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Y. Gu, J. Farrara, K. N. Liou, and C. R. Mechoso

Abstract

A contemporary radiation parameterization scheme has been implemented in the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), atmospheric GCM (AGCM). This scheme is a combination of the delta-four-stream method for solar flux transfer and the delta-two-and-four-stream method for thermal infrared flux transfer. Both methods have been demonstrated to be computationally efficient and at the same time highly accurate in comparison with exact radiative transfer computations. The correlated-k distribution method for radiative transfer has been used to represent gaseous absorption in multiple-scattering atmospheres. The single-scattering properties for ice and water clouds are parameterized in terms of ice/liquid water content and mean effective size/radius. In conjunction with the preceding radiative scheme, parameterizations for fractional cloud cover and cloud vertical overlap have also been devised in the model in which the cloud amount is determined from the total cloud water mixing ratio. For radiation calculation purposes, the model clouds are vertically grouped in terms of low, middle, and high types. Maximum overlap is first used for each cloud type, followed by random overlap among the three cloud types. The preceding radiation and cloud parameterizations are incorporated into the UCLA AGCM, and it is shown that the simulated cloud cover and outgoing longwave radiation fields without any special tuning are comparable with those of International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) dataset and derived from radiation budget experiments. The use of the new radiation and cloud schemes enhances the radiative warming in the mid- to upper tropical troposphere and alleviates the cold bias that is common to many AGCMs. Sensitivity studies show that ice crystal size and cloud inhomogeneity significantly affect the radiation budget at the top of the atmosphere and the earth’s surface.

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A. W. Robertson, C-C. Ma, M. Ghil, and C. R. Mechoso

Abstract

Two multiyear simulations with a coupled ocean-atmosphere general circulation model (GCM)-totaling 45 years-are used to investigate interannual variability at the equator. The model consists of the UCLA global atmospheric GCM coupled to the GFDL oceanic GCM, dynamically active over the tropical Pacific. Multichannel singular spectrum analysis along the equator identifies ENSO-like quasi-biennial (QB) and quasi-quadrennial (QQ) modes. Both consist of predominantly standing oscillations in sea surface temperature and zonal wind stress that peak in the central or east Pacific, accompanied by an oscillation in equatorial thermocline depth that is characterized by a phase shift of about 90° across the basin, with west leading east. Simulated interannual variability is weaker than observed in both simulations. One of these is dominated by the QB, the other by the QQ mode, although the two differ only in details of the surface-layer parameterizations.

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A. W. Robertson, C-C. Ma, C. R. Mechoso, and M. Ghil

Abstract

A multiyear simulation with a coupled ocean-atmosphere general circulation model (GCM) is presented. The model consists of the UCLA global atmospheric GCM coupled to the GFDL oceanic GCM; the latter is dynamically active over the tropical Pacific, while climatological time-varying sea surface temperatures (SST) are prescribed elsewhere. The model successfully simulates the main climatological features associated with the seasonal cycle, including the east-west gradient in SST across the equatorial Pacific. The most apparent deficiencies include a systematic cold bias (∼2 K) across most of the tropical Pacific and underestimated wind stress magnitudes in the equatorial band. Multichannel singular spectrum analysis is used to describe the multivariate structure of the seasonal cycle at the equator in both the model and observed data. The annual harmonic in equatorial SST is primarily wind driven, while air-sea interaction strongly affects the semiannual harmonic.

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H.-Y. Ma, X. Ji, J. D. Neelin, and C. R. Mechoso

Abstract

The present study examines the mechanisms for the connection between the precipitation variability in eastern Brazil and the South Atlantic convergence zone (SACZ) convective margin (eastern Brazil/SACZ convective margin) and the variability of low-level inflow on interannual time scales during austral summer. The authors' methodology is based on the analysis of observational datasets and simulations by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) coupled to the Simplified Simple Biosphere Model.

It is demonstrated that the inflow variability is associated with the leading mode of wind variability over subtropical South America, and the connection is established through the mechanism of an analytic prototype for convective margin shifts proposed in previous studies. Over the eastern Brazil/SACZ convective margin, the weaker (stronger) convection tends to occur together with stronger (weaker) low-level inflows in reference to the mean easterly trades. By changing the “ventilation” effect, stronger (weaker) inflows with low moist static energy from the Atlantic Ocean suppress (promote) convection. The causal relationship is verified by AGCM mechanism-testing experiments performed in perpetual-February mode, in which low-level, nondivergent wind perturbations are imposed in a region overlapping eastern Brazil and the western Atlantic Ocean. With solely the imposed-wind perturbations acting on the moisture advection in the model equation, the AGCM can reproduce the precipitation variability in the eastern Brazil/SACZ convective margin. The capability of the AGCM in capturing such precipitation sensitivity to the low-level inflow variability also suggests that the mechanism can be applied to other regions of convective margins or to other time scales.

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E. Mohino, B. Rodríguez-Fonseca, C. R. Mechoso, S. Gervois, P. Ruti, and F. Chauvin

Abstract

The current consensus is that drought has developed in the Sahel during the second half of the twentieth century as a result of remote effects of oceanic anomalies amplified by local land–atmosphere interactions. This paper focuses on the impacts of oceanic anomalies upon West African climate and specifically aims to identify those from SST anomalies in the Pacific/Indian Oceans during spring and summer seasons, when they were significant. Idealized sensitivity experiments are performed with four atmospheric general circulation models (AGCMs). The prescribed SST patterns used in the AGCMs are based on the leading mode of covariability between SST anomalies over the Pacific/Indian Oceans and summer rainfall over West Africa. The results show that such oceanic anomalies in the Pacific/Indian Ocean lead to a northward shift of an anomalous dry belt from the Gulf of Guinea to the Sahel as the season advances. In the Sahel, the magnitude of rainfall anomalies is comparable to that obtained by other authors using SST anomalies confined to the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean. The mechanism connecting the Pacific/Indian SST anomalies with West African rainfall has a strong seasonal cycle. In spring (May and June), anomalous subsidence develops over both the Maritime Continent and the equatorial Atlantic in response to the enhanced equatorial heating. Precipitation increases over continental West Africa in association with stronger zonal convergence of moisture. In addition, precipitation decreases over the Gulf of Guinea. During the monsoon peak (July and August), the SST anomalies move westward over the equatorial Pacific and the two regions where subsidence occurred earlier in the seasons merge over West Africa. The monsoon weakens and rainfall decreases over the Sahel, especially in August.

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Yongkang Xue, F. de Sales, W-P. Li, C. R. Mechoso, C. A. Nobre, and H-M. Juang

Abstract

This study explores the role of vegetation biophysical processes (VBPs) in the structure and evolution of the South American monsoon system (SAMS) with an emphasis on the precipitation field. The approach is based on comparing ensemble simulations by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction general circulation model (GCM) in which the land surface parameterization in one ensemble includes an explicit representation of vegetation processes in the calculation of surface fluxes while the other does not [GCM/Simplified Simple Biosphere Model (SSiB) and GCM/Soil, respectively], but with similar monthly mean surface albedo and initial soil moisture. The ensembles consist of five pairs of 1-yr integrations differing in the initial conditions for the atmosphere. The results show that, during the austral summer, consideration of explicit vegetation processes does not alter the monthly mean precipitation at the planetary scale. However, at continental scales, GCM/SSiB produces a more successful simulation of SAMS than GCM/Soil. The improvement is particularly clear in reference to the seasonal southward displacement of precipitation during the onset of the SAMS and its northward merging with the intertropical convergence zone during the monsoon mature stage, as well as better monthly mean austral summer precipitation over the South American continent.

The changes in surface water and energy balances and circulation in October (monsoon onset) and December (the start of the monsoon mature stage) were analyzed for a better understanding of the results and mechanisms involved. It was found that the major difference between the simulations is in the partitioning of latent heat and sensible heat fluxes (i.e., different Bowen ratio), which produced different latitudinal and longitudinal thermal gradients at the surface. A stronger sensible heat flux gradient between continent and ocean in the GCM/SSiB simulation helped generate an enhanced ventilation effect, which lowered moist static energy (MSE) over the northeast coast of South America leading to stronger counterclockwise turning of the low-level wind from the Atlantic Ocean toward the continent during the premonsoon and early monsoon stages, modifying moisture flux convergence (MFC). It was further identified that the seasonality of savanna and shrublands to the south and east of the Amazon rain forest contributed to the variability of heating gradients and influenced the SAMS onset and its northward merge with the ITCZ at the early monsoon mature stage. The comparison of the differences between precipitation, evaporation, advection of MSE, and MFC based on simulations using two different land parameterizations suggested that the VBP modulated the surface water budget, but its impact on precipitation was determined by the changes in circulation via changes in heat gradient and MSE.

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C. Vera, W. Higgins, J. Amador, T. Ambrizzi, R. Garreaud, D. Gochis, D. Gutzler, D. Lettenmaier, J. Marengo, C. R. Mechoso, J. Nogues-Paegle, P. L. Silva Dias, and C. Zhang

Abstract

An important goal of the Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) research on the American monsoon systems is to determine the sources and limits of predictability of warm season precipitation, with emphasis on weekly to interannual time scales. This paper reviews recent progress in the understanding of the American monsoon systems and identifies some of the future challenges that remain to improve warm season climate prediction. Much of the recent progress is derived from complementary international programs in North and South America, namely, the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) and the Monsoon Experiment South America (MESA), with the following common objectives: 1) to understand the key components of the American monsoon systems and their variability, 2) to determine the role of these systems in the global water cycle, 3) to improve observational datasets, and 4) to improve simulation and monthly-to-seasonal prediction of the monsoons and regional water resources. Among the recent observational advances highlighted in this paper are new insights into moisture transport processes, description of the structure and variability of the South American low-level jet, and resolution of the diurnal cycle of precipitation in the core monsoon regions. NAME and MESA are also driving major efforts in model development and hydrologic applications. Incorporated into the postfield phases of these projects are assessments of atmosphere–land surface interactions and model-based climate predictability experiments. As CLIVAR research on American monsoon systems evolves, a unified view of the climatic processes modulating continental warm season precipitation is beginning to emerge.

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J. Teixeira, S. Cardoso, M. Bonazzola, J. Cole, A. DelGenio, C. DeMott, C. Franklin, C. Hannay, C. Jakob, Y. Jiao, J. Karlsson, H. Kitagawa, M. Köhler, A. Kuwano-Yoshida, C. LeDrian, J. Li, A. Lock, M. J. Miller, P. Marquet, J. Martins, C. R. Mechoso, E. v. Meijgaard, I. Meinke, P. M. A. Miranda, D. Mironov, R. Neggers, H. L. Pan, D. A. Randall, P. J. Rasch, B. Rockel, W. B. Rossow, B. Ritter, A. P. Siebesma, P. M. M. Soares, F. J. Turk, P. A. Vaillancourt, A. Von Engeln, and M. Zhao

Abstract

A model evaluation approach is proposed in which weather and climate prediction models are analyzed along a Pacific Ocean cross section, from the stratocumulus regions off the coast of California, across the shallow convection dominated trade winds, to the deep convection regions of the ITCZ—the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment Cloud System Study/Working Group on Numerical Experimentation (GCSS/WGNE) Pacific Cross-Section Intercomparison (GPCI). The main goal of GPCI is to evaluate and help understand and improve the representation of tropical and subtropical cloud processes in weather and climate prediction models. In this paper, a detailed analysis of cloud regime transitions along the cross section from the subtropics to the tropics for the season June–July–August of 1998 is presented. This GPCI study confirms many of the typical weather and climate prediction model problems in the representation of clouds: underestimation of clouds in the stratocumulus regime by most models with the corresponding consequences in terms of shortwave radiation biases; overestimation of clouds by the 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40) in the deep tropics (in particular) with the corresponding impact in the outgoing longwave radiation; large spread between the different models in terms of cloud cover, liquid water path and shortwave radiation; significant differences between the models in terms of vertical cross sections of cloud properties (in particular), vertical velocity, and relative humidity. An alternative analysis of cloud cover mean statistics is proposed where sharp gradients in cloud cover along the GPCI transect are taken into account. This analysis shows that the negative cloud bias of some models and ERA-40 in the stratocumulus regions [as compared to the first International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP)] is associated not only with lower values of cloud cover in these regimes, but also with a stratocumulus-to-cumulus transition that occurs too early along the trade wind Lagrangian trajectory. Histograms of cloud cover along the cross section differ significantly between models. Some models exhibit a quasi-bimodal structure with cloud cover being either very large (close to 100%) or very small, while other models show a more continuous transition. The ISCCP observations suggest that reality is in-between these two extreme examples. These different patterns reflect the diverse nature of the cloud, boundary layer, and convection parameterizations in the participating weather and climate prediction models.

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