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Changhai Liu
and
Mitchell W. Moncrieff

Abstract

The dynamical theory of mass and momentum transport by organized convection, produced by Moncrieff, is extended using a hydrodynamical model, a two-dimensional buoyant model, and a quasi-three-dimensional buoyant model. Each is characterized by three relative flow branches that idealize the structure of squall-line cloud systems.

Despite the physical and structural diversity, a clear similarity in mass and momentum transports holds for the entire hierarchy, such as the negative-dominant momentum flux by systems propagating in the positive x-direction. Shear and buoyancy are shown to alter the details but not the overall nature of the dynamical transports. In particular. both mass and momentum fluxes are insensitive to the Froude numbers in the hydrodynamical model. The two-dimensional buoyant model enhances the momentum flux amplitude but has a much less noticeable impact on mass fluxes. In contrast, the three-dimensional buoyant model has a larger mass flux and raises the heights of the mass and momentum flux extrema. The low-level inflow shear has a similar effect in these models by increasing both mass and momentum fluxes. Buoyancy affects transports largely through modifying the flow field while the inflow shear influences transports by strengthening the low-level convergence.

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Changhai Liu
and
Mitchell W. Moncrieff

Abstract

A nonlinear analytic model is used to study the bulk characteristics of energy conserving density currents in stratified and sheared environments. The idealized representation of latent heating in a stratified flow is a unique feature that interactively couples the dynamic and thermodynamic fields.

A stable stratification decreases the height of density currents but increases the corresponding propagation speed. In contrast, the density current is deeper and moves more slowly once latent heating is included. As for the effect of shear, the depth and the translation speed of density currents increase as the ambient shear varies from negative to positive (in the direction of propagation), with the exception of a strongly stable environment. A key addition to density current dynamics is the upper-level overturning circulation ahead of the system. This feature is very different from the blocked or choked upper-level structure found in the companion paper of Liu and Moncrieff. The distinction is attributed to the effect of different shear profiles on density current dynamics.

These analytic results quantifying the role of shear and latent heating in density-current-like phenomena in the atmosphere should now be evaluated against high-resolution numerical simulations and observations.

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Changhai Liu
and
Mitchell W. Moncrieff

Abstract

Idealized two-dimensional cloud-resolving numerical modeling was conducted to investigate the diurnal variability of deep tropical oceanic convection. The model was initialized with a horizontally homogeneous atmosphere upon which a uniform and time-independent large-scale forcing was imposed. The underlying surface was assumed to be an open ocean with a constant sea surface temperature. Emphasis was on two distinct regimes:(a) highly organized squall-line-like convection in strong ambient shear and (b) less organized nonsquall cloud clusters without ambient shear.

A pronounced diurnal cycle was simulated for the highly organized case; convective activity and intensity attained a maximum around predawn and a minimum in the late afternoon. A similar diurnal variability was obtained for the less organized case and was characterized by more precipitation during the night and early morning and less precipitation in the afternoon and evening.

The modeled diurnal variation was primarily attributed to the direct interaction between radiation and convection, whereas the cloud–cloud-free differential heating mechanism played a secondary role.

When the radiative effect of clouds was excluded, a diurnal cycle was still present. Moreover, the cloud radiative forcing had a negative influence on precipitation/convective activity, in contrast with general circulation modeling results.

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Changhai Liu
and
Mitchell W. Moncrieff

Abstract

The intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) is one of the most important components of the global circulation. In order to understand the dynamical processes that regulate its formation, latitudinal preference, and structure, explicit two-dimensional numerical modeling of convection on an equatorial beta plane was conducted with a nonhydrostatic cloud-system-resolving model. The model was forced by energy fluxes associated with constant sea surface temperature (SST) and by horizontally homogeneous radiative cooling.

Two distinct patterns were identified for the spatial distribution of convective activity in the Tropics. The first was characteristic of enhanced off-equator convection, namely, a double ITCZ-like morphology (one more salient than the other) straddling the equator during the early period of the integration. The second featured enhanced equatorial convection, namely, a single ITCZ-like morphology on the equator during the later quasi-equilibrium period. Diagnostic analysis and two additional experiments, one excluding surface friction and the other having time- and space-independent surface fluxes, revealed that the wind-induced surface flux variability played an essential role in the development and maintenance of the equatorial maximum convection. Surface friction was largely responsible for the early asymmetric convective distribution with respect to the equator in the control simulation and acted to flatten the convective peaks.

One important discrepancy from observations concerned the too-weak trade wind convergence around enhanced convective regions. This unrealistic feature suggested that, as well as the meridional dynamics, latitudinal SST gradients, large-scale forcing, and other physical processes regulate the observed ITCZs.

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Changhai Liu
and
Mitchell W. Moncrieff

Abstract

A systematic numerical investigation is conducted into the role of ambient shear on the macrophysical properties of tropical cumulus ensembles maintained by convective available potential energy generated by constant surface fluxes of temperature and moisture and large-scale advective cooling and moistening. The effects of five distinct idealized wind profiles on the organization of convection, and quantities relevant to the parameterization of convection and convectively generated clouds, are examined in a series of 6-day two-dimensional cloud-resolving simulations.

Lower-tropospheric shear affects the mesoscale organization of convection through interaction with evaporatively driven downdraft outflows (convective triggering), while shear in mid-to-upper levels determines the amount of stratiform cloud and whether the convective transport of momentum is upgradient or downgradient.

Shear significantly affects the convective heating and drying, momentum transport, mass fluxes, and cloud fraction. Sensitivity is strongest in weaker forcing. Cloud-interactive radiation has little direct effect on a 6-day timescale. In particular, the effects of shear on convective momentum transport and cloud fraction are large enough to be potentially significant when included in parameterizations for climate models.

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Changhai Liu
and
Mitchell W. Moncrieff

Abstract

The effects of latent heating, gravity waves, and planetary rotation on numerically simulated convective cloud systems are investigated. First, the nonlinear response of an initially motionless, uniformly stratified, dry atmosphere to steady heating that interacts with the environment through inertial–gravity waves is examined. Planetary rotation confines the subsidence-induced adiabatic warming to the neighborhood of the heated region on a time scale comparable to the lifetime of mesoscale convective systems. In a moist atmosphere, rotation-induced localized descent stabilizes and dries the near environment and decreases the convective available potential energy. The Tropics is therefore a preferred region for convective clustering.

This hypothesis is tested in two sets of multiday convection-resolving simulations on f planes representative of the Tropics, subtropics, and midlatitudes. Convection is maintained by radiative cooling and surface fluxes of heat and moisture. In a motionless mean state, convective clustering is most prominent in the Tropics. In constant easterly flow, tropical convection organizes on three scales. Eastward-propagating convectively coupled gravity waves generate large-scale envelopes of cloudiness. Embedded within these envelopes are westward-traveling mesoscale convective systems that, in turn, contain westward-traveling deep convective cores.

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Mitchell W. Moncrieff
and
Changhai Liu

Abstract

The mesoscale organization of precipitating convection is highly relevant to next-generation global numerical weather prediction models, which will have an intermediate horizontal resolution (grid spacing about 10 km). A primary issue is how to represent dynamical mechanisms that are conspicuously absent from contemporary convective parameterizations. A hybrid parameterization of mesoscale convection is developed, consisting of convective parameterization and explicit convectively driven circulations.

This kind of problem is addressed for warm-season convection over the continental United States, although it is argued to have more general application. A hierarchical strategy is adopted: cloud-system-resolving model simulations represent the mesoscale dynamics of convective organization explicitly and intermediate resolution simulations involve the hybrid approach. Numerically simulated systems are physically interpreted by a mechanistic dynamical model of organized propagating convection. This model is a formal basis for approximating mesoscale convective organization (stratiform heating and mesoscale downdraft) by a first-baroclinic heating couplet.

The hybrid strategy is implemented using a predictor–corrector strategy. Explicit dynamics is the predictor and the first-baroclinic heating couplet the corrector. The corrector strengthens the systematically weak mesoscale downdrafts that occur at intermediate resolution. When introduced to the Betts–Miller–Janjic convective parameterization, this new hybrid approach represents the propagation and dynamical structure of organized precipitating systems. Therefore, the predictor–corrector hybrid approach is an elementary practical framework for representing organized convection in models of intermediate resolution.

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Changhai Liu
and
Mitchell W. Moncrieff

Abstract

Numerical simulations are performed to investigate organized convection observed in the Asian summer monsoon and documented as a category of mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) over the U.S. continent during the warm season. In an idealized low-inhibition and unidirectional shear environment of the mei-yu moisture front, the structure of the simulated organized convection is distinct from that occurring in the classical quasi-two-dimensional, shear-perpendicular, and trailing stratiform (TS) MCS. Consisting of four airflow branches, a three-dimensional, eastward-propagating, downshear-tilted, shear-parallel MCS builds upshear by initiating new convection at its upstream end. The weak cold pool in the low-inhibition environment negligibly affects convection initiation, whereas convectively generated gravity waves are vital. Upstream-propagating gravity waves form a saturated or near-saturated moist tongue, and downstream-propagating waves control the initiation and growth of convection within a preexisting cloud layer. A sensitivity experiment wherein the weak cold pool is removed entirely intensifies the MCS and its interaction with the environment. The horizontal scale, rainfall rate, convective momentum transport, and transverse circulation are about double the respective value in the control simulation. The positive sign of the convective momentum transport contrasts with the negative sign for an eastward-propagating TS MCS. The structure of the simulated convective systems resembles shear-parallel organization in the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ).

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Mitchell W. Moncrieff
,
Changhai Liu
, and
Peter Bogenschutz

Abstract

A new approach for treating organized convection in global climate models (GCMs) referred to as multiscale coherent structure parameterization (MCSP) introduces physical and dynamical effects of organized convection that are missing from contemporary parameterizations. The effects of vertical shear are approximated by a nonlinear slantwise overturning model based on Lagrangian conservation principles. Simulation of the April 2009 Madden–Julian oscillation event during the Year of Tropical Convection (YOTC) over the Indian Ocean using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model at 1.3-km grid spacing identifies self-similar properties for squall lines, MCSs, and superclusters embedded in equatorial waves. The slantwise overturning model approximates this observed self-similarity. The large-scale effects of MCSP are examined in two categories of GCM. First, large-scale convective systems simulated in an aquaplanet model are approximated by slantwise overturning with attention to convective momentum transport. Second, MCSP is utilized in the Community Atmosphere Model, version 5.5 (CAM5.5), as tendency equations for second-baroclinic heating and convective momentum transport. The difference between MCSP and CAM5.5 is a direct measure of the global effects of organized convection. Consistent with TRMM measurements, the MCSP generates large-scale precipitation patterns in the tropical warm pool and the adjoining locale; improves precipitation in the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), South Pacific convergence zone (SPCZ), and Maritime Continent regions; and affects tropical wave modes. In conclusion, the treatment of organized convection by MCSP is salient for the next generation of GCMs.

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Jun-Ichi Yano
,
Changhai Liu
, and
Mitchell W. Moncrieff

Abstract

Atmospheric convection has a tendency to organize on a hierarchy of scales ranging from the mesoscale to the planetary scales, with the latter especially manifested by the Madden–Julian oscillation. The present paper examines two major competing mechanisms of self-organization in a cloud-resolving model (CRM) simulation from a phenomenological thermodynamic point of view.

The first mechanism is self-organized criticality. A saturation tendency of precipitation rate with increasing column-integrated water, reminiscent of critical phenomena, indicates self-organized criticality. The second is a self-regulation mechanism that is known as homeostasis in biology. A thermodynamic argument suggests that such self-regulation maintains the column-integrated water below a threshold by increasing the precipitation rate. Previous analyses of both observational data as well as CRM experiments give mixed results.

In this study, a CRM experiment over a large-scale domain with a constant sea surface temperature is analyzed. This analysis shows that the relation between the column-integrated total water and precipitation suggests self-organized criticality, whereas the one between the column-integrated water vapor and precipitation suggests homeostasis. The concurrent presence of these two mechanisms is further elaborated by detailed statistical and budget analyses. These statistics are scale invariant, reflecting a spatial scaling of precipitation processes.

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