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Jungmin M. Lee
,
Cheng Tao
,
Walter M. Hannah
,
Shaocheng Xie
, and
David C. Bader

Abstract

Many climate models exhibit a dry and warm bias over the central United States during the summer months, including the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) and its Multiscale Modeling Framework (MMF) configuration. Understanding the causes of this bias is important to shine a light on this common model error and reduce the uncertainty in future projections. In this study, we use E3SMv2 and E3SM-MMF to assess how parameterized and resolved convection affect temperature and precipitation biases over the Southern Great Plains site of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program. Both configurations overestimate near-surface temperature and underestimate precipitation at the ARM SGP site. The bias is associated with a lack of low-level clouds during days without precipitation and too much incoming solar radiation causing the surface to warm. Low-level cloud fraction in E3SM-MMF during the nonprecipitating days is lower in comparison to E3SMv2 and observation, consistent with the larger warm bias. We also find that the underestimated precipitation can be characterized as “too frequent, too weak” in E3SMv2 and “too rare, too intense” in E3SM-MMF. These deficiencies conspire to sustain the warm and dry bias over the central United States.

Open access
Puja Roy
,
Robert M. Rauber
, and
Larry Di Girolamo

Abstract

This study investigates the evolution of temperature and lifetime of evaporating, supercooled cloud droplets considering initial droplet radius (r 0) and temperature ( T r 0 ), and environmental relative humidity (RH), temperature (T ), and pressure (P). The time (t ss) required by droplets to reach a lower steady-state temperature (T ss) after sudden introduction into a new subsaturated environment, the magnitude of ΔT = T T ss, and droplet survival time (t st) at T ss are calculated. The temperature difference (ΔT) is found to increase with T , and decrease with RH and P. ΔT was typically 1–5 K lower than T , with highest values (∼10.3 K) for very low RH, low P, and T closer to 0°C. Results show that t ss is <0.5 s over the range of initial droplet and environmental conditions considered. Larger droplets (r 0 = 30–50 μm) can survive at T ss for about 5 s to over 10 min, depending on the subsaturation of the environment. For higher RH and larger droplets, droplet lifetimes can increase by more than 100 s compared to those with droplet cooling ignored. T ss of the evaporating droplets can be approximated by the environmental thermodynamic wet-bulb temperature. Radiation was found to play a minor role in influencing droplet temperatures, except for larger droplets in environments close to saturation. The implications for ice nucleation in cloud-top generating cells and near cloud edges are discussed. Using T ss instead of T in widely used parameterization schemes could lead to enhanced number concentrations of activated ice-nucleating particles (INPs), by a typical factor of 2–30, with the greatest increases (≥100) coincident with low RH, low P, and T closer to 0°C.

Significance Statement

Cloud droplet temperature plays an important role in fundamental cloud processes like droplet growth and decay, activation of ice-nucleating particles, and determination of radiative parameters like refractive indices of water droplets. Near cloud boundaries such as cloud tops, dry air mixes with cloudy air exposing droplets to environments with low relative humidities. This study examines how the temperature of a cloud droplet that is supercooled (i.e., has an initial temperature < 0°C) evolves in these subsaturated environments. Results show that when supercooled cloud droplets evaporate near cloud boundaries, their temperatures can be several degrees Celsius lower than the surrounding drier environment. The implications of this additional cooling of droplets near cloud edges on ice particle formation are discussed.

Open access
David C. Fritts
,
Gerd Baumgarten
,
P.-Dominique Pautet
,
James H. Hecht
,
Bifford P. Williams
,
Natalie Kaifler
,
Bernd Kaifler
,
C. Bjorn Kjellstrand
,
Ling Wang
,
Michael J. Taylor
, and
Amber D. Miller

Abstract

Multiple recent observations in the mesosphere have revealed large-scale Kelvin–Helmholtz instabilities (KHI) exhibiting diverse spatial features and temporal evolutions. The first event reported by Hecht et al. exhibited multiple features resembling those seen to arise in early laboratory shear-flow studies described as “tube” and “knot” (T&K) dynamics by Thorpe. The potential importance of T&K dynamics in the atmosphere, and in the oceans and other stratified and sheared fluids, is due to their accelerated turbulence transitions and elevated energy dissipation rates relative to KHI turbulence transitions occurring in their absence. Motivated by these studies, we survey recent observational evidence of multiscale Kelvin–Helmholtz instabilities throughout the atmosphere, many features of which closely resemble T&K dynamics observed in the laboratory and idealized initial modeling. These efforts will guide further modeling assessing the potential importance of these T&K dynamics in turbulence generation, energy dissipation, and mixing throughout the atmosphere and other fluids. We expect these dynamics to have implications for parameterizing mixing and transport in stratified shear flows in the atmosphere and oceans that have not been considered to date. Companion papers describe results of a multiscale gravity wave direct numerical simulation (DNS) that serendipitously exhibits a number of KHI T&K events and an idealized multiscale DNS of KHI T&K dynamics without gravity wave influences.

Significance Statement

Kelvin–Helmholtz instabilities (KHI) occur throughout the atmosphere and induce turbulence and mixing that need to be represented in weather prediction and other models of the atmosphere and oceans. This paper documents recent atmospheric evidence for widespread, more intense, features of KHI dynamics that arise where KH billows are initially discontinuous, misaligned, or varying along their axes. These features initiate strong local vortex interactions described as “tubes” and “knots” in early laboratory experiments, suggested by, but not recognized in, earlier atmospheric and oceanic profiling, and only recently confirmed in newer, high-resolution atmospheric imaging and idealized modeling to date.

Open access
David C. Fritts
and
Ling Wang

Abstract

A companion paper by Fritts et al. reviews evidence for Kelvin–Helmholtz instability (KHI) “tube” and “knot” (T&K) dynamics that appear to be widespread throughout the atmosphere. Here we describe the results of an idealized direct numerical simulation of multiscale gravity wave dynamics that reveals multiple larger- and smaller-scale KHI T&K events. The results enable assessments of the environments in which these dynamics arise and their competition with concurrent gravity wave breaking in driving turbulence and energy dissipation. A larger-scale event is diagnosed in detail and reveals diverse and intense T&K dynamics driving more intense turbulence than occurs due to gravity wave breaking in the same environment. Smaller-scale events reveal that KHI T&K dynamics readily extend to weaker, smaller-scale, and increasingly viscous shear flows. Our results suggest that KHI T&K dynamics should be widespread, perhaps ubiquitous, wherever superposed gravity waves induce intensifying shear layers, because such layers are virtually always present. A second companion paper demonstrates that KHI T&K dynamics exhibit elevated turbulence generation and energy dissipation rates extending to smaller Reynolds numbers for relevant KHI scales wherever they arise. These dynamics are suggested to be significant sources of turbulence and mixing throughout the atmosphere that are currently ignored or underrepresented in turbulence parameterizations in regional and global models.

Significance Statement

Atmospheric observations reveal that Kelvin–Helmholtz instabilities (KHI) often exhibit complex interactions described as “tube” and “knot” (T&K) dynamics in the presence of larger-scale gravity waves (GWs). These dynamics may prove to make significant contributions to energy dissipation and mixing that are not presently accounted for in large-scale modeling and weather prediction. We explore here the occurrence of KHI T&K dynamics in an idealized model that describes their behavior and character arising at larger and smaller scales due to superposed, large-amplitude GWs. The results reveal that KHI T&K dynamics arise at larger and smaller scales, and that their turbulence intensities can be comparable to those of the GWs.

Open access
Ángel F. Adames Corraliza
and
Víctor C. Mayta

Abstract

The moist static energy (MSE) budget is widely used to understand moist atmospheric thermodynamics. However, the budget is not exact, and the accuracy of the approximations that yield it has not been examined rigorously in the context of large-scale tropical motions (horizontal scales ≥ 1000 km). A scale analysis shows that these approximations are most accurate in systems whose latent energy anomalies are considerably larger than the geopotential and kinetic energy anomalies. This condition is satisfied in systems that exhibit phase speeds and horizontal winds on the order of 10 m s−1 or less. Results from a power spectral analysis of data from the DYNAMO field campaign and ERA5 qualitatively agree with the scaling, although they indicate that the neglected terms are smaller than what the scaling suggests. A linear regression analysis of the MJO events that occurred during DYNAMO yields results that support these findings. It is suggested that the MSE budget is accurate in the tropics because motions within these latitudes are constrained to exhibit small fluctuations in geopotential and kinetic energy as a result of weak temperature gradient (WTG) balance.

Open access
Martin Velez-Pardo
and
Timothy W. Cronin

Abstract

The organization of convection into relatively long-lived patterns of large spatial scales, like tropical cyclones, is a common feature of Earth’s atmosphere. However, many key aspects of convective aggregation and its relationship with tropical cyclone formation remain elusive. In this work, we simulate highly idealized setups of dry convection, inspired by the Rayleigh–Bénard system, to probe the effects of different thermal boundary conditions on the scale of organization of rotating convection, and on the formation of tropical cyclone–like structures. We find that in domains with sufficiently high aspect ratios, moderately turbulent ( Ra f 10 9 ), moderately rotating ( Ro c 1 ) convection organizes more persistently and at larger scales when thermal boundary conditions constrain heat fluxes rather than temperatures. Furthermore, for some thermal boundary conditions with asymmetric heat fluxes, convection organizes into persistent vortices with the essential properties of mature tropical cyclones: a warm core, high axisymmetry, a strong azimuthal circulation, and substantially larger size than individual buoyant plumes. We argue that flux asymmetry results in a persistent and localized input of buoyancy, which allows spatially aggregated convection to sustain a warm core in a developing large-scale vortex. Crucially, the most intense and axisymmetric cyclone forms for setups where the bottom heat flux is enhanced by the nearby flow and the top boundary is insulating, as long as the convective Rossby number is higher than about 1. Our results demonstrate the great potential for dialogue between classical turbulence research and the study of convective aggregation and tropical cyclones.

Significance Statement

On Earth, atmospheric convection frequently organizes into large spatial patterns that persist for several days, like tropical cyclones. However, many aspects of this process of organization and its link to tropical cyclone formation are not fully understood. In this work, we use numerical simulations of simple setups of rotating convection without moisture to study the minimal conditions that produce large-scale convective organization, and the spontaneous formation of tropical cyclone–like structures. We find that the latter form more readily for a particular set of controlling parameters and thermal boundary conditions. Our approach seeks to narrow the disciplinary gap between tropical cyclone physics and traditional turbulence research, by bringing together methods, questions, and results that are of potential interest to both.

Open access
John M. Peters
,
Daniel R. Chavas
,
Chun-Yian Su
,
Hugh Morrison
, and
Brice E. Coffer

Abstract

This article introduces an analytic formula for entraining convective available potential energy (ECAPE) with an entrainment rate that is determined directly from an environmental sounding, rather than prescribed by the formula user. Entrainment is connected to the background environment using an eddy diffusivity approximation for lateral mixing, updraft geometry assumptions, and mass continuity. These approximations result in a direct correspondence between the storm-relative flow and the updraft radius and an inverse scaling between the updraft radius squared and entrainment rate. The aforementioned concepts, combined with the assumption of adiabatic conservation of moist static energy, yield an explicit analytic equation for ECAPE that depends entirely on state variables in an atmospheric profile and a few constant parameters with values that are established in past literature. Using a simplified Bernoulli-like equation, the ECAPE formula is modified to account for updraft enhancement via kinetic energy extracted from the cloud’s background environment. CAPE and ECAPE can be viewed as predictors of the maximum vertical velocity w max in an updraft. Hence, these formulas are evaluated using w max from past numerical modeling studies. Both of the new formulas improve predictions of w max substantially over commonly used diagnostic parameters, including undiluted CAPE and ECAPE with a constant prescribed entrainment rate. The formula that incorporates environmental kinetic energy contribution to the updraft correctly predicts instances of exceedance of 2 CAPE by w max, and provides a conceptual explanation for why such exceedance is rare among past simulations. These formulas are potentially useful in nowcasting and forecasting thunderstorms and as thunderstorm proxies in climate change studies.

Significance Statement

Substantial mixing occurs between the upward-moving air currents in thunderstorms (updrafts) and the surrounding comparatively dry environmental air, through a process called entrainment. Entrainment controls thunderstorm intensity via its diluting effect on the buoyancy of air within updrafts. A challenge to representing entrainment in forecasting and predictions of the intensity of updrafts in future climates is to determine how much entrainment will occur in a given thunderstorm environment without a computationally expensive high-resolution simulation. To address this gap, this article derives a new formula that computes entrainment from the properties of a single environmental profile. This formula is shown to predict updraft vertical velocity more accurately than past diagnostics, and can be used in forecasting and climate prediction to improve predictions of thunderstorm behavior and impacts.

Open access
Ming Cai
,
Jie Sun
,
Feng Ding
,
Wanying Kang
, and
Xiaoming Hu

Abstract

The slope of the quasi-linear relation between planetary outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) and surface temperature (TS ) is an important parameter measuring the sensitivity of Earth’s climate system. The primary objective of this study is to seek a general explanation for the quasi-linear OLR–TS relation that remains valid regardless of the strength of the atmospheric window’s narrowing effect on planetary thermal emission at higher temperatures. The physical understanding of the quasi-linear OLR–TS relation and its slope is gained from observation analysis, climate simulations with radiative–convective equilibrium and general circulation models, and a series of online feedback suppression experiments. The observed quasi-linear OLR–TS relation manifests a climate footprint of radiative (such as the greenhouse effect) and nonradiative processes (poleward energy transport). The former acts to increase the meridional gradient of surface temperature and the latter decreases the meridional gradient of atmospheric temperatures, causing the flattening of the meridional profile of the OLR. Radiative processes alone can lead to a quasi-linear OLR–TS relation that is more steeply sloped. The atmospheric poleward energy transport alone can also lead to a quasi-linear OLR–TS relation by rerouting part of the OLR to be emitted from a warmer place to a colder place. The combined effects of radiative and nonradiative processes make the quasi-linear OLR–TS relation less sloped with a higher degree of linearity. In response to anthropogenic radiative forcing, the slope of the quasi-linear OLR–TS relation is further reduced via stronger water vapor feedback and enhanced poleward energy transport.

Significance Statement

The slope of the quasi-linear relation between planetary outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) and surface temperature (TS ) is an important parameter measuring the sensitivity of Earth’s climate system. The observed quasi-linear OLR–TS relation manifests a climate footprint of radiative (greenhouse effect) and nonradiative processes (poleward energy transport). Radiative processes alone can lead to a quasi-linear OLR–TS relation that is more steeply sloped. The atmospheric poleward energy transport alone can also lead to a quasi-linear OLR–TS relation by rerouting part of the OLR to be emitted from a warmer place to a colder place. The combined effects of radiative and nonradiative processes make the quasi-linear OLR–TS relation less sloped with a higher degree of linearity.

Open access
Moeka Yamaji
and
Hiroshi G. Takahashi

Abstract

This study aimed to reveal the seasonal climatic variations in the microphysical properties of precipitation over the Asian monsoon region. We used the Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar satellite product aboard the Global Precipitation Measurement Mission Core Observatory for 8 years from 2014 to 2021 to statistically analyze the mass-weighted mean diameter (Dm ) and frequency of heavy ice precipitation (graupel and hail). The results showed statistically significant seasonal changes. The microphysical characteristics of large Dm and frequent heavy ice precipitation were observed over the Indian subcontinent and Indochina Peninsula in the premonsoon season and over the western Himalayan region in the mature-monsoon season, which can be related to the intense and deeply developed precipitation systems. The relationship between precipitation rate and Dm was also examined. The results indicated that changes in Dm were not caused only by changes in precipitation rate but were probably induced by changes in precipitation characteristics. In terms of the relationship between the microphysical properties, heavy ice precipitation particles in the upper atmosphere above the melting layer were observed more frequently as Dm near the surface increased. We also studied lower-atmospheric instability by investigating the vertical gradients of the dry and moist static energies. The results indicated that instability properties were different; dry and wet instabilities were dominant in the premonsoon and monsoon seasons, respectively, consistent with the results of the precipitation characteristics.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study was to reveal seasonal variations in precipitation microphysical characteristics, such as precipitation particle size and the existence of graupel and hail in the upper atmosphere, by climatological analysis over the Asian monsoon region. In previous studies, microphysical characteristics have mainly been addressed using ground-based observations. However, more sampling is needed to expand our understanding of climatological perspectives; therefore, we used recently available satellite observations. As a result, we found that precipitation particles at the surface were larger, and more graupel and hail existed in clouds in the premonsoon season when less precipitation was observed, compared to the mature-monsoon season when precipitation amount and frequency were abundant.

Open access
Deepak Waman
,
Akash Deshmukh
,
Arti Jadav
,
Sachin Patade
,
Martanda Gautam
,
Vaughan Phillips
,
Aaron Bansemer
, and
Jonas Jakobsson

Abstract

The role of time-dependent freezing of ice nucleating particles (INPs) is evaluated with the “Aerosol–Cloud” (AC) model in 1) deep convection observed over Oklahoma during the Midlatitude Continental Convective Cloud Experiment (MC3E), 2) orographic clouds observed over North California during the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Cloud Aerosol Precipitation Experiment (ACAPEX), and 3) supercooled, stratiform clouds over the United Kingdom, observed during the Aerosol Properties, Processes And Influences on the Earth’s climate (APPRAISE) campaign. AC uses the dynamical core of the WRF Model and has hybrid bin–bulk microphysics and a 3D mesoscale domain. AC is validated against coincident aircraft, ground-based, and satellite observations for all three cases. Filtered concentrations of ice (>0.1–0.2 mm) agree with those observed at all sampled levels. AC predicts the INP activity of various types of aerosol particles with an empirical parameterization (EP), which follows a singular approach (no time dependence). Here, the EP is modified to represent time-dependent INP activity by a purely empirical approach, using our published laboratory observations of time-dependent INP activity. In all simulated clouds, the inclusion of time dependence increases the predicted INP activity of mineral dust particles by 0.5–1 order of magnitude. However, there is little impact on the cloud glaciation because the total ice is mostly (80%–90%) from secondary ice production (SIP) at levels warmer than about −36°C. The Hallett–Mossop process and fragmentation in ice–ice collisions together initiate about 70% of the total ice, whereas fragmentation during both raindrop freezing and sublimation contributes <10%. Overall, total ice concentrations and SIP are unaffected by time-dependent INP activity. In the simulated APPRAISE case, the main causes of persistence of long-lived clouds and precipitation are predicted to be SIP in weak embedded convection and reactivation following recirculation of dust particles in supercooled layer cloud.

Open access