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Florian Pantillon
,
Bianca Adler
,
Ulrich Corsmeier
,
Peter Knippertz
,
Andreas Wieser
, and
Akio Hansen

Abstract

Damaging gusts in windstorms are represented by crude subgrid-scale parameterizations in today’s weather and climate models. This limitation motivated the Wind and Storms Experiment (WASTEX) in winter 2016–17 in the Upper Rhine Valley over southwestern Germany. Gusts recorded at an instrumented tower during the passage of extratropical cyclone “Thomas” on 23 February 2017 are investigated based on measurements of radial wind with ≈70-m along-beam spacing from a fast-scanning Doppler lidar and realistic large-eddy simulations with grid spacings down to 78 m using the Icosahedral Nonhydrostatic model. Four wind peaks occur due to the storm onset, the cold front, a precipitation line, and isolated showers. The first peak is related to a sudden drop in dewpoint and results from the downward mixing of a low-level jet and a dry layer within the warm sector characterized by extremely high temperatures for the season. While operational convection-permitting forecasts poorly predict the storm onset overall, a successful ensemble member highlights the role of upstream orography. Lidar observations reveal the presence of long-lasting wind structures that result from a combination of convection- and shear-driven instability. Large-eddy simulations contain structures elongated in the wind direction that are qualitatively similar but too coarse compared to the observed ones. Their size is found to exceed the effective model resolution by one order of magnitude due to their elongation. These results emphasize the need for subkilometer-scale measuring and modeling systems to improve the representation of gusts in windstorms.

Open access
Kevin Bachmann
,
Christian Keil
,
George C. Craig
,
Martin Weissmann
, and
Christian A. Welzbacher

Abstract

We investigate the practical predictability limits of deep convection in a state-of-the-art, high-resolution, limited-area ensemble prediction system. A combination of sophisticated predictability measures, namely, believable and decorrelation scale, are applied to determine the predictable scales of short-term forecasts in a hierarchy of model configurations. First, we consider an idealized perfect model setup that includes both small-scale and synoptic-scale perturbations. We find increased predictability in the presence of orography and a strongly beneficial impact of radar data assimilation, which extends the forecast horizon by up to 6 h. Second, we examine realistic COSMO-KENDA simulations, including assimilation of radar and conventional data and a representation of model errors, for a convectively active two-week summer period over Germany. The results confirm increased predictability in orographic regions. We find that both latent heat nudging and ensemble Kalman filter assimilation of radar data lead to increased forecast skill, but the impact is smaller than in the idealized experiments. This highlights the need to assimilate spatially and temporally dense data, but also indicates room for further improvement. Finally, the examination of operational COSMO-DE-EPS ensemble forecasts for three summer periods confirms the beneficial impact of orography in a statistical sense and also reveals increased predictability in weather regimes controlled by synoptic forcing, as defined by the convective adjustment time scale.

Free access
Jeremy D. Berman
and
Ryan D. Torn

Abstract

Perturbations to the potential vorticity (PV) waveguide, which can result from latent heat release within the warm conveyor belt (WCB) of midlatitude cyclones, can lead to the downstream radiation of Rossby waves, and in turn high-impact weather events. Previous studies have hypothesized that forecast uncertainty associated with diabatic heating in WCBs can result in large downstream forecast variability; however, these studies have not established a direct connection between the two. This study evaluates the potential impact of latent heating variability in the WCB on subsequent downstream forecasts by applying the ensemble-based sensitivity method to European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) ensemble forecasts of a cyclogenesis event over the North Atlantic. For this case, ensemble members with a more amplified ridge are associated with greater negative PV advection by the irrotational wind, which is associated with stronger lower-tropospheric southerly moisture transport east of the upstream cyclone in the WCB. This transport is sensitive to the pressure trough to the south of the cyclone along the cold front, which in turn is modulated by earlier differences in the motion of the air masses on either side of the front. The position of the cold air behind the front is modulated by upstream tropopause-based PV anomalies, such that a deeper pressure trough is associated with a more progressive flow pattern, originating from Rossby wave breaking over the North Pacific. Overall, these results suggest that more accurate forecasts of upstream PV anomalies and WCBs may reduce forecast uncertainty in the downstream waveguide.

Free access
Mirjam Hirt
,
Stephan Rasp
,
Ulrich Blahak
, and
George C. Craig

Abstract

Kilometer-scale models allow for an explicit simulation of deep convective overturning but many subgrid processes that are crucial for convective initiation are still poorly represented. This leads to biases such as insufficient convection triggering and late peak of summertime convection. A physically based stochastic perturbation scheme (PSP) for subgrid processes has been proposed (Kober and Craig) that targets the coupling between subgrid turbulence and resolved convection. The first part of this study presents four modifications to this PSP scheme for subgrid turbulence: an autoregressive, continuously evolving random field; a limitation of the perturbations to the boundary layer that removes artificial convection at night; a mask that turns off perturbations in precipitating columns to retain coherent structures; and nondivergent wind perturbations that drastically increase the effectiveness of the vertical velocity perturbations. In a revised version, PSP2, the combined modifications retain the physically based coupling to the boundary layer scheme of the original scheme while removing undesirable side effects. This has the potential to improve predictions of convective initiation in kilometer-scale models while minimizing other biases. The second part of the study focuses on perturbations to account for convective initiation by subgrid orography. Here the mechanical lifting effect is modeled by introducing vertical and horizontal wind perturbations of an orographically induced gravity wave. The resulting perturbations lead to enhanced convective initiation over mountainous terrain. However, the total benefit of this scheme is unclear and we do not adopt the scheme in our revised configuration.

Free access
Christian Euler
,
Michael Riemer
,
Tobias Kremer
, and
Elmar Schömer

Abstract

Extratropical transition (ET) of tropical cyclones involves distinct changes of the cyclone’s structure that are not yet well understood. This study presents for the first time a comprehensive Lagrangian description of structure change near the inner core. A large sample of trajectories is computed from a convection-permitting numerical simulation of the ET of Tropical Storm Karl (2016). Three main airstreams are considered: those associated with the inner-core convection, inner-core descent, and the developing warm conveyor belt. Analysis of these airstreams is performed both in thermodynamic and physical space. Prior to ET, Karl is embedded in weak vertical wind shear and its intensity is impeded by excessive detrainment from the inner-core convection. At the start of ET, vertical shear increases and Karl intensifies, which is attributable to reduced detrainment and thus to the formation of a well-defined outflow layer. During ET, the thermodynamic changes of the environment impact Karl’s inner-core convection predominantly by a decrease of θ e values in the inflow layer. Notably, notwithstanding Karl’s weak intensity, its inner core acts as a “containment vessel” that transports high-θ e air into the increasingly hostile environment. Inner-core descent has two origins: (i) mostly from upshear-left above 4-km height in the environment and (ii) boundary layer air that ascends in the inner core first and then descends, performing rollercoaster-like trajectories. At the end of the tropical phase of ET, the developing warm conveyor belt comprises air masses from several different source regions, and only partly from the cyclone’s developing warm sector, as expected for extratropical cyclones.

Open access
Joaquim G. Pinto
,
Florian Pantillon
,
Patrick Ludwig
,
Madeleine-Sophie Déroche
,
Giovanni Leoncini
,
Christoph C. Raible
,
Len C. Shaffrey
, and
David B. Stephenson
Full access
Marlene Baumgart
,
Paolo Ghinassi
,
Volkmar Wirth
,
Tobias Selz
,
George C. Craig
, and
Michael Riemer

Abstract

Two diagnostics based on potential vorticity and the envelope of Rossby waves are used to investigate upscale error growth from a dynamical perspective. The diagnostics are applied to several cases of global, real-case ensemble simulations, in which the only difference between the ensemble members lies in the random seed of the stochastic convection scheme. Based on a tendency equation for the enstrophy error, the relative importance of individual processes to enstrophy-error growth near the tropopause is quantified. After the enstrophy error is saturated on the synoptic scale, the envelope diagnostic is used to investigate error growth up to the planetary scale. The diagnostics reveal distinct stages of the error growth: in the first 12 h, error growth is dominated by differences in the convection scheme. Differences in the upper-tropospheric divergent wind then project these diabatic errors into the tropopause region (day 0.5–2). The subsequent error growth (day 2–14.5) is governed by differences in the nonlinear near-tropopause dynamics. A fourth stage of the error growth is found up to 18 days when the envelope diagnostic indicates error growth from the synoptic up to the planetary scale. Previous ideas of the multiscale nature of upscale error growth are confirmed in general. However, a novel interpretation of the governing processes is provided. The insight obtained into the dynamics of upscale error growth may help to design representations of uncertainty in operational forecast models and to identify atmospheric conditions that are intrinsically prone to large error amplification.

Open access
Andreas Schlueter
,
Andreas H. Fink
, and
Peter Knippertz

Abstract

This study presents the first systematic comparison of the dynamics and thermodynamics associated with all major tropical wave types causing rainfall modulation over northern tropical Africa: the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO), equatorial Rossby waves (ERs), tropical disturbances (TDs, including African easterly waves), Kelvin waves, mixed Rossby–gravity waves (MRGs), and eastward inertio-gravity waves (EIGs). Reanalysis and radiosonde data were analyzed for the period 1981–2013 based on space–time filtering of outgoing longwave radiation. The identified circulation patterns are largely consistent with theory. The slow modes, MJO and ER, mainly impact precipitable water, whereas the faster TDs, Kelvin waves, and MRGs primarily modulate moisture convergence. Monsoonal inflow intensifies during wet phases of the MJO, ERs, and MRGs, associated with a northward shift of the intertropical discontinuity for MJO and ERs. This study reveals that MRGs over Africa have a distinct dynamical structure that differs significantly from AEWs. During passages of vertically tilted imbalanced wave modes, such as the MJO, TDs, Kelvin waves, and partly MRG waves, increased vertical wind shear and improved conditions for up- and downdrafts facilitate the organization of mesoscale convective systems. The balanced ERs are not tilted, and rainfall is triggered by large-scale moistening and stratiform lifting. The MJO and ERs interact with intraseasonal variations of the Indian monsoon and extratropical Rossby wave trains. The latter causes a trough over the Atlas Mountains associated with a tropical plume and rainfall over the Sahara. The presented results unveil which dynamical processes need to be modeled realistically to represent the coupling between tropical waves and rainfall in northern tropical Africa.

Open access
Julia H. Keller
,
Christian M. Grams
,
Michael Riemer
,
Heather M. Archambault
,
Lance Bosart
,
James D. Doyle
,
Jenni L. Evans
,
Thomas J. Galarneau Jr.
,
Kyle Griffin
,
Patrick A. Harr
,
Naoko Kitabatake
,
Ron McTaggart-Cowan
,
Florian Pantillon
,
Julian F. Quinting
,
Carolyn A. Reynolds
,
Elizabeth A. Ritchie
,
Ryan D. Torn
, and
Fuqing Zhang

Abstract

The extratropical transition (ET) of tropical cyclones often has an important impact on the nature and predictability of the midlatitude flow. This review synthesizes the current understanding of the dynamical and physical processes that govern this impact and highlights the relationship of downstream development during ET to high-impact weather, with a focus on downstream regions. It updates a previous review from 2003 and identifies new and emerging challenges and future research needs. First, the mechanisms through which the transitioning cyclone impacts the midlatitude flow in its immediate vicinity are discussed. This “direct impact” manifests in the formation of a jet streak and the amplification of a ridge directly downstream of the cyclone. This initial flow modification triggers or amplifies a midlatitude Rossby wave packet, which disperses the impact of ET into downstream regions (downstream impact) and may contribute to the formation of high-impact weather. Details are provided concerning the impact of ET on forecast uncertainty in downstream regions and on the impact of observations on forecast skill. The sources and characteristics of the following key features and processes that may determine the manifestation of the impact of ET on the midlatitude flow are discussed: the upper-tropospheric divergent outflow, mainly associated with latent heat release in the troposphere below, and the phasing between the transitioning cyclone and the midlatitude wave pattern. Improving the representation of diabatic processes during ET in models and a climatological assessment of the ET’s impact on downstream high-impact weather are examples for future research directions.

Open access
Tobias Selz

Abstract

Global model simulations together with a stochastic convection scheme are used to assess the intrinsic limit of predictability that originates from convection up to planetary scales. The stochastic convection scheme has been shown to introduce an appropriate amount of variability onto the model grid without the need to resolve the convection explicitly. This largely reduces computational costs and enables a set of 12 cases equally distributed over 1 year with five ensemble members for each case, generated by the stochastic convection scheme. As a metric, difference kinetic energy at 300 hPa over the midlatitudes, both north and south, is used. With this metric the intrinsic limit is estimated to be about 17 days when a threshold of 80% of the saturation level is applied. The error level at 3.5 days roughly compares to the initial-condition uncertainty of the current ECMWF data assimilation system, which suggests a potential improvement of 3.5 forecast days through perfecting the initial conditions. Error-growth experiments that use a deterministic convection scheme show smaller errors of about half the size at early forecast times and an estimate of intrinsic predictability that is about 10% longer, confirming the overconfidence of deterministic convection schemes.

Open access