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  • Air–Sea Interactions from the Diurnal to the Intraseasonal during the PISTON, MISOBOB, and CAMP2Ex Observational Campaigns in the Tropics x
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B. Praveen Kumar, Eric D’Asaro, N. Sureshkumar, E. Pattabhi Rama Rao, and M. Ravichandran

Abstract

We use profiles from a Lagrangian float in the north Indian Ocean to explore the usefulness of Thorpe analysis methods to measure vertical scales and dissipation rates in the ocean surface boundary layer. An rms Thorpe length scale L T and an energy dissipation rate ε T were computed by resorting the measured density profiles. These are compared to the mixed layer depth (MLD) computed with different density thresholds, the Monin–Obukhov (MO) length L MO computed from the ERA5 reanalysis values of wind stress, and buoyancy flux B 0 and dissipation rates ε from historical microstructure data. The Thorpe length scale L T is found to accurately match MLD for small (<0.005 kg m−3) density thresholds, but not for larger thresholds, because these do not detect the warm diurnal layers. We use ξ = L T/|L MO| to classify the boundary layer turbulence during nighttime convection. In our data, 90% of points from the Bay of Bengal (Arabian Sea) satisfy ξ < 1 (1 < ξ <10), indicating that wind forcing is (both wind forcing and convection are) driving the turbulence. Over the measured range of ξ, ε T decreases with decreasing ξ, i.e., more wind forcing, while ε increases, clearly showing that ε/ε T decreases with increasing ξ. This is explained by a new scaling for ξ ≪ 1, ε T = 1.15B 0 ξ 0.5 compared to the historical scaling ε = 0.64B 0 + 1.76ξ −1. For ξ ≪ 1 we expect ε = ε T. Similar calculations may be possible using routine Argo float and ship data, allowing more detailed global measurements of ε T, thereby providing large-scale tests of turbulence scaling in boundary layers.

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Kyle Chudler and Steven A. Rutledge

Abstract

The Propagation of Intraseasonal Oscillations (PISTON) field campaign took place in the waters of the western tropical North Pacific during the late summer and early fall of 2018 and 2019. During both research cruises, the Colorado State University SEA-POL polarimetric C-band weather radar obtained continuous 3D measurements of oceanic precipitation systems. This study provides an overview of the variability in convection observed during the PISTON cruises, and relates this variability to large-scale atmospheric conditions. Using an objective classification algorithm, precipitation features are identified and labeled by their size (isolated, sub-MCS, MCS) and degree of convective organization (nonlinear, linear). It is shown that although large mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) occurred infrequently (present in 13% of radar scans), they contributed a disproportionately large portion (56%) of the total rain volume. Conversely, small isolated features were present in 91% of scans, yet these features contributed just 11% of the total rain volume, with the bulk of the rainfall owing to warm rain production. Convective rain rates and 30-dBZ echo-top heights increased with feature size and degree of organization. MCSs occurred more frequently in periods of low-level southwesterly winds, and when low-level wind shear was enhanced. By compositing radar and sounding data by phases of easterly waves (of which there were several in 2018), troughs are shown to be associated with increased precipitation and a higher relative frequency of MCS feature occurrence, while ridges are shown to be associated with decreased precipitation and a higher relative frequency of isolated convective features.

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Benjamin C. Trabing and Michael M. Bell

Abstract

A growing body of work has documented the existence of diurnal oscillations in the tropical cyclone outflow layer. These diurnal pulses have been examined primarily using satellites or numerical models, and detailed full tropospheric observations or case study analyses of diurnal pulses are lacking. Questions remain on the vertical extent of diurnal pulses and whether diurnal pulses are coupled to convective bands or constrained to the outflow layer. During the Propagation of Intraseasonal Tropical Oscillations (PISTON) field campaign, diurnal oscillations in the upper-level clouds were observed during Typhoon Kong-rey’s (2018) rapid intensification. Over a 3.5-day period where a broad distribution of cold upper-level clouds was overhead, detailed observations of Typhoon Kong-rey’s rainbands show that convection had reduced echo tops but enhanced reflectivity and differential reflectivity aloft compared to other observations during PISTON. Shortwave heating in the upper levels increased the stability profile in an overall favorable thermodynamic environment for convection during the day, which could help to explain the diurnal differences in convective structure. Under the cirrus canopy, nocturnal convection was deeper and daytime convection shallower in contrast to the rest of the PISTON dataset. Diurnal oscillations in the brightness temperatures were found to be coupled to radially outward propagating convective rainbands that were preceded ~6 h by outflow jets. The cooling pulses occurred earlier than found in previous studies. The pulses were asymmetric spatially, which is likely due to a combination of the vertical wind shear and storm intensity.

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Kenneth G. Hughes, James N. Moum, Emily L. Shroyer, and William D. Smyth

Abstract

In low winds (2 m s−1), diurnal warm layers form, but shear in the near-surface jet is too weak to generate shear instability and mixing. In high winds (8 m s−1), surface heat is rapidly mixed downward and diurnal warm layers do not form. Under moderate winds of 3–5 m s−1, the jet persists for several hours in a state that is susceptible to shear instability. We observe low Richardson numbers of Ri ≈ 0.1 in the top 2 m between 1000 and 1600 local time (LT) (from 4 h after sunrise to 2 h before sunset). Despite Ri being well below the Ri = ¼ threshold, instabilities do not grow quickly, nor do they overturn. The stabilizing influence of the sea surface limits growth, a result demonstrated by both linear stability analysis and two-dimensional simulations initialized from observed profiles. In some cases, growth rates are sufficiently small (≪1 h−1) that mixing is not expected even though Ri < ¼. This changes around 1600–1700 LT. Thereafter, convective cooling causes the region of unstable flow to move downward, away from the surface. This allows shear instabilities to grow an order-of-magnitude faster and mix effectively. We corroborate the overall observed diurnal cycle of instability with a freely evolving, two-dimensional simulation that is initialized from rest before sunrise.

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C. A. Luecke, H. W. Wijesekera, E. Jarosz, D. W. Wang, J. C. Wesson, S. U. P. Jinadasa, H. J. S. Fernando, and W. J. Teague

Abstract

Long-term measurements of turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate (ε), and turbulent temperature variance dissipation rate (χ T) in the thermocline, along with currents, temperature, and salinity were made at two subsurface moorings in the southern Bay of Bengal (BoB). This is a part of a major international program, conducted between July 2018 and June 2019, for investigating the role of the BoB on the monsoon intraseasonal oscillations. One mooring was located on the typical path of the Southwest Monsoon Current (SMC), and the other was in a region where the Sri Lanka dome is typically found during the summer monsoon. Microstructure and finescale estimates of vertical diffusivity revealed the long-term subthermocline mixing patterns in the southern BoB. Enhanced turbulence and large eddy diffusivities were observed within the SMC during the passage of a subsurface-intensified anticyclonic eddy. During this time, background shear and strain appeared to influence high-frequency motions such as near-inertial waves and internal tides, leading to increased mixing. Near the Sri Lanka dome, enhanced dissipation occurred at the margins of the cyclonic feature. Turbulent mixing was enhanced with the passage of Rossby waves and eddies. During these events, values of χ T exceeding 10−4 °C2 s−1 were recorded concurrently with ε values exceeding 10−5 W kg−1. Inferred diffusivity peaked well above background values of 10−6 m2 s−1, leading to an annually averaged diffusivity near 10−4 m2 s−1. Turbulence appeared low throughout much of the deployment period. Most of the mixing occurred in spurts during isolated events.

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Adam H. Sobel, Janet Sprintall, Eric D. Maloney, Zane K. Martin, Shuguang Wang, Simon P. de Szoeke, Benjamin C. Trabing, and Steven A. Rutledge

Abstract

The Propagation of Intraseasonal Tropical Oscillations (PISTON) experiment conducted a field campaign in August–October 2018. The R/V Thomas G. Thompson made two cruises in the western North Pacific region north of Palau and east of the Philippines. Using select field observations and global observational and reanalysis datasets, this study describes the large-scale state and evolution of the atmosphere and ocean during these cruises. Intraseasonal variability was weak during the field program, except for a period of suppressed convection in October. Tropical cyclone activity, on the other hand, was strong. Variability at the ship location was characterized by periods of low-level easterly atmospheric flow with embedded westward propagating synoptic-scale atmospheric disturbances, punctuated by periods of strong low-level westerly winds that were both connected to the Asian monsoon westerlies and associated with tropical cyclones. In the most dramatic case, westerlies persisted for days during and after tropical cyclone Jebi had passed to the north of the ship. In these periods, the sea surface temperature was reduced by a couple of degrees by both wind mixing and net surface heat fluxes that were strongly (~200 W m−2) out of the ocean, due to both large latent heat flux and cloud shading associated with widespread deep convection. Underway conductivity–temperature transects showed dramatic cooling and deepening of the ocean mixed layer and erosion of the barrier layer after the passage of Typhoon Mangkhut due to entrainment of cooler water from below. Strong zonal currents observed over at least the upper 400 m were likely related to the generation and propagation of near-inertial currents.

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Simon P. de Szoeke

Abstract

A small integrated oceanographic thermometer with a nominal response time of 1 s was affixed to a floating hose “sea snake” towed near the bow of a research vessel. The sensor measured the near-surface ocean temperature accurately and in agreement with other platforms. The effect of conduction and evaporation is modeled for a sensor impulsively alternated between water and air. Large thermal mass makes most sea snake thermometers insensitive to temperature impulses. The smaller 1-s thermometer cooled by evaporation, but the sensor never reached the wet-bulb temperature. The cooling was less than 6% of the (~2.7°C) difference between the ocean temperature and the wet-bulb temperature in 99% of 2-s−1 samples. Filtering outliers, such as with a median, effectively removes the evaporative cooling effect from 1- or 10-min average temperatures.

Open access
Kyle Chudler, Weixin Xu, and Steven A. Rutledge

Abstract

During the boreal summer, satellite-based precipitation estimates indicate a distinct maximum in rainfall off the west coast of the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Also occurring during the summer months is the boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation (BSISO), a main driver of intraseasonal variability in the region. This study investigates the diurnal variability of convective intensity, morphology, and precipitation coverage offshore and over the island of Luzon. The results are then composited by BSISO activity. Results of this study indicate that offshore precipitation is markedly increased during active BSISO phases, when strong low-level southwesterly monsoon winds bring increased moisture and enhanced convergence upwind of the island’s high terrain. A key finding of this work is the existence of an afternoon maximum in convection over Luzon even during active BSISO phases, when solar heating and instability are apparently reduced due to enhanced cloud cover. This result is important, as previous studies have shown in other areas of the tropics afternoon convection over landmasses is a key component to offshore precipitation. Although offshore precipitation is maximized in the evening hours during active phases, results indicate that precipitation frequently occurs over the ocean around the clock (both as organized systems and isolated, shallow showers), possibly owing to an increase in sensible and latent heat fluxes, vertical wind shear, and convergence of the monsoon flow with land features.

Free access
Benjamin A. Toms, Susan C. van den Heever, Emily M. Riley Dellaripa, Stephen M. Saleeby, and Eric D. Maloney

Abstract

While the boreal summer Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is commonly defined as a planetary-scale disturbance, the convective elements that constitute its cloud dipole exhibit pronounced variability in their morphology. We therefore investigate the relationship between the intraseasonal cloud anomaly of the MJO and the convective elements that populate its interior by simulating a boreal summer MJO event over the Maritime Continent using a cloud-resolving model. A progressive relationship between convective cell morphology and the MJO within the convectively enhanced region of the MJO was identified and characterized as follows: anomalously long-lasting cells in the initial phases, followed by an increased number of cells in the intermediate phases, progressing into more expansive cells in the terminal phases. A progressive relationship does not seem to exist within the convectively suppressed region of the MJO within the simulated domain, however. Within the convectively enhanced region of the MJO, the progressive relationship is partially explained by the evolution of bulk atmospheric characteristics, such as instability and wind shear. Positive midlevel moisture anomalies coincide with anomalously long-lasting convective cells, which is hypothesized to further cascade into an increase in convective cell volume, although variability in the number of convective cells seems to be related to an unidentified variable. This intraseasonal relationship between convective cell morphology and the boreal summer MJO within the Maritime Continent may have broader implications for the large-scale structure and evolution of the MJO, related to both convective moistening and cloud-radiative feedbacks.

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Kenneth G. Hughes, James N. Moum, and Emily L. Shroyer

Abstract

The daily formation of near-surface ocean stratification caused by penetrating solar radiation modifies heat fluxes through the air–sea interface, turbulence dissipation in the mixed layer, and the vertical profile of lateral transport. The transport is altered because momentum from wind is trapped in a thin near-surface layer, the diurnal warm layer. We investigate the dynamics of this layer, with particular attention to the vertical shear of horizontal velocity. We first develop a quantitative link between the near-surface shear components that relates the crosswind component to the inertial turning of the along-wind component. Three days of high-resolution velocity observations confirm this relation. Clear colocation of shear and stratification with Richardson numbers near 0.25 indicate marginal instability. Idealized numerical modeling is then invoked to extrapolate below the observed wind speeds. This modeling, together with a simple energetic scaling analysis, provides a rule of thumb that the diurnal shear evolves differently above and below a 2 m s−1 wind speed, with limited sensitivity of this threshold to latitude and mean net surface heat flux. Only above this wind speed is the energy input sufficient to overcome the stabilizing buoyancy flux and thereby induce marginal instability. The differing shear regimes explain differences in the timing and magnitude of diurnal sea surface temperature anomalies.

Free access