is the rainfall deficit associated with the models’ weak summer monsoon. Ultimately, then, ΔD20 is linked to this deficit.

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Daehyun Kim, Yumin Moon, Suzana J. Camargo, Allison A. Wing, Adam H. Sobel, Hiroyuki Murakami, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Ming Zhao, and Eric Page

Abstract

This study proposes a set of process-oriented diagnostics with the aim of understanding how model physics and numerics control the representation of tropical cyclones (TCs), especially their intensity distribution, in GCMs. Three simulations are made using two 50-km GCMs developed at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. The two models are forced with the observed sea surface temperature [Atmospheric Model version 2.5 (AM2.5) and High Resolution Atmospheric Model (HiRAM)], and in the third simulation, the AM2.5 model is coupled to an ocean GCM [Forecast-Oriented Low Ocean Resolution (FLOR)]. The frequency distributions of maximum near-surface wind near TC centers show that HiRAM tends to develop stronger TCs than the other models do. Large-scale environmental parameters, such as potential intensity, do not explain the differences between HiRAM and the other models. It is found that HiRAM produces a greater amount of precipitation near the TC center, suggesting that associated greater diabatic heating enables TCs to become stronger in HiRAM. HiRAM also shows a greater contrast in relative humidity and surface latent heat flux between the inner and outer regions of TCs. Various fields are composited on precipitation percentiles to reveal the essential character of the interaction among convection, moisture, and surface heat flux. Results show that the moisture sensitivity of convection is higher in HiRAM than in the other model simulations. HiRAM also exhibits a stronger feedback from surface latent heat flux to convection via near-surface wind speed in heavy rain-rate regimes. The results emphasize that the moisture–convection coupling and the surface heat flux feedback are critical processes that affect the intensity of TCs in GCMs.

Open access
James F. Booth, Young-Oh Kwon, Stanley Ko, R. Justin Small, and Rym Msadek

Abstract

To improve the understanding of storm tracks and western boundary current (WBC) interactions, surface storm tracks in 12 CMIP5 models are examined against ERA-Interim. All models capture an equatorward displacement toward the WBCs in the locations of the surface storm tracks’ maxima relative to those at 850 hPa. An estimated storm-track metric is developed to analyze the location of the surface storm track. It shows that the equatorward shift is influenced by both the lower-tropospheric instability and the baroclinicity. Basin-scale spatial correlations between models and ERA-Interim for the storm tracks, near-surface stability, SST gradient, and baroclinicity are calculated to test the ability of the GCMs’ match reanalysis. An intermodel comparison of the spatial correlations suggests that differences (relative to ERA-Interim) in the position of the storm track aloft have the strongest influence on differences in the surface storm-track position. However, in the North Atlantic, biases in the surface storm track north of the Gulf Stream are related to biases in the SST. An analysis of the strength of the storm tracks shows that most models generate a weaker storm track at the surface than 850 hPa, consistent with observations, although some outliers are found. A linear relationship exists among the models between storm-track amplitudes at 500 and 850 hPa, but not between 850 hPa and the surface. In total, the work reveals a dual role in forcing the surface storm track from aloft and from the ocean surface in CMIP5 models, with the atmosphere having the larger relative influence.

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Stephanie A. Henderson, Eric D. Maloney, and Seok-Woo Son

Abstract

Teleconnection patterns associated with the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) significantly alter extratropical circulations, impacting weather and climate phenomena such as blocking, monsoons, the North Atlantic Oscillation, and the Pacific–North American pattern. However, the MJO has been extremely difficult to simulate in many general circulation models (GCMs), and many GCMs contain large biases in the background flow, presenting challenges to the simulation of MJO teleconnection patterns and associated extratropical impacts. In this study, the database from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) is used to assess the impact of model MJO and basic state quality on MJO teleconnection pattern quality, and a simple dry linear baroclinic model is employed to understand the results. Even in GCMs assessed to have good MJOs, large biases in the MJO teleconnection patterns are produced as a result of errors in the zonal extent of the Pacific subtropical jet. The horizontal structure of Indo-Pacific MJO heating in good MJO models is found to have modest impacts on the teleconnection pattern skill, in agreement with previous studies that have demonstrated little sensitivity to the location of tropical heating near the subtropical jet. However, MJO heating east of the date line can alter the teleconnection pathways over North America. Results show that GCMs with poor basic states can have equally low skill in reproducing the MJO teleconnection patterns as GCMs with poor MJO quality, suggesting that both the basic state and the MJO must be well represented in order to reproduce the correct teleconnection patterns.

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