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Yinxing Liu
,
Zhiwei Zhang
,
Qingguo Yuan
, and
Wei Zhao

Abstract

Meridional heat transport induced by oceanic mesoscale eddies (EHT) plays a significant role in the heat budget of the Southern Ocean (SO) but the decadal trends in EHT and its associated mechanisms are still obscure. Here, this scientific issue is investigated by combining concurrent satellite observations and Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, Phase II (ECCO2) reanalysis data over the 24 years between 1993 and 2016. The results reveal that the surface EHTs from both satellite and ECCO2 data consistently show decadal poleward increasing trends in the SO, particularly in the latitude band of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC). In terms of average in the ACC band, the ECCO2-derived EHT over the upper 1000 m has a linear trend of 1.1 × 10−2 PW decade−1 or 16% per decade compared with its time-mean value of 0.07 PW. Diagnostic analysis based on “mixing length” theory suggests that the decadal strengthening of eddy kinetic energy (EKE) is the dominant mechanism for the increase in EHT in the SO. By performing an energy budget analysis, we further find that the decadal increase in EKE is mainly caused by the strengthened baroclinic instability of large-scale circulation that converts more available potential energy to EKE. For the strengthened baroclinic instability in the SO, it is attributed to the increasing large-scale wind stress work on the large-scale circulation corresponding to the positive phase of the Southern Annular Mode between 1993 and 2016. The decadal trends in EHT identified here may help understand decadal variations of heat storage and sea ice extent in the SO.

Significance Statement

Oceanic mesoscale-eddy-induced meridional heat transport (EHT) is a key process of heat redistribution in the Southern Ocean (SO), but the decadal variations of EHT and the associated mechanisms remain obscure. Here, by analyzing satellite and reanalysis data between 1993 and 2016, we find that the poleward EHT has significant decadal increasing trends in the SO, particularly in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current latitude band. Further analysis suggests that the increasing EHT is mainly caused by enhanced eddy kinetic energy converted by the strengthened baroclinic instability of large-scale circulation, which is attributed to the strengthening winds modulated by the Southern Annular Mode. The above findings may improve our understanding of the decadal variations of heat storage and sea ice extent in the SO.

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Zihan Song
,
Shang-Ping Xie
,
Lixiao Xu
,
Xiao-Tong Zheng
,
Xiaopei Lin
, and
Yu-Fan Geng

Abstract

A deep winter mixed layer forms north of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) in the Indo-Pacific sectors, while the mixed layer depth (MLD) is shallow in the Atlantic. Using observations and a global atmospheric model, this study investigates the contribution of surface buoyancy flux and background stratification to interbasin MLD variations. The surface heat flux is decomposed into broad-scale and frontal-scale variations. At the broad scale, the meandering ACC path is accompanied by a zonal wavenumber-1 structure of sea surface temperature (SST) with a warmer Pacific than the Atlantic; under the prevailing westerly winds, this temperature contrast results in larger surface heat loss facilitating deeper MLD in the Indo-Pacific sectors than in the Atlantic. In the Indian sector, the intense ACC fronts strengthen surface heat loss compared to the Pacific. The surface freshwater flux pattern largely follows that of evaporation and reinforces the heat flux pattern, especially in the southeast Pacific. A diagnostic relationship is introduced to highlight the role of ACC’s sloping isopycnals in setting a weak submixed layer stratification north of ACC. This weak stratification varies in magnitude across basins. In the Atlantic and western Indian Oceans where the ACC is at a low latitude (∼45°S), solar heating, intrusions of subtropical gyres, and energetic mesoscale eddies together maintain relatively strong stratification. In the southeast Pacific, in comparison, the ACC reaches the southernmost latitude (56°S), far away from the subtropical front. This creates weaker stratification, allowing deep mixed layers to form, aided by surface buoyancy loss.

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Hongpei Yang
and
Yu Du

Abstract

During the development of squall lines, low-frequency gravity waves exhibit contrasting behaviors behind and ahead of the system, corresponding to its low-level upshear and downshear sides, respectively. This study employed idealized numerical simulations to investigate how low-level shear and tilted convective heating influence waves during two distinct stages of squall-line evolution. In the initial stage, low-level shear speeds up upshear waves, while it has contrasting effects on the amplitudes of different wave modes, distinguishing it from the Doppler effect. Downshear deep tropospheric downdraft (n = 1 wave) exhibits larger amplitudes, resulting in strengthened low-level inflow and upper-level outflow. However, n = 2 wave with low-level ascent and high-level descent has higher amplitude upshear and exhibits a higher altitude of peak w values downshear, leading to the development of a more extensive upshear low-level cloud deck and a higher altitude of downshear cloud deck. In the mature stage, as the convective updraft greatly tilts rearward (upshear), stronger n = 1 waves occur behind the system, while downshear-propagating n = 2 waves exhibit larger amplitudes. These varying wave behaviors subsequently contribute to the storm-relative circulation pattern. Ahead of the squall line, stronger n = 2 waves and weaker n = 1 waves produce intense outflow concentrated at higher altitudes, along with moderate midlevel inflow and weak low-level inflow. Conversely, behind the system, the remarkable high pressure in the upper troposphere and wake low are attributed to more intense n = 1 waves. Additionally, the cloud anvil features greater width and depth rearward and is situated at higher altitudes ahead of the system due to the joint effects of n = 1 and n = 2 waves.

Significance Statement

Squall lines are a significant source of high-impact weather events, and their development has been partially explained through linear wave dynamics. While the recurrent generation of waves during squall-line evolution has been found, the differentiation of wave behavior behind and ahead of the system, as well as its implications for storm circulation, has remained unclear. This study employs idealized simulations to reveal that during different stages of convection, low-level shear and the tilting of convective heating exert contrasting effects on wave behaviors. Moreover, various wave modes exhibit distinct responses to specific factors, and their combined effect elucidates the structural discrepancies observed both rearward and forward of the convective updraft. These findings could allow a step toward a better understanding of the intricate interaction between waves and convections.

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Matthew Patterson
,
Christopher O’Reilly
,
Jon Robson
, and
Tim Woollings

Abstract

The coupled nature of the ocean–atmosphere system frequently makes understanding the direction of causality difficult in ocean–atmosphere interactions. This study presents a method to decompose turbulent surface heat fluxes into a component which is directly forced by atmospheric circulation and a residual which is assumed to be primarily “ocean-forced.” This method is applied to the North Atlantic in a 500-yr preindustrial control run using the Met Office’s HadGEM3-GC3.1-MM model. The method shows that atmospheric circulation dominates interannual to decadal heat flux variability in the Labrador Sea, in contrast to the Gulf Stream where the ocean primarily drives the variability. An empirical orthogonal function analysis identifies several residual heat flux modes associated with variations in ocean circulation. The first of these modes is characterized by the ocean warming the atmosphere along the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Current and the second by a dipole of cooling in the western subtropical North Atlantic and warming in the subpolar North Atlantic. Lead–lag regression analysis suggests that atmospheric circulation anomalies in prior years partly drive the ocean heat flux modes; however, there is no significant atmospheric circulation response in years following the peaks of the modes. Overall, the heat flux dynamical decomposition method provides a useful way to separate the effects of the ocean and atmosphere on heat flux and could be applied to other ocean basins and to either models or reanalysis datasets.

Significance Statement

Variability of the ocean affects atmospheric circulation and provides a source of long-term predictability for surface weather. However, the atmosphere also affects the ocean. This makes the separation of cause and effect in such atmosphere–ocean interactions difficult. This paper introduces a method to separate “turbulent heat fluxes,” the primary means by which the atmosphere and ocean influence one another, into a component driven by atmospheric variability and a component which is primarily related to ocean variability. The method is tested by applying it to a climate model simulation and is able to identify regions in which the exchange of heat between the ocean and atmosphere is dominated by atmospheric variability and regions which are dominated by the ocean.

Open access
Reyhaneh Rahimi
,
Praveen Ravirathinam
,
Ardeshir Ebtehaj
,
Ali Behrangi
,
Jackson Tan
, and
Vipin Kumar

Abstract

This paper presents a deep supervised learning architecture for 30-min global precipitation nowcasts with a 4-h lead time. The architecture follows a U-Net structure with convolutional long short-term memory (ConvLSTM) cells empowered by ConvLSTM-based skip connections to reduce information loss due to the pooling operation. The training uses data from the Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) and a few key drivers of precipitation from the Global Forecast System (GFS). The impacts of different training loss functions, including the mean-squared error (regression) and the focal loss (classification), on the quality of precipitation nowcasts are studied. The results indicate that the regression network performs well in capturing light precipitation (<1.6 mm h−1), while the classification network can outperform the regression counterpart for nowcasting of high-intensity precipitation (>8 mm h−1), in terms of the critical success index (CSI). It is uncovered that including the forecast variables can improve precipitation nowcasting, especially at longer lead times in both networks. Taking IMERG as a relative reference, a multiscale analysis, in terms of fractions skill score (FSS), shows that the nowcasting machine remains skillful for precipitation rate above 1 mm h−1 at the resolution of 10 km compared to 50 km for GFS. For precipitation rates greater than 4 mm h−1, only the classification network remains FSS skillful on scales greater than 50 km within a 2-h lead time.

Significance Statement

This study presents a deep neural network architecture for global precipitation nowcasting with a 4-h lead time, using sequences of past satellite precipitation data and simulations from a numerical weather prediction model. The results show that the nowcasting machine can improve short-term predictions of high-intensity global precipitation. The research outcomes will enable us to expand our understanding of how modern artificial intelligence can improve the predictability of extreme weather and benefit flood early warning systems for saving lives and properties.

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Xianghui Fang
,
Henk Dijkstra
,
Claudia Wieners
, and
Francesco Guardamagna

Abstract

As the strongest year-to-year fluctuation of the global climate system, El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) exhibits spatial–temporal diversity, which challenges the classical ENSO theories that mainly focus on the canonical eastern Pacific (EP) type. Besides, the complicated interplay between the interannual anomaly fields and the decadally varying mean state is another difficulty in current ENSO theory. To better account for these issues, the nonlinear two-region recharge paradigm model is extended to a three-region full-field conceptual model to capture the physics in the western Pacific (WP), central Pacific (CP), and EP regions. The results show that the extended conceptual model displays a rich dynamical behavior as parameters setting the efficiencies of upwelling and zonal advection are varied. The model can not only generate El Niño bursting behavior but also simulate the statistical asymmetries between the two types of El Niños and the warm and cold phases of ENSO. Finally, since both the anomaly fields and mean states are simulated by the model, it provides a simple tool to investigate their interactions. The strengthening of the upwelling efficiency, which can be seen as an analogy to a cooling thermocline associated with the oceanic tunnel to the midlatitudes, will increase the zonal gradient of the mean state temperature between the WP and EP, i.e., resembling a negative Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) pattern along the equatorial Pacific. The influence of the zonal advection efficiency is quite the opposite, i.e., its strengthening will reduce the zonal gradient of the mean state temperature along the equatorial Pacific.

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Kara Hartig
and
Eli Tziperman

Abstract

In spite of the mean warming trend over the last few decades and its amplification in the Arctic, some studies have found no robust decline or even a slight increase in wintertime cold air outbreaks over North America. But fossil evidence from warmer paleoclimate periods indicates that the interior of North America never dropped below freezing even in the depths of winter, which implies that the maintenance of cold air outbreaks is unlikely to continue indefinitely with future warming. To identify key mechanisms affecting cold air outbreaks and understand how and why they will change in a warmer climate, we examine the development of North American cold air outbreaks in both a pre-industrial and a roughly 8×CO2 scenario using the Community Earth System Model, CESM2. We observe a sharp drop-off in the wintertime temperature distribution at the freezing temperature, suppressing below-freezing conditions in the warmer climate and above-freezing conditions in the pre-industrial case. The disappearance of Arctic sea ice and loss of the near-surface temperature inversion dramatically decrease the availability of below-freezing air in source regions. Using an air parcel trajectory analysis, we demonstrate a remarkable similarity in both the dynamics and diabatic effects acting on cold air masses in the two climate scenarios. Diabatic temperature evolution along cold air outbreak trajectories is a competition between cooling from longwave radiation and warming from boundary layer mixing. Surprisingly, while both diabatic effects strengthen in the warmer climate, the balance remains the same, with a net cooling of about −6 K over 10 days.

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Arthur Coquereau
,
Florian Sévellec
,
Thierry Huck
,
Joël J.-M. Hirschi
, and
Antoine Hochet

Abstract

As well as having an impact on the background state of the climate, global warming due to human activities could affect its natural oscillations and internal variability. In this study, we use four initial-condition ensembles from the CMIP6 framework to investigate the potential evolution of internal climate variability under different warming pathways for the twenty-first century. Our results suggest significant changes in natural climate variability and point to two distinct regimes driving these changes. The first is a decrease in internal variability of surface air temperature at high latitudes and all frequencies, associated with a poleward shift and the gradual disappearance of sea ice edges, which we show to be an important component of internal variability. The second is an intensification of the interannual variability of surface air temperature and precipitation at low latitudes, which appears to be associated with El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This second regime is particularly alarming because it may contribute to making the climate more unstable and less predictable, with a significant impact on human societies and ecosystems.

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Timothy A. Coleman
,
Richard L. Thompson
, and
Gregory S. Forbes

Abstract

Recent articles have shown that the long-portrayed “tornado alley” in the central plains is not an accurate portrayal of current tornado frequency over the United States. The greatest tornado threat now covers parts of the eastern United States. This paper shows that there has been a true spatial shift in tornado frequency, dispelling any misconceptions caused by the better visibility of tornadoes in the Great Plains versus the eastern United States. Using F/EF1+ tornadoes (the dataset least affected by increasing awareness of tornado locations or by changing rating methods), a 1° × 1° grid, and data for the two 35-yr periods 1951–85 and 1986–2020, we show that since 1951, by critical measures (tornadogenesis events, tornado days, and tornado pathlength), tornado activity has shifted away from the Great Plains and toward the Midwest and Southeast United States. In addition, tornadoes have trended away from the warm season, especially the summer, and toward the cold season since 1951. Annual trends in tornadoes by season (winter, spring, summer, and autumn) confirm this. All of the increase in F/EF1+ tornadoes in the eastern United States is due to an increase in cold season tornadoes. Tornadoes in the western United States decreased 25% (from 8451 during 1951–85 to 6307 during 1986–2020), while tornadoes in the eastern United States. increased 12% (from 9469 during 1951–85 to 10 595 during 1986–2020). The cities with the largest increases and decreases in tornado activity since 1951 are determined.

Significance Statement

This paper quantifies in many ways (tornadoes, tornado days, and pathlength) the geographical shift in tornadoes from the central to the eastern United States and from the warm season to the cold season, since 1951. Where and when tornadoes most frequently occur is significant not only for the research and operational meteorology communities but also for public perception and risk awareness. Some research studies have shown that tornado casualties are more likely in the eastern United States and the cold season because of preconceived notions of a “tornado alley” in the Great Plains and a “tornado season” in the spring. Publication of the results of this research might help ameliorate this problem.

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Francesco De Martin
,
Silvio Davolio
,
Mario Marcello Miglietta
, and
Vincenzo Levizzani

Abstract

The Po Valley in northern Italy is a hotspot for tornadoes in Europe in spite of being surrounded by two mountain ridges: the Alps in the north and the Apennines in the southwest. The research focuses on the case study of 19 September 2021, when seven tornadoes (four of them rated as F2) developed in the Po Valley in a few hours. The event was analyzed using observations and numerical simulations with the convection-permitting Modello Locale in Hybrid Coordinates (MOLOCH) model. Observations show that during the event in the Po Valley, there were two surface boundaries that created a triple point: an outflow boundary generated by convection triggered in the Alpine foothills and a dryline generated by downslope winds from the Apennines, while warm and moist air advected westward from the Adriatic Sea east (ahead) of the boundaries. Tornadoes developed about 20 km northeast of the triple point. Numerical simulations with 500-m grid spacing suggest that the development of supercells and drylines in the Po Valley was sensitive to the elevation of the Apennines. Simulated vertical profiles show that the best combination of instability and wind shear for the development of tornadoes was attained within a narrow area located ahead of the dryline. A conceptual model for the development of tornadoes in the Po Valley is proposed, and the differences between tornado environments over a flat terrain and over a region with complex terrain are discussed.

Significance Statement

The Po Valley is a highly populated area where some of the most violent tornadoes in Europe have developed. We investigated a tornado outbreak that occurred on 19 September 2021 in this region, in order to identify its main environmental characteristics. High-resolution numerical simulations revealed that values of instability and wind shear were compatible with the development of several tornadoes only in a narrow area close to the intersection of two surface boundaries (a triple point). Moreover, the atmospheric environment during the tornado outbreak was strongly influenced by the presence of mountain ridges surrounding the plain. We have summarized our results in a conceptual model that can potentially be used for forecasting applications.

Open access