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Richard Swinbank and Alan O'Neill

Abstract

A data assimilation system has been developed at the UK Meteorological Office to analyze the mix of observations available in the troposphere and stratosphere. The data assimilation system is based on the analysis correction scheme used at the UK Meteorological Office for operational weather forecasting.

The assimilation system is currently being used to supply near real-time analyses of meteorological fields from the troposphere and stratosphere to the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) Science Team. At this stage, these analyses are based on a similar set of observations to the operational analyses, so they provide an independent check of the UARS observations. In the stratosphere they are largely based on soundings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration polar orbiters.

Some results from the assimilation system are presented for periods in January and August 1992. They are compared with equivalent products from the National Meteorological Center. A particular study is made of the Arctic polar vortex in late January.

Future developments of the assimilation system are also described. First, the vertical domain of the model will be extended into the middle mesosphere, with some improvement in vertical resolution. Second, the system will he extended to assimilate data from UARS instruments in addition to the other observation types; these UARS data will include observations of temperatures, winds, and long-lived chemical species.

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Ping Chen, James R. Holton, Alan O'Neill, and Richard Swinbank

Abstract

The isentropic mass exchange between the Tropics and extratropics in the stratosphere is investigated with a semi-Lagrangian transport model for the periods from 1 June to 31 October 1992 and from 1 December 1992 to 30 April 1993 using winds from the U.K. Meteorological Office data assimilation system. Calculations with an idealized, initially zonally symmetric tracer show that in the middle and upper stratosphere the bulk of tropical air is transported into the midlatitudes of the winter hemisphere although there exist quasi-permeable barriers in the subtropics. The transport takes place in the form of planetary-scale “tongues” of material that are drawn poleward in association with the episodic amplification of planetary-scale waves in high latitudes of the winter hemisphere. Once air of tropical origin is transported to the midlatitudes it is irreversibly mixed with the midlatitude air in the “surf zone.” Air of tropical origin can, however, hardly penetrate into the interior of the winter polar vortex until the breakdown of the vortex. Transport of tropical air into the midlatitudes of the summer hemisphere is strongly inhibited.

In the lower stratosphere, tropical air is transported into the northern and southern midlatitudes. During the period from 1 June to 31 October 1992, the amount of tropical air transported into the Northern Hemisphere is, however, much smaller than that transported into the Southern Hemisphere, and there exist strong gradients in the tracer field in the equatorial region, indicating that there is a quasi-permeable barrier to cross-equator mass exchange. During the period from 1 December 1992 to 30 April 1993, on the other hand, roughly the same amounts of tropical air are transported into the northern midlatitudes and into the southern midlatitudes, and there exist no significant transport barriers in the equatorial area.

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Jianping Li, Richard Swinbank, Ruiqiang Ding, and Wansuo Duan
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Brian Golding, Nigel Roberts, Giovanni Leoncini, Ken Mylne, and Richard Swinbank

ABSTRACT

Flooding is one of the costliest hazards in the United Kingdom. A large part of the annual flood damage is caused by surface water flooding that is a direct result of intense rainfall. Traditional catchment-based approaches to flood prediction are not applicable for surface water floods. However, given sufficiently accurate forecasts of rainfall intensity, with sufficient lead time, actions can be taken to reduce their impact. These actions require reliable information about severity and areas at risk that is clear and easily interpreted. The accuracy requirements, in particular, are very challenging, as they relate to prediction of intensities that occur only infrequently and that typically affect only small areas. In this paper, forecasts of intense rainfall from a new convection-permitting ensemble prediction system are evaluated using radar observations of intense rain and surface water flooding reports. An urban flooding case that occurred in Edinburgh in 2011 is first investigated and then a broader look is taken at performance through a 3-month period during the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. Conclusions are drawn about the value of the ensemble and the particular means of presenting the forecasts, and areas requiring further work are highlighted.

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William J. Randel, Fei Wu, Richard Swinbank, John Nash, and Alan O’Neill

Abstract

Global circulation anomalies associated with the stratospheric quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) are analyzed based on U.K. Meteorological Office (UKMO) assimilated wind and temperature fields. Zonal winds and temperatures from the assimilation are compared with Singapore rawinsonde data (the standard QBO reference time series), showing reasonable agreement but an underestimate of maxima in the UKMO analyses. Global structure of the QBO in zonal wind, temperature, and residual mean meridional circulation (derived from thermodynamic balance and mass continuity) is isolated, showing coherent tropical and midlatitude components. Important aspects of the QBO revealed in these data include 1) out of phase maxima in temperature (and vertical velocity) between the lower and upper stratosphere, and 2) strong seasonal synchronization of midlatitude anomalies. These characteristics are also evident in long records of satellite radiance measurements.

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Alan O'Neill, William L. Grose, Victoria D. Pope, Hector Maclean, and Richard Swinbank

Abstract

Meteorological analyses, produced at the U.K. Meteorological Office by data assimilation, are used to study the circulation of the stratosphere in the Northern Hemisphere during winter 1991/92. The analyses are supplemented by Lagrangian visualizations of the circulation. The main features discussed are 1) the changes in vertical structure of the circulation, 2) the merger of anticyclones that precipitated a strong stratospheric warming, 3) vortex roll up in the upper stratosphere, 4) the entrainment of air into the polar vortex in the middle and upper stratosphere, and 5) the influence of tropospheric blocking on the lower stratosphere. The study provides a meteorological basis for the interpretation of data from the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite.

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R. Bradley Pierce, T. Duncan Fairlie, William L. Grose, Richard Swinbank, and Alan O'Neill

Abstract

Lagrangian material line simulations are performed using U.K. Meteorological Office assimilated winds and temperatures to examine mixing processes in the middle- and lower-stratospheric polar night jet during the 1992 Southern Hemisphere spring and Northern Hemisphere winter. The Lagrangian simulations are undertaken to provide insight into the effects of mixing within the polar night jet on observations of the polar vortex made by instruments onboard the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite during these periods. A moderate to strong kinematic barrier to large-scale isentropic exchange, similar to the barrier identified in GCM simulations, is identified during both of these periods. Characteristic timescales for mixing by large-scale isentropic motions within the polar night jet range from 20 days in the Southern Hemisphere lower stratosphere to years in the Northern Hemisphere middle stratosphere. The long mixing timescales found in the Northern Hemisphere polar night jet do not persist. Instead, the Northern Hemisphere kinematic barriers are broken down as part of the large-scale stratospheric response to a strong tropospheric blocking event. A series of Lagrangian experiments are conducted to investigate the sensitivity of the kinematic barrier to diabatic effects and to small-scale inertial gravity wave motions. Differential diabatic descent is found to have a significant impact on mixing processes within the Southern Hemisphere middle-stratospheric jet core. The interaction between small-scale displacements by idealized, inertial gravity waves and the large-scale flow is found to have a significant impact on mixing within the polar night jet in both hemispheres. These sensitivity experiments suggest that scales of motion that are unresolved in global assimilated datasets may contribute to mass exchange across the kinematic barrier to large-scale isentropic motion.

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Rowan T. Sutton, Hector Maclean, Richard Swinbank, Alan O'Neill, and F. W. Taylor

Abstract

A technique is introduced by which high-resolution tracer fields may be constructed from low-resolution satellite observations. The technique relies upon the continual cascade of tracer variance from large to small scales and makes use of wind fields generated by a data assimilation scheme. To demonstrate its usefulness, the technique has been applied in a study of isentropic distributions of nitrous oxide in the winter midstratosphere, using measurements made by the Improved Stratospheric and Mesospheric Sounder instrument on the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite. The results show that the high-resolution fields significantly increase the amount of information that is available from the satellite observations. The fields give insights into the characteristic structure and evolution of tracer distributions at scales that are normally obscured from view. Two results are particularly noteworthy. First, at the interface between low and middle latitudes there is evidence of active mixing. This mixing occurs on the eastern, equatorward side of air that is being drawn toward high latitudes around the polar vortex. Second, in the anticyclone, a complex pattern of transport is revealed. Air drawn in from low latitudes spirals together with ambient midlatitude air. Small scales are generated relatively slowly in the organized flow, and persistent filamentary structures, with transverse scales of hundreds of kilometers or greater, are seen.

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R. Bradley Pierce, William L. Grose, James M. Russell III, Adrian F. Tuck, Richard Swinbank, and Alan O'Neill

Abstract

The distribution of dehydrated air in the middle and lower stratosphere during the 1992 Southern Hemisphere spring is investigated using Halogen Occultation Experiment (HALOE) observations and trajectory techniques. Comparisons between previously published Version 9 and the improved Version 16 retrievals on the 700-K isentropic surface show very slight (0.05 ppmv) increases in Version 16 CH4 relative to Version 9 within the polar vortex. Version 16 H2O mixing ratios show a reduction of 0.5 ppmv relative to Version 9 within the polar night jet and a reduction of nearly 1.0 ppmv in middle latitudes when compared to Version 9. The Version 16 HALOE retrievals show low mixing ratios of total hydrogen (2CH4 + H2O) within the polar vortex on both 700 and 425 K isentropic surfaces relative to typical middle-stratospheric 2CH4 + H2O mixing ratios. The low 2CH4 + H2O mixing ratios are associated with dehydration. Slight reductions in total hydrogen, relative to typical middle-stratospheric values, are found at these levels throughout the Southern Hemisphere during this period. Trajectory calculations show that middle-latitude air masses are composed of a mixture of air from within the polar night jet and air from middle latitudes. A strong kinematic barrier to large-scale exchange is found on the poleward flank of the polar night jet at 700 K. A much weaker kinematic barrier is found at 425 K. The impact of the finite tangent pathlength of the HALOE measurements is investigated using an idealized tracer distribution. This experiment suggests that HALOE should be able to resolve the kinematic barrier, if it exists.

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Gloria L. Manney, Joseph L. Sabutis, Douglas R. Allen, William A. Lahoz, Adam A. Scaife, Cora E. Randall, Steven Pawson, Barbara Naujokat, and Richard Swinbank

Abstract

A mechanistic model simulation initialized on 14 September 2002, forced by 100-hPa geopotential heights from Met Office analyses, reproduced the dynamical features of the 2002 Antarctic major warming. The vortex split on ∼25 September; recovery after the warming, westward and equatorward tilting vortices, and strong baroclinic zones in temperature associated with a dipole pattern of upward and downward vertical velocities were all captured in the simulation. Model results and analyses show a pattern of strong upward wave propagation throughout the warming, with zonal wind deceleration throughout the stratosphere at high latitudes before the vortex split, continuing in the middle and upper stratosphere and spreading to lower latitudes after the split. Three-dimensional Eliassen–Palm fluxes show the largest upward and poleward wave propagation in the 0°–90°E sector prior to the vortex split (coincident with the location of strongest cyclogenesis at the model’s lower boundary), with an additional region of strong upward propagation developing near 180°–270°E. These characteristics are similar to those of Arctic wave-2 major warmings, except that during this warming, the vortex did not split below ∼600 K. The effects of poleward transport and mixing dominate modeled trace gas evolution through most of the mid- to high-latitude stratosphere, with a core region in the lower-stratospheric vortex where enhanced descent dominates and the vortex remains isolated. Strongly tilted vortices led to low-latitude air overlying vortex air, resulting in highly unusual trace gas profiles. Simulations driven with several meteorological datasets reproduced the major warming, but in others, stronger latitudinal gradients at high latitudes at the model boundary resulted in simulations without a complete vortex split in the midstratosphere. Numerous tests indicate very high sensitivity to the boundary fields, especially the wave-2 amplitude. Major warmings occurred for initial fields with stronger winds and larger vortices, but not smaller vortices, consistent with the initiation of wind deceleration by upward-propagating waves near the poleward edge of the region where wave 2 can propagate above the jet core. Thus, given the observed 100-hPa boundary forcing, stratospheric preconditioning is not needed to reproduce a major warming similar to that observed. The anomalously strong forcing in the lower stratosphere can be viewed as the primary direct cause of the major warming.

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