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Jonathan Lin
and
Kerry Emanuel

Abstract

Recent observations have indicated significant modulation of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) by the phase of the stratospheric quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) during boreal winter. Composites of the MJO show that upper-tropospheric ice cloud fraction and water vapor anomalies are generally collocated, and that an eastward tilt with height in cloud fraction exists. Through radiative transfer calculations, it is shown that ice clouds have a stronger tropospheric radiative forcing than do water vapor anomalies, highlighting the importance of incorporating upper-tropospheric–lower-stratospheric processes into simple models of the MJO. The coupled troposphere–stratosphere linear model previously developed by the authors is extended by including a mean wind in the stratosphere and a prognostic equation for cirrus clouds, which are forced dynamically and allowed to modulate tropospheric radiative cooling, similar to the effect of tropospheric water vapor in previous formulations. Under these modifications, the model still produces a slow, eastward-propagating mode that resembles the MJO. The sign of zonal mean wind in the stratosphere is shown to control both the upward wave propagation and tropospheric vertical structure of the mode. Under varying stratospheric wind and interactive cirrus cloud radiation, the MJO-like mode has weaker growth rates under stratospheric westerlies than easterlies, consistent with the observed MJO–QBO relationship. These results are directly attributable to an enhanced barotropic mode under QBO easterlies. It is also shown that differential zonal advection of cirrus clouds leads to weaker growth rates under stratospheric westerlies than easterlies. Implications and limitations of the linear theory are discussed.

Significance Statement

Recent observations have shown that the strength of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO), a global-scale envelope of wind and rain that slowly moves eastward in the tropics and dominates global-weather variations on time scales of around a month, is strongly influenced by the direction of the winds in the lower stratosphere, the layer of the atmosphere that lies above where weather occurs. So far, modeling studies have been unable to reproduce this connection in global climate models. The purpose of this study is to investigate the mechanisms through which the stratosphere can modulate the MJO, by using simple theoretical models. In particular, we point to the role that ice clouds high in the atmosphere play in influencing the MJO.

Open access
Xiping Zeng
and
Xiaowen Li

Abstract

A bin (or spectral) model is developed to investigate the sensitivity of warm rain initiation to cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). It explicitly represents CCN with a formula whose parameters come from the Twomey relationship (or CCN measurements). By seamlessly integrating CCN activation and drop collection with thousands of bins, the model can replicate the effect of CCN on rain initiation, providing a benchmark to test the process parameterizations in rain initiation. The model is used to simulate two extreme cases with CCN parameters of maritime and continental clouds, respectively, where other actual cases usually lie between these two extreme cases. Its simulations show that rain can initiate within half an hour or less as observed in cumulus clouds. The fast rain initiation modeled is attributed mainly to a new process: the condensational conversion of cloud drops to raindrops via collision–coalescence initiators (or drops with radius between 28 and 100 μm). Since the new process is more important in rain initiation than the autoconversion of cloud drops to raindrops when large CCN exist, it is suggested that the process be parameterized into the weather and climate models to better represent CCN and subsequently remove the common bias of “too dense clouds.”

Significance Statement

The current weather and climate models represent aerosols via implicit parameterizations and have a bias of “too dense clouds.” Their implicit parameterizations of aerosols usually overlook (or misrepresent) some cloud processes. In this paper and its preceding part () we proposed a new framework to explicitly parameterize one subset of aerosols: cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). To embody an explicit parameterization of CCN, we still need quantitative information to connect CCN activation and rain initiation, which motivates this study. In the study we developed an accurate microphysical model to simulate the growth of small CCN to large raindrops, providing information on the sensitivity of rain initiation to CCN. We performed many sensitivity simulations and found the condensational conversion of cloud drops to raindrops via collision–coalescence initiators is a vital process in warm rain initiation. Since the process has been overlooked by all the weather and climate models, the study suggests that the process be introduced in the weather and climate models to properly represent the fast warm rain initiation observed and subsequently remove the bias of “too dense clouds.”

Open access
Michael B. Natoli
and
Eric D. Maloney

Abstract

The impact of the environmental background wind on the diurnal cycle near tropical islands is examined in observations and an idealized model. Luzon Island in the northern Philippines is used as an observational test case. Composite diurnal cycles of CMORPH precipitation are constructed based on an index derived from the first empirical orthogonal function (EOF) of ERA5 zonal wind profiles. A strong precipitation diurnal cycle and pronounced offshore propagation in the leeward direction tends to occur on days with a weak, offshore prevailing wind. Strong background winds, particularly in the onshore direction, are associated with a suppressed diurnal cycle. Idealized high-resolution 2D Cloud Model 1 (CM1) simulations test the dependence of the diurnal cycle on environmental wind speed and direction by nudging the model base state toward composite profiles derived from the reanalysis zonal wind index. These simulations can qualitatively replicate the observed development, strength, and offshore propagation of diurnally generated convection under varying wind regimes. Under strong background winds, the land–sea contrast is reduced, which leads to a substantial reduction in the strength of the sea-breeze circulation and precipitation diurnal cycle. Weak offshore prevailing winds favor a strong diurnal cycle and offshore leeward propagation, with the direction of propagation highly sensitive to the background wind in the lower free troposphere. Offshore propagation speed appears consistent with density current theory rather than a direct coupling to a single gravity wave mode, though gravity waves may contribute to a destabilization of the offshore environment.

Free access
Robert J. Kurzeja
,
Monique Y. Leclerc
,
Henrique F. Duarte
,
Gengsheng Zhang
,
Matthew J. Parker
,
David W. Werth
,
Steven R. Chiswell
, and
Robert L. Buckley

Abstract

Turbulence and winds below 328 m were measured on 5 successive nights in a program to study tracer transport in the nocturnal boundary layer at a site with moderately complex terrain and mixed land use. The instruments included sonic anemometers and CO2/H2O analyzers at four levels on a 328 m tall tower, a minisodar/RASS system, a midrange sodar, a ceilometer, and an array of 61 m towers. Preliminary simulations indicated satisfactory perfluorocarbon mixing to 68 m but insufficient transport to the 328 m level on both weakly stable and stable nights, possibly due to insufficient turbulence kinetic energy and/or small vertical mixing lengths, or the presence of meso-β fronts, e.g., sea-breeze fronts, that could transport trace chemicals efficiently to 328 m. To examine the problem further, time–height distributions of turbulence kinetic energy (TKE), mixing length, Richardson number, potential temperature, and winds were derived from the observations of mean winds and temperature and the TKE budget equation, interpolated to fit the observations, under the flux/gradient and z-less scaling assumptions, and displayed with aerosol profiles. The results indicated higher and more variable levels of TKE and mixing lengths above a typical turbulence maximum at 30–50 m. Oscillations with periods of ∼2 h were common and occasional meso-β fronts and shear zones between 75 and 150 m were seen, which increased TKE aloft and in some cases led to a poorly defined boundary layer top.

Significance Statement

The atmosphere’s boundary layer is the interface between the free atmosphere and natural and human activity near Earth’s surface. The daytime boundary layer has been studied extensively and, because of vigorous sun-driven mixing, is well understood and readily parameterized in forecast and global climate models. In contrast, the nocturnal boundary layer is less well understood or predictable because turbulence is weak and tends to decouple it from the surface and the free atmosphere above. This paper focuses on the least-studied upper part of the nocturnal boundary layer over the southeastern United States where topography and land–sea contrast affect winds, turbulence, and chemical transport.

Free access
Richard H. Johnson
,
Paul E. Ciesielski
, and
Wayne H. Schubert

Abstract

The Dynamics of the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) (DYNAMO) field campaign over the central Indian Ocean captured three strong MJO events during October–December 2011. Using the conventional budget approach of Yanai et al. surface rainfall P 0 is computed as a residual from the vertically integrated form of the moisture budget equation. This budget-derived P 0 is spatially averaged over the Gan Island NCAR S-PolKa radar domain and compared with rainfall estimates from the radar itself. To isolate the MJO signal, these rainfall time series are low-pass (LP) filtered and a three-MJO composite is created based on the time of maximum LP-filtered S-PolKa rainfall for each event. A comparison of the two composite rainfall estimates shows that the budget rainfall overestimates the radar rainfall by ∼15% in the MJO buildup stage and underestimates radar rainfall by ∼8% in the MJO decay stage. These rainfall differences suggest that hydrometeor (clouds and rain) storage and advection effects, which are neglected in the budget approach, are likely significant. Satellite and ground-based observations are used to investigate these hydrometeor storage and advection effects. While the findings are qualitatively consistent with expectations from theory, they fall short of explaining their full magnitude, suggesting even more refined experimental designs and measurements will be needed to adequately address this issue.

Free access
Andrew M. Dzambo
,
Greg McFarquhar
, and
Joseph A. Finlon

Abstract

Ice particle terminal fall velocity (Vt ) is fundamental for determining microphysical processes, yet remains extremely challenging to measure. Current theoretical best estimates of Vt are functions of Reynolds number. The Reynolds number is related to the Best number, which is a function of ice particle mass, area ratio (Ar ), and maximum dimension (D max). These estimates are not conducive for use in most models since model parameterizations often take the form V t = α D max β , where (α, β) depend on habit and D max. A previously developed framework is used to determine surfaces of equally plausible (α, β) coefficients whereby ice particle size/shape distributions are combined with Vt best estimates to determine mass- (VM ) or reflectivity-weighted (VZ ) velocities that closely match parameterized VM ,SD or VZ ,SD calculated using the (α, β) coefficients using two approaches. The first uses surfaces of equally plausible (a, b) coefficients describing mass (M)–dimension relationships (i.e., M = α D max b ) to calculate mass- or reflectivity-weighted velocity from size/shape distributions that are then used to determine (α, β) coefficients. The second investigates how uncertainties in Ar , D max, and size distribution N(D) affect VM or VZ . For seven of nine flight legs flown on 20 and 23 May 2011 during the Mesoscale Continental Convective Clouds Experiment (MC3E), uncertainty from natural parameter variability—namely, the variability in ice particle parameters in similar meteorological conditions—exceeds uncertainties arising from different Ar assumptions or D max estimates. The combined uncertainty between Ar , D max, and N(D) produced smaller variability in (α, β) compared to varying M(D), demonstrating M(D) must be accurately quantified for model fall velocities. Primary sources of uncertainty vary considerably depending on environmental conditions.

Significance Statement

Ice particle fall velocity is fundamental for numerous processes within clouds, and hence is a critical property that must be accurately represented in weather and climate models. Using aircraft observations of ice particle shapes and sizes obtained in clouds behind midlatitude thunderstorms, this work develops a new framework for estimating ice particle fall velocities and their uncertainty, including quantifying the importance of different uncertainty sources from cloud microphysics measurements. Natural parameter variability contributes the most uncertainty in ice particle fall velocity estimates, although other sources can also be important contributors to uncertainty in certain conditions. Additional work examining ice particle data is needed to further understand how dependent uncertainty in certain ice particle properties are to local environmental conditions.

Free access
Iury T. Simoes-Sousa
,
Amit Tandon
,
Jared Buckley
,
Debasis Sengupta
,
Sree Lekha J. Sree Lekha J.
,
Emily Shroyer
, and
Simon P. de Szoeke

Abstract

Atmospheric cold pools, generated by evaporative downdrafts from precipitating clouds, are ubiquitous in the Bay of Bengal. We use data from three moorings near 18°N to characterize a total of 465 cold pools. The cold pools are all dry, with a typical temperature drop of 2°C (maximum 5°C) and specific humidity drop of 1 g kg−1 (maximum = 6 g kg−1). Most cold pools last 1.5–3.5 h (maximum = 14 h). Cold pools occur almost every day in the north bay from April to November, principally in the late morning, associated with intense precipitation that accounts for 80% of total rain. They increase the latent heat flux to the atmosphere by about 32 W m−2 (median), although the instantaneous enhancement of latent heat flux for individual cold pools reaches 150 W m−2. During the rainiest month (July), the cold pools occur 21% of the time and contribute nearly 14% to the mean evaporation. A composite analysis of all cold pools shows that the temperature and specific humidity anomalies are responsible for ∼90% of the enhancement of sensible and latent heat flux, while variations in wind speed are responsible for the remainder. Depending on their gust-front speed, the estimated height of the cold pools primarily ranges from 850 to 3200 m, with taller fronts more likely to occur during the summer monsoon season (June–September). Our results indicate that the realistic representation of cold pools in climate models is likely to be important for improved simulation of air–sea fluxes and monsoon rainfall.

Significance Statement

Atmospheric cold pools form over the ocean when falling rain evaporates, leading to a dense cold air mass spreading over the surface. They impact air–sea heat exchanges over tropical regions and give rise to new rainstorms. We analyze data from three fixed, closely spaced buoys to describe cold pools and investigate their role in rainfall and air–sea interactions in the northern Bay of Bengal (Indian Ocean). We find that cold pools are associated with about 80% of all rain and are important for ocean–atmosphere heat and moisture exchange, especially from April to November. We estimate the speed of cold pools and derive their heights (850–3200 m) using theory.

Free access
Yang Zhao
,
Chanil Park
, and
Seok-Woo Son

Abstract

This study highlights the importance of the diabatic process in the heavy rainfall events (HREs) that are initiated on the eastern slope of the Tibetan Plateau and move to the lower reaches of the Yangtze River basin. These HREs, which cause significant socioeconomic losses in the Yangtze River basin, are typically maintained for 3 days. They develop when a large amount of moisture converges on the eastern slope of the Tibetan Plateau. By solving the quasigeostrophic (QG) omega equation, it is revealed that the vertical motion of HREs is organized by both dynamic and diabatic forcings, with the latter being dominant. The stationary boundary forcing on the eastern slope of the Tibetan Plateau also contributes to the initial organization of the HREs. While the dynamic vertical motion does not change much and the boundary forcing becomes negligible after the initial organization, diabatic vertical motion becomes more dominant in QG vertical motion (∼80%) as HREs develop and move downstream. The potential vorticity (PV) tendency budget analysis reveals that the development and eastward movement of the HRE-related surface cyclone is primarily associated with diabatic PV production to the east of the cyclone where a large amount of moisture converges. This result implies that the long-traveling HREs along the Yangtze River basin are highly self-maintaining in nature.

Free access
John M. Peters
,
Brice E. Coffer
,
Matthew D. Parker
,
Christopher J. Nowotarski
,
Jake P. Mulholland
,
Cameron J. Nixon
, and
John T. Allen

Abstract

Sufficient low-level storm-relative flow is a necessary ingredient for sustained supercell thunderstorms and is connected to supercell updraft width. Assuming a supercell exists, the role of low-level storm-relative flow in regulating supercells’ low-level mesocyclone intensity is less clear. One possibility considered in this article is that storm-relative flow controls mesocyclone and tornado width via its modulation of overall updraft extent. This hypothesis relies on a previously postulated positive correspondence between updraft width, mesocyclone width, and tornado width. An alternative hypothesis is that mesocyclone characteristics are primarily regulated by horizontal streamwise vorticity irrespective of storm-relative flow. A matrix of supercell simulations was analyzed to address the aforementioned hypotheses, wherein horizontal streamwise vorticity and storm-relative flow were independently varied. Among these simulations, mesocyclone width and intensity were strongly correlated with horizontal streamwise vorticity, and comparatively weakly correlated with storm-relative flow, supporting the second hypothesis. Accompanying theory and trajectory analysis offers the physical explanation that, when storm-relative flow is large and updrafts are wide, vertically tilted streamwise vorticity is projected over a wider area but with a lesser average magnitude than when these parameters are small. These factors partially offset one another, degrading the correspondence of storm-relative flow with updraft circulation and rotational velocity, which are the mesocyclone attributes most closely tied to tornadoes. These results refute the previously purported connections between updraft width, mesocyclone width, and tornado width, and emphasize horizontal streamwise vorticity as the primary control on low-level mesocyclones in sustained supercells.

Significance Statement

The intensity of a supercell thunderstorm’s low-level rotation, known as the “mesocyclone,” is thought to influence tornado likelihood. Mesocyclone intensity depends on many environmental attributes that are often correlated with one another and difficult to disentangle. This study used a large body of numerical simulations to investigate the influence of the speed of low-level air entering a supercell (storm-relative flow), the horizontal spin of the ambient air entering the thunderstorm (streamwise vorticity), and the width of the storm’s updraft. Our results suggest that the rotation of the mesocyclone in supercells is primarily influenced by streamwise vorticity, with comparatively weaker connections to storm-relative flow and updraft width. These findings provide important clarification in our scientific understanding of how a storm’s environment influences the rate of rotation of its mesocyclone, and the associated tornado threat.

Free access
Tatsuya Seiki
and
Tomoki Ohno

Abstract

This study revises the collisional growth, heterogeneous ice nucleation, and homogeneous ice nucleation processes in a double-moment bulk cloud microphysics scheme implemented in the Nonhydrostatic Icosahedral Atmospheric Model (NICAM). The revised cloud microphysical processes are tested by 10-day global simulations with a horizontal resolution of 14 km. It is found that both the aggregation of cloud ice with smaller diameters and the graupel production by riming are overestimated in the current schemes. A new method that numerically integrates the collection kernel solves this issue, and consequently, the lifetime of cloud ice is reasonably extended in reference to satellite observations. In addition, the results indicate that a reduction in graupel modulates the convective intensity, particularly in intense rainfall systems. The revision of both heterogeneous and homogeneous ice nucleation significantly increases the production rate of cloud ice number concentration. With these revisions, the new version of the cloud microphysics scheme successfully improves outgoing longwave radiation, particularly over the intertropical convergence zone, in reference to satellite observations. Therefore, the revisions are beneficial for both long-term climate simulations and representing the structure of severe storms.

Significance Statement

Very high-resolution global atmospheric models have been developed to simultaneously address global climate and regional weather. In general, cloud microphysics schemes used in such global models are introduced from regional weather forecasting models to realistically represent mesoscale cloud systems. However, a cloud microphysics scheme that was originally developed with the aim of weather forecasting can cause unexpected errors in global climate simulations because such a cloud microphysics scheme is not designed for interdisciplinary usage across spatiotemporal scales. This study focuses on systematic model biases in evaluating the terminal velocity of ice cloud particles and proposes a method to accurately calculate the growth rate of ice cloud particles. Improvements in ice cloud modeling successfully reduce model biases in the global energy budget. In addition, the internal structure of intense rainfall systems is modified using the new cloud model. Therefore, improvements in ice cloud modeling could further increase the reliability of weather forecasting, seasonal prediction, and climate projection.

Open access