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Tiffany A. Shaw

Abstract

The role of planetary-scale waves in the abrupt seasonal transition of the Northern Hemisphere (NH) general circulation is studied. In reanalysis data, the winter-to-summer transition involves the growth of planetary-scale wave latent heat and momentum transports in the region of monsoons and anticyclones that dominate over the zonal-mean transport beginning in midspring. The wave-dominated regime coincides with an abrupt northward expansion of the cross-equatorial circulation and reversal of the trade winds. In the upper troposphere, the transition coincides with the growth of cross-equatorial planetary-scale wave momentum transport and a poleward shift of subplanetary-scale wave transport and jet stream.

The dynamics of the seasonal transition are captured by idealized aquaplanet model simulations with a prescribed subtropical planetary-scale wave sea surface temperature (SST) perturbation. The SST perturbation generates subtropical planetary-scale wave streamfunction variance and transport in the lower and upper troposphere consistent with quasigeostrophic theory. Beyond a threshold SST, a transition of the zonal-mean circulation occurs, which coincides with a localized reversal of absolute vorticity in the NH tropical upper troposphere. The transition is abrupt in the lower troposphere because of the quadratic dependence of the wave transport on the SST perturbation and involves seasonal-time-scale feedbacks between the wave and zonal-mean flow in the upper troposphere, including cross-equatorial wave propagation. The zonal-mean vertical and meridional flows associated with the circulation response are in balance with the planetary-scale wave momentum and latent heat meridional flux divergences. The results highlight the leading-order role of monsoon–anticyclone transport in the seasonal transition, including its impact on the meridional extent of the Hadley and Ferrel cells. They can also be used to explain why the transition is less abrupt in the Southern Hemisphere.

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Tiffany A. Shaw
and
William R. Boos

Abstract

The tropospheric response to prescribed tropical and subtropical zonally asymmetric torques, which can be considered as idealizations of vertical momentum transfers by orographic gravity waves or convection, is investigated. The linear analytical Gill model response to westward upper-tropospheric torques is compared to the response to a midtropospheric heating, which is a familiar point of reference. The response to an equatorial torque projects onto a Kelvin wave response to the east that is of opposite sign to the response to the east of the heating at upper levels. In contrast, the torque and heating both produce Rossby gyres of the same sign to the west of the forcing and the zonal-mean streamfunction responses are identical. When the forcings are shifted into the Northern Hemisphere, the streamfunction responses have opposite signs: there is upwelling in the Southern (Northern) Hemisphere in response to the torque (heating).

The nonlinear response to westward torques was explored in idealized general circulation model experiments. In the absence of a large-scale meridional temperature gradient, the response to an equatorial torque was confined to the tropics and was qualitatively similar to the linear solutions. When the torque was moved into the subtropics, the vorticity budget response was similar to a downward control–type balance in the zonal mean. In the presence of a meridional temperature gradient, the response to an equatorial torque involved a poleward shift of the midlatitude tropospheric jet and Ferrel cell. The response in midlatitudes was associated with a poleward shift of the regions of horizontal eddy momentum flux convergence, which coincided with a shift in the upper-tropospheric critical line for baroclinic waves. The shift in the critical line was caused (in part) by the zonal wind response to the prescribed torque, suggesting a possible cause of the response in midlatitudes. Overall, this hierarchy of analytical and numerical results highlights robust aspects of the response to tropical and subtropical zonally asymmetric torques and represents the first step toward understanding the response in fully comprehensive general circulation models.

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William R. Boos
and
Tiffany A. Shaw

Abstract

Tropospheric winds can be altered by vertical transfers of momentum due to orographic gravity waves and convection. Previous work showed that, in dry models, such zonally asymmetric torques produce a pattern of tropical ascent that is well described by linear dynamics, together with meridional shifts of the midlatitude jet. Here a series of idealized models is used to understand the effects of moisture on the tropospheric response to tropical and subtropical zonally asymmetric, upper-tropospheric torques.

The vertical motion response to a torque is shown to be amplified by the reduction in effective static stability that occurs in moist convecting atmospheres. This amplification occurs only in precipitating regions, and the magnitude of subsidence in nonprecipitating regions saturates when clear-sky radiative cooling balances induced adiabatic warming. For basic states in which precipitation is concentrated in an intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), most of the vertical motion response is thus confined within the basic-state ITCZ, even when the torque is remote from the ITCZ. Tropical and subtropical torques perturb the extratropical baroclinic eddy field and the convectively coupled equatorial wave field. Resulting changes in momentum flux convergence by transient eddies induce secondary meridional overturning circulations that modify the zonal-mean response to a torque. The net effect allows tropical torques to merge a double ITCZ into a single equatorial ITCZ. The response of tropical transient eddies is highly sensitive to the representation of convection, so the zonal-mean response to a torque is similarly sensitive, even when the torque is located in the subtropics.

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Tiffany A. Shaw
and
Olivier Pauluis

Abstract

The spectrum of meridional latent heat transport in the tropics and subtropics by disturbances to the zonal mean during all seasons is analyzed. The transport is divided into stationary and transient planetary- and subplanetary-scale eddy contributions.

The stationary transport is largest in the subtropical lower troposphere and dominates the overall transport during summer. It is of planetary scale and the zonal scale of the transport corresponds to the number of subtropical anticyclones. The transient transport is large from the surface up to the midtroposphere and from the tropics to subpolar latitudes. It is dominated by the subplanetary-scale contribution during all seasons. Westward (eastward)- propagating waves dominate the transport in the tropics (subtropics and midlatitudes). The analysis reveals that, while the total eddy meridional latent heat transport is seamless from the deep tropics to the pole, it represents the sum of transport by distinct dynamical features.

The role of the eddy meridional latent heat transport in the moist isentropic circulation is assessed using the statistical transformed Eulerian mean formulation, which converts the eddy transports into streamfunctions. The addition of the eddy latent heat streamfunction to the Eulerian mean plus eddy sensible heat streamfunction increases the mass transport by a factor of 2–3 in the subtropics and midlatitudes. The eddy transport is found to dominate the transport across the subtropical boundary. During Northern Hemisphere summer there is virtually no circulation in the absence of eddy latent heat transport. The results highlight the important role of latent heat transport by subtropical anticyclones and tropical and baroclinic waves in the general circulation.

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Tiffany A. Shaw
and
Todd P. Lane

Abstract

This study examines the characteristics of convective momentum transport (CMT) and gravity wave momentum transport (GWMT) in two-dimensional cloud-system-resolving model simulations, including the relationships between the two transports. A linear group velocity criterion is shown to objectively separate CMT and GWMT. The GWMT contribution is mostly consistent with upward-propagating gravity waves and is present in the troposphere and the stratosphere. The CMT contribution forms a large part of the residual (nonupward-propagating contribution) and dominates the fluxes in the troposphere. Additional analysis of the vertical sensible heat flux supports the physical interpretation of the two contributions, further isolating the effects of unstable convection from vertically propagating gravity waves.

The role of transient and nonconservative (friction and diabatic heating) processes in generating momentum flux and their dependence on changes in convective organization was assessed using a pseudomomentum budget analysis. Nonconservative effects were found to dominate the transports; the GWMT contribution involved a diabatic source region in the troposphere and a dissipative sink region in the stratosphere. The CMT contribution was consistent with transport between the boundary layer and free troposphere via tilted convection. Transient buoyancy–vorticity correlations highlighted wave sources in the region of convective outflow and the boundary layer. These sources were akin to the previously described “mechanical oscillator” mechanism. Fluxes associated with this upper-level source were most sensitive to convective organization, highlighting the mechanism by which changes in organization are communicated to GWMT. The results elucidate important interactions between CMT and GWMT, adding further weight to suggestions that the two transports should be linked in parameterizations.

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Tiffany A. Shaw
and
Theodore G. Shepherd

Abstract

A theoretical framework for the joint conservation of energy and momentum in the parameterization of subgrid-scale processes in climate models is presented. The framework couples a hydrostatic resolved (planetary scale) flow to a nonhydrostatic subgrid-scale (mesoscale) flow. The temporal and horizontal spatial scale separation between the planetary scale and mesoscale is imposed using multiple-scale asymptotics. Energy and momentum are exchanged through subgrid-scale flux convergences of heat, pressure, and momentum. The generation and dissipation of subgrid-scale energy and momentum is understood using wave-activity conservation laws that are derived by exploiting the (mesoscale) temporal and horizontal spatial homogeneities in the planetary-scale flow. The relations between these conservation laws and the planetary-scale dynamics represent generalized nonacceleration theorems. A derived relationship between the wave-activity fluxes—which represents a generalization of the second Eliassen–Palm theorem—is key to ensuring consistency between energy and momentum conservation. The framework includes a consistent formulation of heating and entropy production due to kinetic energy dissipation.

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Tiffany A. Shaw
and
Judith Perlwitz

Abstract

It is well established that interannual variability of eddy (meridional) heat flux near the tropopause controls the variability of Arctic lower-stratospheric temperatures during spring via a modification of the strength of the residual circulation. While most studies focus on the role of anomalous heat flux values, here the impact of total (climatology plus anomaly) negative heat flux events on the Arctic stratosphere is investigated. Utilizing the Interim ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim) dataset, it is found that total negative heat flux events coincide with a transient reversal of the residual circulation and cooling of the Arctic lower stratosphere. The negative events weaken the seasonally averaged adiabatic warming.

The analysis provides a new interpretation of the winters of 1997 and 2011, which are known to have the lowest March Arctic lower-stratospheric temperatures in the satellite era. While most winters involve positive and negative heat flux extremes, the winters of 1997 and 2011 are unique in that they only involved extreme negative events. This behavior contributed to the weakest adiabatic downwelling in the satellite era and suggests a dynamical contribution to the extremely low temperatures during those winters that could not be accounted for by diabatic processes alone. While it is well established that dynamical processes contribute to the occurrence of stratospheric sudden warming events via extreme positive heat flux events, the results show that dynamical processes also contribute to cold winters with subsequent impact on Arctic ozone loss. The results highlight the importance of interpreting stratospheric temperatures in the Arctic in the context of the dynamical regime with which they are associated.

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Theodore G. Shepherd
and
Tiffany A. Shaw

Abstract

It is shown that under reasonable assumptions, conservation of angular momentum provides a strong constraint on gravity wave drag feedbacks to radiative perturbations in the middle atmosphere. In the time mean, radiatively induced temperature perturbations above a given altitude z cannot induce changes in zonal mean wind and temperature below z through feedbacks in gravity wave drag alone (assuming an unchanged gravity wave source spectrum). Thus, despite the many uncertainties in the parameterization of gravity wave drag, the role of gravity wave drag in middle-atmosphere climate perturbations may be much more limited than its role in climate itself. This constraint limits the possibilities for downward influence from the mesosphere. In order for a gravity wave drag parameterization to respect the momentum constraint and avoid spurious downward influence, any nonzero parameterized momentum flux at a model lid must be deposited within the model domain, and there must be no zonal mean sponge layer. Examples are provided of how violation of these conditions leads to spurious downward influence. For planetary waves, the momentum constraint does not prohibit downward influence, but it limits the mechanisms by which it can occur: in the time mean, downward influence from a radiative perturbation can only arise through changes in reflection and meridional propagation properties of planetary waves.

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Tiffany A. Shaw
and
Judith Perlwitz

Abstract

The life cycle of Northern Hemisphere downward wave coupling between the stratosphere and troposphere via wave reflection is analyzed. Downward wave coupling events are defined by extreme negative values of a wave coupling index based on the leading principal component of the daily wave-1 heat flux at 30 hPa. The life cycle occurs over a 28-day period. In the stratosphere there is a transition from positive to negative total wave-1 heat flux and westward to eastward phase tilt with height of the wave-1 geopotential height field. In addition, the zonal-mean zonal wind in the upper stratosphere weakens leading to negative vertical shear.

Following the evolution in the stratosphere there is a shift toward the positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) in the troposphere. The pattern develops from a large westward-propagating wave-1 anomaly in the high-latitude North Atlantic sector. The subsequent equatorward propagation leads to a positive anomaly in midlatitudes. The near-surface temperature and circulation anomalies are consistent with a positive NAO phase. The results suggest that wave reflection events can directly influence tropospheric weather.

Finally, winter seasons dominated by extreme wave coupling and stratospheric vortex events are compared. The largest impacts in the troposphere occur during the extreme negative seasons for both indices, namely seasons with multiple wave reflection events leading to a positive NAO phase or seasons with major sudden stratospheric warmings (weak vortex) leading to a negative NAO phase. The results reveal that the dynamical coupling between the stratosphere and NAO involves distinct dynamical mechanisms that can only be characterized by separate wave coupling and vortex indices.

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Tiffany A. Shaw
and
Judith Perlwitz

Abstract

The impact of stratospheric model configuration on modeled planetary-scale waves in Northern Hemisphere winter is examined using the Canadian Middle Atmosphere Model (CMAM). The CMAM configurations include a high-lid (0.001 hPa) and a low-lid (10 hPa) configuration, which were each run with and without conservation of parameterized gravity wave momentum flux. The planetary wave structure, vertical propagation, and the basic state are found to be in good agreement with reanalysis data for the high-lid conservative configuration with the exception of the downward-propagating wave 1 signal. When the lid is lowered and momentum is conserved, the wave characteristics and basic state are not significantly altered, with the exception of the downward-propagating wave 1 signal, which is damped by the act of conservation. When momentum is not conserved, however, the wave amplitude increases significantly near the lid, and there is a large increase in both the upward- and downward-propagating wave 1 signals and a significant increase in the strength of the basic state. The impact of conserving parameterized gravity wave momentum flux is found to be much larger than that of the model lid height. The changes to the planetary waves and basic state significantly impact the stratosphere–troposphere coupling in the different configurations. In the low-lid configuration, there is an increase in wave-reflection-type coupling over zonal-mean-type coupling, a reduction in stratospheric sudden warming events, and an increase in the northern annular mode time scale. Conserving gravity wave momentum flux in the low-lid configuration significantly reduces these biases.

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