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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
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
Vicente Salinas, Eric C. Bruning, Edward R. Mansell, and Matthew Brothers

Abstract

This study employed a parallel-plate capacitor model by which the electrostatic energy of lightning flashes could be estimated by considering only their physical dimensions and breakdown electric fields in two simulated storms. The capacitor model has previously been used to approximate total storm electrostatic energy but is modified here to use the geometry of individual lightning flashes to mimic the local charge configuration where flashes were initiated. The energy discharged may then be diagnosed without context of a storm’s entire charge structure. The capacitor model was evaluated using simulated flashes from two storms modeled by the National Severe Storms Laboratory’s Collaborative Model for Multiscale Atmospheric Simulation (COMMAS). Initial capacitor model estimates followed the temporal evolution of the flash discharge energy of COMMAS for each storm but demonstrated the need to account for an adjustment factor μc to represent the fraction of energy a flash dissipates, as this model assumes the entire preflash energy is discharged by a flash. Individual values of μc were obtained simply by using the ratio of the COMMAS flash to capacitor energy. Median values μ˜c were selected to represent the flash populations for each storm, and were in range of μ˜c=0.0190.021. Application of μ˜c aligned the magnitudes of the capacitor model discharge energy estimates to those of COMMAS and to those estimated in previous studies. Therefore, by considering a μc within range of μ˜c, application of the capacitor model for observed lightning datasets is suggested.

Open access
Sergej Zilitinkevich, Evgeny Kadantsev, Irina Repina, Evgeny Mortikov, and Andrey Glazunov

Abstract

Turbulence is ever produced in the low-viscosity/large-scale fluid flows by velocity shears and, in unstable stratification, by buoyancy forces. It is commonly believed that both mechanisms produce the same type of chaotic motions, namely, the eddies breaking down into smaller ones and producing direct cascade of turbulent kinetic energy and other properties from large to small scales toward viscous dissipation. The conventional theory based on this vision yields a plausible picture of vertical mixing and has remained in use since the middle of the twentieth century in spite of increasing evidence of the fallacy of almost all other predictions. This paper reveals that in fact buoyancy produces chaotic vertical plumes, merging into larger ones and producing an inverse cascade toward their conversion into the self-organized regular motions. Herein, the velocity shears produce usual eddies spreading in all directions and making the direct cascade. This new paradigm is demonstrated and proved empirically; so, the paper launches a comprehensive revision of the theory of unstably stratified turbulence and its numerous geophysical or astrophysical applications.

Open access
Hao Fu and Morgan O’Neill

Abstract

Tropical deep convection plays a key role in the tropical depression stage of tropical cyclogenesis by aggregating vorticity, but no existing theory can depict such a stochastic vorticity aggregation process. A vorticity probability distribution function (PDF) is proposed as a tool to predict the horizontal structure and wind speed of the tropical depression. The reason lies in the tendency for a vortex to adjust to an axisymmetric and monotonic vorticity structure. Assuming deep convection as independent and uniformly distributed vortex tube stretching events in the low–midtroposphere, repetitive vortex tube stretching will make the air column area shrink many times and significantly increase vorticity. A theory of the vorticity PDF is established by modeling the random stretching process as a Markov chain. The PDF turns out to be a weighted Poisson distribution, in good agreement with a randomly forced divergent barotropic model (weak temperature gradient model), and in rough agreement with a cloud-permitting simulation. The result shows that a stronger and sparser deep convective mode tends to produce more high-vorticity air columns, which leads to a more compact major vortex with a higher maximum wind. Based on the vorticity PDF theory, a parameterization of the eddy acceleration effect on the tangential flow is proposed.

Open access
Ryosuke Yasui, Kaoru Sato, and Yasunobu Miyoshi

Abstract

It has often been reported that warming at high latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) summer mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT) appears during Arctic sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) events. This phenomenon, which is called “interhemispheric coupling” (IHC), has been thought to occur because of the modulation of mesospheric meridional circulation driven by forcing of gravity waves (GWs) originating in the troposphere. However, quasi-two-day waves (QTDWs) develop during SSWs and result in strong wave forcing in the SH mesosphere. Thus, this study revisits IHC following Arctic SSWs from the viewpoint of wave forcing, not only by GWs and Rossby waves (RWs) originating in the troposphere but also by GWs, RWs, and Rossby–gravity waves generated in situ in the middle atmosphere, and elucidates the causes of warm anomalies in the SH MLT region. During SSWs, westward wind anomaly forms because of cold equatorial stratosphere, GW forcing is then modulated, and barotropic/baroclinic and shear instabilities are strengthened in the SH mesosphere. These instabilities generate QTDWs and GWs, respectively, which cause significant anomalous westward wave forcing, forming a warm anomaly in the SH MLT region. The intraseasonal variation in QTDW activity can explain seasonal dependence of the time lag in IHC. Moreover, it is revealed that the cold equatorial stratosphere is formed by middle-atmosphere Hadley circulation, which is strengthened by wave forcing associated with stationary RW breaking leading to SSWs. The IHC mechanism revealed in this study indicates that waves generated in the middle atmosphere contribute significantly to the meridional circulation, especially during SSWs.

Open access
Jan Wandel, Julian F. Quinting, and Christian M. Grams

Abstract

Warm conveyor belts (WCBs) associated with extratropical cyclones transport air from the lower troposphere into the tropopause region and contribute to upper-level ridge building and the formation of blocking anticyclones. Recent studies indicate that this constitutes an important source and magnifier of forecast uncertainty and errors in numerical weather prediction (NWP) models. However, a systematic evaluation of the representation of WCBs in NWP models has yet to be determined. Here, we employ the logistic regression models developed in Part I to identify the inflow, ascent, and outflow stages of WCBs in the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) subseasonal reforecasts for Northern Hemisphere winter in the period January 1997 to December 2017. We verify the representation of these WCB stages in terms of systematic occurrence frequency biases, forecast reliability, and forecast skill. Systematic WCB frequency biases emerge already at early lead times of around 3 days with an underestimation for the WCB outflow over the North Atlantic and eastern North Pacific of around 40% relative to climatology. Biases in the predictor variables of the logistic regression models can partially explain these biases in WCB inflow, ascent, or outflow. Despite an overconfidence in predicting high WCB probabilities, skillful WCB forecasts are on average possible up to a lead time of 8–10 days with more skill over the North Pacific compared to the North Atlantic region. Our results corroborate that the current limited forecast skill for the large-scale extratropical circulation on subseasonal time scales beyond 10 days might be tied to the representation of WCBs and associated upscale error growth.

Open access