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Matthew D. Flournoy and Erik N. Rasmussen

Abstract

Recent studies have highlighted the importance of near-ground storm-relative helicity (SRH) in supercell and tornado processes and how surface friction can play a role. In this study, we use an analytical approach to examine how uniform changes to the ground-relative wind profile above the near-ground layer influence SRH within the near-ground layer. We show how the ground-relative influence of surface friction alters the near-ground shear profile. For idealized semicircular and straight shear profiles, increasing preexisting ground-relative flow above the near-ground layer yields increasing SRH. The magnitude of the SRH increase is sensitive to storm motion, with more deviant motion yielding greater SRH increases given the same increase in ground-relative flow. Supercells may be more susceptible to storm-induced SRH enhancements given their deviant motion and ability to increase ground-relative flow in the background environment.

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Marquette N. Rocque and Steven A. Rutledge

Abstract

This study uses shipborne [R/V Roger Revelle and R/V Mirai] radar, upper-air, ocean, and surface meteorology datasets from the DYNAMO field campaign to investigate the diurnal cycle (DC) of precipitation over the central Indian Ocean related to two distinct Madden-Julian oscillations (MJOs) observed. This study extends earlier studies on the MJO DC by examining the relationship between the DC of convective organization and the local environment and comparing these results on- and off-equator. During the suppressed phase on-equator, the DC of rain rates exhibited two weak maxima at 15 LT and 01 LT, which was largely controlled by the presence of sub-MCS nonlinear precipitation features (PFs). During the active phase on-equator, MCS nonlinear features dominated the rain volume, and the greatest increase in rain rates occurred between 21-01 LT. This maximum coincided with the maxima in convective available potential energy (CAPE) and sensible heat flux, and the column moistened significantly over night. Off-equator, the environment was much drier and there was little large-scale upward motion as a result of limited deep convection. The DC of rain rates during the active phase off-equator was most similar to the DC observed during the suppressed phase on-equator, while rainfall off-equator during the suppressed phase did not vary much throughout the day. The DC of MCS nonlinear PFs closely resembled the DC of rainfall during both phases off-equator, and the DC of environmental parameters, including sea surface temperature, CAPE, and latent heat flux, was typically much weaker off-equator compared to on-equator.

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William R Cotton and Robert Walko

Abstract

We examine the potential role of aerosol pollution on the rainfall and intensity of hurricane Harvey. For this study, we use the global model, OLAM, with aerosol estimates from the global atmospheric chemistry model GEOS-Chem. Two sets of simulations of hurricane Harvey were performed. Simulations in the first set cover the intensification phase of Harvey until initial landfall in Texas and focus on the sensitivity of storm track and intensity, while simulations in the second set examine the sensitivity of storm track and precipitation during the period after initial landfall when record flooding occurred near Houston. During each period, simulations were performed with no anthropogenic sources of aerosol, with both natural and anthropogenic aerosol sources, and with both sources enhanced ten times.

During the rapid intensification phase, the results indicate that aerosol amounts had very little impact on storm motion. Moreover, very little difference was found on the intensity of the simulated storm to aerosol amounts for the no-anthropogenic vs the GEOS-Chem estimated amounts with anthropogenic sources. However, when both natural and anthropogenic aerosol amounts were enhanced ten times, the simulated storm intensity was enhanced appreciably in terms of minimum sea-level pressure.

During the second period of the simulation, through which Harvey remained a tropical storm, the main result was that very little sensitivity was found in precipitation or any other TC characteristic to aerosol concentrations. We cannot definitively state why the individual convective cells did not respond to high aerosol concentrations during this phase of the storm. However, the abundant precipitation in all three simulations scavenged the vast majority of aerosol as it flowed radially inward, and we speculate that this modulated the potential impact of aerosols on the inner TC and eyewall

Overall, the simulated response of hurricane Harvey to aerosols was far less spectacular than what has been simulated in the past. We conclude that this is because hurricane Harvey was a strongly dynamically-driven storm system that as a result was relatively impervious to the effects of aerosols.

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Piyush Srivastava and Maithili Sharan

Abstract

In this study, an attempt has been made to analyze the possible uncertainties in the parameterization of surface fluxes associated with the form of non-dimensional wind and temperature profile functions used in weather and climate models under convective conditions within the framework of Monin-Obukhov similarity theory (MOST). For this purpose, these functions, which are commonly known as similarity functions, are classified into four categories based on the resemblance in their functional behaviour. The bulk flux algorithm is used for the estimation of transfer coefficients of momentum and heat using four different classes of similarity functions. Uncertainty in the estimated values of fluxes is presented in the form of deviation in the predicted values of momentum and heat transfer coefficients and their variation with the Monin-Obukhov stability parameter. The analysis suggests that a large deviation in the values of estimated fluxes might occur if different forms of similarity functions are utilized for the estimation of surface fluxes. Recommendations are made for the form of similarity function for momentum based on the analysis of one year-long turbulence observations over an Indian region. The study suggests that there is a distinct need to carry out a careful analysis of turbulence data in free convective conditions for determining a consistent functional form of the similarity functions to be utilized in the atmospheric models universally.

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Michael Diaz and William R. Boos

Abstract

This study explores the effect of surface sensible and latent heat fluxes on monsoon depressions using a series of idealized convection-permitting simulations. Each experiment is initialized with a small amplitude wave that is allowed to grow within an environment representative of the South Asian monsoon. Comparing experiments with and without interactive surface heat fluxes, it is found that these fluxes enhance the growth of the simulated vortices. Without interactive surface fluxes, the strengthening period is short and the vortices fail to reach intensities characteristic of stronger monsoon depressions. Using a large set of experiments in which the vertical and meridional shear are systematically varied, it is found that surface heat fluxes enhance intensity the most when the upper-level shear is weak, the lower-level shear and associated moist static energy (MSE) gradient are sufficiently steep, and the lower-level meridional shear is strong. These experiments reveal two different regimes of convection-coupled monsoon depression growth: one in which convection is driven by MSE advection and one in which it is driven by surface heat fluxes and quasi-geostrophic forcing for ascent. Both regimes require sufficiently strong meridional shear to achieve initial growth by barotropic instability.

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Lauriana C. Gaudet, Kara J. Sulia, Tzu-Chin Tsai, Jen-Ping Chen, and Jessica P. Blair

Abstract

Microphysical processes within mixed-phase convective clouds can have cascading impacts on cloud properties and resultant precipitation. This paper investigates the role of microphysics in the lake-effect storm (LES) observed during intensive observing period 4 of the Ontario Winter Lake-effect Systems field campaign. A microphysical ensemble is composed of 24 simulations that differ in the microphysics scheme used (e.g., Weather Research and Forecasting Model microphysics options or a choice of two bulk adaptive habit models) along with changes in the representation of aerosol and potential ice nuclei concentrations, ice nucleation parameterizations, rain and ice fall speeds, spectral indices, ice habit assumptions, and the number of moments used for modeling ice-phase hydrometeors in each adaptive habit model. Each of these changes to microphysics resulted in varied precipitation types at the surface; 15 members forecast a mixture of snow, ice, and graupel, 7 members forecast only snow and ice, and the remaining 2 members forecast a combination of snow, ice, graupel, and rain. Observations from an optical disdrometer positioned to the south of the LES core indicate that 92% of the observed particles were snow and ice, 5% were graupel, and 3% were rain and drizzle. Analysis of observations spanning more than a point location, such as polarimetric radar observations and aircraft measurements of liquid water content, provides insight into cloud composition and processes leading to the differences at the surface. Ensemble spread is controlled by hydrometeor type differences spurred by processes or parameters (e.g., ice fall speed) that affect graupel mass.

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Xiaomin Chen, Jian-Feng Gu, Jun A. Zhang, Frank D. Marks, Robert F. Rogers, and Joseph J. Cione

Abstract

This study investigates the precipitation symmetrization preceding rapid intensification (RI) of tropical cyclones (TCs) experiencing vertical wind shear by analyzing numerical simulations of Typhoon Mujigae (2015) with warm (CTL) and relatively cool (S1) sea surface temperatures (SSTs). A novel finding is that precipitation symmetrization is maintained by the continuous development of deep convection along the inward flank of a convective precipitation shield (CPS), especially in the downwind part. Beneath the CPS, downdrafts flush the boundary layer with low-entropy parcels. These low-entropy parcels do not necessarily weaken the TCs; instead, they are “recycled” in the TC circulation, gradually recovered by positive enthalpy fluxes, and develop into convection during their propagation toward a downshear convergence zone. Along-trajectory vertical momentum budget analyses reveal the predominant role of buoyancy acceleration in the convective development in both experiments. The boundary layer recovery is more efficient for warmer SST, and the stronger buoyancy acceleration accounts for the higher probability of these parcels developing into deep convection in the downwind part of the CPS, which helps maintain the precipitation symmetrization in CTL. In contrast, less efficient boundary layer recovery and less upshear deep convection hinder the precipitation symmetrization in S1. These findings highlight the key role of boundary layer recovery in regulating the precipitation symmetrization and upshear deep convection, which further accounts for an earlier RI onset timing of the CTL TC. The inward-rebuilding pathway also illuminates why deep convection is preferentially located inside the radius of maximum wind of sheared TCs undergoing RI.

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Jonathan L. Mitchell and Spencer A. Hill

Abstract

Weak-temperature-gradient influences from the tropics and quasigeostrophic influences from the extratropics plausibly constrain the subtropical-mean static stability in terrestrial atmospheres. Because mean descent acting on this static stability is a leading-order term in the thermodynamic balance, a state-invariant static stability would impose constraints on the Hadley cells, which this paper explores in simulations of varying planetary rotation rate. If downdraft-averaged effective heating (the sum of diabatic heating and eddy heat flux convergence) too is invariant, so must be vertical velocity—an “omega governor.” In that case, the Hadley circulation overturning strength and downdraft width must scale identically—the cell can strengthen only by widening or weaken only by narrowing. Semiempirical scalings demonstrate that subtropical eddy heat flux convergence weakens with rotation rate (scales positively) while diabatic heating strengthens (scales negatively), compensating one another if they are of similar magnitude. Simulations in two idealized, dry GCMs with a wide range of planetary rotation rates exhibit nearly unchanging downdraft-averaged static stability, effective heating, and vertical velocity, as well as nearly identical scalings of the Hadley cell downdraft width and strength. In one, eddy stresses set this scaling directly (the Rossby number remains small); in the other, eddy stress and bulk Rossby number changes compensate to yield the same, ~Ω−1/3 scaling. The consistency of this power law for cell width and strength variations may indicate a common driver, and we speculate that Ekman pumping could be the mechanism responsible for this behavior. Diabatic heating in an idealized aquaplanet GCM is an order of magnitude larger than in dry GCMs and reanalyses, and while the subtropical static stability is insensitive to rotation rate, the effective heating and vertical velocity are not.

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Courtney Quinn, Dylan Harries, and Terence J. O’Kane

Abstract

The dynamics of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) are analyzed through a data-driven model obtained from atmospheric reanalysis data. We apply a regularized vector autoregressive clustering technique to identify recurrent and persistent states of atmospheric circulation patterns in the North Atlantic sector (20°–90°N, 110°W–0°). To analyze the dynamics associated with the resulting cluster-based models, we define a time-dependent linear delayed map with a switching sequence set a priori by the cluster affiliations at each time step. Using a method for computing the covariant Lyapunov vectors (CLVs) over various time windows, we produce sets of mixed singular vectors (for short windows) and approximate the asymptotic CLVs (for longer windows). The growth rates and alignment of the resulting time-dependent vectors are then analyzed. We find that the window chosen to compute the vectors acts as a filter on the dynamics. For short windows, the alignment and changes in growth rates are indicative of individual transitions between persistent states. For long windows, we observe an emergent annual signal manifest in the alignment of the CLVs characteristic of the observed seasonality in the NAO index. Analysis of the average finite-time dimension reveals the NAO as the most unstable state relative to the NAO+, with persistent AR states largely stable. Our results agree with other recent theoretical and empirical studies that have shown blocking events to have less predictability than periods of enhanced zonal flow.

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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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