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Johannes Mayer, Michael Mayer, and Leopold Haimberger

Abstract

This study uses advanced numerical and diagnostic methods to evaluate the atmospheric energy budget with the fifth major global reanalysis produced by ECMWF (ERA5) in combination with observed and reconstructed top of the atmosphere (TOA) energy fluxes for the period 1985–2018. We assess the meridional as well as ocean–land energy transport and perform internal consistency checks using mass-balanced data. Furthermore, the moisture and mass budgets in ERA5 are examined and compared with previous budget evaluations using ERA-Interim as well as observation-based estimates. Results show that peak annual mean meridional atmospheric energy transports in ERA5 (4.58 ± 0.07 PW in the Northern Hemisphere) are weaker compared to ERA-Interim (4.74 ± 0.09 PW), where the higher spatial and temporal resolution of ERA5 can be excluded as a possible reason. The ocean–land energy transport in ERA5 is reliable at least from 2000 onward (~2.5 PW) such that the imbalance between net TOA fluxes and lateral energy fluxes over land are on the order of ~1 W m−2. Spinup and spindown effects as revealed from inconsistencies between analyses and forecasts are generally smaller and temporally less variable in ERA5 compared to ERA-Interim. Evaluation of the moisture budget shows that the ocean–land moisture transport and parameterized freshwater fluxes agree well in ERA5, while there are large inconsistencies in ERA-Interim. Overall, the quality of the budgets derived from ERA5 is demonstrably better than estimates from ERA-Interim. Still some particularly sensitive budget quantities (e.g., precipitation, evaporation, and ocean–land energy transport) show apparent inhomogeneities, especially in the late 1990s, which warrant further investigation and need to be considered in studies of interannual variability and trends.

Open access
Ruoting Wu and Guixing Chen

Abstract

The Asian monsoon has large spatial and temporal variabilities in winds and precipitation. This study reveals that the Asian monsoon also exhibits pronounced regional differences in cloud regimes and cloud–rainfall relationship at a wide range of time scales from diurnal to seasonal to interannual. Over South (East) Asia, the convectively active regime of deep convection (CD) occurs frequently in June–September (March–September) with a late-afternoon peak (morning feature). The intermediate mixture (IM) regime over South Asia mainly occurs in summer and maximizes near noon. It develops as CD at late afternoon and dissipates as convective cirrus (CC) after midnight, showing a life cycle of thermal convection in response to solar radiation. Over East Asia, IM is dominant in cold seasons with a small diurnal cycle, indicating a prevalence of midlevel stratiform clouds. Further analyses show that CD and CC contribute 80%–90% of the rainfall amount and most of the intense rainfall in the two key regions. The CD-related rainfall also accounts for the pronounced diurnal cycles of summer rainfall with a late-afternoon peak (morning feature) over northern India (Southeast China). The afternoon CD-related rainfall mainly results from thermal convection under the moderate humidity but warm conditions particularly over northern India, while the morning CD-related rainfall over Southeast China is more related to the processes with high humidity. The CD/CC-related rainfall also exhibits large interannual variations that explain ~90% of the interannual variance of summer rainfall. The interannual variations of CD/CC occurrence are positively correlated with the moist southerlies and induced convergence, especially over Southeast China, suggesting a close relationship between cloud regimes and monsoon activities.

Open access
Sergey Frolov, Carolyn A. Reynolds, Michael Alexander, Maria Flatau, Neil P. Barton, Patrick Hogan, and Clark Rowley

Abstract

Patterns of correlations between the ocean and the atmosphere are examined using a high-resolution (1/12° ocean and ice, 1/3° atmosphere) ensemble of data assimilative, coupled, global, ocean–atmosphere forecasts. This provides a unique perspective into atmosphere–ocean interactions constrained by assimilated observations, allowing for the contrast of patterns of coupled processes across regions and the examination of processes affected by ocean mesoscale eddies. Correlations during the first 24 h of the coupled forecast between the ocean surface temperature and atmospheric variables, and between the ocean mixed layer depth and surface winds are examined as a function of region and season. Three distinct coupling regimes emerge: 1) regions characterized by strong sea surface temperature fronts, where uncertainty in the ocean mesoscale influences ocean–atmosphere exchanges; 2) regions with intense atmospheric convection over the tropical oceans, where uncertainty in the modeled atmospheric convection impacts the upper ocean; and 3) regions where the depth of the seasonal mixed layer (MLD) determines the magnitude of the coupling, which is stronger when the MLD is shallow and weaker when the MLD is deep. A comparison with models at lower horizontal (1/12° vs 1° and 1/4°) and vertical (1- vs 10-m depth of the first layer) ocean resolution reveals that coupling in the boundary currents, the tropical Indian Ocean, and the warm pool regions requires high levels of horizontal and vertical resolution. Implications for coupled data assimilation and short-term forecasting are discussed.

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Lei Liu, Huijie Xue, and Hideharu Sasaki

Abstract

Using the extended “interior + surface quasigeostrophic” method from the 2019 study by Liu et al. (hereafter L19), subsurface density and horizontal velocities can be reconstructed from sea surface buoyancy and surface height. This study explores the potential of L19 for diagnosing the upper-ocean vertical velocity w field from high-resolution surface information, employing the 1/30° horizontal resolution OFES model output. Specifically, we employ the L19-reconstructed density and horizontal velocity fields in a diabatic version of the omega equation that incorporates a simplified parameterization for turbulent vertical mixing. The w diagnosis is evaluated against OFES output in the Kuroshio Extension region of the North Pacific, and the result indicates that the L19 method constitutes an effective framework. Statistically, the OFES-simulated and L19-diagnosed w fields have a 2-yr-averaged spatial correlation of 0.42–0.51 within the mixed layer and 0.51–0.67 throughout the 1000-m upper ocean below the mixed layer. Including the diabatic turbulent mixing effect has improved the w diagnoses inside the mixed layer, particularly for the cold-season days with the largest correlation improvement reaching 0.31. Our encouraging results suggest that the L19 method can be applied to the high-resolution sea surface height data from the forthcoming Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite mission for reconstructing 3D hydrodynamic conditions of the upper ocean.

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Paige E. Martin, Brian K. Arbic, and Andrew McC. Hogg

Abstract

Ocean–atmosphere coupling modifies the variability of Earth’s climate over a wide range of time scales. However, attribution of the processes that generate this variability remains an outstanding problem. In this article, air–sea coupling is investigated in an eddy-resolving, medium-complexity, idealized ocean–atmosphere model. The model is run in three configurations: fully coupled, partially coupled (where the effect of the ocean geostrophic velocity on the sea surface temperature field is minimal), and atmosphere-only. A surface boundary layer temperature variance budget analysis computed in the frequency domain is shown to be a powerful tool for studying air–sea interactions, as it differentiates the relative contributions to the variability in the temperature field from each process across a range of time scales (from daily to multidecadal). This method compares terms in the ocean and atmosphere across the different model configurations to infer the underlying mechanisms driving temperature variability. Horizontal advection plays a dominant role in driving temperature variance in both the ocean and the atmosphere, particularly at time scales shorter than annual. At longer time scales, the temperature variance is dominated by strong coupling between atmosphere and ocean. Furthermore, the Ekman transport contribution to the ocean’s horizontal advection is found to underlie the low-frequency behavior in the atmosphere. The ocean geostrophic eddy field is an important driver of ocean variability across all frequencies and is reflected in the atmospheric variability in the western boundary current separation region at longer time scales.

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Shi-Xin Wang, Hong-Chao Zuo, Fen Sun, Li-Yang Wu, Yixing Yin, and Jing-Jia Luo

Abstract

Dynamics of the East Asian spring rainband are investigated with a reanalysis dataset and station observations. Here, it is revealed that the rainband is anchored by external forcings. The midtropospheric jet core stays quasi-stationary around Japan. It has two branches in its entry region, which originate from the south and north flanks of the Tibetan Plateau and then run northeastward and southeastward, respectively. The southern branch advects warm air from the Tibetan–Hengduan Plateau northeastward, forming a rainband over southern China through causing adiabatic ascent motion and triggering diabatic feedback. The rainband is much stronger in spring than in autumn due to the stronger diabatic heating over the Tibetan–Hengduan Plateau, a more southward-displaced midtropospheric jet, and the resulting stronger warm advection over southern China. The northern jet branch forms a zonally elongated cold advection belt, which reaches a maximum around northern China, and then weakens and extends eastward to east of Japan. The westerly jet also steers strong disturbance activities roughly collocated with the cold advection belt via baroclinic instability. The high disturbance activities belt causes large cumulative warm advection (CWA) through drastically increasing extremely warm advection days on its eastern and south flanks, where weak cold advection prevails. CWA is more essential for monthly/seasonally rainfall than conventionally used time-average temperature advection because it is shown that strengthened warm advection can increase rainfall through positive diabatic feedback, while cold advection cannot cause negative rainfall. Thus, the rainband is collocated with the large CWA belt instead of the warm advection south of it. This rainband is jointed to the rainband over southern China, forming the long southwest–northeast-oriented East Asian spring rainband. Increasing moisture slightly displaces the rainband southeastward.

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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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Takahiro Toyoda, Hideyuki Nakano, Hidenori Aiki, Tomomichi Ogata, Yoshiki Fukutomi, Yuki Kanno, L. Shogo Urakawa, Kei Sakamoto, Goro Yamanaka, and Motoki Nagura

Abstract

A method is introduced for diagnosing the time evolution of wave energy associated with ENSO from an ocean reanalysis. In the diagnosis, time changes of kinetic and available potential energy are mainly represented by energy inputs caused by surface wind stress and horizontal energy fluxes for each vertically decomposed normal mode. The resulting time evolutions of the wave energy and vertical thermocline displacements in the 1997/98 and 2014–16 El Niño events are consistent with our previous knowledge of these events. Further, our result indicated that representation of several vertical modes is necessary to reproduce the broadly distributed downward thermocline displacements in the central to eastern equatorial Pacific, generated by a westerly wind event in the western equatorial Pacific (e.g., in March 1997), that are preconditioning for El Niño development. In addition, we investigated the wave energy budget, including the influence of data assimilation, on the complicated time evolution of equatorial thermocline displacements caused by repeated westerly and easterly wind events during the 2014–16 El Niño event. Our result suggests that noise from a momentum imbalance near the equator associated with data assimilation, which possibly affected the El Niño prediction failure in 2014, was much reduced by our developed ocean data assimilation system and reanalysis. This study, which provides a new connection between the theoretical works and reanalysis products that use sophisticated systems for synthesizing OGCMs and observations, should be useful for climate research and operational communities interested in ENSO.

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Qiu Yang, Andrew J. Majda, and Nan Chen

Abstract

El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) diversity has a significant impact on global climate and seasonal prediction. However, it is still a challenging problem for present-day global climate models to simulate different types of ENSO events with realistic features simultaneously. In this paper, a tropical stochastic skeleton model for the interactions among wind bursts and the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO), the El Niño, and the Walker circulation is developed to reproduce both dynamical and statistical features of the ENSO diversity. In this model, the intraseasonal component with state-dependent noise captures general features of wind bursts and the MJO, both of which play important roles in triggering the El Niño. The thermocline feedback is the dominant mechanism for generating the eastern Pacific (EP) El Niño, while a nonlinear zonal advection is incorporated into the model that contributes to the central Pacific (CP) El Niño. Besides, a simple but effective stochastic process describing the multidecadal variation of the background Walker circulation modulates the spatial patterns and occurrence frequency of the EP and CP El Niño. This model succeeds in simulating the quasi-regular moderate EP El Niño, the super El Niño, and the CP El Niño as well as the La Niña simultaneously. It also captures the observed non-Gaussian characteristics of sea surface temperature anomalies in different Niño regions. Individual case studies highlight the outstanding skill of the model in reproducing the observed El Niño episodes and their underlying mechanisms.

Open access
Sean R. Santellanes, George S. Young, David J. Stensrud, Matthew R. Kumjian, and Ying Pan

Abstract

Typical environmental conditions associated with horizontal convective rolls (HCRs) and cellular convection have been known for over 50 years. Yet our ability to predict whether HCRs, cellular convection, or no discernable organized (null) circulation will occur within a well-mixed convective boundary layer based upon easily observed environmental variables has been limited. Herein, a large database of 50 cases each of HCR, cellular convection, and null events is created that includes observations of mean boundary layer wind and wind shear, boundary layer depth; surface observations of wind, temperature, and relative humidity; and estimates of surface sensible heat flux. Results from a multiclass linear discriminant analysis applied to these data indicate that environmental conditions can be useful in predicting whether HCRs, cellular convection, or no circulation occurs, with the analysis identifying the correct circulation type on 72% of the case days. This result is slightly better than using a mean convective boundary layer (CBL) wind speed of 6 m s−1 to discriminate between HCRs and cells. However, the mean CBL wind speed has no ability to further separate out cases with no CBL circulation. The key environmental variables suggested by the discriminant analysis are mean sensible heat flux, friction velocity, and the Obukhov length.

Open access