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Michael J. Bell

Abstract

The quasigeostrophic equations formulated using the Charney–Phillips vertical staggering of variables are well known to possess an analog of the form of conservation of potential vorticity. It is shown that a similar analog is enjoyed by the quasigeostrophic equations formulated using the modified Lorenz staggering of variables.

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Michael J. Bell

Abstract

The meridional overturning circulation (MOC) can be considered to consist of a downwelling limb in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) and an upwelling limb in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) that are connected via western boundary currents. Steady-state analytical gyre-scale solutions of the planetary geostrophic equations are derived for a downwelling limb driven in the NH solely by surface heat loss. In these solutions the rates of the water mass transformations between layers driven by the surface heat loss determine the strength of the downwelling limb. Simple expressions are obtained for these transformation rates that depend on the most southerly latitudes where heat loss occurs and the depths of the isopycnals on the eastern boundary. Previously derived expressions for the water mass transformation rates in subpolar gyres driven by the Ekman upwelling characteristic of the SH are also summarized. Explicit expressions for the MOC transport and the depths of isopycnals on the eastern boundary are then derived by equating the water mass transformations in the upwelling and downwelling limbs. The MOC obtained for a “single-basin” two-layer model is shown to be generally consistent with that obtained by Gnanadesikan. The model’s energetics are derived and discussed. In a world without a circumpolar channel in the SH, it is suggested that the upwelling limb would feed downwelling limbs in both hemispheres. In a world with two basins in the NH, if one of them has a strong halocline the model suggests that the MOC would be very weak in that basin.

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Michael J. Bell

Abstract

The Sverdrup relationship when applied to the Southern Ocean suggests that some isopycnals that are deep in the eastern Pacific will shoal in the Atlantic. Cold waters surfacing in the South Atlantic at midlatitudes would be warmed by the atmosphere. The potential for water mass transformations in this region is studied by applying a three-layer planetary geostrophic model to a wide ocean basin driven by the Ekman upwelling typical of the Southern Ocean surface winds. The model uses a simple physically based parameterization of the entrainment of mass into the surface layer with zonally symmetric atmospheric surface fields to find steady-state subpolar gyre solutions. The solutions are found numerically by specifying suitable boundary conditions and integrating along characteristics. With reasonable parameter settings, transformations of more than 10 Sverdrups (Sv; 1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) of water between layers are obtained. The water mass transformations are sensitive to the strength of the wind stress curl and the width of the basin and relatively insensitive to the parameterization of the surface heat fluxes. On the western side of the basin where the cold waters are near the surface, there is a large region where there is a local balance between the Ekman pumping and the exchange of mass between layers. Simple formulas are derived for the water mass transformation rates in terms of the difference between the maximum and minimum northward Ekman transports integrated across the basin and the depths of the isopycnal layers on the eastern boundary. The relevance of the model to the Southern Ocean and the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation is briefly discussed.

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Michael M. Bell and Michael T. Montgomery

Abstract

Observations from the Pre-Depression Investigation of Cloud Systems in the Tropics (PREDICT), Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP), and Intensity Forecast Experiment (IFEX) field campaigns are analyzed to investigate the mesoscale processes leading to the tropical cyclogenesis of Hurricane Karl (2010). Research aircraft missions provided Doppler radar, in situ flight level, and dropsonde data documenting the structural changes of the predepression disturbance. Following the pre-Karl wave pouch, variational analyses at the meso-β and meso-α scales suggest that the convective cycle in Karl alternately built the low- and midlevel circulations leading to genesis episodically rather than through a sustained lowering of the convective mass flux from increased stabilization. Convective bursts that erupt in the vorticity-rich environment of the recirculating pouch region enhance the low-level meso-β- and meso-α-scale circulation through vortex stretching. As the convection wanes, the resulting stratiform precipitation strengthens the midlevel circulation through convergence associated with ice microphysical processes, protecting the disturbance from the intrusion of dry environmental air. Once the column saturation fraction returns to a critical value, a subsequent convective burst below the midlevel circulation further enhances the low-level circulation, and the convective cycle repeats. The analyses suggest that the onset of deep convection and associated low-level spinup were closely related to the coupling of the vorticity and moisture fields at low and midlevels. Our interpretation of the observational analysis presented in this study reaffirms a primary role of deep convection in the genesis process and provides a hypothesis for the supporting role of stratiform precipitation and the midlevel vortex.

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Michael M. Bell and Michael T. Montgomery

Abstract

Unprecedented observations of Hurricane Isabel (2003) at category 5 intensity were collected from 12 to 14 September. This study presents a detailed analysis of the inner-core structure, atmospheric boundary layer, sea surface temperature, and outflow layer of a superintense tropical cyclone using high-resolution in situ flight-level, NCAR GPS dropwindsonde, Doppler radar, and satellite measurements. The analysis of the dropwindsonde and in situ data includes a comprehensive discussion of the uncertainties associated with this observational dataset and provides an estimate of the storm-relative axisymmetric inner-core structure using Barnes objective analysis. An assessment of gradient and thermal wind balance in the inner core is also presented. The axisymmetric data composites presented in this study suggest that Isabel built a reservoir of high moist entropy air by sea-to-air latent heat flux inside the low-level eye that was utilized as an additional energy source to nearly maintain its extreme intensity even after crossing the cool wake of Hurricane Fabian. It is argued here that the combined mean and asymmetric eddy flux of high moist entropy air from the low-level eye into the eyewall represents an additional power source or “turbo boost” to the hurricane heat engine. Recent estimates of the ratio of sea-to-air enthalpy and momentum exchange at high wind speeds are used to suggest that Isabel utilized this extra power to exceed the previously assumed intensity upper bound for the given environmental conditions on all three days. This discrepancy between a priori potential intensity theory and observations may be as high as 35 m s−1 on 13 September.

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Sim D. Aberson, Michael T. Montgomery, Michael Bell, and Michael Black

An unprecedented dataset of category-5 Hurricane Isabel was collected on 12–14 September 2003. This two-part series focuses on novel dynamical and thermodynamical aspects of Isabel's innercore structure on 13 September. In Part I, using a composite of dropwindsonde and in situ aircraft data, the authors suggested that the axisymmetric structure of Isabel showed that the storm was superintense. Mesocyclones seen clearly in satellite imagery within the eye of Hurricane Isabel are hypothesized to mix high-entropy air at low levels in the eye into the eyewall, stimulating explosive convective development and a concomitant local horizontal wind acceleration.

Part II focuses on a unique set of observations into an extraordinary small- (miso) scale cyclonic feature inside of the inner edge of the eyewall of Hurricane Isabel. A dropwindsonde released into this feature measured the strongest known horizontal wind in a tropical cyclone. This particular observation is discussed in the context of concurrent observations from airborne Doppler radar and other airborne instruments. These observations show wind even stronger than the system-scale superintense wind suggested in Part I. Speculation on the frequency of occurrence of these “little whirls” and their potentially catastrophic impacts are presented.

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Xiaowen Tang, Wen-Chau Lee, and Michael Bell

Abstract

This study examines the structure and dynamics of Typhoon Hagupit’s (2008) principal rainband using airborne radar and dropsonde observations. The convection in Hagupit’s principal rainband was organized into a well-defined line with trailing stratiform precipitation on the inner side. Individual convective cells had intense updrafts and downdrafts and were aligned in a wavelike pattern along the line. The line-averaged vertical cross section possessed a slightly inward-tilting convective core and two branches of low-level inflow feeding the convection. The result of a thermodynamic retrieval showed a pronounced cold pool behind the convective line. The horizontal and vertical structures of this principal rainband show characteristics that are different than the existing conceptual model and are more similar to squall lines and outer rainbands.

The unique convective structure of Hagupit’s principal rainband was associated with veering low-level vertical wind shear and large convective instability in the environment. A quantitative assessment of the cold pool strength showed that it was quasi balanced with that of the low-level vertical wind shear. The balanced state and the structural characteristics of convection in Hagupit’s principal rainband were dynamically consistent with the theory of cold pool dynamics widely applied to strong and long-lived squall lines. The analyses suggest that cold pool dynamics played a role in determining the principal rainband structure in addition to storm-scale vortex dynamics.

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Scott W. Powell and Michael M. Bell

Abstract

Hurricane Matthew locally generated more than 400 mm of rainfall on 8–9 October 2016 over the eastern Carolinas and Virginia as it transitioned into an extratropical cyclone. The heaviest precipitation occurred along a swath situated up to 100–200 km inland from the coast and collocated with enhanced low-tropospheric frontogenesis. Analyses from version 3 of the Rapid Refresh (RAPv3) model indicate that rapid frontogenesis occurred over eastern North and South Carolina and Virginia on 8 October, largely over a 12-h time period between 1200 UTC 8 October and 0000 UTC 9 October. The heaviest rainfall in Matthew occurred when and where spiral rainbands intersected the near-surface front, which promoted the lift of conditionally unstable, moist air. Parallel to the spiral rainbands, conditionally unstable low-tropospheric warm, moist oceanic air was advected inland, and the instability was apparently released as the warm air mass rose over the front. Precipitation in the spiral rainbands intensified on 9 October as the temperature gradient along the near-surface front rapidly increased. Unlike in Hurricane Floyd over the mid-Atlantic states, rainfall totals within the spiral rainbands of Matthew as they approached the near-surface front evidently were not enhanced by release of conditional symmetric instability. However, conditional symmetric instability release in the midtroposphere may have enhanced rainfall 200 km northwest of the near-surface front. Finally, although weak cold-air damming occurred prior to heavy rainfall, damming dissipated prior to frontogenesis and did not impact rainfall totals.

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Gerald D. Bell and Michael S. Halpert

The global climate during 1997 was affected by both extremes of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), with weak Pacific cold episode conditions prevailing during January and February, and one of the strongest Pacific warm episodes (El Niño) in the historical record prevailing during the remainder of the year. This warm episode contributed to major regional rainfall and temperature anomalies over large portions of the Tropics and extratropics, which were generally consistent with those observed during past warm episodes. In many regions, these anomalies were opposite to those observed during 1996 and early 1997 in association with Pacific cold episode conditions.

Some of the most dramatic El Niño impacts during 1997 were observed in the Tropics, where anomalous convection was evident across the entire Pacific and throughout most major monsoon regions of the world. Tropical regions most affected by excessive El Niño–related rainfall during the year included 1) the eastern half of the tropical Pacific, where extremely heavy rainfall and strong convective activity covered the region from April through December; 2) equatorial eastern Africa, where excessive rainfall during October–December led to widespread flooding and massive property damage; 3) Chile, where a highly amplified and extended South Pacific jet stream brought increased storminess and above-normal rainfall during the winter and spring; 4) southeastern South America, where these same storms produced above-normal rainfall during June–December; and 5) Ecuador and northern Peru, which began receiving excessive rainfall totals in November and December as deep tropical convection spread eastward across the extreme eastern Pacific.

In contrast, El Niño-–elated rainfall deficits during 1997 included 1) Indonesia, where significantly below-normal rainfall from June through December resulted in extreme drought and contributed to uncontrolled wildfires; 2) New Guinea, where drought contributed to large-scale food shortages leading to an outbreak of malnutrition; 3) the Amazon Basin, which received below-normal rainfall during June–December in association with substantially reduced tropical convection throughout the region; 4) the tropical Atlantic, which experienced drier than normal conditions during July–December; and 5) central America and the Caribbean Sea, which experienced below-normal rainfall during March–December.

The El Niño also contributed to a decrease in tropical storm and hurricane activity over the North Atlantic during August–November, and to an expanded area of conditions favorable for tropical cyclone and hurricane formation over the eastern North Pacific. These conditions are in marked contrast to both the 1995 and 1996 hurricane seasons, in which significantly above-normal tropical cyclone activity was observed over the North Atlantic and suppressed activity prevailed across the eastern North Pacific.

Other regional aspects of the short-term climate during 1997 included 1) wetter than average 1996/97 rainy seasons in both northeastern Australia and southern Africa in association with a continuation of weak cold episode conditions into early 1997; 2) below-normal rainfall and drought in southeastern Australia from October 1996 to December 1997 following very wet conditions in this region during most of 1996; 3) widespread flooding in the Red River Valley of the north-central United States during April following an abnormally cold and snowy winter; 4) floods in central Europe during July following several consecutive months of above-normal rainfall; 5) near-record to record rainfall in southeastern Asia during June–August in association with an abnormally weak upper-level monsoon ridge; and 6) near-normal rainfall across India during the Indian monsoon season (June–September) despite the weakened monsoon ridge.

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Michael S. Halpert and Gerald D. Bell

Abstract

No Abstract Available

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