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Yunying Li
and
Minghua Zhang

Abstract

Cumulus (Cu) from shallow convection is one of the dominant cloud types over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) in the summer according to CloudSatCALIPSO observations. Its thermodynamic effects on the atmospheric environment and impacts on the large-scale atmospheric circulation are studied in this paper using the Community Atmospheric Model, version 5.3 (CAM5.3). It is found that the model can reasonably simulate the unique distribution of diabatic heating and Cu over the TP. Shallow convection provides the dominant diabatic heating and drying to the lower and middle atmosphere over the TP. A sensitivity experiment indicates that without Cu over the TP, large-scale condensation and stratiform clouds would increase dramatically, which induces enhanced low-level wind and moisture convergence toward the TP, resulting in significantly enhanced monsoon circulation with remote impact on the areas far beyond the TP. Cu therefore acts as a safety valve to modulate the atmospheric environment that prevents the formation of superclusters of stratiform clouds and precipitation over the TP.

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Yunying Li
and
Minghua Zhang

Abstract

Cumulus (Cu) can transport heat and water vapor from the boundary layer to the free atmosphere, leading to the redistribution of heat and moist energy in the lower atmosphere. This paper uses the fine-resolution CloudSat–CALIPSO product to characterize Cu over the Tibetan Plateau (TP). It is found that Cu is one of the dominant cloud types over the TP in the northern summer. The Cu event frequency, defined as Cu occurring within 50-km segments, is 54% over the TP in the summer, which is much larger over the TP than in its surrounding regions. The surface wind vector converging at the central TP and the topographic forcing provide the necessary moisture and dynamical lifting of convection over the TP. The structure of the atmospheric moist static energy shows that the thermodynamical environment over the northern TP can be characterized as having weak instability, a shallow layer of instability, and lower altitudes for the level of free convection. The diurnal variation of Cu with frequency peaks during the daytime confirms the surface thermodynamic control on Cu formation over the TP. This study offers insights into how surface heat is transported to the free troposphere over the TP and provides an observational test of climate models in simulating shallow convection over the TP.

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Minghua Zhang
and
Christopher Bretherton

Abstract

This study investigates the physical mechanism of low cloud feedback in the Community Atmospheric Model, version 3 (CAM3) through idealized single-column model (SCM) experiments over the subtropical eastern oceans. Negative cloud feedback is simulated from stratus and stratocumulus that is consistent with previous diagnostics of cloud feedbacks in CAM3 and its predecessor versions. The feedback occurs through the interaction of a suite of parameterized processes rather than from any single process. It is caused by the larger amount of in-cloud liquid water in stratus clouds from convective sources, and longer lifetimes of these clouds in a warmer climate through their interaction with boundary layer turbulence. Thermodynamic effects are found to dominate the negative cloud feedback in the model. The dynamic effect of weaker subsidence in a warmer climate also contributes to the negative cloud feedback, but with about one-quarter of the magnitude of the thermodynamic effect, owing to increased low-level convection in a warmer climate.

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Hailong Liu
,
Minghua Zhang
, and
Wuyin Lin

Abstract

This paper investigates the initial development of the double ITCZ in the Community Climate System Model version 3 (CCSM3) in the central Pacific. Starting from a resting initial condition of the ocean in January, the model developed a warm bias of sea surface temperature (SST) in the central Pacific from 5°S to 10°S in the first three months. This initial bias is caused by excessive surface shortwave radiation that is also present in the stand-alone atmospheric model. The initial bias is further amplified by biases in both surface latent heat flux and horizontal heat transport in the upper ocean. These biases are caused by the responses of surface winds to SST bias and the thermocline structure to surface wind curls. This study also showed that the warming biases in surface solar radiation and latent heat fluxes are seasonally offset by cooling biases from reduced solar radiation after the austral summer due to cloud responses and in the austral fall due to enhanced evaporation when the maximum SST is closest to the equator. The warming biases from the dynamic heat transport by ocean currents however stay throughout all seasons once they are developed, which are eventually balanced by enhanced energy exchange and penetration of solar radiation below the mixed layer. It was also shown that the equatorial cold tongue develops after the warm biases in the south-central Pacific, and the overestimation of surface shortwave radiation recurs in the austral summer in each year. The results provide a case study on the physical processes leading to the development of the double ITCZ. Applicability of the results in other models is discussed.

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Hailong Liu
,
Wuyin Lin
, and
Minghua Zhang

Abstract

The double intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) over the tropical Pacific, with a spurious band of maximum annual sea surface temperature (SST) south of the equator between 5°S and 10°S, is a chronic bias in coupled ocean–atmosphere models. This study focuses on a region of the double ITCZ in the central Pacific from 5°S to 10°S and 170°E to 150°W, where coupled models display the largest biases in precipitation, by deriving a best estimate of the mixed layer heat budget for the region. Seven global datasets of objectively analyzed surface energy fluxes and four ocean assimilation products are first compared and then evaluated against field measurements in adjacent regions. It was shown that the global datasets differ greatly in their net downward surface energy flux in this region, but they fall broadly into two categories: one with net downward heat flux of about 30 W m−2 and the other around 10 W m−2. Measurements from the adjacent Manus and Nauru sites of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program (ARM), the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) buoys, and the Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE) are then used to show that the smaller value is more realistic. An energy balance of the mixed layer is finally presented for the region as primarily between warming from surface heat flux of 7 W m−2 and horizontal advective cooling in the zonal direction of about 5 W m−2, with secondary contributions from meridional and vertical advections, heat storage, and subgrid-scale mixing. The 7 W m−2 net surface heat flux consists of warming of 210 W m−2 from solar radiation and cooling of 53, 141, and 8 W m−2, respectively, from longwave radiation, latent heat flux, and sensible heat flux. These values provide an observational basis to further study the initial development of excessive precipitation in coupled climate models in the central Pacific.

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Wuyin Lin
,
Minghua Zhang
, and
Norman G. Loeb

Abstract

Marine boundary layer (MBL) clouds can significantly regulate the sensitivity of climate models, yet they are currently poorly simulated. This study aims to characterize the seasonal variations of physical properties of these clouds and their associated processes by using multisatellite data. Measurements from several independent satellite datasets [International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP), Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System–Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (CERES–MODIS), Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS), and Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO)], in conjunction with balloon soundings from the mobile facility of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program at Point Reyes and reanalysis products, are used to characterize the seasonal variations of MBL cloud-top and cloud-base heights, cloud thickness, the degree of decoupling between clouds and MBL, and inversion strength off the California coast.

The main results from this study are as follows: (i) MBL clouds over the northeast subtropical Pacific in the summer are more prevalent and associated with a larger in-cloud water path than in winter. The cloud-top and cloud-base heights are lower in the summer than in the winter. (ii) Although the lower-tropospheric stability of the atmosphere is higher in the summer, the MBL inversion strength is only weakly stronger in the summer because of a negative feedback from the cloud-top altitude. Summertime MBL clouds are more homogeneous and are associated with lower surface latent heat flux than those in the winter. (iii) Seasonal variations of low-cloud properties from summer to winter resemble the downstream stratocumulus-to-cumulus transition of MBL clouds in terms of MBL depth, cloud-top and cloud-base heights, inversion strength, and spatial homogeneity. The “deepening–warming” mechanism of Bretherton and Wyant for the stratocumulus-to-trade-cumulus transition downstream of the cold eastern ocean can also explain the seasonal variation of low clouds from the summer to the winter, except that warming of the sea surface temperature needs to be taken as relative to the free-tropospheric air temperature, which occurs in the winter. The observed variation of low clouds from summer to winter is attributed to the much larger seasonal cooling of the free-tropospheric air temperature than that of the sea surface temperature.

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Yi Zhang
,
Rucong Yu
,
Jian Li
,
Weihua Yuan
, and
Minghua Zhang

Abstract

Given the large discrepancies that exist in climate models for shortwave cloud forcing over eastern China (EC), the dynamic (vertical motion and horizontal circulation) and thermodynamic (stability) relations of stratus clouds and the associated cloud radiative forcing in the cold season are examined. Unlike the stratus clouds over the southeastern Pacific Ocean (as a representative of marine boundary stratus), where thermodynamic forcing plays a primary role, the stratus clouds over EC are affected by both dynamic and thermodynamic factors. The Tibetan Plateau (TP)-forced low-level large-scale lifting and high stability over EC favor the accumulation of abundant saturated moist air, which contributes to the formation of stratus clouds. The TP slows down the westerly overflow through a frictional effect, resulting in midlevel divergence, and forces the low-level surrounding flows, resulting in convergence. Both midlevel divergence and low-level convergence sustain a rising motion and vertical water vapor transport over EC. The surface cold air is advected from the Siberian high by the surrounding northerly flow, causing low-level cooling. The cooling effect is enhanced by the blocking of the YunGui Plateau. The southwesterly wind carrying warm, moist air from the east Bay of Bengal is uplifted by the HengDuan Mountains via topographical forcing; the midtropospheric westerly flow further advects the warm air downstream of the TP, moistening and warming the middle troposphere on the lee side of the TP. The low-level cooling and midlevel warming together increase the stability. The favorable dynamic and thermodynamic large-scale environment allows for the formation of stratus clouds over EC during the cold season.

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Weihua Yuan
,
Rucong Yu
,
Haoming Chen
,
Jian Li
, and
Minghua Zhang

Abstract

Subseasonal characteristics of the diurnal variation of the summer monsoon rainfall over central eastern China (25°–40°N, 110°–120°E) are analyzed using hourly station rain gauge data. Results show that the rainfall in the monsoon rain belt is dominated by the long-duration rainfall events (≥7 h) with early-morning peaks. The long-duration rainfall events and early-morning diurnal peaks experience subseasonal movement that is similar to that of the monsoon rain belt. When the monsoon rainfall is separated into the active and break periods, the long-duration early-morning precipitation dominates the active period, which is in sharp contrast to the short-duration (≤6 h) rainfall with leading late-afternoon diurnal peaks during the break period. The combination of different diurnal features of monsoon rainfall in the active and break monsoon periods also explains the less coherent diurnal phases of summer mean rainfall over central eastern China. The cause of the early-morning peak of rainfall during the active monsoon period is discussed.

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Xue Long Zhou
,
Marvin A. Geller
, and
Minghua Zhang

Abstract

There has been increasing recognition of the role of the tropical tropopause layer (TTL) in determining stratospheric water vapor concentrations—the TTL being a layer of transition between air showing tropospheric properties below and stratospheric properties above. This study investigates the spatial structure of temperatures in the TTL. A dehydration index based on the atmospheric region with temperatures colder than a specific reference temperature was defined to examine the TTL temperature structure and possible influences on stratospheric water vapor. The results indicate that dehydration regions with cold temperatures (e.g., <190 K) occur mainly over the western Pacific and are about 1.5–2.0 km in depth during Northern Hemisphere winter. The dehydration index is mainly dependent on the annual cycle of the TTL temperatures, but is strongly affected by interannual variations associated with the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) and El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Dehydration regions with extremely cold temperatures and large sizes occur when cold temperature anomalies associated with the QBO arrive at the TTL in wintertime while the TTL is at the coldest phase of the annual cycle and under La Niña conditions. La Niña events have a more dramatic influence on the dehydration index than El Niño events.

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Brian A. Colle
,
Zhenhai Zhang
,
Kelly A. Lombardo
,
Edmund Chang
,
Ping Liu
, and
Minghua Zhang

Abstract

Extratropical cyclone track density, genesis frequency, deepening rate, and maximum intensity distributions over eastern North America and the western North Atlantic were analyzed for 15 models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) for the historical period (1979–2004) and three future periods (2009–38, 2039–68, and 2069–98). The cyclones were identified using an automated tracking algorithm applied to sea level pressure every 6 h. The CMIP5 results for the historical period were evaluated using the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR). The CMIP5 models were ranked given their track density, intensity, and overall performance for the historical period. It was found that six of the top seven CMIP5 models with the highest spatial resolution were ranked the best overall. These models had less underprediction of cyclone track density, more realistic distribution of intense cyclones along the U.S. East Coast, and more realistic cyclogenesis and deepening rates. The best seven models were used to determine projected future changes in cyclones, which included a 10%–30% decrease in cyclone track density and weakening of cyclones over the western Atlantic storm track, while in contrast there is a 10%–20% increase in cyclone track density over the eastern United States, including 10%–40% more intense (<980 hPa) cyclones and 20%–40% more rapid deepening rates just inland of the U.S. East Coast. Some of the reasons for these CMIP5 model differences were explored for the selected models based on model generated Eady growth rate, upper-level jet, surface baroclinicity, and precipitation.

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