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He Zhang
,
Minghua Zhang
, and
Qing-cun Zeng

Abstract

The dynamical core of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Atmospheric General Circulation Model (IAP AGCM) and the Eulerian spectral transform dynamical core of the Community Atmosphere Model, version 3.1 (CAM3.1), developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) are used to study the sensitivity of simulated climate. The authors report that when the dynamical cores are used with the same CAM3.1 physical parameterizations of comparable resolutions, the model with the IAP dynamical core simulated a colder troposphere than that from the CAM3.1 core, reducing the CAM3.1 warm bias in the tropical and midlatitude troposphere. However, when the two dynamical cores are used in the idealized Held–Suarez tests without moisture physics, the IAP AGCM core simulated a warmer troposphere than that in CAM3.1. The causes of the differences in the full models and in the dry models are then investigated.

The authors show that the IAP dynamical core simulated weaker eddies in both the full physics and the dry models than those in the CAM due to different numerical approximations. In the dry IAP model, the weaker eddies cause smaller heat loss from poleward dynamical transport and thus warmer troposphere in the tropics and midlatitudes. When moist physics is included, however, weaker eddies also lead to weaker transport of water vapor and reduction of high clouds in the IAP model, which then causes a colder troposphere due to reduced greenhouse warming of these clouds. These results show how interactive physical processes can change the effect of a dynamical core on climate simulations between two models.

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Marvin A. Geller
,
Xuelong Zhou
, and
Minghua Zhang

Abstract

Observations and model results indicate that the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) modulation of stratospheric water vapor results from two causes. Dynamical redistribution of water vapor from the QBO-induced mean meridional circulation dominates the observed variability in the middle and upper stratosphere. In the lower stratosphere, the QBO water vapor variability is dominated by a “tape recorder” that results from the dehydration signal accompanying the QBO variation of the tropical cold point tropopause. It is suggested that another low frequency tape recorder exists due to ENSO modulations of the tropical tropopause, but insufficiently long observations of stratospheric water vapor exist to identify this in the observations.

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Kuan-Man Xu
,
Anning Cheng
, and
Minghua Zhang

Abstract

This study investigates the physical mechanisms of the low cloud feedback through cloud-resolving simulations of cloud-radiative equilibrium response to an increase in sea surface temperature (SST). Six pairs of perturbed and control simulations are performed to represent different regimes of low clouds in the subtropical region by specifying SST differences (ΔSST) in the range of 4 and 14 K between the warm tropical and cool subtropical regions. The SST is uniformly increased by 2 K in the perturbed set of simulations. Equilibrium states are characterized by cumulus and stratocumulus cloud regimes with variable thicknesses and vertical extents for the range of specified ΔSSTs, with the perturbed set of simulations having higher cloud bases and tops and larger geometric thicknesses. The cloud feedback effect is negative for this ΔSST range (−0.68 to −5.22 W m−2 K−1) while the clear-sky feedback effect is mostly negative (−1.45 to 0.35 W m−2 K−1). The clear-sky feedback effect contributes greatly to the climate sensitivity parameter for the cumulus cloud regime whereas the cloud feedback effect dominates for the stratocumulus regime. The increase of liquid water path (LWP) and cloud optical depth is related to the increase of cloud thickness and liquid water content with SST. The rates of change in surface latent heat flux are much higher than those of saturation water vapor pressure in the cumulus simulations. The increase in surface latent heat flux is the primary mechanism for the large change of cloud physical properties with +2 K SST, which leads to the negative cloud feedback effects. The changes in cloud fraction also contribute to the negative cloud feedback effects in the cumulus regime. Comparison of these results with prior modeling studies is also discussed.

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Jialin Lin
,
Brian Mapes
,
Minghua Zhang
, and
Matthew Newman

Abstract

The observed profile of heating through the troposphere in the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is found to be very top heavy: more so than seasonal-mean heating and systematically more so than all of the seven models for which intraseasonal heating anomaly profiles have been published. Consistently, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar shows that stratiform precipitation (known to heat the upper troposphere and cool the lower troposphere) contributes more to intraseasonal rainfall variations than it does to seasonal-mean rainfall. Stratiform rainfall anomalies lag convective rainfall anomalies by a few days. Reasons for this lag apparently include increased wind shear and middle–upper tropospheric humidity, which also lag convective (and total) rainfall by a few days.

A distinct rearward tilt is seen in anomalous heating time–height sections, in both the strong December 1992 MJO event observed by the Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE) and a composite MJO constructed from multiyear datasets. Interpretation is aided by a formal partitioning of the COARE heating section into convective, stratiform, and radiative components. The tilted structure after the maximum surface rainfall appears to be largely contributed by latent and radiative heating in enhanced stratiform anvils. However, the tilt of anomalous heating ahead of maximum rainfall is seen within the convective component, suggesting a change from shallower to deeper convective heating as the wet phase of the MJO approached the longitude of the observations.

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Jia-Lin Lin
,
Minghua Zhang
, and
Brian Mapes

Abstract

Linear, dissipative models with resting base states are sometimes used in theoretical studies of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). Linear mechanical damping in such models ranges from nonexistent to strong, since an observational basis for its source and strength has been lacking. This study examines the zonal momentum budget of a composite MJO over the equatorial western Pacific region, constructed using filtering and regression techniques from 15 yr (1979–93) of daily global reanalysis data. Two different reanalyses (NCEP–NCAR and ERA-15) give qualitatively similar results for all major terms, including the budget residual, whose structure is consistent with its interpretation as eddy momentum flux convergence (EMFC) in convection.

The results show that the MJO is a highly viscous oscillation, with a 3–5-day equivalent linear damping time scale, in the upper as well as lower troposphere. Upper-level damping is mainly in the form of large-scale advection terms, which are linear in MJO amplitude but involve horizontal and vertical background flow. Specifically, the leading terms are the advection of time-mean zonal shear by MJO vertical motion anomalies and advection of MJO wind anomalies by time-mean ascent. This upper-level damping in the western Pacific is mostly confined between 10°N and 10°S. In contrast, zonal wind damping in the lower troposphere involves EMFC (budget residual) and zonal mean linear meridional advection.

Stated another way, the strong upper-level damping necessitates upper-level geopotential height gradients to maintain the observed zonal wind anomalies over the time scales implied by the MJO’s low frequency. The existence of the background flow thus tends to shift MJO temperature perturbations westward so that the warm anomaly ahead (east) of the convective center is shifted back into the convection. This shifting effect is fully realized only for anomalies with a period much longer than the 3–5-day damping time.

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Wuyin Lin
,
Minghua Zhang
, and
Norman G. Loeb

Abstract

Marine boundary layer (MBL) clouds can significantly regulate the sensitivity of climate models, yet they are currently poorly simulated. This study aims to characterize the seasonal variations of physical properties of these clouds and their associated processes by using multisatellite data. Measurements from several independent satellite datasets [International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP), Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System–Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (CERES–MODIS), Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS), and Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO)], in conjunction with balloon soundings from the mobile facility of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program at Point Reyes and reanalysis products, are used to characterize the seasonal variations of MBL cloud-top and cloud-base heights, cloud thickness, the degree of decoupling between clouds and MBL, and inversion strength off the California coast.

The main results from this study are as follows: (i) MBL clouds over the northeast subtropical Pacific in the summer are more prevalent and associated with a larger in-cloud water path than in winter. The cloud-top and cloud-base heights are lower in the summer than in the winter. (ii) Although the lower-tropospheric stability of the atmosphere is higher in the summer, the MBL inversion strength is only weakly stronger in the summer because of a negative feedback from the cloud-top altitude. Summertime MBL clouds are more homogeneous and are associated with lower surface latent heat flux than those in the winter. (iii) Seasonal variations of low-cloud properties from summer to winter resemble the downstream stratocumulus-to-cumulus transition of MBL clouds in terms of MBL depth, cloud-top and cloud-base heights, inversion strength, and spatial homogeneity. The “deepening–warming” mechanism of Bretherton and Wyant for the stratocumulus-to-trade-cumulus transition downstream of the cold eastern ocean can also explain the seasonal variation of low clouds from the summer to the winter, except that warming of the sea surface temperature needs to be taken as relative to the free-tropospheric air temperature, which occurs in the winter. The observed variation of low clouds from summer to winter is attributed to the much larger seasonal cooling of the free-tropospheric air temperature than that of the sea surface temperature.

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Weixing Shen
,
Marvin A. Geller
, and
Minghua Zhang

Abstract

This paper investigates the effects of vertical shear of the mean zonal flow on CISK waves in a spherical geometry. A linearized primitive equation model, including mean zonal flow, on a sphere is designed to generalize the previous results about the effects of the vertical shear of the mean zonal flow on the excitation of fast tropical waves with periods shorter than 20 days.

In the case of linear CISK heating, the eastward propagating Kelvin waves are most unstable when the vertical shear of the mean zonal flow is easterly with height, and the westward propagating gravity waves (not mixed Rossby–gravity waves) are preferentially excited when the vertical shear of the mean zonal flow is westerly. The vertical structure of these unstable waves is in agreement with the previous results. In the troposphere, both the temperature and vertical velocity fields of the unstable waves tilt backward with height, and the tilt is smaller for the vertical velocity field than for the temperature field. In contrast, forward phase tilts are found above the troposphere, consistent with upward propagation of wave energy.

In the case of positive-only (nonlinear) CISK heating, antisymmetric waves (with zonal wind antisymmetric about the equator) are suppressed, and an eastward propagating symmetric nondispersive wave packet with negligible meridional wind is excited. This unstable wave packet not only has zonally asymmetric structure but also has a change of zonal scale with height. Unlike in the linear case, the vertical shear of the mean zonal flow is unable to excite westward propagating gravity waves, but it does affect the instability of the wave packet in the same way as in the linear heating case. As was found for a single wave in the linear heating case, the unstable wave packet is shown to have a backward phase tilt with height in the troposphere. However, the effect of the vertical shear of the mean zonal flow on the wave packet works not by changing its phase tilt but by changing its zonal scale.

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Yi Zhang
,
Rucong Yu
,
Jian Li
,
Weihua Yuan
, and
Minghua Zhang

Abstract

Given the large discrepancies that exist in climate models for shortwave cloud forcing over eastern China (EC), the dynamic (vertical motion and horizontal circulation) and thermodynamic (stability) relations of stratus clouds and the associated cloud radiative forcing in the cold season are examined. Unlike the stratus clouds over the southeastern Pacific Ocean (as a representative of marine boundary stratus), where thermodynamic forcing plays a primary role, the stratus clouds over EC are affected by both dynamic and thermodynamic factors. The Tibetan Plateau (TP)-forced low-level large-scale lifting and high stability over EC favor the accumulation of abundant saturated moist air, which contributes to the formation of stratus clouds. The TP slows down the westerly overflow through a frictional effect, resulting in midlevel divergence, and forces the low-level surrounding flows, resulting in convergence. Both midlevel divergence and low-level convergence sustain a rising motion and vertical water vapor transport over EC. The surface cold air is advected from the Siberian high by the surrounding northerly flow, causing low-level cooling. The cooling effect is enhanced by the blocking of the YunGui Plateau. The southwesterly wind carrying warm, moist air from the east Bay of Bengal is uplifted by the HengDuan Mountains via topographical forcing; the midtropospheric westerly flow further advects the warm air downstream of the TP, moistening and warming the middle troposphere on the lee side of the TP. The low-level cooling and midlevel warming together increase the stability. The favorable dynamic and thermodynamic large-scale environment allows for the formation of stratus clouds over EC during the cold season.

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Yi Zhang
,
Rucong Yu
,
Jian Li
,
Weihua Yuan
, and
Minghua Zhang
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