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Paul M. Markowski

Abstract

A simulation of a supercell storm produced for a prior study on tornado predictability is reanalyzed for the purpose of examining the fine-scale details of tornadogenesis. It is found that the formation of a tornado-like vortex in the simulation differs from how such vortices have been understood to form in previous numerical simulations. The main difference between the present simulation and past ones is the inclusion of a turbulent boundary layer in the storm’s environment in the present case, whereas prior simulations have used a laminar boundary layer. The turbulent environment contains significant near-surface vertical vorticity (ζ > 0.03 s−1 at z = 7.5 m), organized in the form of longitudinal streaks aligned with the southerly ground-relative winds. The ζ streaks are associated with corrugations in the vertical plane in the predominantly horizontal, westward-pointing environmental vortex lines; the vortex-line corrugations are produced by the vertical drafts associated with coherent turbulent structures aligned with the aforementioned southerly ground-relative winds (longitudinal coherent structures in the surface layer such as these are well known to the boundary layer and turbulence communities). The ζ streaks serve as focal points for tornadogenesis, and may actually facilitate tornadogenesis, given how near-surface ζ in the environment can rapidly amplify when subjected to the strong, persistent convergence beneath a supercell updraft.

Significance Statement

In high-resolution computer simulations of supercell storms that include a more realistic, turbulent environment, the means by which tornado-like vortices form differs from the mechanism identified in prior simulations using a less realistic, laminar environment. One possibility is that prior simulations develop intense vortices for the wrong reasons. Another possibility could be that tornadoes form in a wide range of ways in the real atmosphere, even within supercell storms that appear to be similar, and increasingly realistic computer simulations are finally now capturing that diversity.

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Lu Zhang
,
Hongsheng Zhang
,
Xuhui Cai
,
Yu Song
, and
Xiaoye Zhang

Abstract

The Taklimakan Desert is one of key climate regions in East Asia, both highly influencing and highly sensitive to local/regional climate change. Based on a comprehensive observation experiment from 1 to 31 May 2022 in the hinterland of the Taklimakan Desert, the characteristics and mechanisms of turbulence intermittency are investigated in this study, with the purpose to correct turbulent fluxes. Using an improved algorithm to decompose turbulence and submeso motions, two intermittency regimes are recognized in the Taklimakan Desert, namely, D and T intermittency and onD intermittency. The former occurs under strongly stable conditions, characterized by the coexistence of dynamic and thermodynamic turbulence intermittency. The latter occurs under strongly unstable conditions and represents only dynamic turbulence intermittency. Physically, the D and T intermittency regime is related to submeso waves, whereas the onD regime is caused by the horizontal convergence/divergence of convective circulations. With the influence of intermittency and submeso motions, the observed turbulent statistics deviate from reality, which would mask the similarity relationships. To overcome the problem, turbulent statistics are corrected by removing submeso components from original fluctuations. The effectiveness of this method is demonstrated based on the flux–gradient relationships. It is also suggested that, for a big dataset, the impact of onD intermittency can be simply corrected by a correction factor while that of D and T intermittency cannot. The results of this study are helpful to develop the parameterization of turbulent exchange processes in the Taklimakan Desert, which is significant to improve the accuracy of weather forecasting and climate prediction.

Significance Statement

The Taklimakan Desert plays an important role in the evolution of weather and climate in East Asia. With strong surface thermal forcing, turbulence often shows distinctive intermittency, which largely constrains the evaluation of land–atmosphere exchange in this key climate region. This study aims to understand the characteristics of turbulence intermittency and its physical mechanisms, and further to correct the influence of turbulence intermittency on turbulent fluxes in the Taklimakan Desert. This is significant because the results are helpful to improve the parameterization of subgrid processes in the key climate region for atmospheric models, which points the way toward enhancing the accuracy of weather forecasting and climate prediction.

Open access
Aaron Wang
,
Xiang I. A. Yang
, and
Mikhail Ovchinnikov

Abstract

The traditional approach of using the Monin–Obukhov similarity theory (MOST) to model near-surface processes in large-eddy simulations (LESs) can lead to significant errors in natural convection. In this study, we propose an alternative approach based on feedforward neural networks (FNNs) trained on output from direct numerical simulation (DNS). To evaluate the performance, we conduct both a priori and a posteriori tests. In the a priori (offline) tests, we compare the statistics of the surface shear stress and heat flux, computed from filtered DNS input variables, to the stress and flux obtained from the filtered DNS. Additionally, we investigate the importance of various input features using the Shapley additive explanations value and the conditional average of the filter grid cells. In the a posteriori (online) tests, we implement the trained models in the System for Atmospheric Modeling (SAM) LES and compare the LES-generated surface shear stress and heat flux with those in the DNS. Our findings reveal that vertical velocity, a traditionally overlooked flow quantity, is one of the most important input features for determining the wall fluxes. Increasing the number of input features improves the a priori test results but does not always improve the model performance in the a posteriori tests because of the differences in input variables between the LES and DNS. Last, we show that physics-aware FNN models trained with logarithmic and scaled parameters can well extrapolate to more intense convection scenarios than in the training dataset, whereas those trained with primitive flow quantities cannot.

Significance Statement

The traditional near-surface turbulence model, based on a shear-dominated boundary layer flow, does not represent near-surface turbulence in natural convection. Using a feedforward neural network (FNN), we can construct a more accurate model that better represents the near-surface turbulence in various flows and reveals previously overlooked controlling factors and process interactions. Our study shows that the FNN-generated models outperform the traditional model and highlight the importance of the near-surface vertical velocity. Furthermore, the physics-aware FNN models exhibit the potential to extrapolate to convective flows of various intensities beyond the range of the training dataset, suggesting their broader applicability for more accurate modeling of near-surface turbulence.

Open access
A. Possner
,
K. Pfannkuch
, and
V. Ramadoss

Abstract

Field measurements and modeling studies suggest that secondary ice production (SIP) may close the gap between observed Arctic ice nucleating particle (INP) concentrations and ice crystal number concentrations ni . Here, we explore sensitivities with respect to the complexity of different INP parameterizations under the premise that ni is governed by SIP. Idealized, cloud-resolving simulations are performed for the marine cold air outbreak cloud deck sampled during the Mixed-Phase Arctic Cloud Experiment (M-PACE) with the Icosahedral Nonhydrostatic (ICON) model. The impact of the droplet shattering (DS) of raindrops and collisional breakup (BR) in addition to the existing Hallet–Mossop rime splintering mechanism were investigated. Overall, 12 different model experiments (12-h runs) were performed and analyzed. Despite the considerable amount of uncertainty remaining with regard to SIP mechanisms and their process representation in numerical models, we conclude from these experiments that (i) only simulations where DS dominates the SIP signal (potentially amplified by BR) capture observed ice-phase and liquid-phase cloud properties, and (ii) SIP events cluster around the convective outflow region and are structurally linked to mesoscale cloud organization. In addition, interactions with primary nucleation parameterizations of varied complexity were investigated. Here, our simulations show that (i) a stable long-lived mixed-phase cloud (MPC) can be maintained in the absence of primary nucleation once SIP is established, (ii) experiments using a computationally more efficient relaxation-based parameterization of primary nucleation are statistically invariant from simulations considering prognostic INP, and (iii) primary nucleation at cloud-top controls the areal extent of the mixed-phase cloud region, and reduces SIP efficacy via DS due to increased depletion of cloud liquid throughout the entire cloud column.

Significance Statement

Secondary ice production (SIP) remains a key challenge in our understanding of boundary layer mixed-phase clouds. Here, we use sensitivity experiments performed with the ICON model at the cloud-resolving scale to explore potential interactions between primary nucleation, SIP, and mesoscale cloud organization. We simulate an Arctic single-layer cold air outbreak stratocumulus deck that was sampled during the M-PACE campaign. We find that once established, SIP alone is sufficient to maintain the mixed-phase cloud state until the end of the simulation. Our sensitivity analysis also shows that numerically more efficient treatments of immersion freezing are statistically invariant from simulations with a full prognostic INP budget.

Open access
Jerry Y. Harrington
and
Gwenore F. Pokrifka

Abstract

Observations and measurements show that crystals remain relatively compact at low ice supersaturations, but become increasingly hollowed and complex as the ice supersaturation rises. Prior measurements at temperatures >−25°C indicate that the transition from compact, solid ice to morphologically complex crystals occurs when the excess vapor density exceeds a threshold value of about 0.05 g m−3. A comparable threshold is not available at low temperatures. A temperature-dependent criterion for the excess vapor density threshold (Δρ thr) that defines morphological transformations to complex ice is derived from laboratory measurements of vapor grown ice at temperatures below −40°C. This criterion depends on the difference between the equilibrium vapor density of liquid ( ρ e l ) and ice (ρei ) multiplied by a measurement-determined constant, Δ ρ thr 0.27 ( ρ e l ρ e i ) . The new criterion is consistent with prior laboratory measurements, theoretical estimates, and it reproduces the classical result of about 0.05 g m−3 above −25°C. Since Δρ thr defines the excess vapor density above which crystals transition to a morphologically complex (lower density) growth mode, we can estimate the critical supersaturation (s crit) for step nucleation during vapor growth. The derived values of s crit are consistent with previous measurements at temperatures above −20°C. No direct measurements of s crit are available for temperatures below −40°C; however, our derived values suggest some measurement-based estimates may be too high while estimates from molecular dynamics simulations may be too low.

Restricted access
Zongheng Li
,
Jun Peng
,
Lifeng Zhang
, and
Jiping Guan

Abstract

Two global atmospheric circulation datasets (ERA5 and NCEP FNL) with horizontal resolutions of 0.25° × 0.25° are investigated in terms of kinetic energy (KE) spectra at 200 hPa (roughly between 11 and 12 km). The horizontal KE (HKE) in NCEP FNL is larger and flatter than that in ERA5 at subsynoptic scales and mesoscales. Restoring the energy of this wavenumber range to the physical space shows that the HKE in NCEP FNL is larger than that in ERA5 over most areas but smaller mainly in the Indo-Pacific warm pool. The spectral budgets show that at these scales, the positive contribution from net vertical flux in ERA5 is stronger than that in NCEP FNL, while the negative contribution from available potential energy (APE) conversion is smaller; assuming that the atmosphere is in a quasi-stationary state, more dissipation is found in ERA5 than in NCEP FNL, which should be responsible for the HKE spectrum in ERA5 to be steeper and weaker than that in NCEP FNL. Our formulation shows that the APE conversion and net vertical flux are related to the pressure vertical velocity (PVV). The APE conversion and net vertical flux differences between the two datasets, like the PVV difference, are mainly from the tropical region. At large scales, the vertical motion in ERA5 is larger than that in NCEP FNL. The amplitude differences of the PVV spectra between two datasets are consistent with those of the large-scale precipitation spectra associated with microphysics parameterizations. These results support that vertical motion is a key dynamical factor explaining energy discrepancies at mesoscales.

Significance Statement

The atmospheric kinetic energy spectrum reflects energy distribution characteristics in atmospheric motion at different scales. According to the Helmholtz decomposition, the horizontal wind field can be decomposed into two parts: rotational wind field and divergent wind field. We explore the dynamical causes of the atmospheric energy spectra differences among different datasets from the perspective of rotational and divergent components of motion. Our results reveal that the differences in energy spectra and their energy budget at scales below a few hundred kilometers are relatively significant in tropical regions and are closely related to vertical motion. A better understanding of the differences in kinetic energy spectra will contribute to the improvement of atmospheric models.

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Hao Fu
and
Morgan O’Neill

Abstract

What determines the vortex size at the small-amplitude stage of spontaneous tropical cyclogenesis remains unclear. A doubly periodic domain is a standard setup for numerically studying this problem, but the convectively coupled standing waves inherent to the setup could directly trigger vortices, rendering an unrealistic path for tropical cyclogenesis. We increase the Coriolis parameter to suppress the wave and double the longwave radiative feedback to make the more realistic moisture–radiation instability dominant. Experiments show that the moisture–radiation instability has a short-wavelength cutoff due to the smoothing effect of convective dynamics, which includes the nonlocal convective triggering by cold pools and the nonlocal longwave radiative effect of anvil clouds. By approximating the spread of convective activity as a Gaussian filter on the column humidity, we derive a bulk convective spreading length l cp+av to parameterize the combined effect of cold pools and anvils. Using a novel diagnostic method, l cp+av is shown to be around 10 km. The contribution of cold pools and anvil clouds to convective spreading is comparable in the doubled radiative feedback experiments. An extrapolation to the normal radiative feedback state shows the anvil clouds play a smaller yet nonnegligible role.

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Troy J. Zaremba
,
Robert M. Rauber
,
Kaylee Heimes
,
John E. Yorks
,
Joseph A. Finlon
,
Stephen D. Nicholls
,
Patrick Selmer
,
Lynn A. McMurdie
, and
Greg M. McFarquhar

Abstract

Cloud-top phase (CTP) impacts cloud albedo and pathways for ice particle nucleation, growth, and fallout within extratropical cyclones. This study uses airborne lidar, radar, and Rapid Refresh analysis data to characterize CTP within extratropical cyclones as a function of cloud-top temperature (CTT). During the 2020, 2022, and 2023 Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS) field campaign deployments, the Earth Resources 2 (ER-2) aircraft flew 26 research flights over the northeast and midwest United States to sample the cloud tops of a variety of extratropical cyclones. A training dataset was developed to create probabilistic phase classifications based on Cloud Physics Lidar measurements of known ice and liquid clouds. These classifications were then used to quantify dominant CTP in the top 150 m of clouds sampled by the Cloud Physics Lidar in storms during IMPACTS. Case studies are presented illustrating examples of supercooled liquid water at cloud top at different CTT ranges (−3° < CTTs < −35°C) within extratropical cyclones. During IMPACTS, 19.2% of clouds had supercooled liquid water present at cloud top. Supercooled liquid was the dominant phase in extratropical cyclone cloud tops when CTTs were >−20°C. Liquid-bearing cloud tops were found at CTTs as cold as −37°C.

Significance Statement

Identifying supercooled liquid cloud tops’ frequency is crucial for understanding ice nucleation mechanisms at cloud top, cloud radiative effects, and aircraft icing. In this study, airborne lidar, radar, and model temperature data from 26 research flights during the NASA IMPACTS campaign are used to characterize extratropical cyclone cloud-top phase (CTP) as a function of cloud-top temperature (CTT). The results show that liquid was the dominant CTP present in extratropical cyclone cloud tops when CTTs were >−20°C with decreasing supercooled liquid cloud-top frequency at temperatures < −20°C. Nevertheless, liquid was present at CTTs as cold as −37°C.

Open access
Vaughan T. J. Phillips

Abstract

Mixed-phase clouds contain both supercooled cloud liquid and ice crystals. In principle, precipitation may be initiated either by the liquid phase or by the ice phase. Ice crystals may grow by vapor diffusion to become snow (“ice crystal process”), forming “cold” precipitation. Equally, cloud droplets, when large enough, coalesce to form “warm” precipitation by the “warm rain process.” Warm rain could be supercooled and freeze as “warm” graupel. In the present paper, a new simplified theoretical analysis is provided to examine the microphysical system consisting of three species of hydrometeor, namely, cloud liquid, “cold ice” (crystals, snow), and “warm rain” (frozen or supercooled). This is obtained by nondimensionalizing and simplifying the evolution equations for the mass of each species. Analytical formulas are given for equilibria. Feedback analysis shows that the sign of the feedback is linked to the abundance of precipitation, with a neutral surface in the 3D phase space. The system’s precipitation amount explodes while in the initial unstable regime, crossing the neutral surface and approaching the equilibrium point that is a stable attractor. Positive and negative feedbacks are elucidated. In a standard case, the cold ice mass is about 1000 times larger than the warm rain mass. To illustrate the physical behavior of the theory, sensitivity tests are performed with respect to environmental conditions (e.g., aerosol, updraft speed) and microphysical parameters (e.g., riming and sedimentation rates for cold ice). Cold ice prevails, especially in fast ascent, due to its low bulk density, favoring slow sedimentation and a wide cross-sectional area for riming.

Significance Statement

The theory elucidates how the ice phase can prevail in the precipitation from any mixed-phase clouds with supercooled cloud liquid and crystals. The ice phase radically suppresses cloud liquid by riming when active and “wins” the competition against coalescence. This prevalence of ice is shown to arise from the low bulk density of snow. The cloud is viewed as a system of negative and positive feedbacks that prevail in realms of stability and instability in a 3D phase space.

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Xiping Zhang
,
Juan Fang
, and
Zifeng Yu

Abstract

Typhoon Hagupit (2020), which formed unexpectedly close to land, posed great challenges for forecasters. During its genesis, there was a westward-moving upper-tropospheric cold low (UTCL) to its north. This study investigated the impact of this UTCL on the genesis process using numerical simulations. In the semi-idealized experiment with this UTCL removed (run-Rcold), pre-Hagupit develops faster, but its track drifts southward in the later stage compared with the control experiment (run-cnl). In the experiment with enhanced UTCL (run-Ecold), the simulated track is similar to that in run-cnl, but pre-Hagupit does not develop into a tropical storm. In run-cnl and run-Ecold, the environmental vertical wind shear is larger than that in run-Rcold in the first 2 days, and the simulated pre-Hagupit experiences two prominent dry-air intrusions in the middle and upper troposphere. At the second intrusion, when the weakened UTCL has moved within 2° of pre-Hagupit, the convection in both experiments decays significantly, and the development of the midlevel vortex begins to lag behind that in run-Rcold, and so does the vertical alignment of the low- and midlevel vortices. The UTCL influences the movement of pre-Hagupit by modifying the large-scale steering flows, especially those above 600 hPa. In run-Rcold, due to the absence of the northward component of wind fields related to the UTCL circulation, pre-Hagupit starts to move west-northwestward instead of northwestward as in run-cnl and run-Ecold.

Significance Statement

Typhoon Hagupit (2020) got named near the 24-h warning line of China. TCs crossing this line are considered to have a significant impact on China within 24 h, or may make landfall within 24 h. After formation, Hagupit rapidly intensified to its peak intensity of 42 m s−1 in 48 h, and made landfall in Zhejiang Province at severe typhoon strength after another 8 h. Both the unexpected genesis and the rapid intensification of Hagupit posed great challenges for forecasters and deserve further investigation. This study focused on the genesis process. We noticed that there was a westward-moving upper-tropospheric cold low (UTCL) in the north during the formation of Hagupit. We have conducted three numerical experiments to investigate the impact of this UTCL on the genesis of Hagupit, and found that the UTCL is an important factor affecting the genesis process. It is detrimental to the vortex development. If the UTCL is removed, Hagupit will develop into a tropical storm more quickly, but its potential landfall point of Hagupit will shift from the southeast coast of China to the Philippines.

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