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Xiaofan Li and Bin Wang

Abstract

The movement of a symmetric vortex embedded in a resting environment with a constant planetary vorticity gradient (the beta drift) is investigated with a shallow-water model. The authors demonstrate that, depending on initial vortex structure, the vortex may follow a variety of tracks ranging from a quasi-steady displacement to a wobbling or a cycloidal track due to the evolution of a secondary asymmetric circulation. The principal part of the asymmetric circulation is a pair of counterrotating gyres (referred to as beta gyres), which determine the steering flow at the vortex center. The evolution of the beta gyres is characterized by development/decay, gyration, and radial movement.

The beta gyres develop by extracting kinetic energy from the symmetric circulation of the vortex. This energy conversion is associated with momentum advection and meridional advection of planetary vorticity. The latter (referred to as “beta conversion”) is a principal process for the generation of asymmetric circulation. A necessary condition for the development of the beta gyres is that the anticyclonic gyre must be located to the east of a cyclonic vortex center. The rate of asymmetric kinetic energy generation increases with increasing relative angular momentum of the symmetric circulation.

The counterclockwise rotation of inner beta gyres (the gyres located near the radius of maximum wind) is caused by the advection of asymmetric vorticity by symmetric cyclonic flows. On the other hand, the clockwise rotation of outer beta gyres (the gyres near the periphery of the cyclonic azimuthal wind) is determined by concurrent intensification in mutual advection of the beta gyres and symmetric circulation and weakening in the meridional advection of planetary vorticity by symmetric circulation. The outward shift of the outer beta gyres is initiated by advection of symmetric vorticity by beta gyres relative to the drifting velocity of the vortex.

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Bin Wang and Xiaofan Li

Abstract

Tropical cyclone propagation (the beta drift) is driven by a secondary circulation associated with axially asymmetric gyres (beta gyres) in the vicinity of the cyclone center. In the presence of the beta effect, the environmental flow may interact with the symmetric circulation and beta gyres of the cyclone, affecting the development of the gyres and thereby the cyclone propagation. An energetics analysis is carried out to elucidate the development mechanism of the beta gyres and to explain variations in propagation speed of a barotropic cyclone embedded in a meridionally varying zonal flow on a beta plane. Two types of zonal flows are considered: one with a constant meridional shear resembling those in the vicinity of a subtropical ridge or a monsoon trough, and the other with a constant relative vorticity gradient as in the vicinity of an easterly (westerly) jet.

Zonal flow with a constant meridional shear changes the generation rate of the gyre kinetic energy through an exchange of energy directly with the gyres. The momentum flux associated with gyres acting on the meridional shear of zonal flow accounts for this energy conversion process. Zonal flow with an anticyclonic (cyclonic) shear feeds (extracts) kinetic energy to (from) the gyres. The magnitude of this energy conversion is proportional to the strength of the meridional shear and the gyre intensity. As a result, the gyres are stronger and the beta drift is faster near a subtropical ridge (anticyclonic shear) than within a monsoon trough (cyclonic shear).

Zonal flow with a constant relative vorticity gradient affects gyre intensity via two processes that have opposing effects. A southward vorticity gradient, on the one hand, weakens the gyres by reducing the energy conversion rate from symmetric circulation to gyres; on the other hand, it enhances the gyres by indirectly feeding energy to the symmetric circulation, whose strengthening in turn accelerates the energy conversion from symmetric circulation to gyres. The effect of the second process tends to eventually become dominant.

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Huiyan Xu and Xiaofan Li

Abstract

In this study, the 2D and 3D cloud-resolving model simulations of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Kwajalein Experiment (KWAJEX) are compared to study the impact of dimensionality on barotropic processes during tropical convective development. Barotropic conversion of perturbation kinetic energy is associated with vertical transport of horizontal momentum under vertical shear of background horizontal winds. The similarities in both 2D and 3D model simulations show that 1) vertical wind shear is a necessary condition for barotropic conversion, but it does not control the barotropic conversion; 2) the evolution of barotropic conversion is related to that of the vertical transport of horizontal momentum; and 3) the tendency of vertical transport of horizontal momentum is mainly determined by the covariance between horizontal wind and the cloud hydrometeor component of buoyancy. The differences between the 2D and 3D model simulations reveal that 1) the barotropic conversion has shorter time scales and a larger contribution in the 2D model simulation than in the 3D model simulation and 2) kinetic energy is generally converted from the mean circulations to perturbation circulations in the 3D model simulation. In contrast, more kinetic energy is transferred from perturbation circulations to the mean circulations in the 2D model simulation. The same large-scale vertical velocity may account for the similarities, whereas the inclusion of meridional winds in the 3D model simulation may be responsible for the differences in barotropic conversion between the 2D and 3D model simulations.

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Xiaofan Li and Bin Wang

Abstract

An energetics analysis is presented to reveal the mechanisms by which the environmental flows affect hurricane beta-gyre intensity and beta-drift speed. The two-dimensional environmental flow examined in this study varies in both zonal and meridional directions with a constant shear.

It is found that a positive (negative) shear strain rate of the environmental flow accelerates (decelerates) beta drift. The horizontal shear of the environmental flow contains an axially symmetric component that is associated with vertical vorticity and an azimuthal wavenumber two component that is associated with shear strain rate. It is the latter that interacts with the beta gyres, determining the energy conversion between the environmental flow and beta gyres. A positive shear strain rate is required for transfering kinetic energy from the environmental flow to the beta gyres. As a result, the positive shear strain rate enhances the beta gyres and associated steering flow that, in turn, accelerates the beta drift.

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Shouting Gao, Yushu Zhou, and Xiaofan Li

Abstract

Effects of diurnal variations on tropical heat and water vapor equilibrium states are investigated based on hourly data from two-dimensional cloud-resolving simulations. The model is integrated for 40 days and the simulations reach equilibrium states in all experiments. The simulation with a time-invariant solar zenith angle produces a colder and drier equilibrium state than does the simulation with a diurnally varied solar zenith angle. The simulation with a diurnally varied sea surface temperature generates a colder equilibrium state than does the simulation with a time-invariant sea surface temperature. Mass-weighted mean temperature and precipitable water budgets are analyzed to explain the thermodynamic differences. The simulation with the time-invariant solar zenith angle produces less solar heating, more condensation, and consumes more moisture than the simulation with the diurnally varied solar zenith angle. The simulation with the diurnally varied sea surface temperature produces a colder temperature through less latent heating and more IR cooling than the simulation with the time-invariant sea surface temperature.

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Bin Wang, Xiaofan Li, and Liguang Wu

Abstract

The impacts of linear environmental shears on beta drift direction are assessed through numerical experiments with a single-layer, primitive equation model. It is found that cyclonic (anticyclonic) shears turn the beta drift more westward (northward) in the Northern Hemisphere. In addition, the longitudinal shear of meridional flows (∂V/∂x) is much more effective than the meridional shear of zonal flows (∂U/∂y) in deflection of the beta drift.

A theoretical model, the beta gyre dynamic system, describing evolution of the beta gyre amplitude and phase angle is advanced to interpret the numerical model results. In this model, the nonlinear energy transfer from the beta gyres to the primary vortex and higher asymmetric modes was partially parameterized by linear damping. The semi-empirical theory predicts that 1) beta drift direction is independent of the planetary vorticity gradient; 2) in a quiescent environment, the drift angle is primarily determined by the outer azimuthal flows of the vortex; and 3) in a sheared environmental flow, the deflection of beta drift induced by environmental shears depends mainly on the longitudinal shear of meridional flows. The authors show that the environmental shear changes beta drift angle by advection of beta gyre vorticity and planetary vorticity, which affects beta gyre orientation.

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Xiaofan Li, C-H. Sui, and K-M. Lau

Abstract

The phase relation between the perturbation kinetic energy (K′) associated with the tropical convection and the horizontal-mean moist available potential energy (P) associated with environmental conditions is investigated by an energetics analysis of a numerical experiment. This experiment is performed using a 2D cloud resolving model forced by the Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE) derived vertical velocity. The imposed upward motion leads to a decrease of P through the associated vertical advective cooling, and to an increase of K′ through cloud-related processes, feeding the convection. The maximum K′ and its maximum growth rate lags and leads, respectively, the maximum imposed large-scale upward motion by about 1–2 h, indicating that convection is phase locked with large-scale forcing. The dominant life cycle of the simulated convection is about 9 h, whereas the timescales of the imposed large-scale forcing are longer than the diurnal cycle.

In the convective events, the maximum growth of K′ leads the maximum decay of the perturbation moist available potential energy (P′) by about 3 h through vertical heat transport by perturbation circulation, and perturbation cloud heating. The maximum decay of P′ leads the maximum decay of P by about 1 h through the perturbation radiative processes, the horizontal-mean cloud heating, and the large-scale vertical advective cooling. Therefore, maximum gain of K′ occurs about 4–5 h before maximum decay of P.

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Chung-Hsiung Sui, Xiaofan Li, and Ming-Jen Yang

Abstract

A modified definition of precipitation efficiency (PE) is proposed based on either cloud microphysics precipitation efficiency (CMPE) or water cycling processes including water vapor and hydrometeor species [large-scale precipitation efficiency (LSPE)]. These PEs are examined based on a two-dimensional cloud-resolving simulation. The model is integrated for 21 days with the imposed large-scale vertical velocity, zonal wind, and horizontal advections obtained from the Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE). It is found that the properly defined PEs include all moisture and hydrometeor sources associated with surface rainfall processes so that they range from 0% to 100%. Furthermore, the modified LSPE and CMPE are highly correlated. Their linear correlation coefficient and root-mean-squared difference are insensitive to the spatial scales of averaged data and are moderately sensitive to the time period of averaged data.

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Jian-Jian Wang, Xiaofan Li, and Lawrence D. Carey

Abstract

A two-dimensional cloud-resolving simulation is combined with dual-Doppler and polarimetric radar analysis to study the evolution, dynamic structure, cloud microphysics, and rainfall processes of monsoon convection observed during the South China Sea (SCS) summer monsoon onset.

Overall, the model simulations show many similarities to the radar observations. The rainband associated with the convection remains at a very stable position throughout its life cycle in the northern SCS. The reflectivity pattern exhibits a straight upward structure with little tilt. The positions of the convective, transition, and stratiform regions produced by the model are consistent with the observations. The major difference from the observations is that the model tends to overestimate the magnitude of updraft. As a result, the maximum reflectivity generated by the model appears at an elevated altitude.

The surface rainfall processes and associated thermodynamic, dynamic, and cloud microphysical processes are examined by the model in terms of surface rainfall, temperature and moisture perturbations, circulations, and cloud microphysical budget. At the preformation and dissipating stages, although local vapor change and vapor convergence terms are the major contributors in determining rain rate, they cancel each other out and cause little rain. The vapor convergence/divergence is closely related to the lower-tropospheric updraft/subsidence during the early/late stages of the convection. During the formation and mature phases, vapor convergence term is in control of the rainfall processes. Meanwhile, water microphysical processes are dominant in these stages. The active vapor condensation process causes a large amount of raindrops through the collection of cloud water by raindrops. Ice microphysical processes including riming are negligible up to the mature phase but are dominant during the weakening stage. Cloud source/sink terms make some contributions to the rain rate at the formation and weakening stages, while the role of surface evaporation term is negligible throughout the life cycle of the convection.

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Xiaofan Li, C-H. Sui, K-M. Lau, and M-D. Chou

Abstract

The simulations of tropical convection and thermodynamic states in response to different imposed large-scale forcing are carried out by using a cloud-resolving model and are evaluated with the Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment observation. The model is forced either with imposed large-scale vertical velocity and horizontal temperature and moisture advections (model 1) or with imposed total temperature and moisture advections (model 2). The comparison of simulations with observations shows that bias in temperature and moisture simulations by model 1 is smaller than that by model 2. This indicates that the adjustment of the mean thermodynamic stability distribution by vertical advection in model 1 is responsible for better simulations.

Model 1 is used to examine effects of different parameterized solar radiative and cloud microphysical processes. A revised parameterization scheme for cloud single scattering properties in solar radiation calculations is found to generate more solar heating in the upper troposphere and less heating in the middle and lower troposphere. The change in the vertical heating distribution is suggested to stabilize the environment and to cause less stratiform cloud that further induces stabilization through cloud–IR interaction. The revised scheme also causes a drier middle and lower troposphere by weakening vertical moisture flux convergence. Also tested is the effect of a revised parameterization scheme for cloud microphysical processes that tends to generate more ice clouds. The cloud-induced thermal effect in which less ice cloud leads to less infrared cooling at cloud top and more heating below cloud top is similar to the effect of no cloud–radiation interaction shown in a sensitivity experiment. However, the exclusion of cloud–radiation interaction causes drying by enhancing condensation, and the reduction of ice clouds by the microphysics scheme induces moistening by suppressing condensation.

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