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Fabian Hoffmann and Graham Feingold

Abstract

Marine cloud brightening (MCB) has been proposed as a viable way to counteract global warming by artificially increasing the albedo and lifetime of clouds via deliberate seeding of aerosol particles. Stratocumulus decks, which cover wide swaths of Earth’s surface, are considered the primary target for this geoengineering approach. The macroscale properties of this cloud type exhibit a high sensitivity to cloud microphysics, exposing the potential for undesired changes in cloud optical properties in response to MCB. In this study, we apply a highly detailed Lagrangian cloud model, coupled to an idealized parcel model as well as a full three-dimensional large-eddy simulation model, to show that the choice of seeded particle size distribution is crucial to the success of MCB, and that its efficacy can be significantly reduced by undesirable microphysical processes. The presence of even a small number of large particles in the seeded size spectrum may trigger significant precipitation, which will reduce cloud water and may even break up the cloud deck, reducing the scene albedo and hence counteracting MCB. On the other hand, a seeded spectrum comprising a large number of small particles reduces the fraction of activated cloud droplets and increases entrainment and evaporation of cloud water, which also reduces the efficiency of MCB. In between, there may exist an aerosol size distribution that minimizes undesirable microphysical processes and enables optimal MCB. This optimal size distribution is expected to be case dependent.

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John M. Peters and Daniel R. Chavas

Abstract

It is often assumed in parcel theory calculations, numerical models, and cumulus parameterizations that moist static energy (MSE) is adiabatically conserved. However, the adiabatic conservation of MSE is only approximate because of the assumption of hydrostatic balance. Two alternative variables are evaluated here: MSE − IB and MSE + KE, wherein IB is the path integral of buoyancy (B) and KE is kinetic energy. Both of these variables relax the hydrostatic assumption and are more precisely conserved than MSE. This article quantifies the errors that result from assuming that the aforementioned variables are conserved in large-eddy simulations (LES) of both disorganized and organized deep convection. Results show that both MSE − IB and MSE + KE better predict quantities along trajectories than MSE alone. MSE − IB is better conserved in isolated deep convection, whereas MSE − IB and MSE + KE perform comparably in squall-line simulations. These results are explained by differences between the pressure perturbation behavior of squall lines and isolated convection. Errors in updraft B diagnoses are universally minimized when MSE − IB is assumed to be adiabatically conserved, but only when moisture dependencies of heat capacity and temperature dependency of latent heating are accounted for. When less accurate latent heat and heat capacity formulae were used, MSE − IB yielded poorer B predictions than MSE due to compensating errors. Our results suggest that various applications would benefit from using either MSE − IB or MSE + KE instead of MSE with properly formulated heat capacities and latent heats.

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Victor M. Torres, Chris D. Thorncroft, and Nicholas M. J. Hall

Abstract

This paper explores a new mechanism for in situ genesis of easterly waves (EWs) over the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean (EPAC). Using an idealized primitive equation model, it is shown that EWs can be triggered by finite-amplitude transient heating close to the midlevel jet at about 15°N over the EPAC and intra-Americas sea region. The atmospheric response to heating initiates EWs downstream, showing an EW structure within 4 days, with a wavelength and propagation speed of about 2000 km and 4.6 m s−1, respectively, resembling EWs described in the literature. The most sensitive location for EW initiation from finite-amplitude transient heating is located over the northern part of South America and extends to the EPAC. The closer the heating is to the jet, the bigger the response is. A stratiform heating profile is the most efficient at triggering EPAC EWs. Comparisons of simulated EWs over the EPAC and West Africa reveal similar structures but with a shorter wavelength and much weaker amplitudes over the EPAC. EPAC EWs are dominated by horizontal tilts against the shear on the equatorial side of the jet, consistent with barotropic growth, with weaker low-level amplitudes relative to those seen over West Africa. These differences arise from differences in the mean state EPAC having a shorter and weaker midlevel jet with less baroclinicity.

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Vaughan T. J. Phillips

Abstract

Ice multiplication by fragmentation during collision–freezing of supercooled rain or drizzle is investigated. A zero-dimensional dynamical system describes the time evolution of number densities of supercooled drops and ice crystals in a mixed-phase cloud. The characteristic time scale for this collision–freezing ice fragmentation is controlled by the collision efficiency, the number of ice fragments per freezing event, and the available number concentration of supercooled drops. The rate of the process is proportional to the number of supercooled drops available. Thus, ice may multiply extensively, even when the fragmentation number per freezing event is relatively small. The ratio of total numbers of ice particles to those from the first ice, namely, the “ice-enhancement factor,” is controlled both by the number of fragments per freezing event and by the available number concentration of supercooled drops in a similar manner. Especially, when ice fragmentation by freezing of supercooled drops is considered in isolation, the number of originally existing supercooled drops multiplied by the fragmentation number per freezing event yields the eventual number of ice crystals. When supercooled drops are continuously generated by coalescence, ice crystals from freezing fragmentation also continuously increase asymptotically at a rate equal to the generation rate of supercooled drops multiplied by the fragmentation number per freezing event. All these results are expressed by simple analytical forms, thanks to the simplicity of the theoretical model. These parameters can practically be used as a means for characterizing observed mixed-phase clouds.

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Marcus Klingebiel, Heike Konow, and Bjorn Stevens

Abstract

Mass flux is a key quantity in parameterizations of shallow convection. To estimate the shallow convective mass flux as accurately as possible, and to test these parameterizations, observations of this parameter are necessary. In this study, we show how much the mass flux varies and how this can be used to test factors that may be responsible for its variation. Therefore, we analyze long-term Doppler radar and Doppler lidar measurements at the Barbados Cloud Observatory over a time period of 30 months, which results in a mean mass flux profile with a peak value of 0.03 kg m−2 s−1 at an altitude of ~730 m, similar to observations from Ghate et al. at the Azores Islands. By combining Doppler radar and Doppler lidar measurements, we find that the cloud-base mass flux depends mainly on the cloud fraction and refutes an idea based on large-eddy simulations that the velocity scale is in major control of the shallow cumulus mass flux. This indicates that the large-scale conditions might play a more important role than what one would deduce from simulations using prescribed large-scale forcings.

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Fiaz Ahmed

Abstract

Linearized wave solutions on the equatorial beta plane are examined in the presence of a background meridional moisture gradient. Of interest is a slow, eastward-propagating n = 1 mode that is unstable at planetary scales and only exists for a small range of zonal wavenumbers (6). The mode dispersion curve appears as an eastward extension of the westward-propagating equatorial Rossby wave solution. This mode is therefore termed the eastward-propagating equatorial Rossby wave (ERW). The zonal wavenumber-2 ERW horizontal structure consists of a low-level equatorial convergence center flanked by quadrupole off-equatorial gyres, and resembles the horizontal structure of the observed MJO. An analytic, leading-order dispersion relationship for the ERW shows that meridional moisture advection imparts eastward propagation, and that the smallness of a gross moist stability–like parameter contributes to the slow phase speed. The ERW is unstable near planetary scales when low-level easterlies moisten the column. This moistening could come from either zonal moisture advection or surface fluxes or a combination thereof. When westerlies instead moisten the column, the ERW is damped and the westward-propagating long Rossby wave is unstable. The ERW does not exist when the meridional moisture gradient is too weak. A moist static energy budget analysis shows that the ERW scale selection is partly due to finite-time-scale convective adjustment and less effective zonal wind–induced moistening at smaller scales. Similarities in the phase speed, preferred scale, and horizontal structure suggest that the ERW is a beta-plane analog of the MJO.

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Dehai Luo and Wenqi Zhang

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of the meridional and vertical structures of a preexisting upstream storm track (PUST) organized by preexisting synoptic-scale eddies on eddy-driven blocking in a nonlinear multiscale interaction model. In this model, the blocking is assumed, based on observations, to be comprised of barotropic and first baroclinic modes, whereas the PUST consists of barotropic, first baroclinic, and second baroclinic modes. It is found that the nonlinearity (dispersion) of blocking is intensified (weakened) with increasing amplitude of the first baroclinic mode of the blocking itself. The blocking tends to be long lived in this case. The lifetime and strength of blocking are significantly influenced by the amplitude of the first baroclinic mode of blocking for given basic westerly winds (BWWs), whereas its spatial pattern and evolution are also affected by the meridional and vertical structures of the PUST. It is shown that the blocking mainly results from the transient eddy forcing induced by the barotropic and first baroclinic modes of PUST, whereas its second baroclinic mode contributes little to the transient eddy forcing. When the PUST shifts northward, eddy-driven blocking shows an asymmetric dipole structure with a strong anticyclone–weak cyclone in a uniform BWW, which induces northward-intensified westerly jet and storm-track anomalies mainly on the north side of blocking. However, when the PUST has no meridional shift and is mainly located in the upper troposphere, a north–south antisymmetric dipole blocking and an intensified split jet with maximum amplitude in the upper troposphere form easily for vertically varying BWWs without meridional shear.

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David C. Fritts, Thomas S. Lund, Kam Wan, and Han-Li Liu

Abstract

A companion paper by Lund et al. employed a compressible model to describe the evolution of mountain waves arising due to increasing flow with time over the southern Andes, their breaking, secondary gravity waves and acoustic waves arising from these dynamics, and their local responses. This paper describes the mountain wave, secondary gravity wave, and acoustic wave vertical fluxes of horizontal momentum, and the local and large-scale three-dimensional responses to gravity breaking and wave–mean-flow interactions accompanying this event. Mountain wave and secondary gravity wave momentum fluxes and deposition vary strongly in space and time due to variable large-scale winds and spatially localized mountain wave and secondary gravity wave responses. Mountain wave instabilities accompanying breaking induce strong, local, largely zonal forcing. Secondary gravity waves arising from mountain wave breaking also interact strongly with large-scale winds at altitudes above ~80 km. Together, these mountain wave and secondary gravity wave interactions reveal systematic gravity wave–mean-flow interactions having implications for both mean and tidal forcing and feedbacks. Acoustic waves likewise achieve large momentum fluxes, but typically imply significant responses only at much higher altitudes.

Open access
Fan Wu and Kelly Lombardo

Abstract

A mechanism for precipitation enhancement in squall lines moving over mountainous coastal regions is quantified through idealized numerical simulations. Storm intensity and precipitation peak over the sloping terrain as storms descend from an elevated plateau toward the coastline and encounter the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL). Storms are most intense as they encounter the deepest MABLs. As the descending storm outflow collides with a moving MABL (sea breeze), surface and low-level air parcels initially accelerate upward, though their ultimate trajectory is governed by the magnitude of the negative nonhydrostatic inertial pressure perturbation behind the cold pool leading edge. For shallow MABLs, the baroclinic gradient across the gust front generates large horizontal vorticity, a low-level negative pressure perturbation, and thus a downward acceleration of air parcels following their initial ascent. A deep MABL reduces the baroclinically generated vorticity, leading to a weaker pressure perturbation and minimal downward acceleration, allowing air to accelerate into a storm’s updraft. Once storms move away from the terrain base and over the full depth of the MABLs, storms over the deepest MABLs decay most rapidly, while those over the shallowest MABLs initially intensify. Though elevated ascent exists above all MABLs, the deepest MABLs substantially reduce the depth of the high-θ e layer above the MABLs and limit instability. This relationship is insensitive to MABL temperature, even though surface-based ascent is present for the less cold MABLs, the MABL thermal deficit is smaller, and convective available potential energy (CAPE) is higher.

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Volkmar Wirth and Christopher Polster

Abstract

The waveguidability of an upper-tropospheric zonal jet quantifies its propensity to duct Rossby waves in the zonal direction. This property has played a central role in previous attempts to explain large wave amplitudes and the subsequent occurrence of extreme weather. In these studies, waveguidability was diagnosed with the help of ray tracing arguments using the zonal average of the observed flow as the relevant background state. Here, it is argued that this method is problematic both conceptually and mathematically. The issue is investigated in the framework of the nondivergent barotropic model. This model allows the straightforward computation of an alternative “zonalized” background state, which is obtained through conservative symmetrization of potential vorticity contours and that is argued to be superior to the zonal average. Using an idealized prototypical flow configuration with large-amplitude eddies, it is shown that the two different choices for the background state yield very different results; in particular, the zonal-mean background state diagnoses a zonal waveguide, while the zonalized background state does not. This result suggests that the existence of a waveguide in the zonal-mean background state is a consequence of, rather than a precondition for, large wave amplitudes, and it would mean that the direction of causality is opposite to the usual argument. The analysis is applied to two heatwave episodes from summer 2003 and 2010, yielding essentially the same result. It is concluded that previous arguments about the role of waveguidability for extreme weather need to be carefully reevaluated to prevent misinterpretation in the future.

Open access