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Shian-Jiann Lin

Abstract

Contour dynamics (CD) is applied to study the mechanism responsible for the breakup of an isolated tornado-like vortex into multiple vortices, the nonlinear interaction between a tornado and its parent storm, and the impact of tornadoes, which are subgrid features in any existing prediction model, on the more resolvable storm-scale motion.The genesis of the multiple vortex via the linear and eventually nonlinear barotropic/inertial instability of an observed tornado's mean tangential wind profile is studied in unprecedented detail using a high-resolution CD model. The most unstable eigenmodes obtained from the linear stability analyses were used as the initial perturbations to initialize the CD model. Despite that multiple vortices at the fully nonlinear stage bear little resemblance to the linear eigenmode structure, it is found that normal-mode barotropic/inertial instability can, indeed, trigger the formation of these vortices. In addition, the number of the secondary vortices identified in the fully nonlinear phase is found to be equal to the most unstable azimuthal wavenumber.The interaction between a tornado and its environment (the parent storm) is studied using highly idealized initial conditions. The formation of the hook-echo-like flow pattern by the outside air spiraling in is revealed in the high-resolution CD simulations. It is found that the rotation of the parent storm may be strongly influenced by the feedback from the tornado.

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Winston C. Chao and Shian-Jiann Lin

Abstract

A new framework for interpreting the origin of the tropical intraseasonal oscillation (TISO), which avoids the speed and scale selection problems in the previous theories, is proposed in this study. In this interpretation TISO is viewed as an oscillation driven by an eastward moving convective region. This convective region consists of one or more super cloud clusters originating in the Indian Ocean and terminating in mid-Pacific, and is then followed by another convective region arising in the Indian Ocean in a period of 40–50 days. Additionally, a formal analogy is pointed out between super cloud clusters and the middle-latitude baroclinic wave packets.

This study includes a simulation of TISO in a 2D model to support our interpretation. Experiments were conducted with four different convection schemes. The authors advocate that the successful simulation of TISO depends on the successful simulation of super cloud clusters, which in turn depends on the successful simulation of the life cycle of cloud clusters, which further in turn depends on the choice of cumulus convection scheme. What makes a cumulus convection scheme successful in simulating TISO is discussed.

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Shian-Jiann Lin and Raymond T. Pierrehumbert

Abstract

The effect of Ekman friction on baroclinic instability is reexamined in order to address questions raised by Farrell concerning the existence of normal mode instability in the atmosphere. As the degree of meridional confinement is central to the result, a linearized two-dimensional (latitude-height) quasi-geostrophic model is used to obviate the arbitrariness inherent in choosing a channel width in one-dimensional (vertical shear only) models. The two-dimensional eigenvalue problem was solved by pseudospectral method using rational Chebyshev expansions in both vertical and meridional directions. It is concluded that the instability can be eliminated only by the combination of strong Ekman friction with weak large-scale wind shear. Estimates of Ekman friction based on a realistic boundary-layer model indicate that such conditions can prevail over land when the boundary layer is neutrally stratified. For values of Ekman friction appropriate to the open ocean, friction can reduce the growth rate of the most unstable mode by at most a factor of two but cannot eliminate the instability.

By reducing the growth rate and shifting the most unstable mode to lower zonal wavenumbers, viscous effects make the heat and momentum fluxes of the most unstable mode deeper and less meridionally confined than in the inviscid case. Nevertheless, linear theory still underestimates the penetration depth of the momentum fluxes, as compared to observations and nonlinear numerical models.

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Ming Zhao, Isaac M. Held, and Shian-Jiann Lin

Abstract

High-resolution global climate models (GCMs) have been increasingly utilized for simulations of the global number and distribution of tropical cyclones (TCs), and how they might change with changing climate. In contrast, there is a lack of published studies on the sensitivity of TC genesis to parameterized processes in these GCMs. The uncertainties in these formulations might be an important source of uncertainty in the future projections of TC statistics.

This study investigates the sensitivity of the global number of TCs in present-day simulations using the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory High Resolution Atmospheric Model (GFDL HIRAM) to alterations in physical parameterizations. Two parameters are identified to be important in TC genesis frequency in this model: the horizontal cumulus mixing rate, which controls the entrainment into convective cores within the convection parameterization, and the strength of the damping of the divergent component of the horizontal flow. The simulated global number of TCs exhibits nonintuitive response to incremental changes of both parameters. As the cumulus mixing rate increases, the model produces nonmonotonic response in global TC frequency with an initial sharp increase and then a decrease. However, storm mean intensity rises monotonically with the mixing rate. As the strength of the divergence damping increases, the model produces a continuous increase of global number of TCs and hurricanes with little change in storm mean intensity. Mechanisms for explaining these nonintuitive responses are discussed.

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Fuqing Zhang, Y. Qiang Sun, Linus Magnusson, Roberto Buizza, Shian-Jiann Lin, Jan-Huey Chen, and Kerry Emanuel

Abstract

Understanding the predictability limit of day-to-day weather phenomena such as midlatitude winter storms and summer monsoonal rainstorms is crucial to numerical weather prediction (NWP). This predictability limit is studied using unprecedented high-resolution global models with ensemble experiments of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF; 9-km operational model) and identical-twin experiments of the U.S. Next-Generation Global Prediction System (NGGPS; 3 km). Results suggest that the predictability limit for midlatitude weather may indeed exist and is intrinsic to the underlying dynamical system and instabilities even if the forecast model and the initial conditions are nearly perfect. Currently, a skillful forecast lead time of midlatitude instantaneous weather is around 10 days, which serves as the practical predictability limit. Reducing the current-day initial-condition uncertainty by an order of magnitude extends the deterministic forecast lead times of day-to-day weather by up to 5 days, with much less scope for improving prediction of small-scale phenomena like thunderstorms. Achieving this additional predictability limit can have enormous socioeconomic benefits but requires coordinated efforts by the entire community to design better numerical weather models, to improve observations, and to make better use of observations with advanced data assimilation and computing techniques.

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