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Simon C. Peatman
,
John Methven
, and
Steven J. Woolnough

Abstract

The rate of humidity entrainment in the convective parameterization scheme in a general circulation model affects the simulation of convectively coupled waves. However, it is unclear whether this is caused directly by the effects of entrainment on waves or indirectly through associated impacts such as on the basic state. Therefore, using an aquaplanet model, we employ a novel framework in which we entrain a weighted average of the resolved humidity field and a prescribed zonally symmetric field, with the weighting controlled by a decoupling parameter. Hence, we can vary the entrainment rate of basic-state humidity independently of the entrainment of humidity perturbations, simultaneously minimizing changes in the basic state. Thus, we isolate the effect of moisture entrainment on the waves. Enhancing the entrainment rate increases spectral power over all zonal wavenumbers and frequencies, with an increase in the ratio of eastward-to-westward power. The Kelvin wave speed decreases as entrainment increases, which can be partially accounted for by an associated change in basic-state humidity. Increasing the decoupling parameter reduces spectral power in Kelvin waves relative to the background, with only long waves still prominent when entrainment is almost fully decoupled from the resolved moisture field, suggesting the wave structure in humidity is required for convection to organize into short-wave structures. For long waves, the increase in the ratio of eastward-to-westward power as entrainment rate increases cannot be explained by the changes in the coupling with the wave structure in humidity but is consistent with the changes in the basic state.

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Christopher E. Holloway
,
Steven J. Woolnough
, and
Grenville M. S. Lister

Abstract

High-resolution simulations over a large tropical domain (~20°S–20°N, 42°E–180°) using both explicit and parameterized convection are analyzed and compared to observations during a 10-day case study of an active Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) event. The parameterized convection model simulations at both 40- and 12-km grid spacing have a very weak MJO signal and little eastward propagation. A 4-km explicit convection simulation using Smagorinsky subgrid mixing in the vertical and horizontal dimensions exhibits the best MJO strength and propagation speed. Explicit convection simulations at 12 km also perform much better than the 12-km parameterized convection run, suggesting that the convection scheme, rather than horizontal resolution, is key for these MJO simulations. Interestingly, a 4-km explicit convection simulation using the conventional boundary layer scheme for vertical subgrid mixing (but still using Smagorinsky horizontal mixing) completely loses the large-scale MJO organization, showing that relatively high resolution with explicit convection does not guarantee a good MJO simulation. Models with a good MJO representation have a more realistic relationship between lower-free-tropospheric moisture and precipitation, supporting the idea that the moisture–convection feedback is a key process for MJO propagation. There is also increased generation of available potential energy and conversion of that energy into kinetic energy in models with a more realistic MJO, which is related to larger zonal variance in convective heating and vertical velocity, larger zonal temperature variance around 200 hPa, and larger correlations between temperature and ascent (and between temperature and diabatic heating) between 500 and 400 hPa.

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Christopher E. Holloway
,
Steven J. Woolnough
, and
Grenville M. S. Lister

Abstract

High-resolution simulations over a large tropical domain (~20°S–20°N, 42°E–180°) using both explicit and parameterized convection are analyzed and compared during a 10-day case study of an active Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) event. In this paper, Part II of this study, the moisture budgets and moist entropy budgets are analyzed. Vertical subgrid diabatic heating profiles and vertical velocity profiles are also compared; these are related to the horizontal and vertical advective components of the moist entropy budget, which contribute to gross moist stability (GMS) and normalized GMS (NGMS). The 4-km model with explicit convection and good MJO performance has a vertical heating structure that increases with height in the lower troposphere in regions of strong convection (like observations), whereas the 12-km model with parameterized convection and a poor MJO does not show this relationship. The 4-km explicit convection model also has a more top-heavy heating profile for the troposphere as a whole near and to the west of the active MJO-related convection, unlike the 12-km parameterized convection model. The dependence of entropy advection components on moisture convergence is fairly weak in all models, and differences between models are not always related to MJO performance, making comparisons to previous work somewhat inconclusive. However, models with relatively good MJO strength and propagation have a slightly larger increase of the vertical advective component with increasing moisture convergence, and their NGMS vertical terms have more variability in time and longitude, with total NGMS that is comparatively larger to the west and smaller to the east.

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Simon H. Lee
,
Andrew J. Charlton-Perez
,
Steven J. Woolnough
, and
Jason C. Furtado

Abstract

Observational evidence shows changes to North American weather regime occurrence depending on the strength of the lower-stratospheric polar vortex. However, it is not yet clear how this occurs or to what extent an improved stratospheric forecast would change regime predictions. Here we analyze four North American regimes at 500 hPa, constructed in principal component (PC) space. We consider both the location of the regimes in PC space and the linear regression between each PC and the lower-stratospheric zonal-mean winds, yielding a theory of which regime transitions are likely to occur due to changes in the lower stratosphere. Using a set of OpenIFS simulations, we then test the effect of relaxing the polar stratosphere to ERA-Interim on subseasonal regime predictions. The model start dates are selected based on particularly poor subseasonal regime predictions in the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts CY43R3 hindcasts. While the results show only a modest improvement to the number of accurate regime predictions, there is a substantial reduction in Euclidean distance error in PC space. The average movement of the forecasts within PC space is found to be consistent with expectation for moderate-to-large lower-stratospheric zonal wind perturbations. Overall, our results provide a framework for interpreting the stratospheric influence on North American regime behavior. The results can be applied to subseasonal forecasts to understand how stratospheric uncertainty may affect regime predictions, and to diagnose which regime forecast errors are likely to be related to stratospheric errors.

Significance Statement

Predicting the weather several weeks ahead is a major challenge with large potential benefits to society. The strength of the circulation more than 10 km above the Arctic during winter (i.e., the polar vortex) is one source of predictability. This study investigates how forecast error and uncertainty in the polar vortex can impact predictions of large-scale weather patterns called “regimes” over North America. Through statistical analysis of observations and experiments with a weather forecast model, we develop an understanding of which regime changes are more likely to be due to changes in the polar vortex. The results will help forecasters and researchers understand the contribution of the stratosphere to changes in weather patterns, and in assessing and improving weather forecast models.

Open access
Jan A. Kamieniecki
,
Maarten H. P. Ambaum
,
Robert S. Plant
, and
Steven J. Woolnough

Abstract

A thermodynamic analysis is presented of an overturning circulation simulated by two cloud-resolving models, coupled by a weak temperature gradient parameterization. Taken together, they represent two separated regions over different sea surface temperatures, and the coupling represents an idealized large-scale circulation such as the Walker circulation. It is demonstrated that a thermodynamic budget linking net heat input to the generation of mechanical energy can be partitioned into contributions from the large-scale interaction between the two regions, as represented by the weak temperature gradient approximation, and from convective motions in the active warm region and the suppressed cool region. Model results imply that such thermodynamic diagnostics for the aggregate system are barely affected by the strength of the coupling, even its introduction, or by the SST contrast between the regions. This indicates that the weak temperature gradient parameterization does not introduce anomalous thermodynamic behavior. We find that the vertical kinetic energy associated with the large-scale circulation is more than three orders of magnitude smaller than the typical vertical kinetic energy in each region. However, even with very weak coupling circulations, the contrast between the thermodynamic budget terms for the suppressed and active regions is strong and is relatively insensitive to the degree of the coupling. Additionally, scaling arguments are developed for the relative values of the terms in the mechanical energy budget.

Full access
Joshua Talib
,
Steven J. Woolnough
,
Nicholas P. Klingaman
, and
Christopher E. Holloway

Abstract

Studies have shown that the location and structure of the simulated intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) is sensitive to the treatment of sub-gridscale convection and cloud–radiation interactions. This sensitivity remains in idealized aquaplanet experiments with fixed surface temperatures. However, studies have not considered the role of cloud-radiative effects (CRE; atmospheric heating due to cloud–radiation interactions) in the sensitivity of the ITCZ to the treatment of convection. We use an atmospheric energy input (AEI) framework to explore how the CRE modulates the sensitivity of the ITCZ to convective mixing in aquaplanet simulations. Simulations show a sensitivity of the ITCZ to convective mixing, with stronger convective mixing favoring a single ITCZ. For simulations with a single ITCZ, the CRE maintains the positive equatorial AEI. To explore the role of the CRE further, we prescribe the CRE as either zero or a meridionally and diurnally varying climatology. Removing the CRE is associated with a reduced equatorial AEI and an increase in the range of convective mixing rates that produce a double ITCZ. Prescribing the CRE reduces the sensitivity of the ITCZ to convective mixing by 50%. In prescribed-CRE simulations, other AEI components, in particular the surface latent heat flux, modulate the sensitivity of the AEI to convective mixing. Analysis of the meridional moist static energy transport shows that a shallower Hadley circulation can produce an equatorward energy transport at low latitudes even with equatorial ascent.

Open access
Nicholas P. Klingaman
,
Steven J. Woolnough
,
Hilary Weller
, and
Julia M. Slingo

Abstract

A newly assembled atmosphere–ocean coupled model, called HadKPP, is described and then used to determine the effects of subdaily air–sea coupling and fine near-surface ocean vertical resolution on the representation of the Northern Hemisphere summer intraseasonal oscillation. HadKPP comprises the Hadley Centre atmospheric model coupled to the K-Profile Parameterization ocean boundary layer model.

Four 30-member ensembles were performed that vary in ocean vertical resolution between 1 and 10 m and in coupling frequency between 3 and 24 h. The 10-m, 24-h ensemble exhibited roughly 60% of the observed 30–50-day variability in sea surface temperatures and rainfall and very weak northward propagation. Enhancing only the vertical resolution or only the coupling frequency produced modest improvements in variability and just a standing intraseasonal oscillation. Only the 1-m, 3-h configuration generated organized, northward-propagating convection similar to observations. Subdaily surface forcing produced stronger upper-ocean temperature anomalies in quadrature with anomalous convection, which likely affected lower-atmospheric stability ahead of the convection, causing propagation. Well-resolved air–sea coupling did not improve the eastward propagation of the boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation in this model.

Upper-ocean vertical mixing and diurnal variability in coupled models must be improved to accurately resolve and simulate tropical subseasonal variability. In HadKPP, the mere presence of air–sea coupling was not sufficient to generate an intraseasonal oscillation resembling observations.

Full access
Felipe M. de Andrade
,
Matthew P. Young
,
David MacLeod
,
Linda C. Hirons
,
Steven J. Woolnough
, and
Emily Black

Abstract

This paper evaluates subseasonal precipitation forecasts for Africa using hindcasts from three models (ECMWF, UKMO, and NCEP) participating in the Subseasonal to Seasonal (S2S) prediction project. A variety of verification metrics are employed to assess weekly precipitation forecast quality at lead times of one to four weeks ahead (weeks 1–4) during different seasons. Overall, forecast evaluation indicates more skillful predictions for ECMWF over other models and for East Africa over other regions. Deterministic forecasts show substantial skill reduction in weeks 3–4 linked to lower association and larger underestimation of predicted variance compared to weeks 1–2. Tercile-based probabilistic forecasts reveal similar characteristics for extreme categories and low quality in the near-normal category. Although discrimination is low in weeks 3–4, probabilistic forecasts still have reasonable skill, especially in wet regions during particular rainy seasons. Forecasts are found to be overconfident for all weeks, indicating the need to apply calibration for more reliable predictions. Forecast quality within the ECMWF model is also linked to the strength of climate drivers’ teleconnections, namely, El Niño–Southern Oscillation, Indian Ocean dipole, and the Madden–Julian oscillation. The impact of removing all driver-related precipitation regression patterns from observations and hindcasts shows reduction of forecast quality compared to including all drivers’ signals, with more robust effects in regions where the driver strongly relates to precipitation variability. Calibrating forecasts by adding observed regression patterns to hindcasts provides improved forecast associations particularly linked to the Madden–Julian oscillation. Results from this study can be used to guide decision-makers and forecasters in disseminating valuable forecasting information for different societal activities in Africa.

Open access
Jian-Feng Gu
,
Robert Stephen Plant
,
Christopher E. Holloway
,
Todd R. Jones
,
Alison Stirling
,
Peter A. Clark
,
Steven J. Woolnough
, and
Thomas L. Webb

Abstract

In this study, bulk mass flux formulations for turbulent fluxes are evaluated for shallow and deep convection using large-eddy simulation data. The bulk mass flux approximation neglects two sources of variability: the interobject variability due to differences between the average properties of different cloud objects, and the intraobject variability due to perturbations within each cloud object. Using a simple cloud–environment decomposition, the interobject and intraobject contributions to the heat flux are comparable in magnitude with that from the bulk mass flux approximation, but do not share a similar vertical distribution, and so cannot be parameterized with a rescaling method. A downgradient assumption is also not appropriate to parameterize the neglected flux contributions because a nonnegligible part is associated with nonlocal buoyant structures. A spectral analysis further suggests the presence of fine structures within the clouds. These points motivate investigations in which the vertical transports are decomposed based on the distribution of vertical velocity. As a result, a “core-cloak” conceptual model is proposed to improve the representation of total vertical fluxes, composed of a strong and a weak draft for both the updrafts and downdrafts. It is shown that the core-cloak representation can well capture the magnitude and vertical distribution of heat and moisture fluxes for both shallow and deep convection.

Open access
Nicholas P. Klingaman
,
Matthew Young
,
Amulya Chevuturi
,
Bruno Guimaraes
,
Liang Guo
,
Steven J. Woolnough
,
Caio A. S. Coelho
,
Paulo Y. Kubota
, and
Christopher E. Holloway

Abstract

Skillful and reliable predictions of week-to-week rainfall variations in South America, two to three weeks ahead, are essential to protect lives, livelihoods, and ecosystems. We evaluate forecast performance for weekly rainfall in extended austral summer (November–March) in four contemporary subseasonal systems, including a new Brazilian model, at 1–5-week leads for 1999–2010. We measure performance by the correlation coefficient (in time) between predicted and observed rainfall; we measure skill by the Brier skill score for rainfall terciles against a climatological reference forecast. We assess unconditional performance (i.e., regardless of initial condition) and conditional performance based on the initial phase of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) and El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). All models display substantial mean rainfall biases, including dry biases in Amazonia and wet biases near the Andes, which are established by week 1 and vary little thereafter. Unconditional performance extends to week 2 in all regions except for Amazonia and the Andes, but to week 3 only over northern, northeastern, and southeastern South America. Skill for upper- and lower-tercile rainfall extends only to week 1. Conditional performance is not systematically or significantly higher than unconditional performance; ENSO and MJO events provide limited “windows of opportunity” for improved S2S predictions that are region and model dependent. Conditional performance may be degraded by errors in predicted ENSO and MJO teleconnections to regional rainfall, even at short lead times.

Open access