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Mark A. Smalley
,
Matthew D. Lebsock
, and
Joao Teixeira

Abstract

While GCM horizontal resolution has received the majority of scale improvements in recent years, ample evidence suggests that a model’s vertical resolution exerts a strong control on its ability to accurately simulate the physics of the marine boundary layer. Here we show that, regardless of parameter tuning, the ability of a single-column model (SCM) to simulate the subtropical marine boundary layer improves when its vertical resolution is improved. We introduce a novel objective tuning technique to optimize the parameters of an SCM against profiles of temperature and moisture and their turbulent fluxes, horizontal winds, cloud water, and rainwater from large-eddy simulations (LES). We use this method to identify optimal parameters for simulating marine stratocumulus and shallow cumulus. The novel tuning method utilizes an objective performance metric that accounts for the uncertainty in the LES output, including the covariability between model variables. Optimization is performed independently for different vertical grid spacings and value of time step, ranging from coarse scales often used in current global models (120 m, 180 s) to fine scales often used in parameterization development and large-eddy simulations (10 m, 15 s). Uncertainty-weighted disagreement between the SCM and LES decreases by a factor of ∼5 when vertical grid spacing is improved from 120 to 10 m, with time step reductions being of secondary importance. Model performance is shown to converge at a vertical grid spacing of 20 m, with further refinements to 10 m leading to little further improvement.

Significance Statement

In successive generations of computer models that simulate Earth’s atmosphere, improvements have been mainly accomplished by reducing the horizontal sizes of discretized grid boxes, while the vertical grid spacing has seen comparatively lesser refinements. Here we advocate for additional attention to be paid to the number of vertical layers in these models, especially in the model layers closest to Earth’s surface where climatologically important marine stratocumulus and shallow cumulus clouds reside. Our experiments show that the ability of a one-dimensional model to represent physical processes important to these clouds is strongly dependent on the model’s vertical grid spacing.

Open access
Michael J. Hosek
,
Conrad L. Ziegler
,
Michael I. Biggerstaff
,
Todd A. Murphy
, and
Zhien Wang

Abstract

This case study analyzes a tornadic supercell observed in northeast Louisiana as part of the Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment Southeast (VORTEX-SE) on 6–7 April 2018. One mobile research radar (SR1-P), one WSR-88D equivalent (KULM), and two airborne radars (TAFT and TFOR) have sampled the storm at close proximity for ∼70 min through its mature phase, tornadogenesis at 2340 UTC, and dissipation and subsequent ingestion into a developing MCS segment. The 4D wind field and reflectivity from up to four Doppler analyses, combined with 4D diabatic Lagrangian analysis (DLA) retrievals, has enabled kinematic and thermodynamic analysis of storm-scale boundaries leading up to, during, and after the dissipation of the NWS-surveyed EF0 tornado. The kinematic and thermodynamic analyses reveal a transient current of low-level streamwise vorticity leading into the low-level supercell updraft, appearing similar to the streamwise vorticity current (SVC) that has been identified in supercell simulations and previously observed only kinematically. Vorticity dynamical calculations demonstrate that both baroclinity and horizontal stretching play significant roles in the generation and amplification of streamwise vorticity associated with this SVC. While the SVC does not directly feed streamwise vorticity to the tornado–cyclone, its development coincides with tornadogenesis and an intensification of the supercell’s main low-level updraft, although a causal relationship is unclear. Although the mesoscale environment is not high-shear/low-CAPE (HSLC), the updraft of the analyzed supercell shares some similarities to past observations and simulations of HSLC storms in the Southeast United States, most notably a pulse-like updraft that is maximized in the low- to midlevels of the storm.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to analyze the airflow and thermodynamics of a highly observed tornado-producing supercell. While computer simulations can provide us with highly detailed looks at the complicated evolution of supercells, it is rare, due to the difficulty of data collection, to collect enough data to perform a highly detailed analysis on a particular supercell, especially in the Southeast United States. We identified a “current” of vorticity—rotating wind—that develops at the intersection of the supercell’s rain-cooled outflow and warm inflow, similar to previous simulations. This vorticity current develops and feeds the storm’s updraft as its tornado develops and the storm intensifies, although it does not directly enter the tornado.

Restricted access
Xin Li
,
Xiaolei Zou
,
Mingjian Zeng
,
Xiaoyong Zhuge
, and
Weiguang Liu

Abstract

In this study, a new way to assimilate clear-sky Advanced Himawari Imager (AHI) surface-sensitive brightness temperature (TB) observations over land is investigated for improving quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPFs) in eastern China. To alleviate problems arising from inaccurate surface temperature in radiance simulations, surface station observations of land surface skin temperature (LSST) together with conventional and AMSU-A observations are assimilated to improve AHI surface-sensitive TB simulations of the Community Radiative Transfer Model (CRTM) before AHI data assimilation. First, the Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI) three-dimensional variational (3DVar) system is updated with the additional control variable of surface temperature and its background error covariances. Second, surface temperature and emissivity sensitivity checks are designed for the quality control of the surface-sensitive AHI channels. Finally, the impacts of a two-time data assimilation strategy are assessed for a local convection rainfall case and a synoptic-scale precipitation case. The experiment in which AHI data are assimilated after assimilating LSST data (ExpL2) outperforms the traditional experiment in which the LSST is not updated (ExpL) in terms of its 24-h QPF skill score. A better description of atmospheric instability and moisture convergence forcing is obtained in ExpL2 than in ExpL. Both experiments show additional low-level temperature and humidity adjustments compared to the experiment that does not assimilate AHI surface-sensitive channels (ExpNL). Lower AHI TB simulation biases are found in the ExpL2 experiment, which improve the analyzed field and subsequent QPFs. The results in this study suggest the importance of proper utilization of LSST observations for AHI surface-sensitive TB assimilations over land.

Restricted access
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.

Restricted access
Douglas Schuster
and
Michael Friedman
Open access
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.

Restricted access
Free access
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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