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Eric D. Skyllingstad

Abstract

The interactions of atmospheric cnoidal waves with a critical level are examined using a two-dimensional numerical model. A cnoidal wave system is generated by applying a bore initial condition to a shallow surface-based inversion; the system is analyzed using various profiles of stability and shear. Under neutral conditions a critical level is shown to cause wave reflection with wave growth, as indicated by the vertical velocity, when the stability is low. Increasing the ambient stability above the cnoidal wave leads to a reduction in the reflective properties of the critical level and an increase in critical level absorption. The division between wave growth and wave decay occurs near a critical level Richardson's number of 0.25 agreeing with instability theory. When a variable profile of stability is assumed, with stable regions both below and above the critical layer and weak stability at the critical level region, the cnoidal wave system again amplifies, but not as strongly. The results conform with past analytical results pertaining to the atmospheric structure required for wave reflection and absorption. However, the occurrence of overreflection cannot be diagnosed from the simulations because of the strongly nonlinear, unsteady behavior of the cnoidal wave systems.

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Eric D. Skyllingstad
and
James B. Edson

Abstract

Cold air outflow over the Gulf Stream is modeled using a cloud-resolving large-eddy simulation model with three classes of precipitation. Simulations are conducted in a quasi-Lagrangian framework using an idealized sounding and uniform geostrophic winds based on observations taken on 20 February 2007 as part of the World Climate Research Program Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) Mode Water Dynamics Experiment (CLIMODE) project. Two cases are considered, one with an increasing sea surface temperature (SST) representing the crossing of the Gulf Stream front, and a second case with constant SST.

Cloud systems develop in the model with strong convective plumes that spread into regions of stratus clouds at the top of the boundary layer. Simulated boundary layer growth is forced by a combination of evaporative cooling at the cloud top, upward radiative flux, and mechanical entrainment of the overlying warmer and drier air. Constant growth of the boundary layer acts to maintain a near-constant water vapor level in the boundary layer, promoting high latent and sensible heat fluxes. Frictional surface drag is distributed throughout the boundary layer by convection, causing increased shear at the cloud top, qualitatively agreeing with observed sounding profiles. Overall, the frontal case develops stronger precipitation and turbulence in comparison with the constant SST case. A near-uniform stratocumulus layer and stronger radiative cooling are produced in the constant SST case, whereas the frontal case generates open cumuliform clouds with reduced cloud coverage. Cloud evolution in the frontal case is similar to the transition from stratocumulus to shallow cumulus observed in the subtropics, as cumuliform clouds enhance cloud-top entrainment and evaporation of stratus clouds.

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Craig M. Smith
and
Eric D. Skyllingstad

Abstract

Interactions between a turbulent boundary layer and nonlinear mountain waves are explored using a large-eddy simulation model. Simulations of a self-induced critical layer, which develop a stagnation layer and a strong leeside surface jet, are considered. Over time, wave breaking in the stagnation region forces strong turbulence that influences the formation and structure of downstream leeside rotors. Shear production is an important source of turbulence in the stagnation zone and along the interface between the stagnation zone and surface jet, as well as along the rotor edges. Buoyancy perturbations act as a source of turbulence in the stagnation zone but are shown to inhibit turbulence generation on the edges of the stagnation zone.

Surface heating is shown to have a strong influence on the strength of downslope winds and the formation of leeside rotors. In cases with no heating, a series of rotor circulations develops, capped by a region of increased winds. Weak heating disrupts this system and limits rotor formation at the base of the downslope jet. Strong heating has a much larger impact through a deepening of the upstream boundary layer and an overall decrease in the downslope winds. Rotors in this case are nonexistent. In contrast to the cases with surface warming, negative surface fluxes generate stronger downslope winds and intensified rotors due to turbulent interactions with an elevated stratified jet capping the rotors. Overall, the results suggest that for nonlinear wave systems over mountains higher than the boundary layer, strong downslope winds and rotors are favored in late afternoon and evening when surface cooling enhances the stability of the low-level air.

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Larry W. O’Neill
,
Tracy Haack
,
Dudley B. Chelton
, and
Eric Skyllingstad
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Eric D. Skyllingstad
,
Simon P. de Szoeke
, and
Larry W. O’Neill

Abstract

A cloud-resolving model coupled to a mixed layer ocean with an initial 500-km-wide, +3-K sea surface temperature (SST) patch is used to demonstrate the relationship between tropical mesoscale SST gradients and convection under different wind speeds. On these scales, boundary layer convergence toward hydrostatic low surface pressure is partially responsible for triggering convection, but convection subsequently organizes into cells and squall lines that propagate away from the patch. For strong wind (12 m s−1), enhanced convection is shifted downstream from the patch and consists of relatively small cells that are enhanced from increased moist static energy (MSE) flux over the patch. Convection for weak wind (6 m s−1) develops directly over the patch, merging in larger-scale coherent squall-line systems that propagate away from the patch. Squall lines decay after approximately 1 day, and convection redevelops over the patch region after 2 days. Decreasing patch SST from ocean mixing in the coupled simulations affects the overall strength of the convection, but does not qualitatively alter the convective behavior in comparison with cases with a fixed 3-K SST anomaly. In all cases, increased fluxes of heat and moisture, along with latent heating from shallow convection, initially generate lower pressure over the patch and convergence of the boundary layer winds. Within about 1 day, secondary convective circulations, such as surface cold pools, act to spread the effects of the convection over the model domain and overwhelm the effect of low pressure. SST anomalies (1 and 0.5 K) generate enhanced convection only for winds below 6 m s−1.

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Larry W. O’Neill
,
Tracy Haack
,
Dudley B. Chelton
, and
Eric Skyllingstad

Abstract

The distribution of surface divergence in the northwest Atlantic is investigated using 10 years of satellite wind observations from QuikSCAT and a 1-yr simulation from the COAMPS atmospheric model. A band of time-mean surface convergence overlies the Gulf Stream [called here the Gulf Stream convergence zone (GSCZ)] and has been attributed previously to a local boundary layer response to Gulf Stream SST gradients. However, this analysis shows that the GSCZ results mainly from the aggregate impacts of strong convergence anomalies associated with storms propagating along the storm track, which approximately overlies the Gulf Stream. Storm surface convergence anomalies are one to two orders of magnitude greater than the time-mean convergence and produce a highly asymmetric divergence distribution skewed toward convergent winds. The sensitivity of the sign and magnitude of the time-mean divergence to extreme weather events is demonstrated through analysis using an extreme-value filter, conditional sampling based on rain occurrence, and comparison to its median and mode. Vertical velocity and surface pressure are likewise affected by strong storms, which are characterized by upward velocity and low surface pressure. Storms are thus an important process in shaping the mean state of the atmosphere in the northwest Atlantic. These results are difficult to reconcile with the prevailing view that SST “anchors” surface convergence, upward vertical velocity, and increased rain over the Gulf Stream through a local boundary layer adjustment mechanism.

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Simon P. de Szoeke
,
Eric D. Skyllingstad
,
Paquita Zuidema
, and
Arunchandra S. Chandra

Abstract

Cold pools dominate the surface temperature variability observed over the central Indian Ocean (0°, 80°E) for 2 months of research cruise observations in the Dynamics of the Madden–Julian Oscillation (DYNAMO) experiment in October–December 2011. Cold pool fronts are identified by a rapid drop of temperature. Air in cold pools is slightly drier than the boundary layer (BL). Consistent with previous studies, cold pools attain wet-bulb potential temperatures representative of saturated downdrafts originating from the lower midtroposphere.

Wind and surface fluxes increase, and rain is most likely within the ~20-min cold pool front. Greatest integrated water vapor and liquid follow the front. Temperature and velocity fluctuations shorter than 6 min achieve 90% of the surface latent and sensible heat flux in cold pools. The temperature of the cold pools recovers in about 20 min, chiefly by mixing at the top of the shallow cold wake layer, rather than by surface flux.

Analysis of conserved variables shows mean BL air is composed of 51% air entrained from the BL top (800 m), 22% saturated downdrafts, and 27% air at equilibrium with the ocean surface. The number of cold pools, and their contribution to the BL heat and moisture, nearly doubles in the convectively active phase compared to the suppressed phase of the Madden–Julian oscillation.

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