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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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Hyeyum Hailey Shin, Domingo Muñoz-Esparza, Jeremy A. Sauer, and Matthias Steiner

Abstract

This study explores the response of flow around isolated cuboid buildings to variations in the incoming turbulence arising from changes in atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) stability using a building-resolving large-eddy simulation (LES) technique with explicit representation of building effects through an immersed body force method. An extensive suite of LES for a neutral ABL with different model resolution and advection scheme configurations reveals that at least 6, 12, and 24 grid points per building side are required in order to resolve building-induced vortex shedding, mean-flow features, and turbulence statistics, respectively, with an advection scheme of a minimum of third order. Using model resolutions that meet this requirement, 21 building-resolving simulations are performed under varying atmospheric stability conditions, from weakly stable to convective ABLs, and for different building sizes (H), resulting in L ABL/H ≈ 0.1–10, where L ABL is the integral length scale of the incoming ABL turbulence. The building-induced flow features observed in the canonical neutral ABL simulation, e.g., the upstream horseshoe vortex and the downstream arch vortex, gradually weaken with increasing surface-driven convective instability due to the enhancement of background turbulent mixing. As a result, two local turbulence kinetic energy peaks on the lateral side of the building in nonconvective cases are merged into a single peak in strong convective cases. By considering the ABL turbulence scale and building size altogether, it is shown that the building impact decreases with increasing L ABL/H, as coherent turbulent structures in the ABL become more dominant over a building-induced flow response for L ABL/H > 1.

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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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Julian F. Quinting and Christian M. Grams

Abstract

The physical and dynamical processes associated with warm conveyor belts (WCBs) importantly affect midlatitude dynamics and are sources of forecast uncertainty. Moreover, WCBs modulate the large-scale extratropical circulation and can communicate and amplify forecast errors. Therefore, it is desirable to assess the representation of WCBs in numerical weather prediction (NWP) models in particular on the medium to subseasonal forecast range. Most often, WCBs are identified as coherent bundles of Lagrangian trajectories that ascend in a time interval of 2 days from the lower to the upper troposphere. Although this Lagrangian approach has advanced the understanding of the involved processes significantly, the calculation of trajectories is computationally expensive and requires NWP data at a high spatial [O(~1)], vertical [O(~10hPa)], and temporal resolution [O(~36h)]. In this study, we present a statistical framework that derives footprints of WCBs from coarser NWP data that are routinely available. To this end, gridpoint-specific multivariate logistic regression models are developed for the Northern Hemisphere using meteorological parameters from ERA-Interim data as predictors and binary footprints of WCB inflow, ascent, and outflow based on a Lagrangian dataset as predictands. Stepwise forward selection identifies the most important predictors for these three WCB stages. The logistic models are reliable in replicating the climatological frequency of WCBs as well as the footprints of WCBs at instantaneous time steps. The novel framework is a first step toward a systematic evaluation of WCB representation in large datasets such as subseasonal ensemble reforecasts or climate projections.

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Dana M. Tobin and Matthew R. Kumjian

Abstract

A unique polarimetric radar signature indicative of hydrometeor refreezing during ice pellet events has been documented in several recent studies, yet the underlying microphysical causes remain unknown. The signature is characterized by enhancements in differential reflectivity (ZDR), specific differential phase (KDP), and linear depolarization ratio (LDR), and a reduction in co-polar correlation coefficient (ρhv) within a layer of decreasing radar reflectivity factor at horizontal polarization (ZH). In previous studies, the leading hypothesis for the observed radar signature is the preferential refreezing of small drops. Here, a simplified, one-dimensional, explicit bin microphysics model is developed to simulate the refreezing of fully melted hydrometeors, and coupled with a polarimetric radar forward operator to quantify the impact of preferential refreezing on simulated radar signatures. The modeling results demonstrate that preferential refreezing is insufficient by itself to produce the observed signatures. In contrast, simulations considering an ice shell growing asymmetrically around a freezing particle (i.e., emulating a thicker ice shell on the bottom of a falling particle) produce realistic ZDR enhancements, and also closely replicate observed features in ZH, KDP, LDR, and ρhv. Simulations that assume no increase in particle wobbling with freezing produce an even greater ZDR enhancement, but this comes at the expense of reducing the LDR enhancement. It is suggested that the polarimetric refreezing signature is instead strongly related to both the distribution of the unfrozen liquid portion within a freezing particle, and the orientation of this liquid with respect to the horizontal.

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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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