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Steven M. Babin, George S. Young, and James A. Carton

Abstract

Failure to consider anomalous propagation of microwave radiation in the troposphere may result in erroneous meteorological radar measurements. The most commonly occurring anomalous propagation phenomenon over the ocean is the evaporation duct. The height of this duct is dependent on atmospheric variables and is a major input to microwave propagation prediction models. This evaporation duct height is determined from an evaporation duct model using bulk measurements. Two current evaporation duct models in widespread operational use are examined. We propose and test a new model that addresses deficiencies in these two models. The new model uses recently refined bulk similarity expressions developed for the determination of the ocean surface energy budget in the Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment. Comparison of these models is made using data collected from a boat off Wallops Island, Virginia, during a range of seasons and weather conditions and from the tidal Potomac River during June and August. Independent evaporation duct height determinations are made using profile measurements from the same boat and are corroborated with fade measurements made with a nearby microwave link whenever possible. The proposed model performs better than the other (operational) models for the cases examined and has advantages of internal consistency.

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Hua Chen, Da-Lin Zhang, James Carton, and Robert Atlas

Abstract

In this study, a 72-h cloud-permitting numerical prediction of Hurricane Wilma (2005), covering its initial 18-h spinup, an 18-h rapid intensification (RI), and the subsequent 36-h weakening stage, is performed using the Weather Research Forecast Model (WRF) with the finest grid length of 1 km. The model prediction uses the initial and lateral boundary conditions, including the bogus vortex, that are identical to the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory’s then-operational data, except for the time-independent sea surface temperature field. Results show that the WRF prediction compares favorably in many aspects to the best-track analysis, as well as satellite and reconnaissance flight-level observations. In particular, the model predicts an RI rate of more than 4 hPa h−1 for an 18-h period, with the minimum central pressure of less than 889 hPa. Of significance is that the model captures a sequence of important inner-core structural variations associated with Wilma’s intensity changes, namely, from a partial eyewall open to the west prior to RI to a full eyewall at the onset of RI, rapid eyewall contraction during the initial spinup, the formation of double eyewalls with a wide moat area in between during the most intense stage, and the subsequent eyewall replacement leading to the weakening of Wilma. In addition, the model reproduces the boundary layer growth up to 750 hPa with an intense inversion layer above in the eye. Recognizing that a single case does not provide a rigorous test of the model predictability due to the stochastic nature of deep convection, results presented herein suggest that it is possible to improve forecasts of hurricane intensity and intensity changes, and especially RI, if the inner-core structural changes and storm size could be reasonably predicted in an operational setting using high-resolution cloud-permitting models with realistic initial conditions and model physical parameterizations.

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James A. Carton, Semyon A. Grodsky, and Hailong Liu

Abstract

A new monthly uniformly gridded analysis of mixed layer properties based on the World Ocean Atlas 2005 global ocean dataset is used to examine interannual and longer changes in mixed layer properties during the 45-yr period 1960–2004. The analysis reveals substantial variability in the winter–spring depth of the mixed layer in the subtropics and midlatitudes. In the North Pacific an empirical orthogonal function analysis shows a pattern of mixed layer depth variability peaking in the central subtropics. This pattern occurs coincident with intensification of local surface winds and may be responsible for the SST changes associated with the Pacific decadal oscillation. Years with deep winter–spring mixed layers coincide with years in which winter–spring SST is low. In the North Atlantic a pattern of winter–spring mixed layer depth variability occurs that is not so obviously connected to local changes in winds or SST, suggesting that other processes such as advection are more important. Interestingly, at decadal periods the winter–spring mixed layers of both basins show trends, deepening by 10–40 m over the 45-yr period of this analysis. The long-term mixed layer deepening is even stronger (50–100 m) in the North Atlantic subpolar gyre. At tropical latitudes the boreal winter mixed layer varies in phase with the Southern Oscillation index, deepening in the eastern Pacific and shallowing in the western Pacific and eastern Indian Oceans during El Niños. In boreal summer the mixed layer in the Arabian Sea region of the western Indian Ocean varies in response to changes in the strength of the southwest monsoon.

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Alfredo Ruiz-Barradas, James A. Carton, and Sumant Nigam

Abstract

This paper explores climate variability of the lower troposphere and boundary layer in the tropical Atlantic sector through a series of modeling simulations with a diagnostic primitive equation model. The focus is on the role that realistic diabatic heating and its vertical placement as well as surface temperature have in inducing/reinforcing the local monthly wind circulation, the role that thermal and momentum transients play in the Tropics, the potential for feedbacks, and the way through which other basins influence the tropical Atlantic region. NCEP–NCAR reanalysis data for the period 1958–93 are used to provide forcing and model verification.

In the first part of the paper local effects are considered. It is found that the most important terms controlling anomalous surface winds over the ocean are boundary layer temperature gradients and diabatic heating anomalies at low levels (below 780 mb). Anomalous diabatic heating at mid- and upper levels (430–690 mb) contributes to the near-surface circulation poleward of 15° over the warm hemisphere. Anomalous diabatic heating over the African continent influences zonal winds well into the ocean. It is found that the anomalies of surface latent heat flux induced by the interhemispheric distribution of anomalies provide positive feedback on both sides of the equator, in the deep Tropics and west of 20°W. It provides negative feedback off the northwest coast of Africa.

In the second part the relative importance of remote forcing is considered. It is found that anomalous heating associated with interhemispheric gradients of surface temperature in the tropical Atlantic influence winds in the northern extratropics in a wavelike pattern during boreal spring. Anomalous heating associated with equatorial anomalies of surface temperature influence winds in the southern extratropics in a wavelike pattern during boreal summer. In contrast, the influence of heating in the midlatitudes is confined to the northern subtropics. Anomalous ENSO-related diabatic heating influences near-surface winds in the tropical Atlantic, which resembles the local response to interhemispheric gradients of surface temperature. This remote influence induces changes in the intensity of the Atlantic Walker and Hadley circulations as a consequence of the direct effect of heating in the eastern tropical Pacific.

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James A. Carton, Stephen G. Penny, and Eugenia Kalnay

Abstract

This study extends recent ocean reanalysis comparisons to explore improvements to several next-generation products, the Simple Ocean Data Assimilation, version 3 (SODA3); the Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, version 4, release 3 (ECCO4r3); and the Ocean Reanalysis System 5 (ORAS5), during their 23-yr period of overlap (1993–2015). The three reanalyses share similar historical hydrographic data, but the forcings, forward models, estimation algorithms, and bias correction methods are different. The study begins by comparing the reanalyses to independent analyses of historical SST, heat, and salt content, as well as examining the analysis-minus-observation misfits. While the misfits are generally small, they still reveal some systematic biases that are not present in the reference Hadley Center EN4 objective analysis. We next explore global trends in temperature averaged into three depth intervals: 0–300, 300–1000, and 1000–2000 m. We find considerable similarity in the spatial structure of the trends and their distribution among different ocean basins; however, the trends in global averages do differ by 30%–40%, which implies an equivalent level of disagreement in net surface heating rates. ECCO4r3 is distinct in having quite weak warming trends while ORAS5 has stronger trends that are noticeable in the deeper layers. To examine the performance of the reanalyses in the Arctic we explore representation of Atlantic Water variability on the Atlantic side of the Arctic and upper-halocline freshwater storage on the Pacific side of the Arctic. These comparisons are encouraging for the application of ocean reanalyses to track ocean climate variability and change at high northern latitudes.

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James A. Carton, Gennady Chepurin, Xianhe Cao, and Benjamin Giese

Abstract

The authors describe a 46-year global retrospective analysis of upper-ocean temperature, salinity, and currents. The analysis is an application of the Simple Ocean Data Assimilation (SODA) package. SODA uses an ocean model based on Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory MOM2 physics. Assimilated data includes temperature and salinity profiles from the World Ocean Atlas-94 (MBT, XBT, CTD, and station data), as well as additional hydrography, sea surface temperature, and altimeter sea level.

After reviewing the basic methodology the authors present experiments to examine the impact of trends in the wind field and model forecast bias (referred to in the engineering literature as “colored noise”). The authors believe these to be the major sources of error in the retrospective analysis. With detrended winds the analysis shows a pattern of warming in the subtropics and cooling in the Tropics and at high latitudes. Model forecast bias results partly from errors in surface forcing and partly from limitations of the model. Bias is of great concern in regions of thermocline water-mass formation. In the examples discussed here, the data assimilation has the effect of increasing production of these water masses and thus reducing bias.

Additional experiments examine the relative importance of winds versus subsurface updating. These experiments show that in the Tropics both winds and subsurface updating contribute to analysis temperature, while in midlatitudes the variability results mainly from the effects of subsurface updating.

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Alfredo Ruiz-Barradas, James A. Carton, and Sumant Nigam

Abstract

A search for coupled modes of atmosphere–ocean interaction in the tropical Atlantic sector is presented. Previous studies have provided conflicting indications of the existence of coupled modes in this region. The subject is revisited through a rotated principal component analysis performed on datasets spanning the 36-yr period 1958–93. The analysis includes four variables, sea surface temperature, oceanic heat content, wind stress, and atmospheric diabatic heating. The authors find that the first rotated principal component is associated with fluctuations in the subtropical wind system and correlates with the North Atlantic oscillation (NAO), while the second and third modes, which are the focus of interest, are related to tropical variability.

The second mode is the Atlantic Niño mode with anomalous sea surface temperature and anomalous heat content in the eastern equatorial basin. Wind stress weakens to the west of anomalously warm water, while convection is shifted south and eastward. Surface and upper-level wind anomalies of this mode resemble those of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. When the analysis is limited to boreal summer, the season of maximum amplitude, the Atlantic Niño mode explains 7.5% of the variance of the five variables. Thermodynamic air–sea interactions do not seem to play a role for this mode.

The third mode is associated with an interhemispheric gradient of anomalous sea surface temperature and a dipole pattern of atmospheric heating. In its positive phase anomalous heating occurs over the warmer Northern Hemisphere with divergence aloft shifting convection to the north and west of the equator and intensifying the subtropical jet stream, while descending motion occurs on the western side of the Southern Hemisphere. Surface and subsurface structures in the ocean are controlled by surface winds. This interhemispheric mode is strongest in boreal spring when it explains 9.1% of the combined variance of the five variables. Thermodynamic air–sea interactions do seem to control the associated sea surface temperature anomalies, although equatorial dynamics may play a role as well.

The authors also examine the connection of the tropical Atlantic to other basins. ENSO events cause patterns of winds, heating, and sea surface temperatures resembling the interhemispheric mode described above. The lag between changes in the Atlantic and Pacific is 4–5 months for the interhemispheric mode. In contrast, no significant impact of ENSO is found on the Atlantic Niño mode. Likewise, no impact of the midlatitude North Atlantic (the NAO) is found on the Tropics, but some impact of the Tropics is found on the midlatitude North Atlantic.

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James A. Carton, Gennady A. Chepurin, and Ligang Chen

Abstract

This paper describes version 3 of the Simple Ocean Data Assimilation (SODA3) ocean reanalysis with enhancements to model resolution, observation, and forcing datasets, and the addition of active sea ice. SODA3 relies on the ocean component of the NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory CM2.5 coupled model with nominal ¼° resolution. A scheme has also been implemented to reduce bias in the surface fluxes. A 37-yr-long ocean reanalysis, SODA3.4.2, created using this new SODA3 system is compared to the previous generation of SODA (SODA2.2.4) as well as to the Hadley Centre EN4.1.1 no-model statistical objective analysis. The comparison is carried out in the tropics, the midlatitudes, and the Arctic and includes examinations of the meridional overturning circulation in the Atlantic. The comparison shows that SODA3.4.2 has reduced systematic errors to a level comparable to those of the no-model statistical objective analysis in the upper ocean. The accuracy of variability has been improved particularly poleward of the tropics, with the greatest improvements seen in the Arctic, accompanying a substantial reduction in surface net heat and freshwater flux bias. These improvements justify increasing use of ocean reanalysis for climate studies including the higher latitudes.

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Benjamin S. Giese, Gennady A. Chepurin, James A. Carton, Tim P. Boyer, and Howard F. Seidel

Abstract

Historical bathythermograph datasets are known to be biased, and there have been several efforts to model this bias. Three different correction models of temperature bias in the historical bathythermograph dataset are compared here: the steady model of Hanawa et al. and the time-dependent models of Levitus et al. and Wijffels et al. The impact of these different models is examined in the context of global analysis experiments using the Simple Ocean Data Assimilation system. The results show that the two time-dependent bias models significantly reduce warm bias in global heat content, notably in the 10 years starting in the early 1970s and again in the early 1990s. Overall, the Levitus et al. model has its greatest impact near the surface and the Wijffels et al. model has its greatest impact at subtropical thermocline depths. Examination of the vertical structure of temperature error shows that at thermocline depths the Wijffels et al. model overcompensates, leading to a slight cool bias, while at shallow levels the same model causes a slight warm bias in the central and eastern subtropics and at thermocline depths on the equator in the Pacific Ocean as a result of reduced vertical entrainment. The results also show that the bias-correction models may alter the representation of interannual variability. During the 1997/98 El Niño and the subsequent La Niña the Levitus et al. model, which has its main impact at shallow depths, reduces the 50-m temperature anomalies in the eastern equatorial Pacific by 10%–20% and strengthens the zonal currents by up to 50%. The Wijffels et al. correction, which has its main impact at deeper levels, has much less effect on the oceanic expression of ENSO.

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Allan R. Robinson, James A. Carton, Nadia Pinardi, and Christopher N. K. Mooers

Abstract

In order to perform real-time dynamical forecasts and hindcasts, three high-resolution hydrographic surveys were made of a (150 km)2 domain off northern California, providing two sets of initialization and verification fields. The data was objectively analyzed and regularly gridded for model compatibility. These maps initially show an anticyclonic eddy segment in the northeast and part of another in the northwest. Two weeks later only the northwest anticyclonic eddy remained, with the domain center dominated by a 0.6 m s−1 jet. Two weeks after that only a larger northwest eddy with fairly weak velocities remained. Numerical forecasts with persistent boundary conditions and forecast experiments with boundary conditions linearly interpolated between surveys were performed. The real-time forecast successfully predicted the formation of the zonal jet prior to its observation. Dynamical interpolation shows unambiguously that the two anticyclonic eddies have merged and formed a single eddy. Even the forecast with incorrect boundary conditions demonstrates the internal dynamical processes involved in the merger event.

Two examples are given of four-dimensional data assimilation: direct insertion and a backward-forward combination technique. These results justify the use of the dynamical forecasts as synoptic time series. Parameter sensitivity experiments were performed to determine the sensitivity of the model to physical parameters such as stratification, to explore the dynamical balance, and to choose a reference level. The dynamics were found to be controlled by horizontal nonlinear interactions. A reference level of 1550 m was chosen. A set of energy and vorticity equations, consistent with quasi-geostrophic dynamics, were evaluated term by term for the forecast experiments. The evolutions of the streamfunction and vorticity fields are shown to be a three-phase (merging, expanding, and relaxation) process. Available gravitational energy increases due to buoyancy work; the merger event is interpreted as a finite amplitude barotropic instability process.

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