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Paul J. Roebber
,
Kevin M. Grise
, and
John R. Gyakum

Abstract

This study examines extratropical cyclone tracks, central pressure, and maximum intensification rates from a widely used automated cyclone tracking scheme and compares them with the manual tracking of five well-known North Atlantic cyclones whose histories are available in the refereed literature. The automated tracking scheme is applied to sea level pressure data from four different reanalyses of varying levels of sophistication to test the sensitivity of the results to input data resolution and quality. Further, we test the tracking scheme using lower-tropospheric vorticity obtained from the most recent reanalysis (ERA5) for four of these cyclone events. Substantial discrepancies in cyclone position, intensity, and maximum intensification rates exist between the manual tracking and the automated tracking and are not eliminated by using higher-resolution reanalyses or by “turning off” the spatial smoothing feature of the automated tracking scheme (needed to reduce spurious cyclone detections). The results point to a particular problem in detecting weaker and earlier stage cyclones and confirm findings from studies that have examined a broad range of cyclone tracking schemes for a range of reanalyses. Notably, this early cyclone stage often involves a smaller-scale secondary cyclogenesis or cyclone wave, which are detected by the automated scheme only after subsequent growth in the ensuing 6–12 h. It is known that these early stages are critical for a comprehensive understanding of rapid intensification events. A discussion of possible future solutions to this problem is presented.

Significance Statement

Because of the availability of large modern datasets portraying sea level pressure across the globe, meteorologists have turned to automated detection and tracking of midlatitude cyclones. Detection and tracking are of interest since these storm systems play an important role in weather and climate and potential changes in their location, frequency, and intensity are of considerable societal interest given climate change. This paper compares the results obtained from one commonly used automated tracking method with tracks obtained by human analysts. We find substantial discrepancies in cyclone position, intensity, and intensification rates and that these differences are not eliminated by using improved analyses. A discussion of possible future solutions is presented.

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Peiyun Zhu
,
Tianyi Li
,
Jeffrey D. Mirocha
,
Robert S. Arthur
,
Zhao Wu
, and
Oliver B. Fringer

Abstract

While numerous modeling studies have focused on the interaction of ocean surface waves with the atmospheric boundary layer, most employ idealized waves that are either monochromatic or synthetically generated from a theoretical wave spectrum, and the atmospheric solvers are typically incompressible. To study wind–wave coupling in real-world scenarios, a model that can simulate both realistic meteorological and wave conditions is necessary. In this paper we describe the implementation of a moving bottom boundary condition into the Weather Research and Forecasting Model for large-eddy simulation applications. We first describe the moving bottom boundary conditions within WRF’s pressure-based vertical coordinate system. We then validate our code with idealized test cases that have analytical solutions, including flow over a monochromatic wave with and without viscosity. Finally, we present results from turbulent flows over a moving monochromatic wave with different wave ages, and demonstrate satisfactory agreement of the wave growth rate with results from the literature. We also compare atmospheric stress and wind parameters from two physically equivalent cases. The first specifies a wind moving in the same direction as a propagating wave, while the second involves a stationary wave with the wind adjusted such that the wind relative to the wave is the same as in the first case. Results indicate that the velocity and Reynolds stress profiles for the two cases match, further validating the moving bottom implementation.

Open access
Jeremiah O. Piersante
,
Kristen L. Corbosiero
, and
Robert G. Fovell

Abstract

Radially outward-propagating, diurnal pulses in tropical cyclones (TCs) are associated with TC intensity and structural changes. The pulses are observed to feature either cloud-top cooling or warming, so-called cooling pulses (CPs) or warming pulses (WPs), respectively, with CPs posing a greater risk for hazardous weather because they often assume characteristics of tropical squall lines. The current study evaluates the characteristics and origins of simulated CPs using various convection-permitting Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model simulations of Hurricane Dorian (2019), which featured several CPs and WPs over the tropical Atlantic Ocean. CP evolution is tested against choice of microphysics parameterization, whereby the Thompson and Morrison schemes present distinct mechanisms for CP creation and propagation. Specifically, the Thompson CP is convectively coupled and propagates outward with a rainband within 100–300 km of the storm center. The Morrison CP is restricted to the cirrus canopy and propagates radially outward in the upper-level outflow layer, unassociated with any rainband, within 200–600 km of the storm center. The Thompson simulation better represents the observations of this particular event, but it is speculated that CPs in nature can resemble characteristics from either MP scheme. It is, therefore, necessary to evaluate pulses beyond just brightness temperature (e.g., reflectivity, rain rate), especially within simulations where full fields are available.

Significance Statement

Tropical cyclone size and structure are influenced by the time of day. Identifying and predicting such characteristics is critical for evaluating hazardous weather risk of storms close to land. While satellite observations are valuable for recognizing daily fluctuations of tropical cyclone clouds as seen from space, they do not reliably capture what occurs at the surface. To investigate the relationship between upper-level cloud oscillations and rainbands, this study analyzes simulations of a major hurricane along the coast of Florida. The results show that rainbands are not always tied to changes in cloud tops, suggesting multiple pathways toward the daily oscillation of upper-level tropical cyclone clouds.

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Rebekah Cavanagh
and
Eric C. J. Oliver

Abstract

Winter extratropical cyclones (ETCs) are dominant features of winter weather on the east coast of North America. These storms are characterized by high winds and heavy precipitation (rain, snow, and ice). ETCs are well predicted by numerical weather prediction models (NWPs) at short- to midrange forecast lead times, but prediction on seasonal time scales is lacking. We develop a set of multiple linear regression models, using stepwise regression and cross validation, to predict the number of storms expected to affect a specific location throughout the winter storm season. Each model in the set predicts a specific storm type (e.g., snow, rain, or bomb storms). This set of models is applied in a probabilistic forecast framework that uses the probability density function of the prediction in combination with climatological mean storm activity. The resulting forecast makes statements about the likelihood of below-average, average, or above-average activity for all storms and for each of the type-specific subsets of storms. Though this forecast framework could in theory be applied anywhere, we demonstrate its skill in forecasting the characteristics of the winter storm season experienced in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Significance Statement

Winter storms are a disruptive but inevitable part of life on the eastern coast of North America all the way from the Carolinas to Labrador. Knowing each fall what to expect for the upcoming winter storm season is not only a matter of public interest, but also of great public safety and financial importance. Here we develop a model that uses the state of the atmosphere over the month of September to forecast the upcoming winter storm characteristics for a specified region of interest. Our model uses a multiple linear regression approach to make skilled forecasts including probability statements about the level and type of storm activity. Forecasts can be used to inform planning for the winter ahead.

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Ewan Short
and
Todd P. Lane

Abstract

The realism of convective organization in operational convection-permitting model simulations is objectively assessed, with a particular focus on the mesoscale aspects, such as convective mode. A tracking and classification algorithm is applied to observed radar reflectivity and simulated radar reflectivity from the operational ACCESS-C convection-permitting forecast domain over northern Australia between October 2020 and May 2022, and the characteristics of real and simulated convective organization are compared. Mesoscale convective systems from the operational forecast model are approximately twice as likely to be oriented parallel to the ambient wind and ambient wind shear than those observed by radar, indicating a bias toward the “training line” systems typically associated with more extreme rainfall. During highly humid active monsoon conditions, simulated convective systems have larger ground-relative speeds than systems observed in radar. Although there is less than 5% difference between the ratios of simulated and observed trailing, leading and parallel stratiform system observations, significant differences exist in other wind shear–based classifications. For instance, in absolute terms, simulated systems are 10%–35% less likely to be upshear tilted, and 15%–30% less likely to be downshear propagating than observed systems, suggesting errors in simulated cold pool characteristics.

Significance Statement

Remarkable progress has been made simulating thunderstorms in operational weather forecasting computer models. While some details of individual storm clouds may be unrealistic, how these storm clouds self-organize, i.e., cluster and regenerate, can be explicitly simulated, with this organization often appearing realistic. However, assessing the realism of this organization in an objective, systematic way has proven challenging. Here we assess organized convection in Australia’s current high-resolution weather prediction model. In some respects, simulated storm clouds organize realistically. High-altitude icy cloud mostly trails behind groups of storm clouds in both simulations and reality. In other respects, organization is unrealistic. Simulated storm clouds are twice as likely to orient along the mean wind direction than in reality, likely contributing to extreme rainfall biases.

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Wahiba Lfarh
,
Florian Pantillon
, and
Jean-Pierre Chaboureau

Abstract

The devastating winds in extratropical cyclones can be assigned to different mesoscale flows. How these strong winds are transported to the surface is discussed for the Mediterranean windstorm Adrian (Vaia), which caused extensive damage in Corsica in October 2018. A mesoscale analysis based on a kilometer-scale simulation with the Meso-NH model shows that the strongest winds come from a cold conveyor belt (CCB). The focus then shifts to a large-eddy simulation (LES) for which the strongest winds over the sea are located in a convective boundary layer. Convection is organized into coherent turbulent structures in the form of convective rolls. It is their downward branches that contribute most to the nonlocal transport of strong winds from the CCB to the surface layer. On landing, the convective rolls break up because of the complex topography of Corsica. Sensitivity experiments to horizontal grid spacing show similar organization of boundary layer rolls across the resolution. A comparative analysis of the kinetic energy spectra suggests that a grid spacing of 200 m is sufficient to represent the vertical transport of strong winds through convective rolls. Contrary to LES, convective rolls are not resolved in the kilometer-scale simulation and surface winds are overestimated due to excessive momentum transport. These results highlight the importance of convective rolls for the generation of surface wind gusts and the need to better represent them in boundary layer parameterizations.

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Christopher D. Roberts
,
Magdalena A. Balmaseda
,
Laura Ferranti
, and
Frederic Vitart

Abstract

This study combines operational reforecasts (2001–21) with results from a lower-resolution 41-yr reforecast (1980–2020) to provide a robust assessment of wintertime Euro-Atlantic regimes and their modulation by tropospheric and stratospheric teleconnection pathways in the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Subseasonal to Seasonal Prediction project (S2S). In both operational and lower-resolution reforecasts, the climatological properties of wintertime Euro-Atlantic regimes, including regime structures, frequencies, and transition probabilities, are accurately simulated at S2S lead times. However, the 41-yr reforecasts allow us to diagnose substantial errors in regime statistics when conditioned on modes of intraseasonal-to-interannual variability. In particular, ECMWF reforecasts underestimate the response of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) to the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) and fail to reproduce the modulation of MJO–NAO teleconnections by El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Teleconnection and atmospheric wave diagnostics highlight two specific issues that are likely to contribute to these conditional errors in ECMWF reforecasts: (i) insufficient propagation of Rossby wave activity from the Pacific to the Atlantic following MJO phase 3 during El Niño conditions, when the direct tropospheric teleconnection pathway is most active; and (ii) an underestimated response of the stratospheric polar vortex following MJO phase 8 during La Niña conditions, when the indirect stratospheric teleconnection pathway is most active. Improving the representation of tropospheric and stratospheric teleconnection pathways is thus a priority for improving ECMWF forecasts of extratropical weather regimes and their associated surface impacts.

Significance Statement

Subseasonal to Seasonal Prediction project (S2S) forecasts are used operationally at ECMWF to provide early warning of cold conditions in Europe associated with persistent large-scale circulation patterns known as weather regimes. On average, ECMWF reforecasts accurately simulate wintertime Euro-Atlantic regime structures and frequencies at S2S lead times. However, regime forecasts show substantial errors when we restrict our analysis to certain phases of intraseasonal and interannual variability, such as El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). These errors are related to deficiencies in the simulated response of weather regimes to well-predicted variability in the tropics. Improving the representation of such tropical–extratropical teleconnections will improve predictions of extratropical weather regimes and their associated surface impacts.

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Jeffrey L. Anderson

Abstract

Traditional ensemble Kalman filter data assimilation methods make implicit assumptions of Gaussianity and linearity that are strongly violated by many important Earth system applications. For instance, bounded quantities like the amount of a tracer and sea ice fractional coverage cannot be accurately represented by a Gaussian that is unbounded by definition. Nonlinear relations between observations and model state variables abound. Examples include the relation between a remotely sensed radiance and the column of atmospheric temperatures, or the relation between cloud amount and water vapor quantity. Part I of this paper described a very general data assimilation framework for computing observation increments for non-Gaussian prior distributions and likelihoods. These methods can respect bounds and other non-Gaussian aspects of observed variables. However, these benefits can be lost when observation increments are used to update state variables using the linear regression that is part of standard ensemble Kalman filter algorithms. Here, regression of observation increments is performed in a space where variables are transformed by the probit and probability integral transforms, a specific type of Gaussian anamorphosis. This method can enforce appropriate bounds for all quantities and deal much more effectively with nonlinear relations between observations and state variables. Important enhancements like localization and inflation can be performed in the transformed space. Results are provided for idealized bivariate distributions and for cycling assimilation in a low-order dynamical system. Implications for improved data assimilation across Earth system applications are discussed.

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Samuel K. Degelia
,
Xuguang Wang
,
Yongming Wang
, and
Aaron Johnson

Abstract

The Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) aboard the GOES-16 and GOES-17 satellites provides high-resolution observations of cloud structures that could be highly beneficial for convective-scale DA. However, only clear-air radiance observations are typically assimilated at operational centers due to a variety of problems associated with cloudy radiance data. As such, many questions remain about how to best assimilate all-sky radiance data, especially when using hybrid DA systems such as EnVar wherein a nonlinear observation operator can lead to cost function gradient imbalance and slow minimization. Here, we develop new methods for assimilating all-sky radiance observations in EnVar using the novel Rapid Refresh Forecasting System (RRFS) that utilizes the Finite-Volume Cubed-Sphere (FV3) model. We first modify the EnVar solver by directly including brightness temperature (Tb ) as a state variable. This modification improves the balance of the cost function gradient and speeds up minimization. Including Tb as a state variable also improves the model fit to observations and increases forecast skill compared to utilizing a standard state vector configuration. We also evaluate the impact of assimilating ABI all-sky radiances in RRFS for a severe convective event in the central Great Plains. Assimilating the radiance observations results in better spinup of a tornadic supercell. These data also aid in suppressing spurious convection by reducing the snow hydrometeor content near the tropopause and weakening spurious anvil clouds. The all-sky radiance observations pair well with reflectivity observations that remove primarily liquid hydrometeors (i.e., rain) closer to the surface. Additionally, the benefits of assimilating the ABI observations continue into the forecast period, especially for localized convective events.

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Nathalie G. Rivera-Torres
,
Kristen L. Corbosiero
, and
Brian H. Tang

Abstract

The conditions associated with tropical cyclones undergoing downshear reformation are explored for the North Atlantic basin from 1998 to 2020. These storms were compared to analog tropical cyclones with similar intensity, vertical wind shear, and maximum potential intensity, but did not undergo downshear reformation. Storm-centered, shear-relative composites were generated using ERA5 and GridSat-B1 data. Downshear reformation predominately occurs for tropical cyclones of tropical storm intensity embedded in moderate vertical wind shear. A comparison between composites suggests that reformed storms are characterized by greater low-level and midtropospheric relative humidity downshear, larger surface latent heat fluxes downshear and left of shear, and larger low-level equivalent potential temperatures and CAPE right of shear. These factors increase thermodynamic favorability, building a reservoir of potential energy and decreasing dry air entrainment, promoting sustained convection downshear, and favoring the development of a new center.

Significance Statement

The development of a new low-level circulation center in tropical cyclones that replaces the original center, called downshear reformation, can affect the structure and intensity of storms, representing a challenge in forecasting tropical cyclones. While there have been a handful of case studies on downshear reformation, this study aims to more comprehensively understand the conditions that favor downshear reformation by comparing a large set of North Atlantic tropical cyclones that underwent reformation with a similar set of tropical cyclones that did not undergo reformation. Tropical cyclones that undergo reformation have a moister environment, larger surface evaporation, and higher low-level instability in specific regions that help sustain deep, downshear convection that favors the development of a new center.

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