Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 33 items for :

  • Author or Editor: Chris Snyder x
  • Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences x
  • Refine by Access: Content accessible to me x
Clear All Modify Search
Riwal Plougonven
and
Chris Snyder

Abstract

The spontaneous generation of inertia–gravity waves in idealized life cycles of baroclinic instability is investigated using the Weather Research and Forecasting Model. Two substantially different life cycles of baroclinic instability are obtained by varying the initial zonal jet. The wave generation depends strongly on the details of the baroclinic wave’s development. In the life cycle dominated by cyclonic behavior, the most conspicuous gravity waves are excited by the upper-level jet and are broadly consistent with previous simulations of O’Sullivan and Dunkerton. In the life cycle that is dominated by anticyclonic behavior, the most conspicuous gravity waves even in the stratosphere are excited by the surface fronts, although the fronts are no stronger than in the cyclonic life cycle. The anticyclonic life cycle also reveals waves in the lower stratosphere above the upper-level trough of the baroclinic wave; these waves have not been previously identified in idealized simulations. The sensitivities of the different waves to both resolution and dissipation are discussed.

Full access
David J. Muraki
and
Chris Snyder

Abstract

A new class of exact vortex dipole solutions is derived for surface quasigeostrophic (sQG) models. The solutions extend the two-dimensional barotropic modon to fully three-dimensional, continuously stratified flow and are a simple model of localized jets on the tropopause. In addition to the basic sQG dipole, dipole structures exist for a layer of uniform potential vorticity between two rigid boundaries and for a dipole in the presence of uniform background vertical shear and horizontal potential temperature gradient. In the former case, the solution approaches the barotropic Lamb dipole in the limit of a layer that is shallow relative to the Rossby depth based on the dipole’s radius. In the latter case, dipoles that are bounded in the far field must propagate counter to the phase speed of the linear edge waves associated with the surface temperature gradient.

Full access
F. Zhang
,
Chris Snyder
, and
Richard Rotunno

Abstract

In a previous study by the authors, it was shown that the problematic numerical prediction of the 24–25 January 2000 snowstorm along the east coast of the United States was in some measure due to rapid error growth at scales below 500 km. In particular they found that moist processes were responsible for this strong initial-condition sensitivity of the 1–2-day prediction of mesoscale forecast aspects. In the present study they take a more systematic look at the processes by which small initial differences (“errors”) grow in those numerical forecasts. For initial errors restricted to scales below 100 km, results show that errors first grow as small-scale differences associated with moist convection, then spread upscale as their growth begins to slow. In the context of mesoscale numerical predictions with 30-km resolution, the initial growth is associated with nonlinearities in the convective parameterization (or in the explicit microphysical parameterizations, if no convective parameterization is used) and proceeds at a rate that increases as the initial error amplitude decreases. In higher-resolution (3.3 km) simulations, errors first grow as differences in the timing and position of individual convective cells. Amplification at that stage occurs on a timescale on the order of 1 h, comparable to that of moist convection. The errors in the convective-scale motions subsequently influence the development of meso- and larger-scale forecast aspects such as the position of the surface low and the distribution of precipitation, thus providing evidence that growth of initial errors from convective scales places an intrinsic limit on the predictability of larger scales.

Full access
Michael L. Waite
and
Chris Snyder
Full access
Michael L. Waite
and
Chris Snyder

Abstract

The role of moist processes in the development of the mesoscale kinetic energy spectrum is investigated with numerical simulations of idealized moist baroclinic waves. Dry baroclinic waves yield upper-tropospheric kinetic energy spectra that resemble a −3 power law. Decomposition into horizontally rotational and divergent kinetic energy shows that the divergent energy has a much shallower spectrum, but its amplitude is too small to yield a characteristic kink in the total spectrum, which is dominated by the rotational part. The inclusion of moist processes energizes the mesoscale. In the upper troposphere, the effect is mainly in the divergent part of the kinetic energy; the spectral slope remains shallow (around − ) as in the dry case, but the amplitude increases with increasing humidity. The divergence field in physical space is consistent with inertia–gravity waves being generated in regions of latent heating and propagating throughout the baroclinic wave. Buoyancy flux spectra are used to diagnose the scale at which moist forcing—via buoyant production from latent heating—injects kinetic energy. There is significant input of kinetic energy in the mesoscale, with a peak at scales of around 800 km and a plateau at smaller scales. If the latent heating is artificially set to zero at some time, the enhanced divergent kinetic energy decays over several days toward the level obtained in the dry simulation. The effect of moist forcing of mesoscale kinetic energy presents a challenge for theories of the mesoscale spectrum based on the idealization of a turbulent inertial subrange.

Full access
Chris Snyder
and
Thomas M. Hamill

Abstract

Leading Lyapunov exponents and vectors are calculated for a turbulent baroclinic jet in a quasigeostrophic model with O(105) degrees of freedom. The leading exponent is close to 0.4 day−1, and the unstable subspace has dimension between 30 and 40. The leading Lyapunov vectors exhibit a strong correlation of their potential vorticity (PV) with the PV gradients of the unperturbed flow. These perturbations do not, however, appear to be instabilities of smaller scale on the turbulent flow. Instead, they share the scales of the flow itself (at least if measured along PV contours) and often simply represent local phase shifts or displacements of existing features in the flow. Singular vectors constrained to the subspace of Lyapunov vectors are also calculated. Maximum amplification factors over 2 days are, on average, about 6, 7.5, and 9 (compared to the factor of 2 implied by the leading exponent) for subspaces of the leading 20, 35, and 60 Lyapunov vectors, respectively.

Full access
Riwal Plougonven
,
Chris Snyder
, and
Fuqing Zhang
Full access
Michael L. Waite
and
Chris Snyder

Abstract

The atmospheric mesoscale kinetic energy spectrum is investigated through numerical simulations of an idealized baroclinic wave life cycle, from linear instability to mature nonlinear evolution and with high horizontal and vertical resolution (Δx ≈ 10 km and Δz ≈ 60 m). The spontaneous excitation of inertia–gravity waves yields a shallowing of the mesoscale spectrum with respect to the large scales, in qualitative agreement with observations. However, this shallowing is restricted to the lower stratosphere and does not occur in the upper troposphere. At both levels, the mesoscale divergent kinetic energy spectrum—a proxy for the inertia–gravity wave energy spectrum—resembles a −5/3 power law in the mature stage. Divergent kinetic energy dominates the lower stratospheric mesoscale spectrum, accounting for its shallowing. Rotational kinetic energy, by contrast, dominates the upper tropospheric spectrum and no shallowing of the full spectrum is observed. By analyzing the tendency equation for the kinetic energy spectrum, it is shown that the lower stratospheric spectrum is not governed solely by a downscale energy cascade; rather, it is influenced by the vertical pressure flux divergence associated with vertically propagating inertia–gravity waves.

Full access
Chris Snyder
and
Gregory J. Hakim

Abstract

Singular vectors (SVs) have been applied to cyclogenesis, to initializing ensemble forecasts, and in predictability studies. Ideally, the calculation of the SVs would employ the analysis error covariance norm at the initial time or, in the case of cyclogenesis, a norm based on the statistics of initial perturbations, but the energy norm is often used as a more practical substitute.

To illustrate the roles of the choice of norm and the vertical structure of initial perturbations, an upper-level wave with no potential vorticity perturbation in the troposphere is considered as a typical cyclogenetic perturbation or analysis error, and this perturbation is then decomposed by its projection onto each energy SV. All calculations are made, for simplicity, in the context of the quasigeostrophic Eady model (i.e., for a background flow with constant vertical shear and horizontal temperature gradient). Viewed in terms of the energy SVs, the smooth vertical structure of the typical perturbation, as well as its evolution, results from strong cancellation between the growing and decaying SVs, most of which are highly structured and tilted in the vertical.

A simpler picture, involving less cancellation, follows from decomposition of the typical perturbation into SVs using an alternative initial norm, which is based on the relation between initial norms and the statistics of initial perturbations together with the empirical assumption that the initial perturbations are not dominated by interior potential vorticity. Differences between the energy SVs and those based on the alternative initial norm can be understood by noting that the energy norm implicitly assumes initial perturbations with second-order statistics given by the covariance matrix whose inverse defines the energy norm. Unlike the “typical” perturbation, perturbations with those statistics have large variance of potential vorticity in the troposphere and fine vertical structure.

Finally, a brief assessment is presented of the extent to which the upper wave, and more generally the alternative initial norm, is representative of cyclogenetic perturbations and analysis errors. There is substantial evidence supporting deep perturbations with little vertical structure as frequent precursors to cyclogenesis, but surrogates for analysis errors are less conclusive: operational midlatitude analysis differences have vertical structure similar to that of the perturbations implied by the energy norm, while short-range forecast errors and analysis errors from assimilation experiments with simulated observations are more consistent with the alternative norm.

Full access
Chris Snyder
and
Richard S. Lindzen

Abstract

In this study, the free-shear problem, a minimal version of baroclinic, quasi-geostrophic wave-CISK, is analyzed. The basic state consists of a zonal flow, unbounded above and below, with constant vertical shear and Brunt-Väisälä frequency and zero meridional gradient of the potential vorticity; and convective heating is parameterized in terms of the convergence below an arbitrary level. Because of the sensitivity to the vertical distribution of the parameterized heating typical of wave-CISK models, a simple thermodynamic constraint on the heating profile is used to broadly identify appropriate parameter regimes. The unstable waves in the free-shear problem grow rapidly and share many structural characteristics with dry baroclinic waves, although the dynamical process associated with dry baroclinic instability is absent; consideration of the potential vorticity dynamics of the unstable modes illustrates how heating may act as a dynamical surrogate for potential vorticity gradients. Although highly idealized, the free-shear problem also explains much of the behavior of more general wave-CISK models.

Full access