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Andrew R. Wade and Matthew D. Parker

Abstract

High-shear, low-CAPE environments prevalent in the southeastern United States account for a large fraction of tornadoes and pose challenges for operational meteorologists. Yet, existing knowledge of supercell dynamics, particularly in the context of cloud-resolving modeling, is dominated by moderate- to high-CAPE environments typical of the Great Plains. This study applies high-resolution modeling to clarify the behavior of supercells in the more poorly understood low-CAPE environments, and compares them to a benchmark simulation in a higher-CAPE environment. Simulated low-CAPE supercells’ main updrafts do not approach the theoretical equilibrium level; their largest vertical velocities result not from buoyancy, but from dynamic accelerations associated with low-level mesocyclones and vortices. Surprisingly, low-CAPE tornado-like vortex parcels also sometimes stop ascending near the vortex top instead of carrying large vorticity upward into the midlevel updraft, contributing to vortex shallowness. Each of these low-CAPE behaviors is attributed to dynamic perturbation pressure gradient accelerations that are maximized in low levels, which predominate when the buoyancy is small.

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Tsz-Kin Lai, Eric A. Hendricks, M. K. Yau, and Konstantinos Menelaou

Abstract

Intense tropical cyclones (TCs) often experience secondary eyewall formations and the ensuing eyewall replacement cycles. Better understanding of the underlying dynamics is crucial to make improvements to the TC intensity and structure forecasting. Radar imagery of some double-eyewall TCs and a real-case simulation study indicated that the barotropic instability (BI) across the moat (aka type-2 BI) may play a role in inner eyewall decay. A three-dimensional numerical study accompanying this paper pointed out that type-2 BI is able to withdraw the inner eyewall absolute angular momentum (AAM) and increase the outer eyewall AAM through the eddy radial transport of eddy AAM. This paper explores the reason why the eddy radial transport of eddy AAM is intrinsically nonzero. Linear and nonlinear shallow water experiments are performed and they produce expected evolutions under type-2 BI. It will be shown that only nonlinear experiments have changes in AAM over the inner and outer eyewalls, and the changes solely originate from the eddy radial transport of eddy AAM. This result highlights the importance of nonlinearity of type-2 BI. Based on the distribution of vorticity perturbations and the balanced-waves arguments, it will be demonstrated that the nonzero eddy radial transport of eddy AAM is an essential outcome from the intrinsic interaction between the mutually growing vortex Rossby waves across the moat under type-2 BI. The analyses of the most unstable mode support the findings and will further attribute the inner eyewall decay and outer eyewall intensification to the divergence and convergence of the eddy angular momentum flux, respectively.

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S. P. Alexander and A. R. Klekociuk

Abstract

We combine observations of optically-thin cirrus clouds made by lidar at Davis, Antarctica (69°S, 78°E) during 14 – 15 June 2011 with a microphysical retrieval algorithm to constrain the ice water content (IWC) of these clouds. The cirrus were embedded in a tropopause jet which flowed around a ridge of high pressure extending southwards over Davis from the Southern Ocean. Cloud optical depths were (0.082±0.001) and sub-visual cirrus were present during 11% of the observation period. The macrophysical cirrus cloud properties obtained during this case study are consistent with those previously reported at lower latitudes. MODIS satellite imagery and AIRS surface temperature data are used as inputs into a radiative transfer model in order to constrain the IWC and ice water path of the cirrus. The derived cloud IWC is consistent with in-situ observations made at other locations but at similarly cold temperatures. The optical depths derived from the model agree with those calculated directly from the lidar data. This study demonstrates the value of a combination of ground-based lidar observations and a radiative transfer model in constraining microphysical cloud parameters which could be utilised at locations where other lidar measurements are made.

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Shin-Young Park and Cheol-Hee Kim

Abstract

Precipitation susceptibility (So), a parameter of aerosol-cloud-precipitation interaction over Northeast Asia during the Korea-United States Air Quality (KORUS-AQ) campaign, was analyzed using the CLAVR-x satellite data and WRF-Chem model. As Northeast Asia is one of the areas with the highest aerosol emissions, this study is expected to explore more elaborate aerosol-cloud linkages.

Our results obtained from satellite data showed that So increased as the atmospheric condition became stable and humid, and the shift of the water conversion process to precipitation occurred in the LWP range of 300–500 g m-2. The So exhibited a maximum value of 0.61 at an LWP of 350 g m-2 where the dominance of the cloud-water conversion process changed from autoconversion to accretion. In the aerosol–cloud relation, the susceptibility of the cloud-drop effective radius showed a positive response to the cloud droplet number concentration (Nd) regardless of the environmental conditions, whereas the LWP vs. Nd relationship was highly dependent on the meteorological conditions.

The WRF-Chem produced higher So values than those of the satellite data by factors of 2.4–3.3; the simulated results exhibited differences in shape, range, and amplitude. The overestimation of So was mainly due to the high precipitation rate under low LWP conditions as compared to the satellite observations. This result is associated with the initiation and intensity of precipitation, considering both autoconversion and accretion. Our modeling results were verified during KORUS-AQ, which implied that the aerosol–cloud relationship might be elucidated by improved microphysical parameterization schemes based on more detailed measurements such as aircraft-based observations.

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Eric Simonnet, Joran Rolland, and Freddy Bouchet

Abstract

We demonstrate that turbulent zonal jets, analogous to Jovian ones, which are quasi-stationary, are actually metastable. After extremely long times, they randomly switch to new configurations with a different number of jets. The genericity of this phenomenon suggests that most quasi-stationary turbulent planetary atmospheres might have many climates and attractors for fixed values of the external forcing parameters. A key message is that this situation will usually not be detected by simply running the numerical models, because of the extremely long mean transition time to change from one climate to another. In order to study such phenomena, we need to use specific tools: rare event algorithms and large deviation theory. With these tools, we make a full statistical mechanics study of a classical barotropic beta-plane quasigeostrophic model. It exhibits robust bimodality with abrupt transitions. We show that new jets spontaneously nucleate from westward jets. The numerically computed mean transition time is consistent with an Arrhenius law showing an exponential decrease of the probability as the Ekman dissipation decreases. This phenomenology is controlled by rare noise-driven paths called instantons. Moreover, we compute the saddles of the corresponding effective dynamics. For the dynamics of states with three alternating jets, we uncover an unexpectedly rich dynamics governed by the symmetric group S3 of permutations, with two distinct families of instantons, which is a surprise for a system where everything seemed stationary in the hundreds of previous simulations of this model. We discuss the future generalization of our approach to more realistic models.

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Xin Xu, Runqiu Li, Miguel A. C. Teixeira, and Yixiong Lu

Abstract

This work studies nonhydrostatic effects (NHE) on the momentum flux of orographic gravity waves (OGWs) forced by isolated three-dimensional orography. Based on linear wave theory, an asymptotic expression for low horizonal Froude number (Fr=U2+(γV)2Na where (U, V) is the mean horizontal wind, γ and a are the orography anisotropy and half-width and N is the buoyancy frequency) is derived for the gravity wave momentum flux (GWMF) of vertically-propagating waves. According to this asymptotic solution, which is quite accurate for any value of Fr, NHE can be divided into two terms (NHE1 and NHE2). The first term contains the high-frequency parts of the wave spectrum that are often mistaken as hydrostatic waves, and only depends on Fr. The second term arises from the difference between the dispersion relationships of hydrostatic and nonhydrostatic OGWs. Having an additional dependency on the horizontal wind direction and orography anisotropy, this term can change the GWMF direction. Examination of NHE for OGWs forced by both circular and elliptical orography reveals that the GWMF is reduced as Fr increases, at a faster rate than for two-dimensional OGWs forced by a ridge. At low Fr, the GWMF reduction is mostly attributed to the NHE2 term, whereas the NHE1 term starts to dominate above about Fr = 0.4. The behavior of NHE is mainly determined by Fr, while horizontal wind direction and orography anisotropy play a minor role. Implications of the asymptotic GWMF expression for the parameterization of nonhydrostatic OGWs in high-resolution and/or variable-resolution models are discussed.

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Yuntao Wei and Zhaoxia Pu

Abstract

Despite the great importance of interactions between moisture, clouds, radiation, and convection in the Madden-Julian Oscillation, their role in the boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation (BSISO) has not been well established. This study investigates the moisture variation of a BSISO during its rapid redevelopment over the eastern Maritime Continent through a cloud-permitting-scale numerical simulation. It is found that moisture variation depends closely on the evolution of clouds and precipitation. Total moisture budget analysis reveals that the deepening and strengthening (lessening) of humidity before (after) the BSISO deep convection are attributed largely to zonal advection. In addition, the column moistening/drying is mostly in phase with the humidity and is related to the maintenance of BSISO.

An objective cloud-type classification method and a weak temperature gradient approximation are used to further understand the column moistening/drying. Results indicate that elevated stratiform clouds play a significant role in moistening the lower troposphere through cloud water evaporation. Decreases in deep convection condensation and re-evaporation of deep stratiform precipitation induce moistening during the development and after the decay of BSISO deep convection, respectively. Meanwhile, anomalous longwave radiative heating appears first in the lower troposphere during the developing stage of BSISO, further strengthens via the increase of deep stratiform clouds, and eventually deepens with elevated stratiform clouds. Accordingly, anomalous moistening largely in phase with the humidity of BSISO toward its suppressed stage is induced via compensated ascent. Owing to the anomalous decrease in the ratio of vertical moisture and potential temperature gradients, the cloud-radiation effect is further enhanced in the convective phase of BSISO.

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Neil T. Lewis, Greg J. Colyer, and Peter L. Read

Abstract

The global superrotation index S compares the integrated axial angular momentum of the atmosphere to that of a state of solid-body corotation with the underlying planet. The index S is similar to a zonal Rossby number, which suggests it may be a useful indicator of the circulation regime occupied by a planetary atmosphere. We investigate the utility of S for characterizing regimes of atmospheric circulation by running idealized Earthlike general circulation model experiments over a wide range of rotation rates Ω, 8ΩE to ΩE/512, where ΩE is Earth’s rotation rate, in both an axisymmetric and three-dimensional configuration. We compute S for each simulated circulation, and study the dependence of S on Ω. For all rotation rates considered, S is on the same order of magnitude in the 3D and axisymmetric experiments. For high rotation rates, S ≪ 1 and S ∝ Ω−2, while at low rotation rates S ≈ 1/2 = constant. By considering the limiting behavior of theoretical models for S, we show how the value of S and its local dependence on Ω can be related to the circulation regime occupied by a planetary atmosphere. Indices of S ≪ 1 and S ∝ Ω−2 define a regime dominated by geostrophic thermal wind balance, and S ≈ 1/2 = constant defines a regime where the dynamics are characterized by conservation of angular momentum within a planetary-scale Hadley circulation. Indices of S ≫ 1 and S ∝ Ω−2 define an additional regime dominated by cyclostrophic balance and strong equatorial superrotation that is not realized in our simulations.

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Mankin Mak, Siyu Zhao, and Yi Deng

Abstract

This paper reports a comprehensive instability analysis of a 3D Charney-like model with an observationally compatible generic stratosphere. It is found that the values of a single nondimensional parameter Γ=λfo2/(βDN12) (detailed definition in text), in conjunction with representative values of four other nondimensional parameters, would dictate the existence of multiple branches of unstable modes as a function of the zonal wavenumber. Prototype Charney mode, Green mode, and two additional structurally distinct modes (Charney+ mode and tropopause mode) are identified. The latter result from the additional strong influence of the tropopause. The dynamical nature of all modes is delineated in terms of their meridional fluxes of heat and potential vorticity. The three-dimensional structure of the ageostrophic velocity field in each mode is presented to identify its potential of inducing frontogenesis. Optimal-mode analyses are also performed to ascertain how a disturbance with a predisposed structure would explosively develop toward each type of normal mode. In view of the pivotal role of Γ in baroclinic instability and for historical reason, we name it the Charney number. It is most instructive to think of Γ as a ratio of the meridional gradient of PV associated with the basic flow in the troposphere, λfo2/(DN12), to that associated with Earth’s rotation, β.

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Rong Fei, Yuqing Wang, and Yuanlong Li

Abstract

The existence of supergradient wind in the interior of the boundary layer is a distinct feature of a tropical cyclone (TC). Although the vertical advection is shown to enhance supergradient wind in the TC boundary layer (TCBL), how and to what extent the strength and structure of supergradient wind are modulated by vertical advection are not well understood. In this study, both a TCBL model and an axisymmetric full-physics model are used to quantify the contribution of the vertical advection process to the strength and vertical structure of supergradient wind in TCBL. Results from the TCBL model show that the removal of vertical advection of radial wind reduces both the strength and height of supergradient wind by slightly more than 50%. The removal of vertical advection of agradient wind reduces the height of the supergradient wind core by ~30% but increases the strength of supergradient wind by ~10%. Results from the full-physics model show that the removal of vertical advection of radial wind or agradient wind reduces both the strength and height of supergradient wind but the removal of that of radial wind produces a more substantial reduction (52%) than the removal of that of agradient wind (35%). However, both the intensification rate and final intensity of the simulated TCs in terms of maximum 10-m wind speed show little differences in experiments with and without the vertical advection of radial or agradient wind, suggesting that supergradient wind contributes little to either the intensification rate or the steady-state intensity of the simulated TC.

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