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Cameron Bertossa
,
Peter Hitchcock
,
Arthur DeGaetano
, and
Riwal Plougonven

Abstract

A previous study has shown that a large portion of subseasonal-to-seasonal European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) ensemble forecasts for 2-m temperature exhibit properties of univariate bimodality, in some locations occurring in over 30% of forecasts. This study introduces a novel methodology to identify “bimodal events,” meteorological events that trigger the development of spatially and temporally correlated bimodality in forecasts. Understanding such events not only provides insight into the dynamics of the meteorological phenomena causing bimodal events, but also indicates when Gaussian interpretations of forecasts are detrimental. The methodology that is developed allows one to systematically characterize the spatial and temporal scales of the derived bimodal events, and thus uncover the flow states that lead to them. Three distinct regions that exhibit high occurrence rates of bimodality are studied: one in South America, one in the Southern Ocean, and one in the North Atlantic. It is found that bimodal events in each region appear to be triggered by synoptic processes interacting with geographically specific processes: in South America, bimodality is often related to Andes blocking events; in the Southern Ocean, bimodality is often related to an atmospheric Rossby wave interacting with sea ice; and in the North Atlantic, bimodality is often connected to the displacement of a persistent subtropical high. This common pattern of large-scale circulation anomalies interacting with local boundary conditions suggests that any deeper dynamical understanding of these events should incorporate such interactions.

Significance Statement

Repeatedly running weather forecasts with slightly different initial conditions provides some information on the confidence of a forecast. Occasionally, these sets of forecasts spread into two distinct groups or modes, making the “typical” interpretation of confidence inappropriate. What leads to such a behavior has yet to be fully understood. This study contributes to our understanding of this process by presenting a methodology that identifies coherent bimodal events in forecasts of near-surface air temperature. Applying this methodology to a database of such forecasts reveals several key dynamical features that can lead to bimodal events. Exploring and understanding these features is crucial for saving forecasters’ resources, creating more skillful forecasts for the public, and improving our understanding of the weather.

Restricted access
Valérian Jewtoukoff
,
Riwal Plougonven
,
Albert Hertzog
,
Chris Snyder
, and
Glen Romine

Abstract

Safety compliance issues for operational studies of the atmosphere with balloons require quantifying risks associated with descent and developing strategies to reduce the uncertainties at the location of the touchdown point. Trajectory forecasts are typically computed from weather forecasts produced by an operational center, for example, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. This study uses past experiments to investigate strategies for improving these forecasts. Trajectories for open stratospheric balloon (OSB) short-term flights are computed using mesoscale simulations with the Weather and Research Forecasting (WRF) Model initialized with ECMWF operational forecasts and are assimilated with radio soundings using the Data Assimilation Research Testbed (DART) ensemble Kalman filter, for three case studies during the Strapolété 2009 campaign in Sweden. The results are very variable: in one case, the error in the final simulated position is reduced by 90% relative to the forecast using the ECMWF winds, while in another case the forecast is hardly improved. Nonetheless, they reveal the main source of forecasting error: during the ceiling phase, errors due to unresolved inertia–gravity waves accumulate as the balloon continuously experiences one phase of a wave for a few hours, whereas they essentially average out during the ascent and descent phases, when the balloon rapidly samples through whole wave packets. This sensitivity to wind during the ceiling phase raises issues regarding the feasibility of such forecasts and the observations that would be needed. The ensemble spread is also analyzed, and it is noted that the initial ensemble perturbations should probably be improved in the future for better forecasts.

Full access
Chris Snyder
,
David J. Muraki
,
Riwal Plougonven
, and
Fuqing Zhang

Abstract

Vortex dipoles provide a simple representation of localized atmospheric jets. Numerical simulations of a synoptic-scale dipole in surface potential temperature are considered in a rotating, stratified fluid with approximately uniform potential vorticity. Following an initial period of adjustment, the dipole propagates along a slightly curved trajectory at a nearly steady rate and with a nearly fixed structure for more than 50 days. Downstream from the jet maximum, the flow also contains smaller-scale, upward-propagating inertia–gravity waves that are embedded within and stationary relative to the dipole. The waves form elongated bows along the leading edge of the dipole. Consistent with propagation in horizontal deformation and vertical shear, the waves’ horizontal scale shrinks and the vertical slope varies as they approach the leading stagnation point in the dipole’s flow. Because the waves persist for tens of days despite explicit dissipation in the numerical model that would otherwise damp the waves on a time scale of a few hours, they must be inherent features of the dipole itself, rather than remnants of imbalances in the initial conditions. The wave amplitude varies with the strength of the dipole, with waves becoming obvious once the maximum vertical vorticity in the dipole is roughly half the Coriolis parameter. Possible mechanisms for the wave generation are spontaneous wave emission and the instability of the underlying balanced dipole.

Full access
Mohammad Mirzaei
,
Ali R. Mohebalhojeh
,
Christoph Zülicke
, and
Riwal Plougonven

Abstract

Quantification of inertia–gravity waves (IGWs) generated by upper-level jet–surface front systems and their parameterization in global models of the atmosphere relies on suitable methods to estimate the strength of IGWs. A harmonic divergence analysis (HDA) that has been previously employed for quantification of IGWs combines wave properties from linear dynamics with a sophisticated statistical analysis to provide such estimates. A question of fundamental importance that arises is how the measures of IGW activity provided by the HDA are related to the measures coming from the wave–vortex decomposition (WVD) methods. The question is addressed by employing the nonlinear balance relations of the first-order δγ, the Bolin–Charney, and the first- to third-order Rossby number expansion to carry out WVD. The global kinetic energy of IGWs given by the HDA and WVD are compared in numerical simulations of moist baroclinic waves by the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model in a channel on the f plane. The estimates of the HDA are found to be 2–3 times smaller than those of the optimal WVD. This is in part due to the absence of a well-defined scale separation between the waves and vortical flows, the IGW estimates by the HDA capturing only the dominant wave packets and with limited scales. It is also shown that the difference between the HDA and WVD estimates is related to the width of the IGW spectrum.

Full access
Mozhgan Amiramjadi
,
Riwal Plougonven
,
Ali R. Mohebalhojeh
, and
Mohammad Mirzaei

Abstract

Machine learning (ML) provides a powerful tool for investigating the relationship between the large-scale flow and unresolved processes, which need to be parameterized in climate models. The current work explores the performance of the random forest regressor (RF) as a nonparametric model in the reconstruction of nonorographic gravity waves (GWs) over midlatitude oceanic areas. The ERA5 dataset from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) model outputs is employed in its full resolution to derive GW variations in the lower stratosphere. Coarse-grained variables in a column-based configuration of the atmosphere are used to reconstruct the GWs variability at the target level. The first important outcome is the relative success in reconstructing the GW signal (coefficient of determination R 2 ≈ 0.85 for “E3” combination). The second outcome is that the most informative explanatory variable is the local background wind speed. This questions the traditional framework of gravity wave parameterizations, for which, at these heights, one would expect more sensitivity to sources below than to local flow. Finally, to test the efficiency of a relatively simple, parametric statistical model, the efficiency of linear regression was compared to that of random forests with a restricted set of only five explanatory variables. Results were poor. Increasing the number of input variables to 15 hardly changes the performance of the linear regression (R 2 changes slightly from 0.18 to 0.21), while it leads to better results with the random forests (R 2 increases from 0.29 to 0.37).

Open access
Mahnoosh Haghighatnasab
,
Mohammad Mirzaei
,
Ali R. Mohebalhojeh
,
Christoph Zülicke
, and
Riwal Plougonven

Abstract

The parameterization of inertia–gravity waves (IGWs) is of considerable importance in general circulation models. Among the challenging issues faced in studies concerned with parameterization of IGWs is the estimation of diabatic forcing in a way independent of the physics parameterization schemes, in particular, convection. The requirement is to estimate the diabatic heating associated with balanced motion. This can be done by comparing estimates of balanced vertical motion with and without diabatic effects. The omega equation provides the natural method of estimating balanced vertical motion without diabatic effects, and several methods for including diabatic effects are compared. To this end, the assumption of spatial-scale separation between IGWs and balanced flows is combined with a suitable form of the balanced omega equation. To test the methods constructed for estimating diabatic heating, an idealized numerical simulation of the moist baroclinic waves is performed using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model in a channel on the f plane. In overall agreement with the diabatic heating of the WRF Model, in the omega-equation-based estimates, the maxima of heating appear in the warm sector of the baroclinic wave and in the exit region of the upper-level jet. The omega-equation-based method with spatial smoothing for estimating balanced vertical motion is thus presented as the proper way to evaluate diabatic forcing for parameterization of IGWs.

Free access
Mozhgan Amiramjadi
,
Ali R. Mohebalhojeh
,
Mohammad Mirzaei
,
Christoph Zülicke
, and
Riwal Plougonven

Abstract

The way the large-scale flow determines the energy of the nonorographic mesoscale inertia–gravity waves (IGWs) is theoretically significant and practically useful for source parameterization of IGWs. The relations previously developed on the f plane for tropospheric sources of IGWs including jets, fronts, and convection in terms of associated secondary circulations strength are generalized for application over the globe. A low-pass spatial filter with a cutoff zonal wavenumber of 22 is applied to separate the large-scale flow from the IGWs using the ERA5 data of ECMWF for the period 2016–19. A comparison with GRACILE data based on satellite observations of the middle stratosphere shows reasonable representation of IGWs in the ERA5 data despite underestimates by a factor of smaller than 3. The sum of the energies, which are mass-weighted integrals in the troposphere from the surface to 100 hPa, as given by the generalized relations is termed initial parameterized energy. The corresponding energy integral for the IGWs is termed the diagnosed energy. The connection between the parameterized and diagnosed IGW energies is explored with regression analysis for each season and six oceanic domains distributed over the globe covering the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and the tropics. While capturing the seasonal cycle, the domain area-average seasonal mean initial parameterized energy is weaker than the diagnosed energy by a factor of 3. The best performance in regression analysis is obtained by using a combination of power and exponential functions, which suggests evidence of exponential weakness.

Full access
Todd P. Lane
,
James D. Doyle
,
Riwal Plougonven
,
Melvyn A. Shapiro
, and
Robert D. Sharman

Abstract

The characteristics and dynamics of inertia–gravity waves generated in the vicinity of an intense jet stream/ upper-level frontal system on 18 February 2001 are investigated using observations from the NOAA Gulfstream-IV research aircraft and numerical simulations. Aircraft dropsonde observations and numerical simulations elucidate the detailed mesoscale structure of this system, including its associated inertia–gravity waves and clear-air turbulence. Results from a multiply nested numerical model show inertia–gravity wave development above the developing jet/front system. These inertia–gravity waves propagate through the highly sheared flow above the jet stream, perturb the background wind shear and stability, and create bands of reduced and increased Richardson numbers. These bands of reduced Richardson numbers are regions of likely Kelvin–Helmholtz instability and a possible source of the clear-air turbulence that was observed.

Full access
Mohammad Mirzaei
,
Christoph Zülicke
,
Ali R. Mohebalhojeh
,
Farhang Ahmadi-Givi
, and
Riwal Plougonven

Abstract

The impact of moisture on inertia–gravity wave generation is assessed for an idealized unstable baroclinic wave using the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) in a channel on the f plane. The evolution of these waves in a moist simulation is compared with a dry simulation. The centers of action for inertia–gravity wave activity are identified as the equatorward-moving upper-level front and the poleward-progressing upper-level jet–surface front system. Four stratospheric wave packets are found, which are significantly more intense in the moist simulation and have slightly higher frequency. They are characterized by their structure and position during the baroclinic wave life cycle and are related to forcing terms in jet, front, and convection systems.

By exploring the time series of mass and energy, it is shown that the release of latent heat leads to a change in enthalpy, an increase in the eddy kinetic energy, and an intensification of the inertia–gravity wave energy. The ratio of the inertia–gravity wave energy to the eddy kinetic energy is estimated to be about 1/200 for the moist simulation, which is 3 times larger than that for the dry simulation. An empirical parameterization scheme for the inertia–gravity wave energy is proposed, based on the fast large-scale ageostrophic flow associated with the jet, front, and convection. The diagnosed stratospheric inertia–gravity wave energy is well captured by this parameterization in six WRF simulations with different moisture and resolutions. The approach used to construct the parameterization may serve as a starting point for state-dependent nonorographic gravity wave drag schemes in general circulation models.

Full access
Valérian Jewtoukoff
,
Albert Hertzog
,
Riwal Plougonven
,
Alvaro de la Cámara
, and
François Lott

Abstract

The increase of spatial resolution allows the ECMWF operational model to explicitly resolve a significant portion of the atmospheric gravity wave (GW) field, but the realism of the simulated GW field in the ECMWF analyses still needs to be precisely evaluated. Here the authors use data collected during the Concordiasi stratospheric balloon campaign to assess the representation of GWs in the ECMWF analyses over Antarctica and the Southern Ocean in spring 2010. The authors first compare the balloonborne GW momentum fluxes with those in ECMWF analyses throughout the campaign and find a correct agreement of the geographical and seasonal patterns. However, the authors also note that ECMWF analyses generally underestimate the balloon fluxes by a factor of 5, which may be essentially due to the spatial truncation of the ECMWF model. Intermittency of wave activity in the analyses and observations are found comparable. These results are confirmed on two case studies dealing with orographic and nonorographic waves, which thus supports that the ECMWF analyses can be used to study the geographical and seasonal distribution of GW momentum fluxes. The authors then used both datasets to provide insights on the missing GW drag at 60°S in general circulation models in the Southern Hemisphere spring. These datasets suggest that a significant part of the missing drag may be associated with nonorographic GWs generated by weather systems above the Southern Ocean.

Full access