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Darryn W. Waugh

Abstract

High-resolution simulations of a polar vortex disturbed by quasi-topographic forcing are performed using the method of “contour surgery”, a numerical method for inviscid flows wherein arbitrarily steep vorticity gradients can be formed and wherein scales of motion can vary over an extensive range. Simulations are performed of inviscid, incompressible, barotropic motion on the hemisphere, the sphere, and the plane. Comparisons with a hemispherical pseudospectral simulation show that accurate contour surgery simulations can be performed using a moderate number of contours to represent each hemisphere. Intermodel comparisons show that, although the overall evolution of the flow is qualitatively similar, there are noticeable differences. There is a significant difference between spherical and hemispherical calculations but, surprisingly, a remarkable agreement between spherical and planar calculations when a spatially varying planetary vorticity is used in the planar calculations.

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Dieter Peters and Darryn W. Waugh

Abstract

The characteristics of Rossby wave propagation and breaking in the Southern Hemisphere upper troposphere during winter are examined. Although the Southern Hemisphere subtropical jet is more zonally symmetric than that of the Northern Hemisphere, there are still significant zonal variations in the upper-tropospheric flow. In particular, the flow within a given sector (≈120° longitude) can generally be characterized into one of four different configurations: (i) a single jet, (ii) a “broken” subtropical jet, (iii) a polar jet at the upstream end of the subtropical jet, or (iv) a polar jet at the downstream end of the subtropical jet. Using “potential vorticity thinking” and barotropic wind shear arguments, it is argued that the characteristics of the Rossby wave propagation and breaking will differ between each flow configuration. Consistent with these arguments, examination of potential vorticity maps and contour advection calculations show differing wave-breaking characteristics. In particular, there is &ldquo=uatorward” wave breaking with cyclonic behavior when a single strong jet exists, “poleward” breaking with anticyclonic behavior when a broken subtropical jet or a polar jet is downstream of a subtropical jet, and more “symmetric” wave breaking when a polar jet is upstream of a subtropical jet. Some of the flow configurations have preferred geographical locations, and this results in different geographical sectors having differing preferred configurations and variability, and, hence, characteristics of the Rossby wave propagation. For example, a broken subtropical jet or polar jet with poleward wave breaking is most common within the Australian and Pacific Ocean sectors.

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Thando Ndarana and Darryn W. Waugh

Abstract

A 30-yr climatology of Rossby wave breaking (RWB) on the Southern Hemisphere (SH) tropopause is formed using 30 yr of reanalyses. Composite analysis of potential vorticity and meridional fluxes of wave activity show that RWB in the SH can be divided into two broad categories: anticyclonic and cyclonic events. While there is only weak asymmetry in the meridional direction and most events cannot be classified as equatorward or poleward in terms of the potential vorticity structure, the position and structure of the fluxes associated with equatorward breaking differs from those of poleward breaking. Anticyclonic breaking is more common than cyclonic breaking, except on the lower isentrope examined (320 K). There are marked differences in the seasonal variations of RWB on the two surfaces, with a winter minimum for RWB around 350 K but a summer minimum for RWB around 330 K. These seasonal variations are due to changes in the location of the tropospheric jets and dynamical tropopause. During winter the subtropical jet and tropopause at 350 K are collocated in the Australian–South Pacific Ocean region, resulting in a seasonal minimum in the 350-K RWB. During summer the polar front jet and 330-K tropopause are collocated over the Southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans, inhibiting RWB in this region.

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Dieter Peters and Darryn W. Waugh

Abstract

The characteristics of the poleward advection of upper-tropospheric air are investigated using meteorological analyses and idealized numerical models. Isentropic deformations of the tropopause during Northern Hemisphere winter are examined using maps of Ertel's potential vorticity together with contour advection calculations. Large poleward excursions of upper-tropospheric air are observed during Rossby wave breaking events. These “poleward” breaking events occur in regions of diffluence (over the eastern Atlantic Ocean-Europe region, and over the eastern Pacific Ocean-North America region), and the evolution of the tropospheric air depends on the local, meridional shear: in anticyclonic (or weak cyclonic) shear the tropospheric air tilts downstream, broadens, and wraps up anticyclonically, whereas in cyclonic shear the tropospheric air tilts upstream, thins, and is advected cyclonically. The role of ambient barotropic flow is further examined by considering the flow in two numerical models: a planar, equivalent-barotropic, contour dynamics model and a simplified general circulation model. In both models, the variation of the poleward wave breaking with the zonal and meridional shear is consistent with that in the analyses.

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Darryn W. Waugh and David G. Dritschel

Abstract

The three-dimensional structure of wave propagation and breaking on the edge of polar vortices is examined using a multilayer quasigeostrophic model, with piecewise constant potential vorticity (PV) in each layer. The linear propagation of waves up the edge of a vortex is found to be sensitive to vertical variations in the vortex structure, with reduced propagation if the PV or area of the vortex increases with height; this reduction is dramatic for a cylindrical vortex with increasing PV. The characteristics of the nonlinear evolution and wave breaking is examined using high-resolution contour dynamics simulations and is also found to be sensitive to the vertical structure of the vortex. The amplitude of the forcing required for wave breaking to occur is larger for baroclinic vortices (with PV or area increasing with height) than for barotropic vortices. For cylindrical vortices with PV increasing with height the variation of wave breaking with forcing amplitude is qualitatively different from that of a barotropic vortex. Wave breaking occurs in the upper layers for only a limited, intermediate range of forcing amplitudes: there is no wave breaking in upper layers for weak forcing and for large forcing there is only wave breaking at the bottom of the vortex (i.e., the wave breaking is more vertically confined than for a barotropic vortex). For vortices with both PV and area increasing with height there is again a regime with wave breaking in the upper layers for weak amplitude forcing. However, the characteristics of the filaments produced by the wave breaking in upper layers is different from that in the barotropic case, with the filaments rolling up into a series of small vortices.

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Darryn W. Waugh and R. Alan Plumb

Abstract

We present a trajectory technique, contour advection with surgery (CAS), for tracing the evolution of material contours in a specified (including observed) evolving flow. CAS uses the algorithms developed by Dritschel for contour dynamics/surgery to trace the evolution of specified contours. The contours are represented by a series of particles, which are advected by a specified, gridded, wind distribution. The resolution of the contours is preserved by continually adjusting the number of particles, and finescale features are produced that are not present in the input data (and cannot easily be generated using standard trajectory techniques). The reliability, and dependence on the spatial and temporal resolution of the wind field, of the CAS procedure is examined by comparisons with high-resolution numerical data (from contour dynamics calculations and from a general circulation model), and with routine stratospheric analyses. These comparisons show that the large-scale motions dominate the deformation field and that CAS can accurately reproduce small scales from low-resolution wind fields. The CAS technique therefore enables examination of atmospheric tracer transport at previously unattainable resolution.

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Darryn W. Waugh and Beatriz M. Funatsu

Abstract

The evolution and structure of stratospheric intrusions into the upper troposphere (UT) over the northern tropical Pacific is examined in terms of both potential vorticity (PV) and ozone (O3). Analysis of 20 years of NCEP–NCAR reanalysis PV shows that the intrusion events have remarkably similar evolution and structure at 350 K, with all events producing narrow tongues of high PV that have an almost north–south orientation and last around 3 days. Nearly all events extend up into the lower stratosphere, but only for a small percentage is there deep downward penetration. The intrusions explain a large amount of the observed variability in upper tropospheric O3 above Hilo, Hawaii, with large values occurring when a tongue of high PV passes over Hilo and low values when Hilo is just upstream of a high-PV tongue. There is also an increase in total column ozone within the PV tongues, but for most intrusions the increase is relatively small. The relationship between deep convection, as diagnosed by satellite observations of outgoing longwave radiation (OLR), and intrusions is also examined. It is shown that transient convection and intrusions in the central and eastern northern Pacific nearly always occur together, with the convection at the leading edge of the PV tongue. This confirms the results of previous studies that have shown a close link between Rossby wave activity and transient convection, and supports the hypothesis that the ascent and reduced static stability due to anomalous PV in the UT initiates and supports the convection.

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Darryn W. Waugh and Timothy M. Hall

Abstract

The propagation of a range of tracer signals in a simple model of the deep western boundary current is examined. Analytical expressions are derived in certain limits for the transit-time distributions and the propagation times (tracer ages) of tracers with exponentially growing or periodic concentration histories at the boundary current’s origin. If mixing between the boundary current and the surrounding ocean is either very slow or very rapid, then all tracer signals propagate at the same rate. In contrast, for intermediate mixing rates tracer ages generally depend on the history of the tracer variations at the origin and range from the advective time along the current to the much larger mean age. Close agreement of the model with chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and tritium observations in the North Atlantic deep western boundary current (DWBC) is obtained when the model is in the intermediate mixing regime, with current speed around 5 cm s−1 and mixing time scale around 1 yr. In this regime anomalies in temperature and salinity of decadal or shorter period will propagate downstream at roughly the current speed, which is much faster than the spreading rate inferred from CFC or tritium–helium ages (approximately 5 cm s−1 as compared with 2 cm s−1). This rapid propagation of anomalies is consistent with observations in the subpolar DWBC, but is at odds with inferences from measurements in the tropical DWBC. This suggests that observed tropical temperature and salinity anomalies are not simply propagated signals from the north. The sensitivity of the tracer spreading rates to tracer and mixing time scales in the model suggests that tight constraints on the flow and transport in real DWBCs may be obtained from simultaneous measurements of several different tracers—in particular, hydrographic anomalies and steadily increasing transient tracers.

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Beatriz M. Funatsu and Darryn W. Waugh

Abstract

The connections between intrusions of stratospheric air into the upper troposphere and deep convection in the tropical eastern Pacific are examined using a combination of data analysis, potential vorticity (PV) inversion, and numerical simulations. Analysis of NCEP–NCAR reanalyses and satellite measurements of outgoing longwave radiation during intrusion events shows increased cloudiness, lower static stability, upward motion, and a buildup of convective available potential energy (CAPE) at the leading edge of the intruding tongue of high PV. Potential inversion inversion calculations show that the upper-level PV makes the dominant contribution to the changes in the quantities that characterize convection. This supports the hypothesis that upper-level PV anomalies initiate and support convection by destabilizing the lower troposphere and causing upward motion ahead on the PV tongue. The dominant role of the upper-level PV is confirmed by simulations using the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–NCAR Mesoscale Model (MM5). Convection only occurs when the upper-level PV anomaly is present in the simulations, and the relative contribution of the upper-level PV to changes in the quantities that characterize convection is similar to that inferred from the PV inversion calculations.

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Andrea Molod, Haydee Salmun, and Darryn W. Waugh

Abstract

Heterogeneities in the land surface on scales smaller than the typical general circulation model (GCM) grid size can have a profound influence on the grid-scale mean climate. There exists observational and modeling evidence that the direct effects of surface heterogeneities may be felt by the atmosphere well into the planetary boundary layer. The impact of including an “extended mosaic” (EM) scheme, which accounts for the vertical influence of land surface heterogeneities in a GCM, is evaluated here by comparing side-by-side GCM simulations with EM and with the more standard mosaic formulation (M).

Differences between the EM and M simulations are observed in the boundary layer structure, in fields that link the boundary layer and the general circulation, and in fields that represent the general circulation itself. Large EM − M differences are found over the eastern United States, eastern Asia, and southern Africa in the summertime, and are associated with a boundary layer eddy diffusion feedback mechanism. The feedback mechanism operates as a positive or negative feedback depending on the local Bowen ratio. Significant EM − M differences are also found in the region of the Australian monsoon and in the strength of the stationary Pacific–North America pattern in the northern Pacific.

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