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M. Z. Sheikh
,
K. Gustavsson
,
E. Lévêque
,
B. Mehlig
,
A. Pumir
, and
A. Naso

Abstract

In mixed-phase clouds, graupel forms by riming, a process whereby ice crystals and supercooled water droplets settling through a turbulent flow collide and aggregate. We consider here the early stage of the collision process of small ice crystals with water droplets and determine numerically the geometric collision kernel in turbulent flows (therefore neglecting all interactions between the particles and assuming a collision efficiency equal to unity), over a range of energy dissipation rate 1–250 cm2 s−3 relevant to cloud microphysics. We take into account the effect of small, but nonzero fluid inertia, which is essential since it favors a biased orientation of the crystals with their broad side down. Since water droplets and ice crystals have different masses and shapes, they generally settle with different velocities. Turbulence does not play any significant role on the collision kernel when the difference between the settling velocities of the two sets of particles is larger than a few millimeters per second. The situation is completely different when the settling speeds of droplets and crystals are comparable, in which case turbulence is the main cause of collisions. Our results are compatible with those of recent experiments according to which turbulence does not clearly increase the growth rate of tethered graupel in a flow transporting water droplets.

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Scott T. Salesky
,
Kendra Gillis
,
Jesse Anderson
,
Ian Helman
,
Will Cantrell
, and
Raymond A. Shaw

Abstract

The subgrid-scale (SGS) scalar variance represents the “unmixedness” of the unresolved small scales in large-eddy simulations (LES) of turbulent flows. Supersaturation variance can play an important role in the activation, growth, and evaporation of cloud droplets in a turbulent environment, and therefore efforts are being made to include SGS supersaturation fluctuations in microphysics models. We present results from a priori tests of SGS scalar variance models using data collected in turbulent Rayleigh–Bénard convection in the Michigan Tech Pi chamber for Rayleigh numbers Ra ∼ 108–109. Data from an array of 10 thermistors were spatially filtered and used to calculate the true SGS scalar variance, a scale-similarity model, and a gradient model for dimensionless filter widths of h/Δ = 25, 14.3, and 10 (where h is the height of the chamber and Δ is the spatial filter width). The gradient model was found to have fairly low correlations (ρ ∼ 0.2), with the most probable values departing significantly from the one-to-one line in joint probability density functions (JPDFs). However, the scale-similarity model was found to have good behavior in JPDFs and was highly correlated (ρ ∼ 0.8) with the true SGS variance. Results of the a priori tests were robust across the parameter space considered, with little dependence on Ra and h/Δ. The similarity model, which only requires an additional test filtering operation, is therefore a promising approach for modeling the SGS scalar variance in LES of cloud turbulence and other related flows.

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Marc Federer
,
Lukas Papritz
,
Michael Sprenger
,
Christian M. Grams
, and
Marta Wenta

Abstract

Extratropical cyclones convert available potential energy (APE) to kinetic energy. However, our current understanding of APE conversion on synoptic scales is limited, as the well-established Lorenz APE framework is only applicable in a global, volume-integrated sense. Here, we employ a recently developed local APE framework to investigate APE and its tendencies in a highly idealized, dispersive baroclinic wave, which leads to the formation of a primary and a downstream cyclone. By utilizing a Lagrangian approach, we demonstrate that locally the downstream cyclone not only consumes APE but also generates it. Initially, APE is transported from both poleward and equatorward reservoirs into the baroclinic zone, where it is then consumed by the vertical displacement of air parcels associated with the developing cyclone. To a lesser extent, APE is also created within the cyclone when air parcels overshoot their reference state; i.e., air colder than its reference state is lifted and air warmer than its reference state is lowered. The volume integral of the APE tendency is dominated by slow vertical displacements of large air masses, whereas the dry intrusion (DI) and warm conveyor belt (WCB) of the cyclone are responsible for the largest local APE tendencies. Diabatic effects within the DI and WCB contribute to the generation of APE in regions where it is consumed adiabatically, thereby enhancing baroclinic conversion in situ. Our findings provide a comprehensive and mechanistic understanding of the local APE tendency on synoptic scales within an idealized setting and complement existing frameworks explaining the energetics of cyclone intensification.

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Hao Fu
and
Morgan E. O’Neill

Abstract

Cloud-permitting simulations have shown that tropical cyclones (TCs) can form spontaneously in a quiescent environment with uniform sea surface temperature. While several mesoscale feedbacks are known to amplify an existing midlevel vortex, how the noisy deep convection produces the initial midlevel vortex remains unclear. This paper develops a theoretical framework to understand the evolution of the midlevel mesoscale vorticity’s histogram in the first two days of spontaneous tropical cyclogenesis, which we call the “stochastic spinup stage.” The mesoscale vorticity is produced by two random processes related to deep convection: the random stretching of planetary vorticity f and the tilting of random vertical shear. With the central limit theorem, the mesoscale vorticity is modeled as the sum of three independent normal distributions, which include the cyclones produced by stretching, cyclones produced by tilting, and anticyclones produced by tilting. The theory predicts that the midlevel mesoscale vorticity obeys a normal distribution, and its standard deviation is universally proportional to the square root of the domain-averaged accumulated rainfall, agreeing with simulations. The theory also predicts a critical latitude below which tilting is dominant in producing mesoscale vorticity. Treating the magnitude of random vertical shear as a fitting parameter, the critical latitude is shown to be around 12°N. Because the magnitude of vertical shear should be larger in the real atmosphere, this result suggests that tilting is an important source of mesoscale vorticity fluctuation in the tropics.

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Catherine C. Ivanovich
,
Adam H. Sobel
,
Radley M. Horton
, and
Colin Raymond

Abstract

Extreme wet-bulb temperatures (Tw ) are often used as indicators of heat stress. However, humid heat extremes are fundamentally compound events, and a given Tw can be generated by various combinations of temperature and humidity. Differentiating between extreme humid heat driven by temperature versus humidity is essential to identifying these extremes’ physical drivers and preparing for their distinct impacts. Here we explore the variety of combinations of temperature and humidity contributing to humid heat experienced across the globe. In addition to using traditional metrics, we derive a novel thermodynamic state variable named “stickiness.” Analogous to the oceanographic variable “spice” (which quantifies the relative contributions of temperature and salinity to a given water density), stickiness quantifies the relative contributions of temperature and specific humidity to a given Tw . Consistent across metrics, we find that high magnitudes of Tw tend to occur in the presence of anomalously high moisture, with temperature anomalies of secondary importance. This widespread humidity dependence is consistent with the nonlinear relationship between temperature and specific humidity as prescribed by the Clausius–Clapeyron relationship. Nonetheless, there is a range of stickiness observed at moderate-to-high Tw thresholds. Stickiness allows a more objective evaluation of spatial and temporal variability in the temperature versus humidity dependence of humid heat than traditional variables. In regions with high temporal variability in stickiness, predictive skill for humid heat-related impacts may improve by considering fluctuations in atmospheric humidity in addition to dry-bulb temperature.

Significance Statement

Extreme humid heat increases the risk of heat stress through its influence over humans’ ability to cool down by sweating. Understanding whether humid heat extremes are generated more due to elevated temperature or humidity is important for identifying factors that may increase local risk, preparing for associated impacts, and developing targeted adaptation measures. Here we explore combinations of temperature and humidity across the globe using traditional metrics and by deriving a new variable called “stickiness.” We find that extreme humid heat at dangerous thresholds occurs primarily due to elevated humidity, but that stickiness allows for thorough analysis of the drivers of humid heat at lower thresholds, including identification of regions prone to low- or high-stickiness extremes.

Open access
Xin Xu
,
Rongrong Zhang
,
Miguel A. C. Teixeira
,
Annelize van Niekerk
,
Ming Xue
,
Yixiong Lu
,
Haile Xue
,
Runqiu Li
, and
Yuan Wang

Abstract

The momentum transport by orographic gravity waves (OGWs) plays an important role in driving the large-scale circulation throughout the atmosphere and is subject to parameterization in numerical models. Current parameterization schemes, which were originally developed for coarse-resolution models, commonly assume that unresolved OGWs are hydrostatic. With the increase in the horizontal resolution of state-of-the-art numerical models, unresolved OGWs are of smaller horizontal scale and more influenced by nonhydrostatic effects (NHE), thus challenging use of the hydrostatic assumption. Based on the analytical formulas for nonhydrostatic OGWs derived in our recent study, the orographic gravity wave drag (OGWD) parameterization scheme in the Model for Prediction Across Scales is revised by accounting for NHE. Global simulations with 30-km horizontal resolution are conducted to investigate NHE on the momentum transport of OGWs and their impacts on the large-scale circulation in boreal winter. NHE are evident in regions of complex terrain such as the Tibetan Plateau, Rocky Mountains, southern Andes, and eastern Antarctica. The parameterized surface wave momentum flux can be either reduced or enhanced depending on the relative importance of NHE and model physics–dynamics interactions. The NHE corrections to the OGWD scheme significantly reduce the easterly biases in the polar stratosphere of the Northern Hemisphere, due to both weakened OGWD in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere and suppressed upward propagation of resolved waves into the stratosphere. However, the revised OGWD scheme only has a weak influence on the large-scale circulation in the Southern Hemisphere during boreal winter.

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Hirohiko Masunaga
and
Hanii Takahashi

Abstract

The convective life cycle is often conceptualized to progress from congestus to deep convection and develop further to stratiform anvil clouds, accompanied by a systematic change in the vertical structure of vertical motion. This archetype scenario has been developed largely from the Eulerian viewpoint, and it has yet to be explored whether the same life cycle emerges itself in a moving system tracked in the Lagrangian manner. To address this question, Lagrangian tracking is applied to tropical convective systems in combination with a thermodynamic budget analysis forced by satellite-retrieved precipitation and radiation. A new method is devised to characterize the vertical motion profiles in terms of the column import or export of moisture and moist static energy (MSE). The bottom-heavy, midheavy, and top-heavy regimes are identified for every 1° × 1° grid pixel accompanying tracked precipitation systems, making use of the diagnosed column export/import of moisture and MSE. The major findings are as follows. The Lagrangian evolution of convective systems is dominated by a state of dynamic equilibrium among different convective regimes rather than a monotonic progress from one regime to the next. The transition from the bottom-heavy to midheavy regimes is fed with intensifying precipitation presumably owing to a negative gross moist stability (GMS) of the bottom-heavy regime, whereas the transition from the midheavy to top-heavy regimes dissipates the system. The bottom-heavy to midheavy transition takes a relaxation time of about 5 h in the equilibrating processes, whereas the relaxation time is estimated as roughly 20 h concerning the midheavy to top-heavy transition.

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Fran Morris
,
Juliane Schwendike
,
Douglas J. Parker
, and
Caroline Bain

Abstract

Understanding how mesoscale convection interacts with synoptic-scale circulations over West Africa is crucial for improving regional weather forecasts and developing convection parameterizations to address biases in climate models. A 10-yr pan-African convection-permitting simulation and a corresponding parameterized simulation for current-climate conditions are used to calculate the circulation budget around a synoptic region over the diurnal cycle, splitting processes that modulate circulation tendency (vorticity accumulation and vortex tilting) into diurnal mean and anomalous contributions. Dynamical fields are composited around precipitating grid cells during afternoon and overnight convection to understand how the mesoscale convection modulates synoptic-scale processes, and the composites are compared with an observational case. The dominant process modulating circulation tendency was found to be synoptic-scale vorticity accumulation, which is similar in the two simulations. The greatest difference between the simulated budgets was the tilting term. We propose that the tilting term is affected by convective momentum transport associated with precipitating systems crossing the boundary of the region, whereas the stretching term relies on the convergence and divergence induced by storms within the region. The simulation with parameterized convection captures the heating profile similarly to the simulation with explicit convection, but there are marked differences in convective momentum transport. An accurate vertical convergence structure as well as momentum transport must be simulated in parameterizations to correctly represent the impacts of convection on circulation.

Significance Statement

We used climate simulations with explicit convection and a convection parameterization to interrogate the relationship between mesoscale convection and synoptic-scale circulation over West Africa. We examined the typical behavior of mesoscale precipitating systems in both simulations and compared this with an observation of a storm. We also investigated how synoptic circulation changed over a diurnal cycle in both simulations. The biggest differences between the simulations were caused by how mesoscale systems in each simulation transport momentum when they cross the boundaries of a circulation, but the greatest impact on synoptic circulation was from the patterns of convergence and divergence induced by mesoscale systems, which are very similar in both simulations. Convection parameterizations should prioritize improving the representation of momentum transport.

Open access
Samuel Smith
,
Jian Lu
, and
Paul W. Staten

Abstract

As a dominant mode of jet variability on subseasonal time scales, the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) provides a window into how the atmosphere can produce internal oscillations on longer-than-synoptic time scales. While SAM’s existence can be explained by dry, purely barotropic theories, the time scale for its persistence and propagation is set by a lagged interaction between barotropic and baroclinic mechanisms, making the exact physical mechanisms challenging to identify and to simulate, even in latest generation models. By partitioning the eddy momentum flux convergence in MERRA-2 using an eddy–mean flow interaction framework, we demonstrate that diabatic processes (condensation and radiative heating) are the main contributors to SAM’s persistence in its stationary regime, as well as the key for preventing propagation in this regime. In SAM’s propagating regime, baroclinic and diabatic feedbacks also dominate the eddy–jet feedback. However, propagation is initiated by barotropic shifts in upper-level wave breaking and then sustained by a baroclinic response, leading to a roughly 60-day oscillation period. This barotropic propagation mechanism has been identified in dry, idealized models, but here we show evidence of this mechanism for the first time in reanalysis. The diabatic feedbacks on SAM are consistent with modulation of the storm-track latitude by SAM, altering the emission temperature and cloud cover over individual waves. Therefore, future attempts to improve the SAM time scale in models should focus on the storm-track location, as well as the roles of the cloud and moisture parameterizations.

Significance Statement

As they circumnavigate the planet, the tropospheric jet streams slowly drift north and south over about 30 days, longer than the normal limit of weather prediction. Understanding the source of this “memory” could improve our knowledge of how the atmosphere organizes itself and our ability to make long-term forecasts. Current theories have identified several possible internal atmospheric interactions responsible for this memory. Yet most of the theories for understanding the jets’ behavior assume that this behavior is only weakly influenced by atmospheric water vapor. We show that this assumption is not enough to understand jet persistence. Instead, clouds and precipitation are more important contributors in reanalysis data than internal “dry” mechanisms to this memory of the Southern Hemisphere jet.

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Elian Vanderborght
,
Jonathan Demaeyer
,
Georgy Manucharyan
,
Woosok Moon
, and
Henk A. Dijkstra

Abstract

In recent theory trying to explain the origin of baroclinic low-frequency atmospheric variability, the concept of eddy memory has been proposed. In this theory, the effect of synoptic-scale heat fluxes on the planetary-scale mean flow depends on the history of the mean meridional temperature gradient. Mathematically, this involves the convolution of a memory kernel with the mean meridional temperature gradient over past times. However, the precise shape of the memory kernel and its connection to baroclinic wave dynamics remains to be explained. In this study we use linear and proxy response theory to determine the shape of the memory kernel of a truncated two-layer quasigeostrophic atmospheric model. We find a memory kernel that relates the eddy heat flux to the zonal mean meridional temperature gradient on time scales greater than 2 days. Although the shape of the memory kernel is complex, we show that it may be well approximated as an exponential, particularly when reproducing baroclinic low-frequency intraseasonal modes of variability. By computing the terms in the Lorenz energy cycle, we find that the shape of the memory kernel can be linked to the finite time that growing baroclinic instabilities require to adapt their growth properties to the local zonal mean atmospheric flow stability. Regarding the explanation for observed baroclinic annular modes in the Southern Hemisphere, our results suggest that it is physical for these modes to be derived directly from the thermodynamic equation by considering an exponentially decaying memory kernel, provided accurate estimates of the necessary parameters are incorporated.

Significance Statement

The goal of this study was to derive the memory of the zonal mean temperature field contained in eddy heat fluxes. To do this we used recent developments in a theory stemming from statistical mechanics, called proxy response theory. This theory facilitated direct numerical computations of the parameterization that links eddy heat fluxes to the zonal mean temperature field. Notably, this parameterization incorporates a crucial memory component, which we demonstrated to be essential in explaining the periodicity of low-frequency modes of variability, specifically the baroclinic annular mode (BAM). Understanding the role of memory as a driver of this variability holds great significance, as the BAM constitutes a dominant pattern of large annular variability within the Southern Hemisphere circulation. Enhanced comprehension of this driver, which is memory, can lead to improved understanding and predictive capabilities concerning observed annular weather patterns.

Open access