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Guosen Chen and Bin Wang

ABSTRACT

The eastward propagating Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) events exhibit various speeds ranging from 1 to 9 m s−1, but what controls the propagation speed remains elusive. This study attempts to address this issue. It reveals that the Kelvin wave response (KWR) induced by the MJO convection is a major circulation factor controlling the observed propagation speed of the MJO, with a stronger KWR corresponding to faster eastward propagation. A stronger KWR can accelerate the MJO eastward propagation by enhancing the low-level premoistening and preconditioning to the east of the MJO deep convection. The strength of the KWR is affected by the background sea surface temperature (SST). When the equatorial central Pacific SST warms, the zonal scale of the Indo-Pacific warm pool expands, which increases the zonal scale of the MJO, favoring enhancing the KWR. This effect of warm-pool zonal scale has been verified by idealized experiments using a theoretical model. The findings here shed light on the propagation mechanism of the MJO and provide a set of potential predictors for forecasting the MJO propagation.

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Xiaqiong Zhou and Bin Wang

Abstract

To understand the mechanisms responsible for the secondary eyewall replacement cycles and associated intensity changes in intense tropical cyclones (TCs), two numerical experiments are conducted in this study with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. In the experiments, identical initial conditions and model parameters are utilized except that the concentration of ice particles is enhanced in the sensitivity run. With enhanced ice concentrations, it is found that the secondary eyewall forms at an increased radius, the time required for eyewall replacement is extended, and the intensity fluctuation is relatively large. The enhanced concentrations of ice particles at the upper tropospheric outflow layer produces a noticeable subsidence region (moat) surrounding the primary eyewall. The presence of the moat forces the secondary eyewall to form at a relatively large radius. The axisymmetric equivalent potential temperature budget analysis reveals that the demise of the inner eyewall is primarily due to the interception of the boundary layer inflow supply of entropy by the outer convective ring, whereas the advection of low entropy air from the middle levels to the boundary inflow layers in the moat is not essential. The interception process becomes inefficient when the secondary eyewall is at a large radius; hence, the corresponding eyewall replacement is slow. After the demise of the inner eyewall, the outer eyewall has to maintain a warm core not only in the previous eye, but also in the moat. The presence of low equivalent potential temperature air in the moat results in the significant weakening of storm intensity. The results found here suggest that monitoring the features of the moat and the outer eyewall region can provide a clue for the prediction of TC intensity change associated with eyewall replacement.

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Bin Wang and Tianming Li

Abstract

The tropical atmosphere model presented here is suitable for modeling both the annual cycle and short-term (monthly to decadal time scale) climate fluctuations in sole response to the thermal forcing from the underlying surface, especially the ocean surface. The present model consists of a well-mixed planetary boundary layer and a free troposphere represented by the gravest baroclinic mode. The model dynamics involves active interactions between the boundary-layer flow driven by the momentum forcing associated with sea surface temperature (SST) gradient and the free tropospheric flow stimulated by diabatic heating that is controlled by the thermal effects of SST. This process is demonstrated to be essential for modeling Pacific basinwide low-level circulations. The convective heating is parameterized by a SST-dependent conditional heating scheme based upon the proposition that the potential convective instability increases with SST in a nonlinear fashion.

The present model integrates the virtue of a Gill-type model with that of a Lindzen–Nigam model and is capable of reproducing both the shallow intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) in the boundary layer and the deep South Pacific convergence zone (SPCZ) and monsoon troughs in the lower troposphere. The precipitation pattern and intensity, the trade winds and associated subtropical highs, and the near-equatorial trough can also be simulated reasonably well.

The thermal contrast between oceans and continents is shown to have a profound influence on the circulation near landmasses. Changes in land surface temperature, however, do not exert significant influence on remote oceanic regions. Both the ITCZ and SPCZ primarily originate from the inhomogeneity of ocean surface thermal conditions. The continents of South and North America contribute to the formation of these oceanic convergence zones through indirect boundary effects that support coastal upwelling changing the SST distribution. The diagnosis of observed surface wind and pressure fields indicates that the nonlinear advection of momentum is generally negligible, even near the equator, in the boundary-layer momentum balance. The large SST gradients in the subtropics play an important role in forcing rotational and cross-isobaric winds.

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Xiouhua Fu and Bin Wang

Abstract

This study assesses the impact of stratiform rainfall (i.e., large-scale rainfall) in the development and maintenance of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) in a contemporary general circulation model: ECHAM4 AGCM and its coupled version. To examine how the model MJO would change as the stratiform proportion (the ratio of the stratiform versus total rainfall) varies, a suite of sensitivity experiments has been carried out under a weather forecast setting and with three 20-yr free integrations. In these experiments, the detrainment rates of deep/shallow convections that function as a water supply to stratiform clouds were modified, which results in significant changes of stratiform rainfall.

Both the forecast experiments and long-term free integrations indicate that only when the model produces a significant proportion (≥30%) of stratiform rainfall can a robust MJO be sustained. When the stratiform rainfall proportion becomes small, the tropical rainfall in the model is dominated by drizzle-like regimes with neither eastward-propagating nor northward-propagating MJO being sustained.

It is found that the latent heat release of stratiform rainfall significantly warms up the upper troposphere. The covariability between the heating and positive temperature anomaly produces eddy available potential energy that sustains the MJO against dissipation and also allows the direct interaction between the precipitation heating and large-scale low-frequency circulations, which is critical to the development and maintenance of the MJO. This finding calls for better representations of stratiform rainfall and its connections with the convective component in GCMs in order to improve their simulations of the MJO.

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Bin Wang and Xihua Xu

Abstract

Using climatological pentad mean outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) and European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts analysis winds, the authors show that the Northern Hemisphere summer monsoon displays statistically significant climatological intraseasonal oscillations (CISOs). The extreme phases of CISO characterize monsoon singularities—monsoon events that occur on a fixed pentad with usual regularity, whereas the transitional phases of CISO represent the largest year-to-year monsoon variations.

The CISO results from a phase-locking of transient intraseasonal oscillation to annual cycle. It exhibits a dynamically coherent structure between enhanced convection and low-level convergent (upper-level divergent) cyclonic (anticyclonic) circulation. Its phase propagates primarily northward from the equator to the northern Philippines during early summer (May–July), and westward along 15°N from 170°E to the Bay of Bengal during August and September.

The propagation of CISO links monsoon singularities occurring in different regions. Four CISO cycles are identified from May to October. The first cycle has a peak wet phase in mid-May that starts the monsoon over the South China Sea and Philippines. Its dry phase in late May and early June brings the premonsoon dry weather over the regions of western North Pacific summer monsoon (WNPSM), Meiyu/Baiu, and Indian summer monsoon (ISM). The wet phase of Cycle II peaking in mid-June marks the onsets of WNPSM, continental ISM, and Meiyu, whereas the dry phase in early to mid-July corresponds to the first major breaks in WNPSM and ISM, and the end of Meiyu. The wet phase of Cycle III peaking in mid-August benchmarks the height of WNPSM, which was followed by a conspicuous dry phase propagating westward and causing the second breaks of WNPSM (in early September) and ISM (in mid-September). The wet phase of Cycle IV represents the last active WNPSM and withdrawal of ISM in mid-October.

The relationships among ISM, WNPSM, and East Asian Subtropical Monsoon (EASM) are season dependent. During Cycle II, convective activities in the three monsoon regions are nearly in phase. During Cycle III, however, the convective activities are out of phase between ISM and WNPSM; meanwhile, little linkage exists between WNPSM and EASM. The causes of unstable relationships and the phase propagation of CISO are discussed.

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Bin Wang and Xiouhua Fu

Abstract

The annual reestablishment of the equatorial cold tongue (ECT) in the Pacific is signified by a remarkably rapid reversal of the warming trend from March to May. The processes responsible for this dramatic turnabout are investigated using the outputs generated by a coupled ocean–atmosphere model, which simulates realistic tropical Pacific climate. A new diagnostic equation is put forward for a budget study of the temperature tendency in a mixed layer (ML) with a variable depth. The budget study reveals that the rapid boreal spring cooling in the ML of the ECT (4°S–2°N, 120°–90°W) is primarily attributed to turbulent entrainment (54%), surface evaporation (21%), and meridional advection (14%). The spring shallowness of the ML is also a significant“implicit” contributor. Annually, the ML depth in the ECT varies nearly 180° out of phase with the SST while in phase with the ML heat content. The annual variation of the ML depth is determined by competing effects of the Ekman transport and turbulent entrainment. From March to July, the increase of the meridional wind component dominates that of the zonal component; thereby, the effect of entrainment surpasses that of upwelling, leading to mixed layer deepening. The mechanism governing the annual variation of the ML heat content is essentially the same as those governing the ML depth variation. The results suggest that accurate modeling of the ML turbulent mixing holds the key to realistic simulation of the annual cycle of the ECT.

In contrast, beneath the ITCZ (8°–12°N, 100°–120°W), the rapid spring warming is attributable to increased surface heat flux, while entrainment and thermal advection play minor roles. From February to May, the downward shortwave radiation and the surface latent heat fluxes, along with concurrent equatorial cooling, result in a northward progression of the annual warming and promote an active ITCZ–ECT interaction (including evaporation–wind feedback and cloud–radiation–SST interaction).

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Bin Wang and Xiaosu Xie

Abstract

The mechanism by which a vertically sheared zonal flow affects large-scale, low-frequency equatorial waves is investigated with two-level equatorial,β-plane and spherical coordinates models.

Vertical shears couple barolinic and barotropic components of equatorial wave motion, affecting significantly the Rossby wave and westward propagating Yanai wave but not the Kelvin wave. This difference results from the fact that the barotropic component is a modified Rossby mode and can be resonantly excited only by westward propagating internal waves. The barotropic components emanate poleward into the extratropics with a pronounced amplitude, while the baroclinic components remain equatorially trapped. A westerly vertical shear favors the trapping of Rossby and Yanai waves in the upper troposphere, whereas an easterly shear tends to confine them in the lower troposphere. As such, their westward propagation is slowed down by both westerly and easterly shears. When the strength of the vertical shear varies with latitude, both the vertical modes are locally enhanced in the latitudes of strong shear.

The theory suggests that the vertical shear plays an essential role in emanation of heating-induced internal equatorial Rossby waves into the extratropics with a transformed barotropic structure. It may also be partially responsible for trapping perturbation kinetic energy in the upper-troposphere westerly duct and the lower-troposphere monsoon trough.

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LinHo and Bin Wang

Abstract

Despite the seemingly intricate and multifold time–space structure of the mean Asian–Pacific summer monsoon (APSM), its complexity can be greatly reduced once the significance of fast annual cycles has been recognized and put into perspective. The APSM climatology is characterized by a slowly evolving seasonal transition (slow annual cycle) superposed by pronounced singularities in the intraseasonal timescale, termed the “fast annual cycle” in this study. The fast annual cycles show nonrepetitive features from one episode to another, which are often divided by abrupt change events. The APSM fast annual cycles are composed mainly of two monsoon outbreaks, each marking a distinctive dry–wet cycle. The first cycle spans from the middle of May to early July and the second cycle from late July to early September. When the first cycle reaches its peak in mid-June, a slingshot-like convection zone, described as the grand-onset pattern, rules an area from the Arabian Sea to the Indochina Peninsula then bifurcates into a mei-yu branch and a tropical rain belt in the lower western North Pacific. After a brief recess during 20–29 July, the APSM harbors another rain surge in mid-August. This time a giant oceanic cyclone intensifies over the western North Pacific (around 20°N, 140°E); thus the rainy regime jumps 10°–15° north of the previous rain belt. This ocean monsoon gyre incubates numerous tropical cyclones. Meanwhile, the convection zone of the Indian monsoon intensifies and extends well into the subcontinent interior.

From the first to second cycle the major convection center has shifted from the adjacent seas in the northern Indian Ocean to the open ocean east of the Philippine Islands. The major cloud movement also switches from a northeastward direction in the Indian Ocean to a northwestward direction over the western North Pacific.

The two monsoon cycles turn out to be a global phenomenon. This can be shown by the coherent seasonal migration of upper-level subtropical ridgelines in the Northern Hemisphere. During the first cycle all the ridgelines migrate northward rapidly, a sign that the major circulation systems of boreal summer go through a developing stage. After 20–29 July, they reach a quasi steady state, a state in which all ridgelines stand still near their northern rim throughout the entire second cycle.

A reconstructed fast annual cycle based on four leading empirical orthogonal function modes is capable of reproducing most fine details of the APSM climatology, suggesting that the subseasonal changes of the mean APSM possess a limited number of degrees of freedom. A monsoon calendar designed on the basis of fast annual cycles (FACs) gives a concise description of the APSM climatology and provides benchmarks for validating climate model simulations.

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Xiouhua Fu and Bin Wang

Abstract

A series of small-perturbation experiments has been conducted to demonstrate that an atmosphere–ocean coupled model and an atmosphere-only model produce significantly different intensities of boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation (BSISO) and phase relationships between convection and underlying SST associated with BSISO. The coupled model not only simulates a stronger BSISO than the atmosphere-only model, but also generates a realistic phase relationship between intraseasonal convection and underlying SST. In the coupled model, positive (negative) SST fluctuations are highly correlated with more (less) precipitation with a time lead of 10 days as in the observations, suggesting that intraseasonal SST is a result of atmospheric convection, but at the same time, positively feeds back to increase the intensity of the convection. In the atmosphere-only model, however, SST is only a boundary forcing for the atmosphere. The intraseasonal convection in the atmosphere-only model is actually less correlated with underlying SST. The maximum correlation between convection and SST occurs when they are in phase with each other, which is in contrast to the observations. These results indicate that an atmosphere–ocean coupled model produces a more realistic ISO compared to an atmosphere-only model.

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Hiroyuki Murakami and Bin Wang

Abstract

Possible future change in tropical cyclone (TC) activity over the North Atlantic (NA) was investigated by comparison of 25-yr simulations of the present-day climate and future change under the A1B emission scenario using a 20-km-mesh Meteorological Research Institute (MRI) and Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) atmospheric general circulation model. The present-day simulation reproduces many essential features of observed climatology and interannual variability in TC frequency of occurrence and tracks over the NA. For the future projection, the model is driven by the sea surface temperature (SST) that includes a trend projected by the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) multimodel ensemble and a year-to-year variation derived from the present-day climate. A major finding is that the future change of total TC counts in the NA is statistically insignificant, but the frequency of TC occurrence will decrease in the tropical western NA (WNA) and increase in the tropical eastern NA (ENA) and northwestern NA (NWNA). The projected change in TC tracks suggests a reduced probability of TC landfall over the southeastern United States, and an increased influence of TCs on the northeastern United States. The track changes are not due to changes of large-scale steering flows; instead, they are due to changes in TC genesis locations. The increase in TC genesis in the ENA arises from increasing background ascending motion and convective available potential energy. In contrast, the reduced TC genesis in the WNA is attributed to decreases in midtropospheric relative humidity and ascending motion caused by remotely forced anomalous descent. This finding indicates that the impact of remote dynamical forcing is greater than that of local thermodynamical forcing in the WNA. The increased frequency of TC occurrence in the NWNA is attributed to reduced vertical wind shear and the pronounced local warming of the ocean surface. These TC changes appear to be most sensitive to future change in the spatial distribution of rising SST. Given that most IPCC models project a larger increase in SST in the ENA than in the WNA, the projected eastward shift in TC genesis is likely to be robust.

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