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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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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.

Open access
Chaim I Garfinkel, Ofer Shamir, Itzhak Fouxon, and Nathan Paldor

Abstract

Variability in the tropical atmosphere is concentrated at wavenumber–frequency combinations where linear theory indicates wave modes can freely propagate, but with substantial power in between. This study demonstrates that such a power spectrum can arise from small-scale convection triggering large-scale waves via wave–wave interactions in a moderately turbulent fluid. Two key pieces of evidence are provided for this interpretation of tropical dynamics using a nonlinear rotating shallow-water model: a parameter sweep experiment in which the amplitude of an external forcing is gradually ramped up, and also an external forcing in which only symmetric or only antisymmetric modes are forced. These experiments do not support a commonly accepted mechanism involving the forcing projecting directly onto the wave modes with a strong response, yet still simulate a power spectrum resembling that observed, though the linear projection mechanism could still complement the mechanism proposed here in observations. Interpreting the observed tropical power spectrum using turbulence offers a simple explanation as to why power should be concentrated at the theoretical wave modes, and also provides a solid footing for the common assumption that the background spectrum is red, even as it clarifies why there is no expectation for a turbulent cascade with a specific, theoretically derived slope such as −5/3. However, it does explain why the cascade should be toward lower wavenumbers, that is an inverse energy cascade, similar to the midlatitudes even as compressible wave modes are important for tropical dynamics.

Open access
J. Shen, M. Yu, A. J. Koivisto, H. Jiang, Y. Liu, L. Wang, and T. Hussein

Abstract

The inverse Gaussian distributed method of moments (IGDMOM; J. Atmospheric Sci. 77 (9): 3011-3031, 2020) was developed to analytically solve the kinetic collection equation (KCE) for the first time. Using the IGDMOM, we obtained both new analytical and asymptotic solutions to the KCE. This is shown for both the free molecular and continuum regime collision frequency functions. The new analytical solutions are highly suitable for demonstrating the self-preserving size distribution (SPSD) theory. The SPSD theory is considered one of the most elegant research works in atmospheric science for aerosols or small cloud droplets. It was initially discovered by Friedlander (J. Meteorology 17 (5): 479-483, 1960) and then developed by Lee (J. Colloid Interface Sci. 92 (2): 315-325, 1983) with an assumption of the time-dependent lognormal size distribution function. In this study, we demonstrate that the SPSD theory of coagulating atmospheric aerosols can be presented in a simpler and more rigorous theoretical way, which is realized through the introduction of the IGDMOM for describing aerosol size distributions. Using the IGDMOM, the new formulas for the SPSD, as well as the time required for aerosols to reach the SPSD, are analytically provided and verified. Furthermore, we discover that the SPSD of atmospheric aerosols undergoing coagulation is only determined using a shape factor variable, 𝛺, which is composed of the first three moments at an initial stage. This study has critical implications for developing tropospheric atmospheric aerosol or small cloud droplet dynamics models and further verifies the SPSD theory from the viewpoint of theoretical analysis.

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P. Platzer, P. Yiou, P. Naveau, P. Tandeo, Y. Zhen, P. Ailliot, and J-F. Filipot

Abstract

Analogs are nearest neighbors of the state of a system. By using analogs and their successors in time, one is able to produce empirical forecasts. Several analog forecasting methods have been used in atmospheric applications and tested on well-known dynamical systems. Such methods are often used without reference to theoretical connections with dynamical systems. Yet, analog forecasting can be related to the dynamical equations of the system of interest. This study investigates the properties of different analog forecasting strategies by taking local approximations of the system’s dynamics. We find that analog forecasting performances are highly linked to the local Jacobian matrix of the flow map, and that analog forecasting combined with linear regression allows to capture projections of this Jacobian matrix. Additionally, the proposed methodology allows to efficiently estimate analog forecasting errors, an important component in many applications. Carrying out this analysis also allows to compare different analog forecasting operators, helping to choose which operator is best suited depending on the situation. These results are derived analytically and tested numerically on two simple chaotic dynamical systems. The impact of observational noise and of the number of analogs is evaluated theoretically and numerically.

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Hung-I Lee and Jonathan L. Mitchell

Abstract

A global Hovmöller diagram of column water vapor (CWV) at 30°N from daily ERA-Interim reanalysis data shows seasonally migrating North Pacific/Atlantic quasi-stationary atmospheric rivers (QSARs) located in the Eastern Pacific/Atlantic in winter and propagate to the Western Pacific/Atlantic in summer. Simplified general circulation model (GCM) experiments produce QSAR-like features if the boundary conditions include (1) the sea surface temperature contrast from the tropical warm pool-cold tongue and (2) topographic contrast similar to the Tibetan plateau. Simulated QSARs form downstream of topographic contrast during winter and coincide with it in summer. Two models of baroclinic instability demonstrate that QSARs coincide with the location where the most unstable mode phase speed equals that of the upper-level zonal winds. A consistent interpretation is that the waves become quasi-stationary at this location and break. The location of quasistationarity migrates from the Eastern Pacific/Atlantic in the winter, when upper-level winds are strong and extended over the basin, to the Western Pacific/Atlantic when winds are weak and contracted. Low-level wind convergence and moist static energy coincide with QSARs, and since the former two are essential ingredients to monsoon formation, this implies an important role for QSARs in monsoon onset. This connection opens a new window into the dynamics of subtropical monsoon extensions.

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Subin Thomas, Prasanth Prabhakaran, Will Cantrell, and Raymond A. Shaw

Abstract

Water vapor supersaturation in the atmosphere is produced in a variety of ways, including the lifting of a parcel or via isobaric mixing of parcels. However, irrespective of the mechanism of production, the water vapor supersaturation in the atmosphere has typically been modeled as a Gaussian distribution. In the current theoretical and numerical study, the nature of supersaturation produced by mixing processes is explored. The results from large eddy simulation and a Gaussian mixing model reveal the distribution of supersaturations produced by mixing to be negatively skewed. Further, the causes of skewness are explored using large eddy simulations (LES) and the Gaussian mixing model (GMM). The correlation in forcing of temperature and water vapor fields is recognized as playing a key role.

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David H. Richter, Charlotte Wainwright, Daniel P. Stern, George H. Bryan, and Daniel Chavas

Abstract

Understanding momentum exchange at the air-sea interface is important for accurate hurricane predictions and understanding fundamental storm dynamics. One method for estimating air-sea momentum transfer in high winds is the flux-profile method, which infers surface momentum fluxes and the corresponding drag coefficient from mean velocity profiles obtained from either dropsondes or meteorological towers, under the assumption that the boundary-layer wind profile at low altitudes exhibits a logarithmic profile with height. In this study, we use dropsonde data from reconnaissance aircraft, as well as “virtual sondes” from a turbulence-resolving simulation of an intense tropical cyclone, to critically analyze the diagnosis of drag coefficient CD at hurricane-force wind speeds. In particular, the “roll-off” of the drag coefficient, where CD decreases at 10-m wind speeds ¿ 35 m s−1, is called into question based on uncertainty due to relatively low sample size and a lack of robustness of the flux-profile at high winds. In addition, multiple factors appear to favor an underestimate of CD at hurricane-force winds relative to their true values, including uncertainty in the height of recorded dropsonde data, violation of Monin-Obukhov similarity theory near the eyewall, and the short vertical extent of the logarithmic layer. Due to these and other related sources of uncertainty, it is likely that a quantitative limit has been reached in inferring the specific values of u * and CD using the flux-profile method, while at the same time the potential for underestimation may cast doubt on the CDU 10 relationship inferred from this method at high winds.

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Or Hadas and Yohai Kaspi

Abstract

The midlatitude storm tracks are of the most prominent features of extratropical climate. Despite the theoretical expectation, based on baroclinic instability theory, that baroclinic eddies strengthen with jet intensification, there is evidence that this relation breaks when the jet is particularly strong. The most known case is the Pacific midwinter minimum in storm track activity. To isolate the effect of jet strength on storm activity, we conduct a series of GCM experiments systematically varying jet intensity. The simulations are analyzed using Lagrangian tracking to understand the response from a single-eddy perspective. The Lagrangian analysis shows that while the response of upper-level eddies is dominated by a reduction in the amount of tracked features, the lower-level eddies’ response is also affected by a reduction in their lifetime. Analyzing the jet strength effect on the pairing between the upper- and lower-level eddies, we find that the jet intensification increases the relative speed of the upper-level eddies, breaking the baroclinic wave structure and limiting its growth. We show that the Lagrangian response correlates with a shift in the midlatitude spectrum to low wavenumbers. The shift settles these results with linear baroclinic instability theory, as under the stronger jet conditions synoptic-scale eddies are predicted to have a sub-optimal growth rate. These results can potentially explain the midwinter suppression of storm activity over the Pacific and the difference from the Atlantic response.

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Hanii Takahashi, Alejandro Bodas-Salcedo, and Graeme Stephens

Abstract

The latest configuration of the Hadley Centre Global Environmental Model version 3 (HadGEM3) contains significant changes in the formulation of warm rain processes and aerosols. We evaluate the impacts of these changes in the simulation of warm rain formation processes using A-Train observations. We introduce a new model evaluation tool, quartile-based Contoured Frequency by Optical Depth Diagrams (CFODDs), in order to fill in some blind spots that conventional CFODDs have. Results indicate that HadGEM3 has weak linkage between the size of particle radius and warm rain formation processes, and switching to the new warm rain microphysics scheme causes more difference in warm rain formation processes than switching to the new aerosol scheme through reducing overly produced drizzle mode in HadGEM3. Finally, we run an experiment in which we perturb the second aerosol indirect effect (AIE) to study the rainfall-aerosol interaction in HadGEM3. Since the large changes in the cloud droplet number concentration (CDNC) appear in the AIE experiment, a large impact in warm rain diagnostics is expected. However, regions with large fractional changes in CDNC show a muted change in precipitation, arguably because large-scale constraints act to reduce the impact of such a big change in CDNC. The adjustment in cloud liquid water path to the AIE perturbation produces a large negative shortwave forcing in the midlatitudes.

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