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Sonia Lasher-Trapp, Enoch Jo, Luke R. Allen, Bryan N. Engelsen, and Robert J. Trapp

Abstract

The current study identifies and quantifies various mechanisms of entrainment, and their diluting effects, in the developing and mature stages of a simulated supercell thunderstorm. The two stages, differentiated by the lack or presence of a rotating updraft, are shown to entrain air by different, but related mechanisms that result from the strong vertical wind shear of the environment. The greatest entrainment rates in the developing stage result from the asymmetric overturning of large eddies near cloud top on the down-shear side. These rates are greater than those published in the literature for cumuli developing in environments lacking strong shear. Although the entrainment rate increases exponentially in time throughout the developing stage, successive cloud turrets help to replenish some of the lost buoyancy and condensate, allowing the nascent storm to develop further. During the mature stage, the greatest entrainment rates occur via “ribbons” of horizontal vorticity wrapping around the rotating updraft that ascend in time. The smaller width of the ribbons in comparison to the wider storm core limits their dilutive effects. Passive tracers placed in the low-level air ingested by the mature storm indicate that on average 20% of the core contains some undiluted air ingested from below the storm base, unaffected by any entrainment mechanism.

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Ryan Eastman, Isabel L. McCoy, and Robert Wood

Abstract

Classifications of mesoscale cellular convection (MCC) for marine boundary layer clouds are produced using a supervised neural network algorithm applied to MODIS daytime liquid water path data. The classifier, used in prior studies, distinguishes closed, open, and cellular, but disorganized MCC. This work uses trajectories in four eastern subtropical ocean basins to compare meteorological variables and the structures of boundary layers for trajectories that begin as closed cells, but evolve either into open cells, disorganized cells, or remain closed cells over one afternoon-afternoon cycle.

Results show contrasts between the trajectory sets: Trajectories for MCC that remain closed cells are more frequently observed nearer coasts, while trajectories that break into open and disorganized cells begin farther offshore. The frequency at which closed cells transition to open cells is seasonally invariant. The fraction of trajectories that stay as closed MCC varies throughout the year in opposition to those that break into disorganized cells, so that their annual cycles are 180° out of phase. Trajectories remain as closed cell more frequently in austral spring and boreal summer when the trade inversion is stronger.

The closed-disorganized MCC breakup is associated with weaker subsidence, a weaker inversion, a drier free troposphere, and enhanced nighttime boundary layer deepening, consistent with a warming-drying mechanism. The closed-open transition occurs in meteorological conditions similar to closed-closed trajectories. However, prior to the transition, the closed-open trajectories exhibit stronger surface winds, lower cloud droplet concentrations, and rain more heavily overnight. Results suggest that multiple, independent mechanisms drive changes in cloud amount and morphology.

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Nicholas A. Goldacker and Matthew D. Parker

Abstract

Supercell storms can develop a “dynamical response” whereby upward accelerations in the lower troposphere amplify as a result of rotationally induced pressure falls aloft. These upward accelerations likely modulate a supercell’s ability to stretch near-surface vertical vorticity to achieve tornadogenesis. This study quantifies such a dynamical response as a function of environmental wind profiles commonly found near supercells. Self-organizing maps (SOMs) were used to identify recurring low-level wind profile patterns from 20,194 model-analyzed, near-supercell soundings. The SOM nodes with larger 0–500 m storm-relative helicity (SRH) and streamwise vorticity (ωs) corresponded to higher observed tornado probabilities. The distilled wind profiles from the SOMs were used to initialize idealized numerical simulations of updrafts. In environments with large 0–500 m SRH and large ωs, a rotationally induced pressure deficit, increased dynamic lifting, and a strengthened updraft resulted. The resulting upward-directed accelerations were an order of magnitude stronger than typical buoyant accelerations. At 500 m AGL, this dynamical response increased the vertical velocity by up to 25 m s–1, vertical vorticity by up to 0.2 s–1, and pressure deficit by up to 5 hPa. This response specifically augments the near-ground updraft (the midlevel updraft properties are almost identical across the simulations). However, dynamical responses only occurred in environments where 0–500 m SRH and ωs exceeded 110 m2 s–2 and 0.015 s–1, respectively. The presence vs. absence of this dynamical response may explain why environments with higher 0–500 m SRH and ωs correspond to greater tornado probabilities.

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Israel Gonzalez III and H. E. Willoughby

Abstract

Vortex Rossby Waves (VRWs) affect Tropical Cyclones’ (TCs’) motion, structure, and intensity. They propagate within annular waveguides defined by a passband between Ω1D, the Doppler-shifted frequency of a one-dimensional VRW, and zero. Wavenumber-1 VRWs cause TC motion directly and have wider waveguides than wavenumbers ≥ 2. VRWs forced with fixed rotation frequency propagate away from the forcing. Initially outward-propagating waves are Doppler shifted to zero at a critical radius, where they are absorbed. Initially inward-propagating waves are Doppler-shifted to Ω1D, reflect from a turning point, propagate outward, and are ultimately absorbed at the critical radius. Between the forcing and the turning radii, the VRWs have standing-wave structure; outward from the forcing they are trailing spirals. They carry angular momentum fluxes that act to accelerate the mean flow at the forcing radius and decelerate it at the critical radius.

Mean flow vorticity monopoles are inconsistent with Stokes Theorem on a spherical Earth, because a contour enclosing the monopole’s antipode would have nonzero circulation but would enclose zero vorticity.

The Rossby waveguide paradigm also fits synoptic-scale Rossby Waves in a meridionally sheared zonal flow. These waves propagate within a waveguide confined between a poleward turning latitude and an equatorward critical latitude. Forced waves are comma-shaped gyres that resemble observed frontal cyclones, with trailing filaments equatorward of the forcing latitude and standing waves poleward. Even neutral forced Rossby waves converge westerly momentum at the latitude of forcing.

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Israel Weinberger, Chaim I. Garfinkel, Ian P. White, and Thomas Birner

Abstract

The connection between the polar stratospheric vortex and the vertical component of the Eliassen-Palm flux in the lower stratosphere and upper troposphere is examined in model level data from the ERA-5 reanalysis. The particular focus of this work is on the conditions that lead to upward wave propagation between the tropopause and the bottom of the vortex near 100 hPa. The ability of four different versions of the index of refraction to capture this wave propagation are evaluated. The original Charney and Drazin index of refraction includes terms ignored by Matsuno that are shown to be critical for understanding upward wave propagation just above the tropopause in both the climatology and during extreme heat flux events. By adding these terms to the Matsuno index of refraction, it is possible to construct a useful tool that describes wave flux immediately above the tropopause and at the same time also describes the role of meridional variations within the stratosphere. It is shown that a stronger tropopause inversion layer tends to restrict upward wave propagation. It is also shown that while only 38% of extreme wave-1 Eliassen-Palm flux vertical component (Fz) at 100hPa events are preceded by extreme Fz at 300hPa, there are almost no extreme events at 100hPa in which the anomaly at 300hPa is of opposite sign or very weak. Overall, wave propagation near the tropopause is sensitive to vertical gradients in buoyancy frequency, and these vertical gradients may not be accurately captured in models or reanalysis products especially with lower vertical resolutions.

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Steven M. Lazarus, Jason Chiappa, Hadley Besing, Michael E. Splitt, and Jeremy A. Riousset

Abstract

The meteorological characteristics associated with thunderstorm top turbulence and tropical cyclone (TC) gigantic jets (GJ) are investigated. Using reanalysis data and observations, the large-scale environment and storm top structure of three GJ-producing TCs are compared to three non-GJ oceanic thunderstorms observed via low-light camera. Evidence of gravity wave breaking is manifest in the IR satellite images with cold ring and enhanced-V signatures prevalent in TCs Hilda and Harvey and embedded warm spots in the Dorian and Null storms. Statistics from an additional six less prodigious GJ environments are also included as a baseline. Distinguishing features of the TC GJ environment include higher tropopause, colder brightness temperatures, more stable lower stratosphere/distinct tropopause and reduced tropopause penetration. These factors support enhanced gravity wave (GW) breaking near the cloud top (overshoot). The advantage of a higher tropopause is that both electrical conductivity and GW breaking increase with altitude and thus act in tandem to promote charge dilution by increasing the rate at which the screening layer forms as well as enhancing the storm top mixing. The roles of the upper level ambient flow and shear are less certain. Environments with significant upper tropospheric shear may compensate for a lower tropopause by reducing the height of the critical layer which would also promote more intense GW breaking and turbulence near the cloud top.

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Peter Hitchcock

Abstract

A low-dimensional dynamical system that describes dynamical variability of the stratospheric polar vortex is presented. The derivation is based on a linearized, contour-dynamics representation of quasigeostrophic shallow water flow on a polar f-plane. The model consists of a single linear wave mode propagating on a near-circular patch of constant potential vorticity (PV). The PV jump at the vortex edge serves as an additional degree of freedom. The wave is forced by surface topography, and interacts with the vortex through a simplified parameterization of diabatic wave/mean flow interaction. The approach can be generalized to other geometries.

The resulting three-component system depends on four non-dimensional parameters, and the structure of the steady state solutions can be determined analytically in some detail. Despite its extreme simplification, the model exhibits variability that is closely analogous to the Holton-Mass model, a well-known and more complex dynamical model of stratospheric variability. The present model exhibits two stable steady solutions, one consisting of a strong vortex with a small amplitude wave and the second consisting of a weak vortex with a large amplitude wave. Periodic and aperiodic limit cycles are also identified, analogous to similar solutions in the Holton-Mass model. Model trajectories also exhibit a number of behaviors that have been identified in observations. A key insight is that the time-mean state of the vortex is predominantly controlled by the properties of the linear mode, while the strength of the topographic forcing plays a far weaker role away from bifurcations.

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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 clouds were embedded in a tropopause jet that flowed around a ridge of high pressure extending southward over Davis from the Southern Ocean. Cloud optical depths were 0.082 ± 0.001, and subvisual 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 that could be utilized at locations where other lidar measurements are made.

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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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Michael J. Reeder, Thomas Spengler, and Clemens Spensberger

Abstract

It is thought that the sensible heat fluxes associated with sea surface temperature (SST) fronts can affect the genesis and evolution of atmospheric fronts. An analytic model is developed and used to explore this idea. The model predictions are compared with climatologies of atmospheric fronts over the North Atlantic Ocean identified in reanalyses. The climatologies are divided into times when fronts are detected at a point and times when they are not, and compared with model results with and without fronts in their initial conditions. In airstreams with fronts, both the climatologies and model show that adiabatic frontogenesis is much more important than diabatic frontogenesis. They also show that there is weak diabatic frontogenesis associated with differential sensible heating over the SST front and frontolysis either side of it. Because of the upstream and downstream frontolysis, the SST front has relatively little net effect on atmospheric fronts in the model. This result holds true as the width and strength of the SST front changes. In airstreams initially without fronts, a combination of adiabatic and diabatic frontogenesis is important for the local genesis of atmospheric fronts over the SST front. The model shows sustained frontogenesis only when the deformation is sufficiently strong or when the translation speed is low, as advection otherwise weakens the potential temperature gradient. This strong localized diabatic frontogenesis, which is amplified by adiabatic frontogenesis, can result in a front, which is consistent with atmospheric fronts in the region being most frequently located along the SST front.

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