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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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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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Katrina L. Hui and Simona Bordoni

Abstract

Recent studies have shown that the rapid onset of the monsoon can be interpreted as a switch in the tropical circulation, which can occur even in the absence of land–sea contrast, from a dynamical regime controlled by eddy momentum fluxes to a monsoon regime more directly controlled by energetic constraints. Here we investigate how one aspect of continental geometry, that is, the position of the equatorward coastal boundary, influences such transitions. Experiments are conducted with an aquaplanet model with a slab ocean, in which different zonally symmetric continents are prescribed in the Northern Hemisphere poleward from southern boundaries at various latitudes, with “land” having a mixed layer depth two orders of magnitude smaller than ocean. For continents extending to tropical latitudes, the simulated monsoon features a rapid migration of the convergence zone over the continent, similar to what is seen in observed monsoons. For continents with more poleward southern boundaries, the main precipitation zone remains over the ocean, moving gradually into the summer hemisphere. We show that the absence of land at tropical latitudes prevents the rapid displacement into the subtropics of the maximum in lower-level moist static energy and, with it, the establishment of an overturning circulation with a subtropical convergence zone that can transition rapidly into an angular momentum–conserving monsoon regime.

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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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Ofer Shamir, Chen Schwartz, Chaim I. Garfinkel, and Nathan Paldor

Abstract

A yet unexplained feature of the tropical wavenumber-frequency spectrum is its parity distributions, i.e., the distribution of power between the meridionally symmetric and anti-symmetric components of the spectrum. Due to the linearity of the decomposition to symmetric and anti-symmetric components and the Fourier analysis, the total spectral power equals the sum of the power contained in each of these two components. However, the spectral power need not be evenly distributed between the two components. Satellite observations and reanalysis data provide ample evidence that the parity distribution of the tropical wavenumber-frequency spectrum is biased towards its symmetric component. Using an intermediate-complexity model of an idealized moist atmosphere, we find that the parity distribution of the tropical spectrum is nearly insensitive to large-scale forcing, including topography, ocean heat fluxes, and land-sea contrast. On the other hand, we find that a small-scale (stochastic) forcing has the capacity to affect the parity distribution at large spatial scales via an upscale (inverse) turbulent energy cascade. These results are qualitatively explained by considering the effects of triad interactions on the parity distribution. According to the proposed mechanism, any bias in the small-scale forcing, symmetric or anti-symmetric, leads to symmetric bias in the large-scale spectrum regardless of the source of variability responsible for the onset of the asymmetry. As this process is also associated with the generation of large-scale features in the Tropics by small-scale convection, the present study demonstrates that the physical process associated with deep-convection leads to a symmetric bias in the tropical spectrum.

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Alexander Staroselsky, Ranadip Acharya, and Alexander Khain

Abstract

The drop freezing process is described by a phase-field model. Two cases are considered: when the freezing is triggered by central nucleation and when nucleation occurs on the drop surface. Depending on the environmental temperature and drop size, different morphological structures develop. Detailed dendritic growth was simulated at the first stage of drop freezing. Independent of the nucleation location, a decrease in temperature within the range from ~ −5 to −25°C led to an increase in the number of dendrites and a decrease in their width and the interdendritic space. At temperatures lower than about −25°C, a planar front developed following surface nucleation, while dendrites formed a granular-like structure with small interdendritic distances following bulk nucleation. An ice shell grew in at the same time (but slower) as dendrites following surface nucleation, while it started forming once the dendrites have reached the drop surface in the case of central nucleation. The formed ice morphology at the first freezing stage predefined the splintering probability. We assume that stresses needed to break the ice shell arose from freezing of the water in the interdendritic spaces. Under this assumption, the number of possible splinters/fragments was proportional to the number of dendrites, and the maximum rate of splintering/fragmentation occurred within a temperature range of about −10 °C to −20°C, in agreement with available laboratory and in situ measurements. At temperatures < −25°C, freezing did not lead to the formation of significant stresses, making splintering unlikely. The number of dendrites increased with drop size, causing a corresponding increase in the number of splinters. Examples of morphology that favors drop cracking are presented, and the duration of the freezing stages is evaluated. Sensitivity of the freezing process to the surface fluxes is discussed.

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Joonsuk M. Kang and Seok-Woo Son

Abstract

A novel method that quantitatively evaluates the development processes of extratropical cyclones is devised and applied to the explosive cyclones over the Northwest Pacific in the cold season (October–April). By inverting the potential vorticity (PV) tendency equation, the contribution of dynamic and thermodynamic processes at different levels to explosive cyclone development is quantified. In terms of geostrophic vorticity tendency at 850 hPa, which is utilized to quantify cyclone development, the leading factors for the explosive cyclone intensification are upper-level PV advection by the mean zonal flow and the PV production from latent heating. However, explosive cyclones are also subject to hindrances from vertical and meridional PV advections. Quantitatively, the sum of thermodynamic contributions by the latent heating, vertical PV advection, and surface temperature tendency is about 1.6 times more important than the dynamical PV redistribution by horizontal advections on the explosive cyclone intensification. This result confirms the dominant role of thermodynamic processes in explosive cyclone development over the Northwest Pacific. It turns out from further analysis that the interactions of lower-level anomalous flows are important for thermodynamic processes, whereas the advections by the upper-level mean flow are primary for dynamic processes.

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Sachin Patade, Vaughan T. J. Phillips, Pierre Amato, Heinz G. Bingemer, Susannah M. Burrows, Paul J. DeMott, Fabio L. T. Goncalves, Daniel A. Knopf, Cindy E. Morris, Carl Alwmark, Paulo Artaxo, Christopher Pöhlker, Jann Schrod, and Bettina Weber

Abstract

To resolve the various types of biological ice nuclei (IN) with atmospheric models, an extension of the empirical parameterization (EP) (Phillips et al. 2008; 2013) is proposed to predict the active IN from multiple groups of primary biological aerosol particles (PBAPs). Our approach is to utilize coincident observations of PBAP sizes, concentrations, biological composition, and ice-nucleating ability. The parameterization organizes the PBAPs into five basic groups: fungal spores, bacteria, pollen, viral particles, plant/animal detritus, algae, and their respective fragments. This new biological component of the EP was constructed by fitting predicted concentrations of PBAP IN to those observed at the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) site located in the central Amazon. The fitting parameters for pollen and viral particles, plant/animal detritus, which are much less active as IN than fungal and bacterial groups, are constrained based on their ice nucleation activity from the literature. The parameterization has empirically derived dependencies on the surface area of each group (except algae), and the effects of variability in their mean sizes and number concentrations are represented via their influences on the surface area. The concentration of active algal IN is estimated from literature-based measurements.

Predictions of this new biological component of the EP are consistent with previous laboratory and field observations not used in its construction. The EP scheme was implemented in a 0D parcel model. It confirms that biological IN account for most of the total IN activation at temperatures warmer than −20°C and at colder temperatures dust and soot become increasingly more important to ice nucleation.

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Jake P. Mulholland, John M. Peters, and Hugh Morrison

Abstract

The influence of vertical wind shear on updraft entrainment in squall lines is not well understood. To address this knowledge gap, a suite of high-resolution idealized numerical model simulations of squall lines were run in various vertical wind shear (hereafter “shear”) environments to study the effects of shear on entrainment in deep convective updrafts. Low-level horizontal mass flux into the leading edge of the cold pool was strongest in the simulations with the strongest low-level shear. These simulations consequently displayed wider updrafts, less entrainment-driven dilution, and larger buoyancy than the simulations with comparatively weak low-level shear. An analysis of vertical accelerations along trajectories that passed through updrafts showed larger net accelerations from buoyancy in the simulations with stronger low-level shear, which demonstrates how less entrainment-driven dilution equated to stronger updrafts. The effects of upper-level shear on entrainment and updraft vertical velocities were generally less pronounced than the effects of low-level shear. We argue that in addition to the outflow boundary-shear interactions and their effect on updraft tilt established by previous authors, decreased entrainment-driven dilution is yet another beneficial effect of strong low-level shear on squall line updraft intensity.

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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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