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Yu Du, Guixing Chen, Bin Han, Lanqiang Bai, and Minghua Li

Abstract

Through conducting dynamic and thermodynamic diagnoses as well as a series of numerical sensitivity simulations, we investigated the effects of the terrain, coastline, and cold pools on convection initiation (CI) and its subsequent upscale convective growth (UCG) during a case of heavy rainfall along the coast of South China. CI occurred at the vertex of the coastal concave mountain geometry as a combined result of coastal convergence, orographic lifting, and mesoscale ascent driven by the terminus of a marine boundary layer jet (MBLJ). In numerical simulations with the coastline or terrain of South China removed, the coastal CI does not occur or becomes weaker as the MBLJ extends farther north, suggesting that the coastline and terrain play a role in CI. In addition, local small-scale terrain can modulate the detailed location and timing of CI and UCG. When the coastal concave terrain and coastline near the CI are artificially removed or filled by additional mountains, the orographic lifting and the local convergence along the coast correspondingly change, which strongly affects the CI and UCG. From a thermodynamic perspective, the coastal concave terrain plays the role of a local moisture “catcher,” which promotes low-level moistening by blocking water vapor coming from an upstream moist tongue over the ocean. Furthermore, new convection is continuously generated by the lifting of low-level moist southerlies at the leading edges of cold pools that tend to move southeastward because of the blocking coastal mountains. Sensitivity experiments suggest that the MCS becomes weaker and moves more slowly when cold pools are weakened through a reduction of rain-evaporation cooling.

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Peiying Guan, Guixing Chen, Wenxin Zeng, and Qian Liu

Abstract

Successive mesoscale convective systems may develop for several days during the mei-yu season (June–July) over eastern China. They can yield excessive rainfall in a narrow latitudinal band (called a corridor), causing severe floods. The climatology of rainfall corridors and related environmental factors are examined using 20 yr of satellite rainfall and atmospheric data. A total of 93 corridors are observed over eastern China, with maximum occurrence at 27°–31°N. They typically last 2–3 days, but some persist ≥4 days, with an extreme event lasting 11 days. These multiday convective episodes exhibit primary and secondary peaks in the morning and afternoon, respectively, with a diurnal cycle that is in contrast to other afternoon-peak rain events. On average, the corridors occur in ~23% days of the mei-yu season, but they can contribute ~51% of the total rainfall. They also vary with years and explain ~70% of the interannual variance of mei-yu-season rainfall. Composite analyses show that most corridors develop along zonally oriented quasi-stationary mei-yu fronts over central China where monsoon southwesterlies converge with northerly anomalies from the midlatitudes. The monsoon flow accelerates at ~0200 LST and forms a regional wind maximum or low-level jet over South China, which induces moisture flux convergence in morning-peak corridors. The nocturnal acceleration is less evident for afternoon-peak corridors. The mei-yu front and monsoon southwesterlies also influence the corridor’s duration, which is regulated by a dipole of geopotential anomalies, with positive in the tropics and negative in the midlatitudes. The dipole expresses a joint influence of the blocking patterns in midlatitudes and the El Niño–related anomalous high over the western Pacific Ocean, and the dipole's intensity explains well the interannual variations of the corridors.

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Guixing Chen, Toshiki Iwasaki, Huiling Qin, and Weiming Sha

Abstract

Four recent reanalyses—the 55-yr Japanese Reanalysis Project (JRA-55), Interim ECWMF Re-Analysis (ERA-I), NCEP Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR), and NASA Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA)—are assessed to clarify their quality in representing the diurnal cycle over East Asia. They are found to present similar patterns/structure and summer progress of the mean wind diurnal cycle, whereas they exhibit some differences in diurnal amplitude, particularly for the low-level meridional wind. An evaluation with intense soundings suggests that the amplitude difference mainly results from the diurnal variation of mean bias that differs among reanalyses. The root-mean-square (RMS) error is found to have a diurnal variation more evident in CFSR and MERRA than that in JRA-55 and ERA-I, which strongly affects the representation of the varying diurnal amplitude at the peak hours of RMS error.

Compared with satellite-derived rainfall, the four reanalyses are shown to reproduce well the rainfall diurnal cycle over East Asia in terms of large-scale terrain contrast, summer progress, and interannual variability. JRA-55 even presents a long-term increase of morning rainfall percentage over the east China plain over the past four decades, consistent with rain gauge observations. The four reanalyses exhibit some considerable discrepancies at regional scale; JRA-55 gives the best capture of the rainfall diurnal cycle over the Tibetan Plateau and the eastward propagation to the eastern lees. These results suggest that new reanalyses are potentially applicable for studying the large-scale diurnal variability over East Asia, whereas their different preferences, especially at regional scale, should be of concern in data application.

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Guixing Chen, Ruoyu Lan, Wenxin Zeng, He Pan, and Weibiao Li

Abstract

The complex features of rainfall diurnal cycles at the south China coast are examined using hourly rain gauge data and satellite products (CMORPH and TRMM 3B42) during 1998–2014. It is shown that morning rainfall is pronounced near the coasts and windward mountains, with high rainfall in the summer monsoon season, while afternoon rainfall is dominant on land, and nocturnal rainfall occurs at northern inland sites. Both satellite products report less morning rainfall and more afternoon rainfall than the rain gauge data, and they also miss the midnight rainfall minimum. These errors are mainly attributable to an underestimation of morning moderate and intense rains at coasts and an overestimation of afternoon–evening light rains on land. With a correction of the systematic bias, satellite products faithfully resolve the spatial patterns of normalized rainfall diurnal cycles related to land–sea contrast and terrains, suggesting an improved data application for regional climate studies. In particular, they are comparable to the rain gauge data in showing the linear reduction of morning rainfall from coasts to inland regions. TRMM is marginally better than CMORPH in revealing the overall features of diurnal cycles, while higher-resolution CMORPH captures more local details. All three datasets also present that morning rainfall decreases from May–June to July–August, especially on land; it exhibits pronounced interannual variations and a decadal increase in 1998–2008 at coasts. Such long-term variations of morning rainfall are induced by the coastal convergence and mountain liftings of monsoon shear flow interacting with land breeze, which is mainly regulated by monsoon southwesterly winds in the northern part of the South China Sea.

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Qian Liu, Guixing Chen, Lin Wang, Yuki Kanno, and Toshiki Iwasaki

Abstract

The winter monsoon has strong impacts on East Asia via latitude-crossing southward cold airmass fluxes called cold air outbreaks (CAOs). CAOs have a high diversity in terms of meridional extent and induced weather. Using the daily cold airmass flux normalized at 50° and 30°N during 1958–2016, we categorize the CAOs into three groups: high–middle (H–M), high–low (H–L), and middle–low (M–L) latitude events. The H–L type is found to have the longest duration, and the M–L type is prone to strong CAOs regarding normalized intensity. The H–L and H–M events feature a large-scale dipole pattern of cold airmass flux over high-latitude Eurasia; the former events feature relatively strong anticyclonic circulation over Siberia, while the latter events feature cyclonic circulation over northeastern Asia. In contrast, the M–L events are characterized by a cyclonic anomaly over northeastern Asia but no obvious high-latitude precursor. The H–L events have the greatest cold anomaly in airmasses near the surface, and the M–L events mainly feature a strong northerly wind. As a result, the H–L events induce widespread long-lasting low temperatures over East Asia, while the M–L events induce a sharp temperature drop at mainly low latitudes. Both H–L and M–L events couple with the MJO to enhance rainfall over the South China Sea, while H–M events increase rainfall over southern China. Moreover, the occurrences of H–L and M–L events have experienced a long-term decrease since the 1980s that has induced a stronger warming trend in the cold extremes than in the winter mean temperature at mid–low latitudes over East Asia.

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Guixing Chen, Weiming Sha, Toshiki Iwasaki, and Zhiping Wen

Abstract

Moist convection occurred repeatedly in the midnight-to-morning hours of 11–16 June 1998 and yielded excessive rainfall in a narrow latitudinal corridor over East Asia, causing severe flood. Numerical experiments and composite analyses of a 5-day period are performed to examine the mechanisms governing nocturnal convection. Both simulations and observations show that a train of MCSs concurrently developed along a quasi-stationary mei-yu front and coincided with the impact of a monsoon surge on a frontogenetic zone at night. This process was regulated primarily by a nocturnal low-level jet (NLLJ) in the southwesterly monsoon that formed over southern China and extended to central China. In particular, the NLLJ acted as a mechanism of moisture transport over the plains. At its northern terminus, the NLLJ led to a zonal band of elevated conditionally unstable air where strong low-level ascent overcame small convective inhibition, triggering new convection in three preferred plains. An analysis of convective instability shows that the low-tropospheric intrusion of moist monsoon air generated CAPE of ~1000 J kg−1 prior to convection initiation, whereas free-atmospheric forcing was much weaker. The NLLJ-related horizontal advection accounted for most of the instability precondition at 100–175 J kg−1 h−1. At the convective stage, instability generation by the upward transport of moisture increased to ~100 J kg−1 h−1, suggesting that ascending inflow caused feedback in convection growth. The convection dissipated in late morning with decaying NLLJ and moisture at elevated layers. It is concluded that the diurnally varying summer monsoon acted as an effective discharge of available moist energy from southern to central China, generating the morning-peak heavy rainfall corridor.

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Wenxin Zeng, Guixing Chen, Yu Du, and Zhiping Wen

Abstract

A succession of MCSs developed during the last week of October 2016 and produced extreme heavy rainfall in central China. The event underwent an evident shift from a mei-yu-like warm scenario to an autumn cold scenario. Diurnal cycles of rainfall and low-level winds may be modulated by the shifting of large-scale atmospheric conditions. We conducted observational analyses and numerical experiments to examine how large-scale circulations influenced rainfall systems through diurnally varying processes. The results show that, in the first half (warm) period of the event, intense rainfall mostly occurred in eastern-central China with an early morning peak. It was closely related to a nocturnal southwesterly low-level jet (NLLJ) on the flank of the western Pacific subtropical high. The NLLJ formed near midnight in southern China where ageostrophic wind rotated clockwise due to Blackadar’s inertial oscillation. The NLLJ extended downstream to central China during the predawn hours due to the horizontal advection of momentum. Both the formation and extension of the NLLJ were supported by an enhanced subtropical high that provided relatively warm conditions with surface heating for boundary layer inertial oscillation and strong background southwesterly winds for momentum transport. The NLLJ induced MCSs at its northern terminus where the low-level ascent, moisture flux convergence, and convective instability were enhanced during the predawn hours. In the second half period with an intrusion of cold air, the diurnal amplitude of low-level winds became small under relatively cold and cloudy conditions. Moderate rainfall tended to occur in western-central China with a peak after midnight, most likely due to frontogenetic processes, upslope lifting, and nighttime cloud-top cooling.

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Guixing Chen, Xinyue Zhu, Weiming Sha, Toshiki Iwasaki, Hiromu Seko, Kazuo Saito, Hironori Iwai, and Shoken Ishii

Abstract

Horizontal convective rolls form in coastal areas around Sendai Airport during sea-breeze events. Using a building-resolving computational fluid dynamics model nested in an advanced forecast system with a data assimilation scheme, the authors perform a series of sensitivity experiments to investigate the impacts of land use and buildings on these rolls. The results show that the roll positions, intensities, and structures are significantly affected by variations in land use and the presence of buildings. Land-use heterogeneity is responsible for generating rolls with evident regional features. Major rolls tend to develop downwind of warm surfaces, and they dominate over neighboring rolls; thus, a heterogeneity-scale mode is imposed on the inherent roll wavelength. The roll’s rapid growth is attributable to warm surfaces that initiate a strong coupling among turbulent thermals, convective updrafts, pressure perturbations, and secondary flows in sea breezes. The heterogeneity-induced features differ considerably from the nearly homogeneous features that form over uniform surfaces. Additionally, the wake flow behind buildings helps organize near-surface warm air into streamwise bands that drive streaky ejections. The building-induced turbulence acts to modify secondary flows and displace roll updrafts toward building wakes. Such effects are most effective over villages with scattered houses that are aligned with the ambient wind. Building signatures are elongated in downwind open areas due to sustained secondary circulations. An analysis of turbulent kinetic energy shows that both land use and buildings regulate energy generation and transport, resulting in a clear response in roll growth. Thus, including complex surfaces in forecast models helps determine detailed characteristics and structures of roll convection over coastal regions.

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Yu Du, Guixing Chen, Bin Han, Chuying Mai, Lanqiang Bai, and Minghua Li

Abstract

Convection initiation (CI) and the subsequent upscale convective growth (UCG) at the coast of South China in a warm-sector heavy rainfall event are shown to be closely linked to a varying marine boundary layer jet (MBLJ) over the northern South China Sea (NSCS). To elucidate the dynamic and thermodynamic roles of the MBLJ in CI and UCG, we conducted and analyzed convection-permitting numerical simulations and observations. Compared to radar observations, the simulations captured CI locations and the following southwest–northeast-oriented convection development. The nocturnal MBLJ peaks at 950 hPa and significantly intensifies with turning from southwesterly to nearly southerly by inertial oscillation. The strengthened MBLJ promotes mesoscale ascent on its northwestern edge and terminus where enhanced convergence zones occur. Located directly downstream of the MBLJ, the coastal CI and UCG are dynamically supported by mesoscale ascent. From a thermodynamic perspective, a warm moist tongue over the NSCS is strengthened by the MBLJ-driven mesoscale ascent as well as by a high sea surface temperature. The warm moist tongue farther extends northeastward by horizontal transport and arrives at the coast where CI and UCG occur. Near the CI location, rapid development of a low-level saturated layer is mainly attributed to the mesoscale ascent and low-level moistening associated with the MBLJ. In addition, subsequent CI happens on either side of the original CI along the coast due to the delay of low-level moistening, which partly contributes to linear convective growth. Furthermore, ensemble simulations confirmed that a stronger MBLJ is more favorable to CI and UCG near the coast.

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Guixing Chen, Xinyue Zhu, Weiming Sha, Toshiki Iwasaki, Hiromu Seko, Kazuo Saito, Hironori Iwai, and Shoken Ishii

Abstract

Horizontal convective rolls (HCRs) that develop in sea breezes greatly influence local weather in coastal areas. In this study, the authors present a realistic simulation of sea-breeze HCRs over an urban-scale area at a resolution of a few meters. An advanced Down-Scaling Simulation System (DS3) is built to derive the analyzed data using a nonhydrostatic model and data assimilation scheme that drive a building-resolving computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model. The mesoscale-analyzed data well capture the inland penetration of the sea breeze in northeastern Japan. The CFD model reproduces the HCRs over Sendai Airport in terms of their coastal initiation, inland growth, streamwise orientation, specific locations, roll wavelength, secondary flows, and regional differences due to complex surfaces. The simulated HCRs agree fairly well with those observed by dual-Doppler lidar and heliborne sensors. Both the simulation and observation analyses suggest that roll updrafts typically originate in the narrow bands of low-speed streaks and warm air near the ground. The HCRs are primarily driven and sustained by a combination of wind shear and buoyancy forces within the slightly unstable sea-breeze layer. In contrast, the experiment without data assimilation exhibits a higher deficiency in the reproduction of roll characteristics. The findings highlight that CFD modeling, given reliable mesoscale weather and surface conditions, aids in high-precision forecasting of HCRs at unprecedented high resolutions, which may help determine the roll structure, dynamics, and impacts on local weather.

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