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Luigi Brogno, Francesco Barbano, Laura Sandra Leo, Harindra J. S. Fernando, and Silvana Di Sabatino

Abstract

In the realm of boundary layer flows in complex terrain, low-level jets (LLJs) have received considerable attention, although little literature is available for double-nosed LLJs that remain not well understood. To this end, we use the Mountain Terrain Atmospheric Modeling and Observations (MATERHORN) dataset to demonstrate that double-nosed LLJs developing within the planetary boundary layer (PBL) are common during stable nocturnal conditions and present two possible mechanisms responsible for their formation. It is observed that the onset of a double-nosed LLJ is associated with a temporary shape modification of an already-established LLJ. The characteristics of these double-nosed LLJs are described using a refined version of identification criteria proposed in the literature, and their formation is classified in terms of two driving mechanisms. The wind-driven mechanism encompasses cases where the two noses are associated with different air masses flowing one on top of the other. The wave-driven mechanism involves the vertical momentum transport by an inertial–gravity wave to generate the second nose. The wave-driven mechanism is corroborated by the analysis of nocturnal double-nosed LLJs, where inertial–gravity waves are generated close to the ground by a sudden flow perturbation.

Open access
Yu Liang, Alexey V. Fedorov, Vladimir Zeitlin, and Patrick Haertel

Abstract

We study the adjustment of the tropical atmosphere to localized surface heating using a Lagrangian atmospheric model (LAM) that simulates a realistic Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO)—the dominant, eastward-propagating mode of tropical intraseasonal variability modulating atmospheric convection. Idealized warm sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies of different aspect ratios and magnitudes are imposed in the equatorial Indian Ocean during MJO-neutral conditions and then maintained for 15 days. The experiments then continue for several more months. Throughout these experiments, we observe a robust generation of an MJO event, evident in precipitation, velocity, temperature, and moisture fields, which becomes a key element of atmospheric adjustment along with the expected Kelvin and Rossby waves. The MJO circulation pattern gradually builds up during the first week, and then starts to propagate eastward at a speed of 5–7 m s−1. The upper-level quadrupole circulation characteristic of the MJO becomes evident around day 14, with two anticyclonic gyres generated by the Gill-type response to convective heating and two cyclonic gyres forced by the excited Kelvin waves and extratropical Rossby wave trains. A moisture budget analysis shows that the eastward propagation of the MJO is controlled largely by the anomalous advection of moisture and by the residual between anomalous moisture accumulation due to converging winds and precipitation. The initial MJO event is followed by successive secondary events, maintaining the MJO for several more cycles. Thus, this study highlights the fundamental role that the MJO can play in the adjustment of the moist equatorial atmosphere to localized surface heating.

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Claudio Rodas and Manuel Pulido

Abstract

Ray path theory is an asymptotic approximation to the wave equations. It represents efficiently gravity wave propagation in nonuniform background flows so that it is useful to develop schemes of gravity wave effects in general circulation models. One of the main limitations of ray path theory to be applied in realistic flows is in caustics where rays intersect and the ray solution has a singularity. Gaussian beam approximation is a higher-order asymptotic ray path approximation that considers neighboring rays to the central one, and thus, it is free of the singularities produced by caustics. A previous implementation of the Gaussian beam approximation assumes a horizontally uniform flow. In this work, we extend the Gaussian beam approximation to include horizontally nonuniform flows. Under these conditions, the wave packet can undergo horizontal wave refraction producing changes in the horizontal wavenumber, which affects the ray path as well as the ray tube cross-sectional area and so the wave amplitude via wave action conservation. As an evaluation of the Gaussian beam approximation in horizontally nonuniform flows, a series of proof-of-concept experiments is conducted comparing the approximation with the linear wave solution given by the WRF Model. A very good agreement in the wave field is found. An evaluation is conducted with conditions that mimic the Antarctic polar vortex and the orography of the southern flank of South America. The Gaussian beam approximation nicely reproduces the expected asymmetry of the wave field. A much stronger disturbance propagates toward higher latitudes (polar vortex) compared to lower latitudes.

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Qingfang Jiang

Abstract

The impact of Kelvin–Helmholtz billows (KHBs) in an elevated shear layer (ESL) on the underlying atmospheric boundary layer (BL) is examined utilizing a group of large-eddy simulations. In these simulations, KHBs develop in the ESL and experience exponential growth, saturation, and exponential decay stages. In response, strong wavy motion occurs in the BL, inducing rotor circulations near the surface when the BL is stable. During the saturation stage, secondary instability develops in the ESL and the wavy BL almost simultaneously, followed by the breakdown of the quasi-two-dimensional KH billows and BL waves into three-dimensional turbulence. Consequently, during and after a KH event, the underlying BL becomes more turbulent with its depth increased and stratification weakened substantially, suggestive of significant lasting impact of elevated KH billows on the atmospheric BL. The eventual impact of KHBs on the BL is found to be sensitive to both the ESL and BL characteristics.

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Vicente Salinas, Eric C. Bruning, Edward R. Mansell, and Matthew Brothers

Abstract

This study employed a parallel-plate capacitor model by which the electrostatic energy of lightning flashes could be estimated by considering only their physical dimensions and breakdown electric fields in two simulated storms. The capacitor model has previously been used to approximate total storm electrostatic energy but is modified here to use the geometry of individual lightning flashes to mimic the local charge configuration where flashes were initiated. The energy discharged may then be diagnosed without context of a storm’s entire charge structure. The capacitor model was evaluated using simulated flashes from two storms modeled by the National Severe Storms Laboratory’s Collaborative Model for Multiscale Atmospheric Simulation (COMMAS). Initial capacitor model estimates followed the temporal evolution of the flash discharge energy of COMMAS for each storm but demonstrated the need to account for an adjustment factor μ c to represent the fraction of energy a flash dissipates, as this model assumes the entire preflash energy is discharged by a flash. Individual values of μ c were obtained simply by using the ratio of the COMMAS flash to capacitor energy. Median values μ˜c were selected to represent the flash populations for each storm, and were in range of μ˜c=0.0190.021. Application of μ˜c aligned the magnitudes of the capacitor model discharge energy estimates to those of COMMAS and to those estimated in previous studies. Therefore, by considering a μ c within range of μ˜c, application of the capacitor model for observed lightning datasets is suggested.

Open access
Nicholas J. Lutsko and Momme C. Hell

Abstract

Annular modes are the leading mode of variability in extratropical atmospheres, and a key source of predictability at midlatitudes. Previous studies of annular modes have primarily used dry atmospheric models, so that moisture’s role in annular mode dynamics is still unclear. In this study, a moist two-layer quasigeostrophic channel model is used to study the effects of moisture on annular mode persistence. Using a channel model allows moisture’s direct effects to be studied, rather than changes in persistence due to geometric effects associated with shifts in jet latitude on the sphere. Simulations are performed in which the strength of latent heat release is varied to investigate how annular mode persistence responds as precipitation becomes a leading term in the thermodynamic budget. At short lags (<20 model days, ≈4 Earth days), moisture increases annular mode persistence, reflecting weaker eddy activity that is less effective at disrupting zonal-mean wind anomalies. Comparisons to dry simulations with weaker mean flows demonstrate that moisture is particularly effective at damping high-frequency eddies, further enhancing short-lag persistence. At long lags (>20 model days), moisture weakly increases persistence, though it decreases the amplitudes of low-frequency annular mode anomalies. In the most realistic simulation, the greater short-lag persistence increases the e-folding time of the zonal index by 21 model days (≈4 Earth days). Moisture also causes a transition to propagating variability, though this does not seem to affect the leading mode’s persistence.

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Yuqing Wang, Yuanlong Li, and Jing Xu

Abstract

In this study, the boundary layer tangential wind budget equation following the radius of maximum wind, together with an assumed thermodynamical quasi-equilibrium boundary layer, is used to derive a new equation for tropical cyclone (TC) intensification rate (IR). A TC is assumed to be axisymmetric in thermal-wind balance, with eyewall convection coming into moist slantwise neutrality in the free atmosphere above the boundary layer as the storm intensifies, as found recently based on idealized numerical simulations. An ad hoc parameter is introduced to measure the degree of congruence of the absolute angular momentum and the entropy surfaces. The new IR equation is evaluated using results from idealized ensemble full-physics axisymmetric numerical simulations. Results show that the new IR equation can reproduce the time evolution of the simulated TC intensity. The new IR equation indicates a strong dependence of IR on both TC intensity and the corresponding maximum potential intensity (MPI). A new finding is the dependence of TC IR on the square of the MPI in terms of the near-surface wind speed for any given relative intensity. Results from some numerical integrations of the new IR equation also suggest the finite-amplitude nature of TC genesis. In addition, the new IR theory is also supported by some preliminary results based on best-track TC data over the North Atlantic Ocean and eastern and western North Pacific Ocean. As compared with the available time-dependent theories of TC intensification, the new IR equation can provide a realistic intensity-dependent IR during weak intensity stage as seen in observations.

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Sergej Zilitinkevich, Evgeny Kadantsev, Irina Repina, Evgeny Mortikov, and Andrey Glazunov

Abstract

Turbulence is ever produced in the low-viscosity/large-scale fluid flows by velocity shears and, in unstable stratification, by buoyancy forces. It is commonly believed that both mechanisms produce the same type of chaotic motions, namely, the eddies breaking down into smaller ones and producing direct cascade of turbulent kinetic energy and other properties from large to small scales toward viscous dissipation. The conventional theory based on this vision yields a plausible picture of vertical mixing and has remained in use since the middle of the twentieth century in spite of increasing evidence of the fallacy of almost all other predictions. This paper reveals that in fact buoyancy produces chaotic vertical plumes, merging into larger ones and producing an inverse cascade toward their conversion into the self-organized regular motions. Herein, the velocity shears produce usual eddies spreading in all directions and making the direct cascade. This new paradigm is demonstrated and proved empirically; so, the paper launches a comprehensive revision of the theory of unstably stratified turbulence and its numerous geophysical or astrophysical applications.

Open access
Faith P. Groff, Rebecca D. Adams-Selin, and Russ S. Schumacher

Abstract

This study investigates the sensitivities of mesoscale convective system (MCS) low-frequency gravity waves to changes in the vertical wind and thermodynamic profile through idealized cloud model simulations, highlighting how internal MCS processes impact low-frequency gravity wave generation, propagation, and environmental influence. Spectral analysis is performed on the rates of latent heat release, updraft velocity, and deep-tropospheric descent ahead of the convection as a signal for vertical wavenumber n=1 wave passage. Results show that perturbations in midlevel descent up to 100 km ahead of the MCS occur at the same frequency as n=1 gravity wave generation prompted by fluctuations in latent heat release due to the cellular variations of the MCS updrafts. Within a nocturnal environment, the frequency of the cellularity of the updrafts increases, subsequently increasing the frequency of n=1 wave generation. In an environment with low-level unidirectional shear, results indicate that n=2 wave generation mechanisms and environmental influence are similar among the simulated daytime and nocturnal MCSs. When deep vertical wind shear is incorporated, many of the low-frequency waves are strong enough to support cloud development ahead of the MCS as well as sustain and support convection.

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Ryosuke Yasui, Kaoru Sato, and Yasunobu Miyoshi

Abstract

It has often been reported that warming at high latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) summer mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT) appears during Arctic sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) events. This phenomenon, which is called “interhemispheric coupling” (IHC), has been thought to occur because of the modulation of mesospheric meridional circulation driven by forcing of gravity waves (GWs) originating in the troposphere. However, quasi-two-day waves (QTDWs) develop during SSWs and result in strong wave forcing in the SH mesosphere. Thus, this study revisits IHC following Arctic SSWs from the viewpoint of wave forcing, not only by GWs and Rossby waves (RWs) originating in the troposphere but also by GWs, RWs, and Rossby–gravity waves generated in situ in the middle atmosphere, and elucidates the causes of warm anomalies in the SH MLT region. During SSWs, westward wind anomaly forms because of cold equatorial stratosphere, GW forcing is then modulated, and barotropic/baroclinic and shear instabilities are strengthened in the SH mesosphere. These instabilities generate QTDWs and GWs, respectively, which cause significant anomalous westward wave forcing, forming a warm anomaly in the SH MLT region. The intraseasonal variation in QTDW activity can explain seasonal dependence of the time lag in IHC. Moreover, it is revealed that the cold equatorial stratosphere is formed by middle-atmosphere Hadley circulation, which is strengthened by wave forcing associated with stationary RW breaking leading to SSWs. The IHC mechanism revealed in this study indicates that waves generated in the middle atmosphere contribute significantly to the meridional circulation, especially during SSWs.

Open access