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Graeme D. Hubbert, Greg J. Holland, Lance M. Leslie, and Michael J. Manton

Abstract

The depth-averaged, numerical storm-surge model developed by Hubbert et al. (1990) has been configured to provide a stand-alone system to forecast tropical cyclone storm surges. The atmospheric surface pressure and surface winds are derived from the analytical-empirical model of Holland (1980) and require only cyclone positions, central pressures, and radii of maximum winds. The model has been adapted to run on personal computers in a few minutes so that multiple forecast scenarios can be tested in a forecast office in real time.

The storm surge model was tested in hindcast mode on four Australian tropical cyclones. For these case studies the model predicted the sea surface elevations and arrival times of surge peaks accurately, with typical elevation errors of 0.1 to 0.2 m and arrival time errors of no more than 1 h. Second order effects, such as coastally-trapped waves, were also well simulated. The model is now being used by the Australian Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres (TCWC's) for operational forecasting. It will also be released as part of a tropical cyclone workstation that has recently been recommended for use by WMO member nations.

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Tom D. Keenan, Bruce R. Morton, Michael J. Manton, and Greg J. Holland

The Island Thunderstorm Experiment (ITEX) is a field and modeling study of the tropical thunderstorms that form regularly over Bathurst and Melville Islands north of Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, during the transition season and breaks in the summer monsoon season. Such thunderstorms are of widespread occurrence in the tropics and they play an important role in tropical dynamics. ITEX is a joint project of the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre and Monash University's Centre for Dynamical Meteorology. Preliminary studies have been used to plan an intensive period of observations that was carried out from 20 November to 10 December 1988. The resulting data will provide the basis for a series of analytical and numerical studies of tropical island thunderstorms.

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Yi Huang, Steven T. Siems, Michael J. Manton, Luke B. Hande, and John M. Haynes

Abstract

A climatology of the structure of the low-altitude cloud field (tops below 4 km) over the Southern Ocean (40°–65°S) in the vicinity of Australia (100°–160°E) has been constructed with CloudSat products for liquid water and ice water clouds. Averaging over longitude and time, CloudSat produces a roughly uniform cloud field between heights of approximately 750 and 2250 m across the extent of the domain for both winter and summer. This cloud field makes a transition from consisting primarily of liquid water at the lower latitudes to ice water at the higher latitudes. This transition is primarily driven by the gradient in the temperature, which is commonly between 0° and −20°C, rather than by direct physical observation.

The uniform lower boundary is a consequence of the CloudSat cloud detection algorithm being unable to reliably separate radar returns because of the bright surface versus returns due to clouds, in the lowest four range bins above the surface. This is potentially very problematic over the Southern Ocean where the depth of the boundary layer has been observed to be as shallow as 500 m. Cloud fields inferred from upper-air soundings at Macquarie Island (54.62°S, 158.85°E) similarly suggest that the peak frequency lies between 260 and 500 m for both summer and winter. No immediate explanation is available for the uniformity of the cloud-top boundary. This lack of a strong seasonal cycle is, perhaps, remarkable given the large seasonal cycles in both the shortwave (SW) radiative forcing experienced and the cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) concentration over the Southern Ocean.

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Zhan Wang, Steven T. Siems, Danijel Belusic, Michael J. Manton, and Yi Huang

Abstract

Macquarie Island (54.50°S, 158.94°E) is an isolated island with modest orography in the midst of the Southern Ocean with precipitation records dating back to 1948. These records (referred to as MAC) are of particular interest because of the relatively large biases in the energy and water budgets commonly found in climate simulations and reanalysis products over the region. A basic climatology of the surface precipitation P is presented and compared with the ERA-Interim (ERA-I) reanalysis. The annual ERA-I precipitation (953 mm) is found to underestimate the annual MAC precipitation (1023 mm) by 6.8% from 1979 to 2011. The frequency of 3-h surface precipitation at MAC is 36.4% from 2003 to 2011. Light precipitation (0.066 ≤ P < 0.5 mm h−1) dominates this dataset (29.7%), and heavy precipitation (P ≥ 1.5 mm h−1) is rare (1.1%). Drizzle (0 < P < 0.066 mm h−1) is commonly produced by ERA-I (43.9%) but is weaker than the detectable threshold of MAC. Warm rain intensity and frequency from CloudSat products were compared with those from MAC. These CloudSat products also recorded considerable drizzle (16%–30%) but were not significantly different from MAC when P ≥ 0.5 mm h−1. Heavy precipitation events were, in general, more commonly associated with fronts and cyclonic lows. Some heavy precipitation events were found to arise from weaker fronts and lows that were not adequately represented in the reanalysis products. Yet other heavy precipitation events were observed at points/times not associated with either fronts or cyclonic lows. Two case studies are employed to further examine this finding.

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Jingru Dai, Michael J. Manton, Steven T. Siems, and Elizabeth E. Ebert

Abstract

Wintertime precipitation in the Snowy Mountains provides water for agriculture, industry, and domestic use in inland southeastern Australia. Unlike most of Australia, much of this precipitation falls as snow, and it is recorded by a private network of heated tipping-bucket gauges. These observations are used in the present study to assess the accuracy of a poor man’s ensemble (PME) prediction of precipitation in the Snowy Mountains based on seven numerical weather prediction models. While the PME performs quite well, there is significant underestimation of precipitation intensity. It is shown that indicators of the synoptic environment can be used to improve the PME estimates of precipitation. Four synoptic regimes associated with different precipitation classes are identified from upper-air data. The reliability of the PME forecasts can be sharpened by considering the precipitation in each of the four synoptic classes. A linear regression, based on the synoptic classification and the PME estimate, is used to reduce the forecast errors. The potential to extend the method for forecasting purposes is discussed.

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Anthony E. Morrison, Steven T. Siems, Michael J. Manton, and Alex Nazarov

Abstract

The cloud structure associated with two frontal passages over the Southern Ocean and Tasmania is investigated. The first event, during August 2006, is characterized by large quantities of supercooled liquid water and little ice. The second case, during October 2007, is more mixed phase. The Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRFV2.2.1) is evaluated using remote sensed and in situ observations within the post frontal air mass. The Thompson microphysics module is used to describe in-cloud processes, where ice is initiated using the Cooper parameterization at temperatures lower than −8°C or at ice supersaturations greater than 8%. The evaluated cases are then used to numerically investigate the prevalence of supercooled and mixed-phase clouds over Tasmania and the ocean to the west. The simulations produce marine stratocumulus-like clouds with maximum heights of between 3 and 5 km. These are capped by weak temperature and strong moisture inversions. When the inversion is at temperatures warmer than −10°C, WRF produces widespread supercooled cloud fields with little glaciation. This is consistent with the limited in situ observations. When the inversion is at higher altitudes, allowing cooler cloud tops, glaciated (and to a lesser extent mixed phase) clouds are more common. The simulations are further explored to evaluate any orographic signature within the cloud structure over Tasmania. No consistent signature is found between the two cases.

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Robert A. Warren, Harald Richter, Hamish A. Ramsay, Steven T. Siems, and Michael J. Manton

Abstract

It has previously been suggested, based on limited observations, that vertical wind shear in the upper troposphere is a key control on supercell morphology, with the low-precipitation, high-precipitation, and classic archetypes favored under strong, weak, and moderate shear, respectively. The idea is that, with increasing upper-level shear (ULS), hydrometeors are transported farther from the updraft by stronger storm-relative anvil-level winds, limiting their growth and thereby reducing precipitation intensity. The present study represents the first attempt to test this hypothesis, using idealized simulations of supercells performed across a range of 6–12-km shear profiles.

Contrary to expectations, there is a significant increase in surface precipitation and an associated strengthening of outflow winds as ULS magnitude is increased from 0 to 20 m s−1. These changes result from an increase in storm motion, which drives stronger low-level inflow, a wider updraft, and enhanced condensation. A further increase in ULS magnitude to 30 m s−1 promotes a slight reduction in storm intensity associated with surging rear-flank outflow. However, this transition in behavior is found to be sensitive to other factors that influence cold-pool strength, such as mixed-layer depth and model microphysics. Variations in the vertical distribution and direction of ULS are also considered, but are found to have a much smaller impact on storm intensity than variations in ULS magnitude.

Suggestions for the disparity between the current results and the aforementioned observations are offered and the need for further research on supercell morphology—in particular, simulations in drier environments—is emphasized.

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Michael J. Manton, Loredana Warren, Suzanne L. Kenyon, Andrew D. Peace, Shane P. Bilish, and Karen Kemsley

Abstract

The Snowy Precipitation Enhancement Research Project (SPERP) was undertaken from May 2005 to June 2009 in the Snowy Mountains of southeastern Australia with the aim of enhancing snowfall in westerly flows associated with winter cold fronts. Building on earlier field studies in the region, SPERP was developed as a confirmatory experiment of glaciogenic static seeding using a silver-chloroiodide material dispersed from ground-based generators. Seeding of 5-h experimental units (EUs) was randomized with a seeding ratio of 2:1. A total of 107 EUs were undertaken at suitable times, based on surface and upper-air observations. Indium (III) oxide was released during all EUs for comparison of indium and silver concentrations in snow in seeded and unseeded EUs to test the targeting of seeding material. A network of gauges was deployed at 44 sites across the region to detect whether precipitation was enhanced in a fixed target area of 832 km2, using observations from a fixed control area to estimate the natural precipitation in the target. Additional measurements included integrated supercooled liquid water at a site in the target area and upper-air data from a site upwind of the target.

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Anthony E. Morrison, Steven T. Siems, Michael J. Manton, and Alex Nazarov

Abstract

An analysis of cloud seeding activity for the period 1960–2005 over a hydroelectric catchment (target) area located in central Tasmania, Australia, is presented. The analysis is performed using a double ratio on monthly area-averaged rainfall for the months of May–October. Results indicate that increases in monthly precipitation are observed within the target area relative to nearby controls during periods of cloud seeding activity. Ten independent tests were performed and all double ratios found are above unity with values that range from 5% to 14%. Nine out of 10 confidence intervals are entirely above unity and overlap in the range of 6%–11%. Nine tests obtain levels of significance >0.05 level. If the Bonferroni adjustment is made to account for multiple comparisons, six tests are found to be significant at the adjusted alpha level. Further field measurements of the cloud microphysics over this region are needed to provide a physical basis for these statistical results.

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Zhan Wang, Danijel Belusic, Yi Huang, Steven T. Siems, and Michael J. Manton

Abstract

The meteorological observations on Macquarie Island have become of increasing value for efforts to understand the unique nature of atmospheric processes over the Southern Ocean. While the island is of modest elevation (peak altitude of 410 m), the orographic effects on observations on this island are still not clear. High-resolution numerical simulations [Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model] with and without terrain have been used to identify orographic effects for four cases representing common synoptic patterns at Macquarie Island: a cold front, a warm front, postfrontal drizzle, and a midlatitude cyclone. Although the simulations cannot capture every possible feature of the precipitation, preliminary results show that clouds and precipitation can readily be perturbed by the island with the main enhancement of precipitation normally in the lee in accordance with the nondimensional mountain height being much less than 1. The weather station is located at the far north end of the island and is only in the lee to southerly and southwesterly winds, which are normally associated with drizzle. The station is on the upwind side for strong northwesterly winds, which are most common and can bring heavier frontal precipitation. Overall the orographic effect on the precipitation record is not found to be significant, except for the enhancement of drizzle found in southwesterly winds. Given the strong winds over the Southern Ocean and the shallow height of the island, the 3D nondimensional mountain height is smaller than 1 in 93.5% of the soundings. As a result, boundary layer flow commonly passes over the island, with the greatest impact in the lee.

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