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Benoît Vannière
,
Arnaud Czaja
,
Helen Dacre
, and
Tim Woollings

Abstract

The mechanism by which the Gulf Stream sea surface temperature (SST) front anchors a band of precipitation on its warm edge is still a matter of debate, and little is known about how synoptic activity contributes to the mean state. In the present study, the influence of the SST front on precipitation is investigated during the course of a single extratropical cyclone using a regional configuration of the Met Office Unified Model. The comparison of a control run with a simulation in which SST gradients were smoothed brought the following conclusions: a band of precipitation is reproduced for a single extratropical cyclone, and the response to the SST gradient is dominated by a change of convective precipitation in the cold sector of the storm. Several climatological features described by previous studies, such as surface wind convergence on the warm edge or a meridional circulation cell across the SST front, are also reproduced at synoptic time scales in the cold sector. Based on these results, a simple boundary layer model is proposed to explain the convective and dynamical response to the SST gradient in the cold sector. In this model, cold and dry air parcels acquire more buoyancy over a sharp SST gradient and become more convectively unstable. The convection sets a pressure anomaly over the entire depth of the boundary layer that drives wind convergence. This case study offers a new pathway by which the SST gradient can anchor a climatological band of precipitation.

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Akira Kuwano-Yoshida
and
Shoshiro Minobe

Abstract

The storm-track response to sea surface temperature (SST) fronts in the northwestern Pacific region is investigated using an atmospheric general circulation model with a 50-km horizontal resolution. The following two experiments are conducted: one with 0.25° daily SST data (CNTL) and the other with smoothed SSTs over an area covering SST fronts associated with the Kuroshio, the Kuroshio Extension, the Oyashio, and the subpolar front (SMTHK). The storm track estimated from the local deepening rate of surface pressure (LDR) exhibits a prominent peak in this region in CNTL in January, whereas the storm-track peak weakens and moves eastward in SMTHK. Storm-track differences between CNTL and SMTHK are only found in explosive deepening events with LDR larger than 1 hPa h−1. A diagnostic equation of LDR suggests that latent heat release associated with large-scale condensation contributes to the storm-track enhancement. The SST fronts also affect the large-scale atmospheric circulation over the northeastern Pacific Ocean. The jet stream in the upper troposphere tends to meander northward, which is associated with positive sea level pressure (SLP) anomalies in CNTL, whereas the jet stream flows zonally in SMTHK. A composite analysis for the northwestern Pacific SLP anomaly suggests that frequent explosive cyclone development in the northwestern Pacific in CNTL causes downstream positive SLP anomalies over the Gulf of Alaska. Cyclones in SMTHK developing over the northeastern Pacific enhance the moisture flux along the west coast of North America, increasing precipitation in that region.

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Ryusuke Masunaga
,
Hisashi Nakamura
,
Takafumi Miyasaka
,
Kazuaki Nishii
, and
Bo Qiu

Abstract

The Kuroshio Extension (KE) fluctuates between its different dynamic regimes on (quasi) decadal time scales. In its stable (unstable) regime, the KE jet is strengthened (weakened) and less (more) meandering. The present study investigates wintertime mesoscale atmospheric structures modulated under the changing KE regimes, as revealed in high-resolution satellite data and data from a particular atmospheric reanalysis (ERA-Interim). In the unstable KE regime, a positive anomaly in sea surface temperature (SST) to the north of the climatological KE jet accompanies positive anomalies in upward heat fluxes from the ocean, surface wind convergence, and cloudiness. As revealed in the atmospheric reanalysis, these positive anomalies coincide with local lowering of sea level pressure, weaker vertical wind shear, warming and thickening of the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL), anomalous ascent, and convective precipitation. In the stable KE regime, by contrast, the corresponding imprints of sharp SST gradients across the KE and Oyashio fronts on the wintertime MABL are separated more distinctly, and so are the surface baroclinic zones along those two SST fronts. In the ERA-Interim data, such mesoscale imprints of the KE variability as above are not well represented in a period during which the resolution of SST data prescribed is relatively low. The present study thus elucidates the importance of high-resolution SST data prescribed for atmospheric reanalysis in representing modulations of the MABL structure and air–sea fluxes by the variability of oceanic fronts and/or jets, including the modulations occurring with the changing KE regimes through the hydrostatic pressure adjustment and vertical mixing mechanisms.

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Adèle Révelard
,
Claude Frankignoul
,
Nathalie Sennéchael
,
Young-Oh Kwon
, and
Bo Qiu

Abstract

The atmospheric response to the Kuroshio Extension (KE) variability during 1979–2012 is investigated using a KE index derived from sea surface height measurements and an eddy-resolving ocean general circulation model hindcast. When the index is positive, the KE is in the stable state, strengthened and shifted northward, with lower eddy kinetic energy, and the Kuroshio–Oyashio Extension (KOE) region is anomalously warm. The reverse holds when the index is negative. Regression analysis shows that there is a coherent atmospheric response to the decadal KE fluctuations between October and January. The KOE warming generates an upward surface heat flux that leads to local ascending motions and a northeastward shift of the zones of maximum baroclinicity, eddy heat and moisture fluxes, and the storm track. The atmospheric response consists of an equivalent barotropic large-scale signal, with a downstream high and a low over the Arctic. The heating and transient eddy anomalies excite stationary Rossby waves that propagate the signal poleward and eastward. There is a warming typically exceeding 0.6 K at 900 hPa over eastern Asia and western United States, which reduces the snow cover by 4%–6%. One month later, in November–February, a high appears over northwestern Europe, and the hemispheric teleconnection bears some similarity with the Arctic Oscillation. Composite analysis shows that the atmospheric response primarily occurs during the stable state of the KE, while no evidence of a significant large-scale atmospheric response is found in the unstable state. Arguments are given to explain this strong asymmetry.

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Kotaro Katsube
and
Masaru Inatsu

Abstract

A set of short-term experiments using a regional atmospheric model (RAM) were carried out to investigate the response of tropical cyclone (TC) tracks to sea surface temperature (SST) in the western North Pacific. For 10 selected TC cases occurring during 2002–07, a warm and a cold run are performed with 2 and −2 K added to the SSTs uniformly over the model domain, respectively. The cases can be classified into three groups in terms of recurvature: recurved tracks in the warm and cold runs, a recurved track in the warm run and a nonrecurved track in the cold run, and nonrecurved tracks in both runs. Commonly the warm run produced northward movement of the TC faster than the cold run. The rapid northward migration can be mainly explained by the result that cyclonic circulation to the west of the TC is found in the steering flow in the warm run and it is not in the cold run. The beta effect is also activated under the warm SST environment. For the typical TC cases, a linear baroclinic model experiment is performed to examine how the cyclonic circulation is intensified in the warm run. The stationary linear response to diabatic heating obtained from the RAM experiment reveals that the intensified TC by the warm SST excites the cyclonic circulation in the lower troposphere to the west of the forcing position. The vorticity and thermodynamic equation analysis shows the detailed mechanism. The time scale of the linear response and the teleconnection are also discussed.

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Yi-Hui Wang
and
W. Timothy Liu

Abstract

This study investigates the regional atmospheric response to the Kuroshio Extension (KE) using a combination of multiple satellite observations and reanalysis data from boreal winter over a period of at least a decade. The goal is to understand the relationship between KE variations and atmospheric responses at low frequencies. A climate index is used to measure the interannual to decadal KE variability, which leaves remarkable imprints on the mesoscale sea surface temperature (SST). Clear spatial coherence between the SST signals and frontal-scale atmospheric variables, including surface wind convergence, vertical velocity, precipitation, and clouds, is identified by linear regression analysis. Consistent with previous studies, the penetrating effect of the KE variability on the free atmosphere is found. The westward tilt of the atmospheric response above the KE near 500 hPa is revealed. The difference in the associations of frontal-scale air temperature and geopotential height with the KE variability between the satellite observations and the reanalysis data suggests an imperfect interpretation of frontal-scale oceanic forcing on the overlying atmosphere in the reanalysis assimilation system.

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Larry W. O’Neill
,
Tracy Haack
, and
Theodore Durland

Abstract

Two methods of computing the time-mean divergence and vorticity from satellite vector winds in rain-free (RF) and all-weather (AW) conditions are investigated. Consequences of removing rain-contaminated winds on the mean divergence and vorticity depend strongly on the order in which the time-average and spatial derivative operations are applied. Taking derivatives first and averages second (DFAS_RF) incorporates only those RF winds measured at the same time into the spatial derivatives. While preferable mathematically, this produces mean fields biased relative to their AW counterparts because of the exclusion of convergence and cyclonic vorticity often associated with rain. Conversely, taking averages first and derivatives second (AFDS_RF) incorporates all RF winds into the time-mean spatial derivatives, even those not measured coincidentally. While questionable, the AFDS_RF divergence and vorticity surprisingly appears qualitatively consistent with the AW means, despite using only RF winds. The analysis addresses whether the AFDS_RF method accurately estimates the AW mean divergence and vorticity.

Model simulations indicate that the critical distinction between these two methods is the inclusion of typically convergent and cyclonic winds bordering rain patches in the AFDS_RF method. While this additional information removes some of the sampling bias in the DFAS_RF method, it is shown that the AFDS_RF method nonetheless provides only marginal estimates of the mean AW divergence and vorticity given sufficient time averaging and spatial smoothing. Use of the AFDS_RF method is thus not recommended.

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Masayo Ogi
,
Bunmei Taguchi
,
Meiji Honda
,
David G. Barber
, and
Søren Rysgaard

Abstract

Contemporary climate science seeks to understand the rate and magnitude of a warming global climate and how it impacts regional variability and teleconnections. One of the key drivers of regional climate is the observed reduction in end of summer sea-ice extent over the Arctic. Here the authors show that interannual variations between the September Arctic sea-ice concentration, especially in the East Siberian Sea, and the maximum Okhotsk sea-ice extent in the following winter are positively correlated, which is not explained by the recent warming trend only. An increase of sea ice both in the East Siberian Sea and the Okhotsk Sea and corresponding atmospheric patterns, showing a seesaw between positive anomalies of sea level pressures over the Arctic Ocean and negative anomalies over the midlatitudes, are related to cold anomalies over the high-latitude Eurasian continent. The patterns of atmospheric circulation and air temperatures are similar to those of the annually integrated Arctic Oscillation (AO). The negative annual AO forms colder anomalies in autumn sea surface temperatures both over the East Siberian Sea and the Okhotsk Sea, which causes heavy sea-ice conditions in both seas through season-to-season persistence.

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Xiaohui Ma
,
Ping Chang
,
R. Saravanan
,
Dexing Wu
,
Xiaopei Lin
,
Lixin Wu
, and
Xiuquan Wan

Abstract

Boreal winter (November–March) extreme flux events in the Kuroshio Extension region (KER) of the northwestern Pacific and the Gulf Stream region (GSR) of the northwestern Atlantic are analyzed and compared, based on NCEP Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR), NCEP–NCAR reanalysis, and NOAA Twentieth Century Reanalysis data, as well as the observationally derived OAFlux dataset. These extreme flux events, most of which last less than 3 days, are characterized by cold air outbreaks (CAOs) with an anomalous northerly wind that brings cold and dry air from the Eurasian and North American continents to the KER and GSR, respectively. A close relationship between the extreme flux events over KER (GSR) and the Aleutian low pattern (ALP) [east Atlantic pattern (EAP)] is found with more frequent occurrence of the extreme flux events during a positive ALP (EAP) phase and vice versa. A further lag-composite analysis suggests that the ALP (EAP) is associated with accumulated effects of the synoptic winter storms accompanied by the extreme flux events and shows that the event-day storms tend to have a preferred southeastward propagation path over the North Pacific (Atlantic), potentially contributing to the southward shift of the storm track over the eastern North Pacific (Atlantic) basin during the ALP (EAP) positive phase. Finally, lag-regression analyses indicate a potential positive influence of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies along the KER (GSR) on the development of the extreme flux events in the North Pacific (Atlantic).

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Ryusuke Masunaga
,
Hisashi Nakamura
,
Takafumi Miyasaka
,
Kazuaki Nishii
, and
Youichi Tanimoto

Abstract

Mesoscale structures of the wintertime marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL) as climatological imprints of oceanic fronts within the Kuroshio–Oyashio Extension (KOE) region east of Japan are investigated by taking advantage of high horizontal resolution of the ERA-Interim global atmospheric reanalysis data, for which the resolution of sea surface temperature (SST) data has been improved. These imprints, including locally enhanced sensible and latent heat fluxes and local maxima in cloudiness and precipitation in association with locally strengthened surface-wind convergence in the vicinities of SST fronts along the warm Kuroshio Extension and cool Oyashio to its north, are also identified in high-resolution satellite data. In addition to these mesoscale MABL features, meridionally confined near-surface baroclinic zones and zonally oriented sea level pressure (SLP) minima associated with the dual SST fronts are represented in ERA-Interim only in the period of high-resolution SST, but those imprints of the Oyashio front are missing in the low-resolution SST period. In the presence of the prevailing monsoonal northerlies, latitudinal displacements of the SLP trough, baroclinic zone, and the peak meridional gradient of the turbulent heat fluxes from each of the corresponding SST fronts are also found to be sensitive to the frontal width that depends on the SST resolution. The analysis herein suggests that the converging surface northerlies into the SLP minima can contribute positively to the formation of a surface baroclinic zone along the Kuroshio Extension, while a stronger baroclinic zone along the Oyashio front is maintained primarily through the pronounced cross-frontal contrast in sensible heat release from the ocean.

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