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Lisa N. Murphy, Jeremy M. Klavans, Amy C. Clement, and Mark A. Cane

Abstract

This paper attempts to enhance our understanding of the causes of Atlantic multidecadal variability (AMV). Following the literature, we define the AMV as the SST averaged over the North Atlantic basin, linearly detrended and low-pass filtered. There is an ongoing debate about the drivers of the AMV, which include internal variability generated from the ocean or atmosphere (or both) and external radiative forcing. We test the role of these factors in explaining the time history, variance, and spatial pattern of the AMV using a 41-member ensemble from a fully coupled version of CESM and a 10-member ensemble of the CESM atmosphere coupled to a slab ocean. The large ensemble allows us to isolate the role of external forcing versus internal variability, and the model differences allow us to isolate the role of coupled ocean circulation. Both with and without coupled ocean circulation, external forcing explains more than half of the variance of the observed AMV time series, indicating its important role in simulating the twentieth-century AMV phases. In this model the net effect of ocean processes is to reduce the variance of the AMV. Dynamical ocean coupling also reduces the ability of the model to simulate the characteristic spatial pattern of the AMV, but forcing has little impact on the pattern. Historical forcing improves the time history and variance of the AMV simulation, while the more realistic ocean representation reduces the variance below that observed and lowers the correlation with observations.

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Jia-Zhen Wang and Chunzai Wang

Abstract

Super El Niño has been a research focus since the first event occurred. On the basis of observations and models, we propose that a super El Niño emerges if El Niño is an early-onset type coincident with the distribution of an Atlantic Niña (AN) in summer and a positive Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) in autumn, conditions referred to as the Indo-Atlantic Booster (IAB). The underlying physical mechanisms refer to three-ocean interactions with seasonality. Early onset endows super El Niño with adequate strength in summer to excite wind-driven responses over the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, which further facilitate IAB formation by coupling with the seasonal cycle. In return, IAB alternately produces additional zonal winds U over the Pacific Ocean, augmenting super El Niño via the Bjerknes feedback. Adding AN and IOD indices into the regression model of U leads to a better performance than the single Niño-3.4 model, with a rise in the total explained variances by 10%–20% and a reduction in the misestimations of super El Niños by 50%. Extended analyses using Coupled Model Intercomparison Project models further confirm the sufficiency and necessity of early onset and IAB on super El Niño formation. Approximately 70% of super El Niños are early-onset types accompanied by IAB and 60% of early-onset El Niños with IAB finally grow into extreme events. These results highlight the super El Niño as an outcome of pantropical interactions, so including both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans and their teleconnections with the Pacific Ocean will greatly improve super El Niño prediction.

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Sharon E. Nicholson, Douglas Klotter, and Adam T. Hartman

Abstract

This article examined rainfall enhancement over Lake Victoria. Estimates of overlake rainfall were compared with rainfall in the surrounding lake catchment. Four satellite products were initially tested against estimates based on gauges or water balance models. These included TRMM 3B43, IMERG V06 Final Run (IMERG-F), CHIRPS2, and PERSIANN-CDR. There was agreement among the satellite products for catchment rainfall but a large disparity among them for overlake rainfall. IMERG-F was clearly an outlier, exceeding the estimate from TRMM 3B43 by 36%. The overestimation by IMERG-F was likely related to passive microwave assessments of strong convection, such as prevails over Lake Victoria. Overall, TRMM 3B43 showed the best agreement with the “ground truth” and was used in further analyses. Overlake rainfall was found to be enhanced compared to catchment rainfall in all months. During the March–May long rains the enhancement varied between 40% and 50%. During the October–December short rains the enhancement varied between 33% and 44%. Even during the two dry seasons the enhancement was at least 20% and over 50% in some months. While the magnitude of enhancement varied from month to month, the seasonal cycle was essentially the same for overlake and catchment rainfall, suggesting that the dominant influence on overlake rainfall is the large-scale environment. The association with mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) was also evaluated. The similarity of the spatial patterns of rainfall and MCS count each month suggested that these produced a major share of rainfall over the lake. Similarity in interannual variability further supported this conclusion.

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Jeffrey D. Duda and David D. Turner

Abstract

The Method of Object-based Diagnostic Evaluation (MODE) is used to perform an object-based verification of approximately 1400 forecasts of composite reflectivity from the operational HRRR during April–September 2019. In this study, MODE is configured to prioritize deep, moist convective storm cells typical of those that produce severe weather across the central and eastern United States during the warm season. In particular, attributes related to distance and size are given the greatest attribute weights for computing interest in MODE. HRRR tends to overforecast all objects, but substantially overforecasts both small objects at low-reflectivity thresholds and large objects at high-reflectivity thresholds. HRRR tends to either underforecast objects in the southern and central plains or has a correct frequency bias there, whereas it overforecasts objects across the southern and eastern United States. Attribute comparisons reveal the inability of the HRRR to fully resolve convective-scale features and the impact of data assimilation and loss of skill during the initial hours of the forecasts. Scalar metrics are defined and computed based on MODE output, chiefly relying on the interest value. The object-based threat score (OTS), in particular, reveals similar performance of HRRR forecasts as does the Heidke skill score, but with differing magnitudes, suggesting value in adopting an object-based approach to forecast verification. The typical distance between centroids of objects is also analyzed and shows gradual degradation with increasing forecast length.

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Adam H. Sobel, Janet Sprintall, Eric D. Maloney, Zane K. Martin, Shuguang Wang, Simon P. de Szoeke, Benjamin C. Trabing, and Steven A. Rutledge

Abstract

The Propagation of Intraseasonal Tropical Oscillations (PISTON) experiment conducted a field campaign in August–October 2018. The R/V Thomas G. Thompson made two cruises in the western North Pacific region north of Palau and east of the Philippines. Using select field observations and global observational and reanalysis datasets, this study describes the large-scale state and evolution of the atmosphere and ocean during these cruises. Intraseasonal variability was weak during the field program, except for a period of suppressed convection in October. Tropical cyclone activity, on the other hand, was strong. Variability at the ship location was characterized by periods of low-level easterly atmospheric flow with embedded westward propagating synoptic-scale atmospheric disturbances, punctuated by periods of strong low-level westerly winds that were both connected to the Asian monsoon westerlies and associated with tropical cyclones. In the most dramatic case, westerlies persisted for days during and after tropical cyclone Jebi had passed to the north of the ship. In these periods, the sea surface temperature was reduced by a couple of degrees by both wind mixing and net surface heat fluxes that were strongly (~200 W m−2) out of the ocean, due to both large latent heat flux and cloud shading associated with widespread deep convection. Underway conductivity–temperature transects showed dramatic cooling and deepening of the ocean mixed layer and erosion of the barrier layer after the passage of Typhoon Mangkhut due to entrainment of cooler water from below. Strong zonal currents observed over at least the upper 400 m were likely related to the generation and propagation of near-inertial currents.

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Kai-Chih Tseng, Nathaniel C. Johnson, Eric D. Maloney, Elizabeth A. Barnes, and Sarah B. Kapnick

Abstract

The excitation of the Pacific–North American (PNA) teleconnection pattern by the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) has been considered one of the most important predictability sources on subseasonal time scales over the extratropical Pacific and North America. However, until recently, the interactions between tropical heating and other extratropical modes and their relationships to subseasonal prediction have received comparatively little attention. In this study, a linear inverse model (LIM) is applied to examine the tropical–extratropical interactions. The LIM provides a means of calculating the response of a dynamical system to a small forcing by constructing a linear operator from the observed covariability statistics of the system. Given the linear assumptions, it is shown that the PNA is one of a few leading modes over the extratropical Pacific that can be strongly driven by tropical convection while other extratropical modes present at most a weak interaction with tropical convection. In the second part of this study, a two-step linear regression is introduced that leverages a LIM and large-scale climate variability to the prediction of hydrological extremes (e.g., atmospheric rivers) on subseasonal time scales. Consistent with the findings of the first part, most of the predictable signals on subseasonal time scales are determined by the dynamics of the MJO–PNA teleconnection while other extratropical modes are important only at the shortest forecast leads.

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Jiayu Zhang, Ping Huang, Fei Liu, and Shijie Zhou

Abstract

This study investigates what forms the spatial pattern of the amplitude changes in tropical intraseasonal and interannual variability—represented by the two most important variables, precipitation (ΔP′) and circulation (Δω′)—under global warming, based on 24 models from the phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Diagnostic analyses reveal that the moisture budget and thermodynamic energy equations related to the ΔP′ and Δω′ proposed separately in previous studies are simultaneously tenable. As a result, we investigate the mechanism for the spatial pattern of Δω′ from the perspective of the moist static energy (MSE) balance mainly considering the positive contribution from vertical advection. Therefore, based on the simplified MSE balance, the spatial pattern of Δω′ can be approximately projected based on three factors: background circulation variability ω′, the vertical gradient of mean-state MSE M¯, and its future change ΔM¯. Under global warming, the middle-level vertical gradient of MSE increases slightly over the Indian Ocean and the Maritime Continent and decreases over the equatorial Pacific where the increase in sea surface temperature (SST) exceeds the tropical mean. The vertical gradient of mean-state MSE is modified by the increase in vertical gradients of moisture and dry static energy (DSE) simultaneously. In short, the change in the vertical gradient of mean-state MSE under global warming can influence the moisture budget and thermodynamic energy balances, resulting in the spatial pattern of ΔP′ and Δω′ at intraseasonal and interannual time scales consequently, mainly determined by the lower boundary moisture condition in the response of the SST change pattern.

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Dylan Oldenburg, Robert C. J. Wills, Kyle C. Armour, LuAnne Thompson, and Laura C. Jackson

Abstract

Ocean heat transport (OHT) plays a key role in climate and its variability. Here, we identify modes of low-frequency North Atlantic OHT variability by applying a low-frequency component analysis (LFCA) to output from three global climate models. The first low-frequency component (LFC), computed using this method, is an index of OHT variability that maximizes the ratio of low-frequency variance (occurring at decadal and longer time scales) to total variance. Lead–lag regressions of atmospheric and ocean variables onto the LFC time series illuminate the dominant mechanisms controlling low-frequency OHT variability. Anomalous northwesterly winds from eastern North America over the North Atlantic act to increase upper ocean density in the Labrador Sea region, enhancing deep convection, which later increases OHT via changes in the strength of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). The strengthened AMOC carries warm, salty water into the subpolar gyre, reducing deep convection and weakening AMOC and OHT. This mechanism, where changes in AMOC and OHT are driven primarily by changes in Labrador Sea deep convection, holds not only in models where the climatological (i.e., time-mean) deep convection is concentrated in the Labrador Sea, but also in models where the climatological deep convection is concentrated in the Greenland–Iceland–Norwegian (GIN) Seas or the Irminger and Iceland Basins. These results suggest that despite recent observational evidence suggesting that the Labrador Sea plays a minor role in driving the climatological AMOC, the Labrador Sea may still play an important role in driving low-frequency variability in AMOC and OHT.

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Jonathan A. Baker, Andrew J. Watson, and Geoffrey K. Vallis

Abstract

The response of the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) to changes in Southern Ocean (SO) zonal wind forcing and Pacific Ocean basin vertical diffusivity is investigated under varying buoyancy forcings, corresponding to “warm,” “present day,” and “cold” states, in a two-basin general circulation model connected by a southern circumpolar channel. We find that the Atlantic MOC (AMOC) strengthens with increased SO wind stress or diffusivity in the model Pacific, under all buoyancy forcings. The sensitivity of the AMOC to wind stress increases as the buoyancy forcing is varied from a warm to a present-day or cold state, whereas it is most sensitive to the Pacific diffusivity in a present-day or warm state. Similarly, the AMOC is more sensitive to buoyancy forcing over the Southern Ocean under reduced wind stress or enhanced Pacific diffusivity. These results arise because of the increased importance of the Pacific pathway in the warmer climates, giving an increased linkage between the basins and so the opportunity for the diffusivity in the Pacific to affect the overturning in the Atlantic. In cooler states, such as in glacial climates, the two basins are largely decoupled and the wind strength over the SO is the primary determinant of the AMOC strength. Both wind- and diffusively driven upwelling sustain the AMOC in the warmer (present day) state. Changes in SO wind stress alone do not shoal the AMOC to resemble that observed at the last glacial maximum; changes in the buoyancy forcing are also needed to decouple the two basins.

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Zane Martin, Clara Orbe, Shuguang Wang, and Adam Sobel

Abstract

Observational studies show a strong connection between the intraseasonal Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) and the stratospheric quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO): the boreal winter MJO is stronger, more predictable, and has different teleconnections when the QBO in the lower stratosphere is easterly versus westerly. Despite the strength of the observed connection, global climate models do not produce an MJO–QBO link. Here the authors use a current-generation ocean–atmosphere coupled NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies global climate model (Model E2.1) to examine the MJO–QBO link. To represent the QBO with minimal bias, the model zonal-mean stratospheric zonal and meridional winds are relaxed to reanalysis fields from 1980 to 2017. The model troposphere, including the MJO, is allowed to freely evolve. The model with stratospheric nudging captures QBO signals well, including QBO temperature anomalies. However, an ensemble of nudged simulations still lacks an MJO–QBO connection.

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