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Zhiming Kuang

Abstract

Methods in system identification are used to obtain linear time-invariant state-space models that describe how horizontal averages of temperature and humidity of a large cumulus ensemble evolve with time under small forcing. The cumulus ensemble studied here is simulated with cloud-system-resolving models in radiative–convective equilibrium. The identified models extend steady-state linear response functions used in past studies and provide accurate descriptions of the transfer function, the noise model, and the behavior of cumulus convection when coupled with two-dimensional gravity waves. A novel procedure is developed to convert the state-space models into an interpretable form, which is used to elucidate and quantify memory in cumulus convection. The linear problem studied here serves as a useful reference point for more general efforts to obtain data-driven and interpretable parameterizations of cumulus convection.

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Aman Gupta
,
Robert Reichert
,
Andreas Dörnbrack
,
Hella Garny
,
Roland Eichinger
,
Inna Polichtchouk
,
Bernd Kaifler
, and
Thomas Birner

Abstract

Gravity waves (GWs) are among the key drivers of the meridional overturning circulation in the mesosphere and upper stratosphere. Their representation in climate models suffers from insufficient resolution and limited observational constraints on their parameterizations. This obscures assessments of middle atmospheric circulation changes in a changing climate. This study presents a comprehensive analysis of stratospheric GW activity above and downstream of the Andes from 1 to 15 August 2019, with special focus on GW representation ranging from an unprecedented kilometer-scale global forecast model (1.4 km ECMWF IFS), ground-based Rayleigh lidar (CORAL) observations, modern reanalysis (ERA5), to a coarse-resolution climate model (EMAC). Resolved vertical flux of zonal GW momentum (GWMF) is found to be stronger by a factor of at least 2–2.5 in IFS compared to ERA5. Compared to resolved GWMF in IFS, parameterizations in ERA5 and EMAC continue to inaccurately generate excessive GWMF poleward of 60°S, yielding prominent differences between resolved and parameterized GWMFs. A like-to-like validation of GW profiles in IFS and ERA5 reveals similar wave structures. Still, even at ∼1 km resolution, the resolved waves in IFS are weaker than those observed by lidar. Further, GWMF estimates across datasets reveal that temperature-based proxies, based on midfrequency approximations for linear GWs, overestimate GWMF due to simplifications and uncertainties in GW wavelength estimation from data. Overall, the analysis provides GWMF benchmarks for parameterization validation and calls for three-dimensional GW parameterizations, better upper-boundary treatment, and vertical resolution increases commensurate with increases in horizontal resolution in models, for a more realistic GW analysis.

Significance Statement

Gravity wave–induced momentum forcing forms a key component of the middle atmospheric circulation. However, complete knowledge of gravity waves, their atmospheric effects, and their long-term trends are obscured due to limited global observations, and the inability of current climate models to fully resolve them. This study combines a kilometer-scale forecast model, modern reanalysis, and a coarse-resolution climate model to first compare the resolved and parameterized momentum fluxes by gravity waves generated over the Andes, and then evaluate the fluxes using a state-of-the-art ground-based Rayleigh lidar. Our analysis reveals shortcomings in current model parameterizations of gravity waves in the middle atmosphere and highlights the sensitivity of the estimated flux to the formulation used.

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Hao Fu
and
Morgan O’Neill

Abstract

Cloud-permitting simulations have shown that tropical cyclones (TCs) can form spontaneously in a quiescent environment with uniform sea surface temperature. While several mesoscale feedbacks are known to amplify an existing midlevel vortex, how the noisy deep convection produces the initial midlevel vortex remains unclear. This paper develops a theoretical framework to understand the evolution of the midlevel mesoscale vorticity’s histogram in the first two days of spontaneous tropical cyclogenesis, which we call the “stochastic spin-up stage”. The mesoscale vorticity is produced by two random processes related to deep convection: the random stretching of planetary vorticity (f) and the tilting of random vertical shear. The mesoscale vorticity is modeled as the sum of three independent normal distributions, which include the cyclones produced by stretching, cyclones produced by tilting, and anticyclones produced by tilting. Their collective effect is calculated with the central limit theorem. The theory predicts that the standard deviation of the midlevel mesoscale vorticity is universally proportional to the square root of the domain-averaged accumulated rainfall, agreeing with simulations. The theory predicts a critical latitude below which tilting is dominant in producing mesoscale vorticity. Treating the magnitude of random vertical shear as a fitting parameter, the critical latitude is shown to be around 12°N. Because the magnitude of vertical shear should be larger in the real atmosphere, this result suggests tilting is an important source of mesoscale vorticity fluctuation in the tropics.

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Matthieu Kohl
and
Paul A. O’Gorman

Abstract

The vertical velocity distribution in the atmosphere is asymmetric with stronger upward than downward motion. This asymmetry is important for the distribution of precipitation and its extremes and for an effective static stability that has been used to represent the effects of latent heating on extratropical eddies. Idealized GCM simulations show that the asymmetry increases as the climate warms, but current moist dynamical theories based around small-amplitude modes greatly overestimate the increase in asymmetry with warming found in the simulations. Here, we first analyze the changes in asymmetry with warming using numerical inversions of a moist quasigeostrophic omega equation applied to output from the idealized GCM. The inversions show that increases in the asymmetry with warming in the GCM simulations are primarily related to decreases in moist static stability on the left-hand side of the moist omega equation, whereas the dynamical forcing on the right-hand side of the omega equation is unskewed and contributes little to the asymmetry of the vertical velocity distribution. By contrast, increases in asymmetry with warming for small-amplitude modes are related to changes in both moist static stability and dynamical forcing leading to enhanced asymmetry in warm climates. We distill these insights into a toy model of the moist omega equation that is solved for a given moist static stability and wavenumber of the dynamical forcing. In comparison to modal theory, the toy model better reproduces the slow increase of the asymmetry with climate warming in the idealized GCM simulations and over the seasonal cycle from winter to summer in reanalysis.

Significance Statement

Upward velocities are stronger than downward velocities in the atmosphere, and this asymmetry is important for the distribution of precipitation because precipitation is linked to upward motion. An important and open question is what sets this asymmetry and how much it increases as the climate warms. Past work has shown that current theories greatly overestimate the increase in asymmetry with warming in idealized simulations. In this work, we develop a more complete theory and show that it is able to better reproduce the slow increase of the asymmetry with warming that is found over the seasonal cycle from winter to summer and in idealized simulations of warming climates.

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Alan Shapiro
,
Jason Chiappa
, and
David B. Parsons

Abstract

Weak but persistent synoptic-scale ascent may play a role in the initiation or maintenance of nocturnal convection over the central United States. An analytical model is used to explore the nocturnal low-level jets (NLLJ) and ascent that develop in an idealized diurnally varying frictional (Ekman) boundary layer in a neutrally stratified barotropic environment when the flow aloft is a zonally propagating Rossby wave. Steady-periodic solutions are obtained of the linearized Reynolds-averaged Boussinesq-approximated equations of motion on a beta plane with an eddy viscosity that is specified to increase abruptly at sunrise and decrease abruptly at sunset. Rayleigh damping terms are used to parameterize momentum loss due to radiation of inertia–gravity waves. The model-predicted vertical velocity is (approximately) proportional to the wavenumber and wave amplitude. There are two main modes of ascent in midlatitudes, an afternoon mode and a nocturnal mode. The latter arises as a gentle but persistent surge induced by the decrease of turbulence at sunset, the same mechanism that triggers inertial oscillations in the Blackadar theory of NLLJs. If the Rayleigh damping terms are omitted, the boundary layer depth becomes infinite at three critical latitudes, and the vertical velocity becomes infinite far above the ground at two of those latitudes. With the damping terms retained, the solution is well behaved. Peak daytime ascent in the model occurs progressively later in the afternoon at more southern locations (in the Northern Hemisphere) until the first (most northern) critical latitude is reached; south of that latitude the nocturnal mode is dominant.

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Jonathan Lin
and
Kerry Emanuel

Abstract

The steady response of the stratosphere to tropospheric thermal forcing via an SST perturbation is considered in two separate theoretical models. It is first shown that an SST anomaly imposes a geopotential anomaly at the tropopause. Solutions to the linearized quasigeostrophic potential vorticity equations are then used to show that the vertical length scale of a tropopause geopotential anomaly is initially shallow, but significantly increased by diabatic heating from radiative relaxation. This process is a quasi-balanced response of the stratosphere to tropospheric forcing. A previously developed, coupled troposphere–stratosphere model is then introduced and modified. Solutions under steady, zonally symmetric SST forcing in the linear β-plane model show that the upward stratospheric penetration of the corresponding tropopause geopotential anomaly is controlled by two nondimensional parameters: 1) a dynamical aspect ratio and 2) a ratio between tropospheric and stratospheric drag. The meridional scale of the SST anomaly, radiative relaxation rate, and wave drag all significantly modulate these nondimensional parameters. Under Earthlike estimates of the nondimensional parameters, the theoretical model predicts stratospheric temperature anomalies 2–3 larger in magnitude than that in the boundary layer, approximately in line with observational data. Using reanalysis data, the spatial variability of temperature anomalies in the troposphere is shown to have remarkable coherence with that of the lower stratosphere, which further supports the existence of a quasi-balanced response of the stratosphere to SST forcing. These findings suggest that besides mechanical and radiative forcing, there is a third way the stratosphere can be forced—through the tropopause via tropospheric thermal forcing.

Significance Statement

Upward motion in the tropical stratosphere, the layer of atmosphere above where most weather occurs, is thought to be controlled by weather disturbances that propagate upward and dissipate in the stratosphere. The strength of this upward motion is important since it sets the global distribution of ozone. We formulate and use simple mathematical models to show the vertical motion in the stratosphere can also depend on the warming in the troposphere, the layer of atmosphere where humans live. We use the theory as an explanation for our observations of inverse correlations between the ocean temperature and the stratosphere temperature. These findings suggest that local stratospheric cooling may be coupled to local tropospheric warming.

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Paul M. Markowski

Abstract

A simulation of a supercell storm produced for a prior study on tornado predictability is reanalyzed for the purpose of examining the fine-scale details of tornadogenesis. It is found that the formation of a tornado-like vortex in the simulation differs from how such vortices have been understood to form in previous numerical simulations. The main difference between the present simulation and past ones is the inclusion of a turbulent boundary layer in the storm’s environment in the present case, whereas prior simulations have used a laminar boundary layer. The turbulent environment contains significant near-surface vertical vorticity (ζ > 0.03 s−1 at z = 7.5 m), organized in the form of longitudinal streaks aligned with the southerly ground-relative winds. The ζ streaks are associated with corrugations in the vertical plane in the predominantly horizontal, westward-pointing environmental vortex lines; the vortex-line corrugations are produced by the vertical drafts associated with coherent turbulent structures aligned with the aforementioned southerly ground-relative winds (longitudinal coherent structures in the surface layer such as these are well known to the boundary layer and turbulence communities). The ζ streaks serve as focal points for tornadogenesis, and may actually facilitate tornadogenesis, given how near-surface ζ in the environment can rapidly amplify when subjected to the strong, persistent convergence beneath a supercell updraft.

Significance Statement

In high-resolution computer simulations of supercell storms that include a more realistic, turbulent environment, the means by which tornado-like vortices form differs from the mechanism identified in prior simulations using a less realistic, laminar environment. One possibility is that prior simulations develop intense vortices for the wrong reasons. Another possibility could be that tornadoes form in a wide range of ways in the real atmosphere, even within supercell storms that appear to be similar, and increasingly realistic computer simulations are finally now capturing that diversity.

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Free access
Lu Zhang
,
Hongsheng Zhang
,
Xuhui Cai
,
Yu Song
, and
Xiaoye Zhang

Abstract

The Taklimakan Desert is one of key climate regions in East Asia, both highly influencing and highly sensitive to local/regional climate change. Based on a comprehensive observation experiment from 1 to 31 May 2022 in the hinterland of the Taklimakan Desert, the characteristics and mechanisms of turbulence intermittency are investigated in this study, with the purpose to correct turbulent fluxes. Using an improved algorithm to decompose turbulence and submeso motions, two intermittency regimes are recognized in the Taklimakan Desert, namely, D and T intermittency and onD intermittency. The former occurs under strongly stable conditions, characterized by the coexistence of dynamic and thermodynamic turbulence intermittency. The latter occurs under strongly unstable conditions and represents only dynamic turbulence intermittency. Physically, the D and T intermittency regime is related to submeso waves, whereas the onD regime is caused by the horizontal convergence/divergence of convective circulations. With the influence of intermittency and submeso motions, the observed turbulent statistics deviate from reality, which would mask the similarity relationships. To overcome the problem, turbulent statistics are corrected by removing submeso components from original fluctuations. The effectiveness of this method is demonstrated based on the flux–gradient relationships. It is also suggested that, for a big dataset, the impact of onD intermittency can be simply corrected by a correction factor while that of D and T intermittency cannot. The results of this study are helpful to develop the parameterization of turbulent exchange processes in the Taklimakan Desert, which is significant to improve the accuracy of weather forecasting and climate prediction.

Significance Statement

The Taklimakan Desert plays an important role in the evolution of weather and climate in East Asia. With strong surface thermal forcing, turbulence often shows distinctive intermittency, which largely constrains the evaluation of land–atmosphere exchange in this key climate region. This study aims to understand the characteristics of turbulence intermittency and its physical mechanisms, and further to correct the influence of turbulence intermittency on turbulent fluxes in the Taklimakan Desert. This is significant because the results are helpful to improve the parameterization of subgrid processes in the key climate region for atmospheric models, which points the way toward enhancing the accuracy of weather forecasting and climate prediction.

Open access
Xingchao Chen
and
Kun Zhao
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