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Donald M. Lafleur
,
Bradford S. Barrett
, and
Gina R. Henderson

Abstract

One of the most commonly used metrics for both locating the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) geographically and defining the intensity of MJO convective activity is the real-time multivariate MJO (RMM) index. However, a climatology of the MJO, particularly with respect to the frequency of activity levels or of consecutive days at certain activity thresholds, does not yet exist. Thus, several climatological aspects of the MJO were developed in this study: 1) annual and 2) seasonal variability in MJO intensity, quantified using four defined activity categories (inactive, active, very active, and extremely active); 3) persistence in the above-defined four categories; 4) cycle length; and 5) low-frequency (decadal) variability.

On an annual basis, MJO phases 1 and 2 occurred more often, and phase 8 occurred less often, than the other phases throughout the year. Notable seasonality was also found, particularly in the frequency of extremely active MJO in March–May (8% of days) compared with June–August (only 1% of days). The MJO was persistent in time and across intensity categories, and all activity categories the following day had at least an 80% chance of maintaining their amplitudes. Implications of this climatology are discussed, including length of complete MJO cycles (the shortest of which was 17 days) and correlations between MJO amplitude and atmospheric response.

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Bradford S. Barrett
,
Jorge F. Carrasco
, and
Anthony P. Testino

Abstract

The leading intraseasonal mode of tropical atmospheric variability, the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO), has been shown to modulate precipitation and circulation on a global and regional scale. Winter precipitation in Chile has been connected to a variety of synoptic-scale forcing mechanisms. This study explored the links between the two, first examining the intraseasonal variability of Chilean precipitation from surface gauges and the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and then examining the variability of synoptic-scale circulation.

Composites of precipitation, precipitation intensity, and lower-, middle-, and upper-tropospheric circulation were created using the Real-Time Multivariate MJO index, which divides the MJO into eight longitudinally based phases. Precipitation was found to vary across MJO phases, with positive precipitation anomalies in central and south-central Chile (30°–45°S) for MJO phases 8, 1, and 2, and negative anomalies in phases 3–7. Circulation was also found to vary across phase, in good agreement with precipitation: low geopotential height and negative omega (corresponding to upward vertical motion) anomalies were found over and upstream of Chile during the rainier phases, and the anomalies reversed during the drier phases. Surface pressure and middle- and upper-tropospheric geopotential height anomalies showed a classic equivalent barotropic wave train, indicating a teleconnection response to deep convective activity in the Maritime Continent in agreement with numerous earlier observational, modeling, and theoretical studies.

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Elizabeth R. Sanabia
,
Bradford S. Barrett
, and
Caitlin M. Fine

Abstract

Radial profiles of infrared brightness temperature for 2405 different satellite observations from 14 western North Pacific tropical cyclones (TCs) from the 2012 season were analyzed and compared to intensity and changes in intensity. Four critical points along the inner core of each infrared (IR) brightness temperature (BT) profile were identified: coldest cloud top (CCT), first overshooting top (FOT), and lower (L45) and upper (U45) extent of the inner eyewall. Radial movement of the mean CCT point outward with increasing TC intensity, combined with subsequent warming of the mean L45 point with intensity, highlighted structure changes that are consistent with eye and eyewall development. When stratified by latitude and vertical wind shear, the CCT point moved radially outward for all cases, notably at higher intensities for lower-latitude TCs and at lower intensities for higher-latitude TCs. The majority of the warming of the L45 point with increasing intensity occurred for low-latitude and low-shear cases. Slopes of IR BT between the four critical points were statistically significantly negatively correlated with intensity, indicating that stronger (weaker) TCs had more (less) negative slopes of IR BT and more (less) vertical eyewall profiles. Furthermore, except in high-shear cases, the most negative correlations were found in the inner eyewall, consistent with results from recent studies based on radar reconnaissance data. Finally, 12-h changes in slope were found to lead 12-h changes in intensity most often at higher latitudes, providing evidence that changes in the secondary TC circulation may lead changes in the primary TC circulation for both strengthening and weakening TCs.

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Gina R. Henderson
,
Bradford S. Barrett
,
Ashley Lois
, and
Haadi Elsaawy

ABSTRACT

Intraseasonal tropical variability has important implications for the mid- and high-latitude atmosphere, and in recent studies has been shown to modulate a number of weather processes in the Northern Hemisphere, such as snow depth, sea ice concentration, precipitation, atmospheric rivers, and air temperature. In such studies, the extratropical atmosphere has tended to respond to the tropical convection of the leading mode of intraseasonal variability, the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO), with a time lag of approximately 7 days. However, the time lag between the MJO and the Antarctic atmosphere has been found to vary between less than 7 and greater than 20 days. This study builds on previous work by further examining the time-lagged response of Southern Hemisphere tropospheric circulation to tropical MJO forcing, with specific focus on the latitude belt associated with the Antarctic Oscillation, during the months of June (austral winter) and December (austral summer) using NCEP–DOE Reanalysis 2 data for the years 1979–2016. Principal findings indicate that the time lag with the strongest height anomalies depends on both the location of the MJO convection (e.g., the MJO phase) and the season, and that the lagged height anomalies in the Antarctic atmosphere are fairly consistent across different vertical levels and latitudinal bands. In addition, certain MJO phases in December displayed lagged height anomalies indicative of blocking-type atmospheric patterns, with an approximate wavenumber of 4, whereas in June most phases were associated with more progressive height anomaly centers resembling a wavenumber-3-type pattern.

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Casey R. Densmore
,
Elizabeth R. Sanabia
, and
Bradford S. Barrett

Abstract

The quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) is stratified by stratospheric zonal wind direction and height into four phase pairs [easterly midstratospheric winds (QBOEM), easterly lower-stratospheric winds, westerly midstratospheric winds (QBOWM), and westerly lower-stratospheric winds] using an empirical orthogonal function analysis of daily stratospheric (100–10 hPa) zonal wind data during 1980–2017. Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) events in which the MJO convective envelope moved eastward across the Maritime Continent (MC) during 1980–2017 are identified using the Real-time Multivariate MJO (RMM) index and the outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) MJO index (OMI). Comparison of RMM amplitudes by the QBO phase pair over the MC (RMM phases 4 and 5) reveals that boreal winter MJO events have the strongest amplitudes during QBOEM and the weakest amplitudes during QBOWM, which is consistent with QBO-driven differences in upper-tropospheric lower-stratospheric (UTLS) static stability. Additionally, boreal winter RMM events over the MC strengthen during QBOEM and weaken during QBOWM. In the OMI, those amplitude changes generally shift eastward to the eastern MC and western Pacific Ocean, which may result from differences in RMM and OMI index methodologies. During boreal summer, as the northeastward-propagating boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation (BSISO) becomes the dominant mode of intraseasonal variability, these relationships are reversed. Zonal differences in UTLS stability anomalies are consistent with amplitude changes of eastward-propagating MJO events across the MC during boreal winter, and meridional stability differences are consistent with amplitude changes of northeastward-propagating BSISO events during boreal summer. Results remain consistent when stratifying by neutral ENSO phase.

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Pallav Ray
,
Haochen Tan
,
Mukul Tewari
,
James Brownlee
,
R. S. Ajayamohan
, and
Bradford S. Barrett

Abstract

The role of advection of heat and momentum on the evolution of near-surface temperature and wind is evaluated in urban-aware simulations over Houston, Texas, under dry conditions on a light-wind day. Two sets of experiments, each consisting of four simulations using different planetary boundary layer (PBL) schemes, were conducted over 48 h using the default urban scheme (BULK) and the single-layer urban canopy model (SLUCM) available within the Weather Research and Forecasting Model. We focus on understanding and quantifying the role played by temperature and momentum advection, particularly on the windward and leeward sides of the city. Previous studies have largely ignored any quantitative analysis of impacts from the advection of momentum over an urban area. The horizontal advection of temperature was found to be more important in the BULK because of the larger surface temperature gradient caused by warmer surface temperatures over urban areas than in the SLUCM. An analysis of the momentum budget shows that horizontal advection of zonal and meridional momentum plays a prominent role during the period of peak near-surface winds and that this effect is more pronounced in the windward side of the city. The local tendency in peak winds in the leeward side lags that in the windward side by about 1–2 h, similar to the lag found in horizontal momentum advection. The sensitivity of the results to different urban and PBL schemes was explored. The results imply that representation and influence of land-use patterns via sophisticated urban parameterizations generate locally driven winds that best resemble observations.

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Vittorio A. Gensini
,
Bradford S. Barrett
,
John T. Allen
,
David Gold
, and
Paul Sirvatka

Abstract

Large-scale weather patterns favorable for tornado occurrence have been understood for many decades. Yet prediction of tornadoes, especially at extended lead periods of more than a few days, remains an arduous task, partly due to the space and time scales involved. Recent research has shown that tropical convection, sea surface temperatures, and the Earth-relative atmospheric angular momentum can induce jet stream configurations that may increase or decrease the probability of tornado frequency across the United States. Applying this recent theoretical work in practice, on 1 March 2015, the authors began the Extended-Range Tornado Activity Forecast (ERTAF) project, with the following goals: 1) to have a map room–style discussion of the anticipated atmospheric state in the 2–3-week lead window; 2) to predict categorical level of tornado activity in that lead window; and 3) to learn from the forecasts through experience by identifying strengths and weaknesses in the methods, as well as identifying any potential scientific knowledge gaps. Over the last five years, the authors have shown skill in predicting U.S. tornado activity two to three weeks in advance during boreal spring. Unsurprisingly, skill is shown to be greater for forecasts spanning week 2 versus week 3. This manuscript documents these forecasting efforts, provides verification statistics, and shares the challenges and lessons learned from predicting tornado activity on the subseasonal time scale.

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Vittorio A. Gensini
,
Bradford S. Barrett
,
John T. Allen
,
David Gold
, and
Paul Sirvatka
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Bradford S. Barrett
,
Luis M. Farfán
,
Graciela B. Raga
, and
Daribel H. Hernández

Abstract

This study analyzes the synoptic- and mesoscale conditions present during initiation and intensification of the supercell thunderstorm that produced a tornado in Ciudad Acuña, a community located in the state of Coahuila, Mexico, 10 km southwest of the U.S. border. Early morning convective activity, first detected by radar at 0628 UTC 25 May 2015, developed into an intense and well-defined supercell thunderstorm that produced a tornado between approximately 1045 and 1130 UTC. Hourly analyses from the Rapid Refresh model indicated an upslope component to surface flow in the region of convection initiation over the Serranías del Burro (SdB). Along the storm’s trajectory, dewpoint temperatures increased from 15° to 22°C, convective available potential energy increased from 1500 to near 4000 J kg−1, and convective inhibition changed from −150 J kg−1 at the time of convection initiation to near zero in Ciudad Acuña. Simulations from the Weather Research and Forecasting Model confirmed the sensitivity of both convection initiation and storm intensification to the topography of the SdB. In the control simulation and two simulations in which topography was reduced in elevation, a cluster of storms formed and intensified over the central mountains. However, when topography was further reduced and the SdB region became a large flat plain, little convective activity was seen, forming only along the dryline without intensifying or propagating to the east as was observed.

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Elizabeth R. Sanabia
,
Bradford S. Barrett
,
Nicholas P. Celone
, and
Zachary D. Cornelius

Abstract

Satellite and aircraft observations of the concurrent evolution of cloud-top brightness temperatures (BTs) and the surface and flight-level wind fields were examined before and during an eyewall replacement cycle (ERC) in Typhoon Sinlaku (2008) as part of The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment (THORPEX) Pacific Asian Regional Campaign (T-PARC) and the Tropical Cyclone Structure 2008 (TCS08) field campaign. The structural evolution of deep convection through the life cycle of the ERC was clearly evident in the radial variation of positive water vapor (WV) minus infrared (IR) brightness temperature differences over the 96-h period. Within this framework, the ERC was divided into six broadly defined stages, wherein convective processes (including eyewall development and decay) were analyzed and then validated using microwave data. Dual maxima in aircraft wind speeds and geostationary satellite BTs along flight transects through Sinlaku were used to document the temporal evolution of the ERC within the TC inner core. Negative correlations were found between IR BTs and surface wind speeds, indicating that colder cloud tops were associated with stronger surface winds. Spatial lags indicated that the strongest surface winds were located radially inward of both the flight-level winds and coldest cloud tops. Finally, timing of the ERC was observed equally in IR and WV minus IR (WVIR) BTs with one exception. Decay of the inner eyewall was detected earlier in the WVIR data. These findings highlight the potential utility of WVIR and IR BT radial profiles, particularly so for basins without active aircraft weather reconnaissance programs such as the western North Pacific.

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