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Riwal Plougonven
,
Chris Snyder
, and
Fuqing Zhang
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Shuguang Wang
,
Fuqing Zhang
, and
Chris Snyder

Abstract

This study investigates gravity wave generation and propagation from jets within idealized vortex dipoles using a nonhydrostatic mesoscale model. Two types of initially balanced and localized jets induced by vortex dipoles are examined here. These jets have their maximum strength either at the surface or in the middle levels of a uniformly stratified atmosphere. Within these dipoles, inertia–gravity waves with intrinsic frequencies 1–2 times the Coriolis parameter are simulated in the jet exit region. These gravity waves are nearly phase locked with the jets as shown in previous studies, suggesting spontaneous emission of the waves by the localized jets. A ray tracing technique is further employed to investigate the propagation effects of gravity waves. The ray tracing analysis reveals strong variation of wave characteristics along ray paths due to variations (particularly horizontal variations) in the propagating environment.

The dependence of wave amplitude on the jet strength (and thus on the Rossby number of the flow) is examined through experiments in which the two vortices are initially separated by a large distance but subsequently approach each other and form a vortex dipole with an associated amplifying localized jet. The amplitude of the stationary gravity waves in the simulations with 90-km grid spacing increases as the square of the Rossby number (Ro), when Ro falls in a small range of 0.05–0.15, but does so significantly more rapidly when a smaller grid spacing is used.

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Michael L. Waite
and
Chris Snyder

Abstract

The atmospheric mesoscale kinetic energy spectrum is investigated through numerical simulations of an idealized baroclinic wave life cycle, from linear instability to mature nonlinear evolution and with high horizontal and vertical resolution (Δx ≈ 10 km and Δz ≈ 60 m). The spontaneous excitation of inertia–gravity waves yields a shallowing of the mesoscale spectrum with respect to the large scales, in qualitative agreement with observations. However, this shallowing is restricted to the lower stratosphere and does not occur in the upper troposphere. At both levels, the mesoscale divergent kinetic energy spectrum—a proxy for the inertia–gravity wave energy spectrum—resembles a −5/3 power law in the mature stage. Divergent kinetic energy dominates the lower stratospheric mesoscale spectrum, accounting for its shallowing. Rotational kinetic energy, by contrast, dominates the upper tropospheric spectrum and no shallowing of the full spectrum is observed. By analyzing the tendency equation for the kinetic energy spectrum, it is shown that the lower stratospheric spectrum is not governed solely by a downscale energy cascade; rather, it is influenced by the vertical pressure flux divergence associated with vertically propagating inertia–gravity waves.

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Chris Snyder
and
Gregory J. Hakim

Abstract

Singular vectors (SVs) have been applied to cyclogenesis, to initializing ensemble forecasts, and in predictability studies. Ideally, the calculation of the SVs would employ the analysis error covariance norm at the initial time or, in the case of cyclogenesis, a norm based on the statistics of initial perturbations, but the energy norm is often used as a more practical substitute.

To illustrate the roles of the choice of norm and the vertical structure of initial perturbations, an upper-level wave with no potential vorticity perturbation in the troposphere is considered as a typical cyclogenetic perturbation or analysis error, and this perturbation is then decomposed by its projection onto each energy SV. All calculations are made, for simplicity, in the context of the quasigeostrophic Eady model (i.e., for a background flow with constant vertical shear and horizontal temperature gradient). Viewed in terms of the energy SVs, the smooth vertical structure of the typical perturbation, as well as its evolution, results from strong cancellation between the growing and decaying SVs, most of which are highly structured and tilted in the vertical.

A simpler picture, involving less cancellation, follows from decomposition of the typical perturbation into SVs using an alternative initial norm, which is based on the relation between initial norms and the statistics of initial perturbations together with the empirical assumption that the initial perturbations are not dominated by interior potential vorticity. Differences between the energy SVs and those based on the alternative initial norm can be understood by noting that the energy norm implicitly assumes initial perturbations with second-order statistics given by the covariance matrix whose inverse defines the energy norm. Unlike the “typical” perturbation, perturbations with those statistics have large variance of potential vorticity in the troposphere and fine vertical structure.

Finally, a brief assessment is presented of the extent to which the upper wave, and more generally the alternative initial norm, is representative of cyclogenetic perturbations and analysis errors. There is substantial evidence supporting deep perturbations with little vertical structure as frequent precursors to cyclogenesis, but surrogates for analysis errors are less conclusive: operational midlatitude analysis differences have vertical structure similar to that of the perturbations implied by the energy norm, while short-range forecast errors and analysis errors from assimilation experiments with simulated observations are more consistent with the alternative norm.

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Chris Snyder
and
Richard S. Lindzen

Abstract

In this study, the free-shear problem, a minimal version of baroclinic, quasi-geostrophic wave-CISK, is analyzed. The basic state consists of a zonal flow, unbounded above and below, with constant vertical shear and Brunt-Väisälä frequency and zero meridional gradient of the potential vorticity; and convective heating is parameterized in terms of the convergence below an arbitrary level. Because of the sensitivity to the vertical distribution of the parameterized heating typical of wave-CISK models, a simple thermodynamic constraint on the heating profile is used to broadly identify appropriate parameter regimes. The unstable waves in the free-shear problem grow rapidly and share many structural characteristics with dry baroclinic waves, although the dynamical process associated with dry baroclinic instability is absent; consideration of the potential vorticity dynamics of the unstable modes illustrates how heating may act as a dynamical surrogate for potential vorticity gradients. Although highly idealized, the free-shear problem also explains much of the behavior of more general wave-CISK models.

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Jeffrey S. Whitaker
and
Chris Snyder

Abstract

The effects of spherical geometry on the nonlinear evolution of baroclinic waves are investigated by comparing integrations of a two-layer primitive equation (PE) model in spherical and Cartesian geometry. To isolate geometrical effects, the integrations use basic states with nearly identical potential vorticity (PV) structure.

Although the linear normal modes are very similar, significant differences develop at finite amplitude. Anticyclones (cyclones) in spherical geometry are relatively stronger (weaker) than those in Cartesian geometry. For this basic state, the strong anticyclones on the sphere are associated with anticyclonic wrapping of high PV in the upper layer (i.e., high PV air is advected southward and westward relative to the wave). In Cartesian geometry, large quasi-barotropic cyclonic vortices develop, and no anticyclonic wrapping of PV occurs. Because of their influence on the synoptic-scale flow, spherical geometric effects also lead to significant differences in the structure of mesoscale frontal features.

A standard midlatitude scale analysis indicates that the effects of sphericity enter in the next-order correction to β-plane quasigeostrophic (QG) dynamics. At leading order these spherical terms only affect the PV inversion operator (through the horizontal Laplacian) and the advection of PV by the nondivergent wind. Scaling arguments suggest, and numerical integrations of the barotropic vorticity equation confirm, that the dominant geometric effects are in the PV inversion operator. The dominant metric in the PV inversion operator is associated with the equatorward spreading of meridians on the sphere, and causes the anticyclonic (cyclonic) circulations in the spherical integration to become relatively stronger (weaker) than those in the Cartesian integration.

This study demonstrates that the effects of spherical geometry can be as important as the leading-order ageostrophic effects in determining the structure of evolution of dry baroclinic waves and their embedded mesoscale structures.

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May Wong
,
Glen Romine
, and
Chris Snyder

Abstract

Deficiencies in forecast models commonly stem from inadequate representation of physical processes; yet, improvement to any single physics component within a model may lead to degradations in other physics components or the model as a whole. In this study, a systematic investigation of physics tendencies is demonstrated to help identify and correct compensating sources of model biases. The model improvement process is illustrated by addressing a commonly known issue in warm-season rainfall forecasts from parameterized convection models: the misrepresentation of the diurnal precipitation cycle over land, especially in its timing. Recent advances in closure assumptions in mass-flux cumulus schemes have made remarkable improvements in this respect. Here, we investigate these improvements in the representation of the diurnal precipitation cycle for a spring period over the United States, and how changes to the cumulus scheme impact the model climate and the behavior of other physics schemes. The modified cumulus scheme improves both the timing of the diurnal precipitation cycle and reduces midtropospheric temperature and moisture biases. However, larger temperature and moisture biases are found in the boundary layer as compared to a predecessor scheme, along with an overamplification of the diurnal precipitation cycle, relative to observations. Guided by a tendency analysis, we find that biases in the diurnal amplitude of the precipitation cycle in our simulations, along with temperature and moisture biases in the boundary layer, originate from the land surface model.

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Ryan D. Torn
and
Chris Snyder

Abstract

With the growing use of tropical cyclone (TC) best-track information for weather and climate applications, it is important to understand the uncertainties that are contained in the TC position and intensity information. Here, an attempt is made to quantify the position uncertainty using National Hurricane Center (NHC) advisory information, as well as intensity uncertainty during times without aircraft data, by verifying Dvorak minimum sea level pressure (SLP) and maximum wind speed estimates during times with aircraft reconnaissance information during 2000–09. In a climatological sense, TC position uncertainty decreases for more intense TCs, while the uncertainty of intensity, measured by minimum SLP or maximum wind speed, increases with intensity. The standard deviation of satellite-based TC intensity estimates can be used as a predictor of the consensus intensity error when that consensus includes both Dvorak and microwave-based estimates, but not when it contains only Dvorak-based values. Whereas there has been a steady decrease in seasonal TC position uncertainty over the past 10 yr, which is likely due to additional data available to NHC forecasters, the seasonal TC minimum SLP and maximum wind speed values are fairly constant, with year-to-year variability due to the mean intensity of all TCs during that season and the frequency of aircraft reconnaissance.

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Richard Rotunno
,
Chris Snyder
, and
Falko Judt

Abstract

Atmospheric predictability is measured by the average difference (or “error”) within an ensemble of forecasts starting from slightly different initial conditions. The spatial scale of the error field is a fundamental quantity; for meteorological applications, the error field typically varies with latitude and longitude and so requires a two-dimensional (2D) spectral analysis. Statistical predictability theory is based on the theory of homogeneous, isotropic turbulence, in which spectra are circularly symmetric in 2D wavenumber space. One takes advantage of this circular symmetry to reduce 2D spectra to one-dimensional (1D) spectra by integrating around a circle in wavenumber polar coordinates. In recent studies it has become common to reduce 2D error spectra to 1D by computing spectra in the zonal direction and then averaging the results over latitude. It is shown here that such 1D error spectra are generically fairly constant across the low wavenumbers as the amplitude of an error spectrum grows with time and therefore the error spectrum is said grow “up-amplitude.” In contrast computing 1D error spectra in a manner consistent with statistical predictability theory gives spectra that are peaked at intermediate wavenumbers. In certain cases, this peak wavenumber is decreasing with time as the error at that wavenumber increases and therefore the error spectrum is said to grow “upscale.” We show through theory, simple examples, and global predictability experiments that comparisons of model error spectra with the predictions of statistical predictability theory are only justified when using a theory-consistent method to transform a 2D error field to a 1D spectrum.

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Steven M. Cavallo
,
Jimy Dudhia
, and
Chris Snyder

Abstract

An upper-level cold bias in potential temperature tendencies of 10 K day−1, strongest at the top of the model, is observed in Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model forecasts. The bias originates from the Rapid Radiative Transfer Model longwave radiation physics scheme and can be reduced substantially by 1) modifying the treatment within the scheme by adding a multilayer buffer between the model top and top of the atmosphere and 2) constraining stratospheric water vapor to remain within the estimated climatology in the stratosphere. These changes reduce the longwave heating rate bias at the model top to ±0.5 K day−1. Corresponding bias reductions are also seen, particularly near the tropopause.

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