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Eshkol Eytan, Alexander Khain, Mark Pinsky, Orit Altaratz, Jacob Shpund, and Ilan Koren

Abstract

Shallow convective clouds are important players in Earth’s energy budget and hydrological cycle, and are abundant in the tropical and subtropical belts. They greatly contribute to the uncertainty in climate predictions due to their unresolved, complex processes that include coupling between the dynamics and microphysics. Analysis of cloud structure can be simplified by considering cloud motions as a combination of moist adiabatic motions like adiabatic updrafts and turbulent motions leading to deviation from adiabaticity. In this work, we study the sizes and occurrence of adiabatic regions in shallow cumulus clouds during their growth and mature stages, and use the adiabatic fraction (AF) as a continuous metric to describe cloud processes and properties from the core to the edge. To do so, we simulate isolated trade wind cumulus clouds of different sizes using the System of Atmospheric Modeling (SAM) model in high resolution (10 m) with the Hebrew University spectral bin microphysics (SBM). The fine features in the clouds’ dynamics and microphysics, including small near-adiabatic volumes and a thin transition zone at the edge of the cloud (∼20–40 m in width), are captured. The AF is shown to be an efficient measure for analyzing cloud properties and key processes determining the droplet-size distribution formation and shape during the cloud evolution. Physical processes governing the properties of droplet size distributions at different cloud regions (e.g., core, edge) are analyzed in relation to AF.

Significance Statement

1) This study investigates the evolution of cumulus clouds (Cu) using a 10-m-resolution LES model with spectral bin microphysics. 2) The study improves the understanding of the mutual effects of adiabatic updrafts and lateral entrainment and mixing. 3) The study demonstrates the existence of an adiabatic core in nonprecipitating Cu. 4) Shapes of the droplet size distributions are closely related to the adiabatic fraction values. 5) Utilization of high resolution reveals the existence of physically significant small features in the cloud structure, such as a narrow cloud interface zone and small adiabatic volumes.

Open access
Guosen Chen

Abstract

Due to a small Coriolis force in tropics, the theoretical study of Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) often assumes weak temperature gradient balance, which neglects the temperature feedback (manifested in the temperature tendency term). In this study, the effect of the temperature feedback on the MJO is investigated by using the MJO trio-interaction model, which can capture the essential large-scale features of the MJO. The scale analysis indicates that the rotation effect is strong for the MJO scales, so that the temperature feedback is as important as the moisture feedback (manifested in the moisture tendency term); the latter is often considered to be critical for MJO. The experiments with the theoretical model show that the temperature feedback has significant impact on the MJO’s maintenance. When the temperature feedback is turned off, the simulated MJO cannot be maintained over the warm pool. This is because the temperature feedback could boost the energy generation. Without the temperature feedback, only the latent heat can be generated. With the temperature feedback, not only the latent heat but also the enthalpy (and therefore the available potential energy) can be generated. Therefore, the total energy generation is more efficient with the temperature feedback, favoring the self-maintenance of the MJO. Further investigation shows that this effect of the temperature feedback on MJO amplification can be inferred from observations. The findings here indicate that the temperature feedback could have nonnegligible impacts on the MJO and have implications in the simulation of MJO.

Open access
Yuhi Nakamura and Yukari N. Takayabu

Abstract

This study investigates precipitation amounts and apparent heat sources, which are coupled with equatorial Kelvin waves and equatorial Rossby waves, using TRMM PR level 2 data products. The synoptic structures of wave disturbances are also studied using the ERA5 dataset. We define the wave phase of equatorial waves based on FFT-filtered brightness temperature and conduct composite analyses. Rossby waves show a vertically upright structure and their upright vortices induce large-amplitude column water vapor (CWV) anomalies. Precipitation activity is almost in phase with CWV, and thus is consistent with a moisture mode. Kelvin waves, on the other hand, indicate a nearly quadrature phase relationship between temperature and vertical velocity, like gravity wave structure. Specific humidity develops from near the surface to the middle troposphere as the Kelvin wave progresses. A clear negative CWV anomaly also does not exist despite the existence of negative precipitation anomalies. Convective activity corresponds well with its tilting structure of moisture and modulates the phase relationship between temperature and vertical motion. For both wave cases, apparent heat sources can amplify available potential energy despite the difference of coupling mechanisms of these two waves; precipitation is driven by CWV fluctuation for the Rossby wave case, and by buoyancy-based fluctuations for the Kelvin wave case. These can be observational evidence of actual coupling processes that is comparable to previous idealized studies.

Significance Statement

A coupling mechanism between equatorial waves and convective activity is a significant issue in tropical meteorology. While many previous idealized studies suggested some instability mechanisms, their true roles are not yet clear because detailed precipitation characteristics are not well investigated. We aim to quantify precipitation and synoptic-scale wave disturbances, and compare equatorial Rossby waves and equatorial Kelvin waves, which should have different instability coupling modes between each other, in order to shed light on a convectively coupling mechanism. We found that precipitation is actually driven by column moisture in Rossby waves and by dynamical fluctuation in Kelvin waves. Despite these competing mechanisms, similar top-heavy heating can maintain convectively coupled disturbances. Our observational results will support and improve theoretical studies.

Open access
Free access
Kaoru Sato, Takenari Kinoshita, Yuki Matsushita, and Masashi Kohma

Abstract

This study formulates three-dimensional (3D) residual flow, treating both stationary and transient waves. The zonal and meridional momentum equations contain four terms: the geostrophic wind tendency, Coriolis force for the residual horizontal flow, product of the geostrophic wind and potential vorticity other than the constant planetary vorticity, and friction. The thermodynamic equation contains three terms: the potential temperature tendency, advection of the basic potential temperature by the residual vertical flow, and diabatic heating. The zonal mean of the 3D residual flow equals the time mean of the residual flow of the transformed Eulerian-mean equations. The new residual flow is the sum of that derived by Plumb for transient waves and the quadratic terms of the time-mean fields, which correspond approximately to the Stokes correction due to stationary waves. The 3D residual flow and momentum equations are symmetric in the zonal and meridional directions, in contrast with those formulated by Kinoshita et al., which treat the time-mean zonal-mean zonal wind as the basic wind. The newly derived formulas are applied to the climatology of the 3D structure of the deep branch of the Brewer–Dobson circulation. In the Northern Hemisphere in December–February, the residual flows are directed inward toward the polar vortex strongly over east Siberia, where the downward flow is maximized, and weakly over the Atlantic; meanwhile, they are directed outward from the vortex over North America and Europe. A longitudinal dependence of the poleward flow is also observed in the Southern Hemisphere in June–August.

Open access
Ángel F. Adames, Rosa M. Vargas Martes, Haochang Luo, and Richard B. Rood

Abstract

Analyses of simple models of moist tropical motion systems reveal that the column-mean moist static potential vorticity (MSPV) can explain their propagation and growth. The MSPV is akin to the equivalent PV except it uses moist static energy (MSE) instead of the equivalent potential temperature. Examination of an MSPV budget that is scaled for moist off-equatorial synoptic-scale systems reveals that α, the ratio between the vertical gradients of latent and dry static energies, describes the relative contribution of dry and moist advective processes to the evolution of MSPV. Horizontal advection of the moist component of MSPV, a process akin to horizontal MSE advection, governs the evolution of synoptic-scale systems in regions of high humidity. On the other hand, horizontal advection of dry PV predominates in a dry atmosphere. Derivation of a “moist static” wave activity density budget reveals that α also describes the relative importance of moist and dry processes to wave activity amplification and decay. Linear regression analysis of the MSPV budget in eastern Pacific easterly waves shows that the MSPV anomalies originate over the eastern Caribbean and propagate westward due to dry PV advection. They are amplified by the fluxes of the moist component of MSPV over the Caribbean sea and over the eastern Pacific from 105-130°W, underscoring the importance of moist processes in these waves. On the other hand, dry PV convergence amplifies the waves from 90-100°W, likely as a result of the barotropic energy conversions that occur in this region.

Open access
Andreas Dörnbrack, Stephen D. Eckermann, Bifford P. Williams, and Julie Haggerty

Abstract

Stratospheric gravity waves observed during the DEEPWAVE research flight RF25 over the Southern Ocean are analyzed and compared with numerical weather prediction (NWP) model results. The quantitative agreement of the NWP model output and the tropospheric and lower stratospheric observations is remarkable. The high-resolution NWP models are even able to reproduce qualitatively the observed upper stratospheric gravity waves detected by an airborne Rayleigh lidar. The usage of high-resolution ERA5 data – partially capturing the long internal gravity waves – enabled a thorough interpretation of the particular event. Here, the observed and modeled gravity waves are excited by the stratospheric flow past a deep tropopause depression belonging to an eastward propagating Rossby wave train. In the reference frame of the propagating Rossby wave, vertically propagating hydrostatic gravity waves appear stationary; in reality, of course, they are transient and propagate horizontally at the phase speed of the Rossby wave. The subsequent refraction of these transient gravity waves into the polar night jet explains their observed and modeled patchy stratospheric occurrence near 60°S. The combination of both unique airborne observations and high-resolution NWP output provides evidence for the one case investigated in this paper. As the excitation of such gravity waves persists during the quasi-linear propagation phase of the Rossby wave’s life cycle, a hypothesis is formulated that parts of the stratospheric gravity wave belt over the Southern Ocean might be generated by such Rossbywaves trains propagating along the mid-latitude wave guide.

Open access
Luigi Brogno, Francesco Barbano, Laura Sandra Leo, Harindra J. S. Fernando, and Silvana Di Sabatino

Abstract

In the realm of boundary layer flows in complex terrain, low-level jets (LLJs) have received considerable attention, although little literature is available for double-nosed LLJs that remain not well understood. To this end, we use the Mountain Terrain Atmospheric Modeling and Observations (MATERHORN) dataset to demonstrate that double-nosed LLJs developing within the planetary boundary layer (PBL) are common during stable nocturnal conditions and present two possible mechanisms responsible for their formation. It is observed that the onset of a double-nosed LLJ is associated with a temporary shape modification of an already-established LLJ. The characteristics of these double-nosed LLJs are described using a refined version of identification criteria proposed in the literature, and their formation is classified in terms of two driving mechanisms. The wind-driven mechanism encompasses cases where the two noses are associated with different air masses flowing one on top of the other. The wave-driven mechanism involves the vertical momentum transport by an inertial–gravity wave to generate the second nose. The wave-driven mechanism is corroborated by the analysis of nocturnal double-nosed LLJs, where inertial–gravity waves are generated close to the ground by a sudden flow perturbation.

Open access
Piotr Dziekan, Jørgen B. Jensen, Wojciech W. Grabowski, and Hanna Pawlowska

Abstract

The impact of giant sea salt aerosols released from breaking waves on rain formation in marine boundary layer clouds is studied using large-eddy simulations (LES). We perform simulations of marine cumuli and stratocumuli for various concentrations of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and giant CCN (GCCN). Cloud microphysics are modeled with a Lagrangian method that provides key improvements in comparison to previous LES of GCCN that used Eulerian bin microphysics. We find that GCCN significantly increase precipitation in stratocumuli. This effect is strongest for low and moderate CCN concentrations. GCCN are found to have a smaller impact on precipitation formation in cumuli. These conclusions are in agreement with field measurements. We develop a simple parameterization of the effect of GCCN on precipitation, accretion, and autoconversion rates in marine stratocumuli.

Significance Statement

Breaking sea waves release salt particles into the atmosphere. Cloud droplets formed on these salt particles can grow larger than droplets formed on other smaller particles. Therefore, sea salt particles can be important for rain formation over oceans. To investigate this effect, we performed idealized computer simulations of stratocumulus and cumulus clouds. Sea salt particles were modeled with an unprecedented precision thanks to the use of an emerging modeling method. In our simulations sea salt particles significantly enhance rain formation in stratocumuli, but not in cumuli. Our study has implications for climate models, because stratocumuli are important for Earth’s energy budget and for rain enhancement experiments.

Open access
Free access