Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 7 of 7 items for :

  • Author or Editor: James S. Risbey x
  • Monthly Weather Review x
  • Refine by Access: All Content x
Clear All Modify Search
Michael J. Pook
,
James S. Risbey
, and
Peter C. McIntosh

Abstract

Synoptic weather systems form an important part of the physical link between remote large-scale climate drivers and regional rainfall. A synoptic climatology of daily rainfall events is developed for the Central Wheatbelt of southwestern Australia over the April–October growing season for the years 1965–2009. The climatology reveals that frontal systems contribute approximately one-half of the rainfall in the growing season while cutoff lows contribute about a third. The ratio of frontal rainfall to cutoff rainfall varies throughout the growing season. Cutoff lows contribute over 40% of rainfall in the austral autumn and spring, but this falls to about 20% in August when frontal rainfall climbs to more than 60%. The number of cutoff lows varies markedly from one growing season to another, but does not exhibit a significant long-term trend. The mean rainfall per cutoff system is also highly variable, but has gradually declined over the analysis period, particularly in the past decade. The decline in rainfall per frontal system is less significant. Cutoff low rainfall has contributed more strongly in percentage terms to the recent decline in rainfall in the Central Wheatbelt than the frontal component and accounts for more than half of the overall trend. Atmospheric blocking is highly correlated with rainfall in the region where cutoff low rainfall makes its highest proportional contribution. Hence, the decline in rain from cutoff low systems is likely to have been associated with changes in blocking and the factors controlling blocking in the region.

Full access
Terence J. O’Kane
,
Didier P. Monselesan
, and
James S. Risbey

Abstract

The authors undertake a multiscale spectral reexamination of the variability of the Pacific–South American (PSA) pattern and the mechanisms by which this variability occurs. Time scales from synoptic to interannual are investigated, focusing on the means by which tropical variability is communicated to the midlatitudes and on in situ forcing within the midlatitude waveguides. Particular interest is paid to what fraction of the total variability associated with the PSA, occurring on interannual time scales, is attributable to tropical forcing relative to that occurring on synoptic and intraseasonal time scales via internal waveguide dynamics. In general, it is found that the eastward-propagating wave train pattern typically associated with the PSA manifests across time scales from synoptic to interannual, with the majority of the variability occurring on synoptic-to-intraseasonal time scales largely independent of tropical convection. It is found that the small fraction of the total variance with a tropical signal occurs via the zonal component of the thermal wind modulating both the subtropical and polar jets. The respective roles of the Hadley circulation and stationary Rossby wave sources are also examined. Further, a PSA-like mode is identified in terms of the slow components of higher-order modes of tropospheric geopotential height. This study reestablishes the multiscale nonlinear nature of the PSA modes arising largely as a manifestation of internal midlatitude waveguide dynamics and local disturbances.

Full access
James S. Risbey
,
Michael J. Pook
,
Peter C. McIntosh
,
Matthew C. Wheeler
, and
Harry H. Hendon

Abstract

This work identifies and documents a suite of large-scale drivers of rainfall variability in the Australian region. The key driver in terms of broad influence and impact on rainfall is the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). ENSO is related to rainfall over much of the continent at different times, particularly in the north and east, with the regions of influence shifting with the seasons. The Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) is particularly important in the June–October period, which spans much of the wet season in the southwest and southeast where IOD has an influence. ENSO interacts with the IOD in this period such that their separate regions of influence cover the entire continent. Atmospheric blocking also becomes most important during this period and has an influence on rainfall across the southern half of the continent. The Madden–Julian oscillation can influence rainfall in different parts of the continent in different seasons, but its impact is strongest on the monsoonal rains in the north. The influence of the southern annular mode is mostly confined to the southwest and southeast of the continent. The patterns of rainfall relationship to each of the drivers exhibit substantial decadal variability, though the characteristic regions described above do not change markedly. The relationships between large-scale drivers and rainfall are robust to the selection of typical indices used to represent the drivers. In most regions the individual drivers account for less than 20% of monthly rainfall variability, though the drivers relate to a predictable component of this variability. The amount of rainfall variance explained by individual drivers is highest in eastern Australia and in spring, where it approaches 50% in association with ENSO and blocking.

Full access
Jaclyn N. Brown
,
Peter C. McIntosh
,
Michael J. Pook
, and
James S. Risbey

Abstract

The causes of rainfall variations in southeastern Australia associated with three key El Niño years (1982, 1997, and 2002) are explored. Whereas 1982 and 2002 were exceptionally dry years, 1997 had near-average rainfall. These variations in rainfall can be explained by changes in the behavior of cutoff low pressure systems. Although each year had a similar number of cutoff low events, 1997 had higher rainfall per cutoff low event when compared with the other years. In particular, rain in 1997 is attributable to five large wet events from cutoff low pressure systems. In each of these wet events, the moist air originated from the marine boundary layer off the coast of northeastern Australia. Cutoff lows in 1982 and 2002 were much drier and did not draw in moist air from the northeastern coast. In typical classifications, 1982 and 1997 are grouped together as “canonical” El Niños whereas 2002 is a Modoki El Niño. The results presented here imply that these groupings are not definitive in explaining variations in southeastern Australian rainfall.

Full access
James S. Risbey
,
Didier P. Monselesan
,
Amanda S. Black
,
Thomas S. Moore
,
Doug Richardson
,
Dougal T. Squire
, and
Carly R. Tozer

Abstract

From time to time atmospheric flows become organized and form coherent long-lived structures. Such structures could be propagating, quasi-stationary, or recur in place. We investigate the ability of principal components analysis (PCA) and archetypal analysis (AA) to identify long-lived events, excluding propagating forms. Our analysis is carried out on the Southern Hemisphere midtropospheric flow represented by geopotential height at 500 hPa (Z 500). The leading basis patterns of Z 500 for PCA and AA are similar and describe structures representing (or similar to) the southern annular mode (SAM) and Pacific–South American (PSA) pattern. Long-lived events are identified here from sequences of 8 days or longer where the same basis pattern dominates for PCA or AA. AA identifies more long-lived events than PCA using this approach. The most commonly occurring long-lived event for both AA and PCA is the annular SAM-like pattern. The second most commonly occurring event is the PSA-like Pacific wave train for both AA and PCA. For AA the flow at any given time is approximated as weighted contributions from each basis pattern, which lends itself to metrics for discriminating among basis patterns. These show that the longest long-lived events are in general better expressed than shorter events. Case studies of long-lived events featuring a blocking structure and an annular structure show that both PCA and AA can identify and discriminate the dominant basis pattern that most closely resembles the flow event.

Full access
Amanda S. Black
,
James S. Risbey
,
Christopher C. Chapman
,
Didier P. Monselesan
,
Thomas S. Moore II
,
Michael J. Pook
,
Doug Richardson
,
Bernadette M. Sloyan
,
Dougal T. Squire
, and
Carly R. Tozer

Abstract

Large-scale cloud features referred to as cloudbands are known to be related to widespread and heavy rain via the transport of tropical heat and moisture to higher latitudes. The Australian northwest cloudband is such a feature that has been identified in simple searches of satellite imagery but with limited investigation of its atmospheric dynamical support. An accurate, long-term climatology of northwest cloudbands is key to robustly assessing these events. A dynamically based search algorithm has been developed that is guided by the presence and orientation of the subtropical jet stream. This jet stream is the large-scale atmospheric feature that determines the development and alignment of a cloudband. Using a new 40-yr dataset of cloudband events compiled by this search algorithm, composite atmospheric and ocean surface conditions over the period 1979–2018 have been assessed. Composite cloudband upper-level flow revealed a tilted low pressure trough embedded in a Rossby wave train. Composites of vertically integrated water vapor transport centered around the jet maximum during northwest cloudband events reveal a distinct atmospheric river supplying tropical moisture for cloudband rainfall. Parcel backtracking indicated multiple regions of moisture support for cloudbands. A thermal wind anomaly orientated with respect to an enhanced sea surface temperature gradient over the Indian Ocean was also a key composite cloudband feature. A total of 300 years of a freely coupled control simulation of the ACCESS-D system was assessed for its ability to simulate northwest cloudbands. Composite analysis of model cloudbands compared reasonably well to reanalysis despite some differences in seasonality and frequency of occurrence.

Full access
Carly R. Tozer
,
James S. Risbey
,
Terence J. O’Kane
,
Didier P. Monselesan
, and
Michael J. Pook

Abstract

We assess the large-scale atmospheric dynamics influencing rainfall extremes in Tasmania, located within the Southern Hemisphere storm track. We characterize wet and dry multiday rainfall extremes in western and eastern Tasmania, two distinct climate regimes, and construct atmospheric flow composites around these extreme events. We consider the onset and decay of the events and find a link between Rossby wave trains propagating in the polar jet waveguide and wet and dry extremes across Tasmania. Of note is that the wave trains exhibit varying behavior during the different extremes. In the onset phase of rainfall extremes in western Tasmania, there is a coherent wave train in the Indian Ocean, which becomes circumglobal in extent and quasi-stationary as the event establishes and persists. Wet and dry extremes in this region are influenced by opposite phases of this circumglobal wave train pattern. In eastern Tasmania, wet extremes relate to a propagating wave train, which is first established in the Indian Ocean sector and propagates eastward to the Pacific Ocean sector as the event progresses. During dry extremes in eastern Tasmania, the wave train is first established in the Pacific Ocean, as opposed to Indian Ocean, and persists in this sector for the entire event, with a structure indicative of the Pacific–South American pattern. The findings regarding different wave train forms and their relationship to rainfall extremes have implications for extreme event attribution in other regions around the globe.

Full access