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Tianming Li and Bin Wang

Abstract

The development and movement of the tropical intraseasonal system (TIS) exhibit remarkable annual variations. It was hypothesized that spatial and temporal variation in sea surface temperature (SST) is one of the primary climatic factors that are responsible for the annual variation of TISs. This paper examines possible influences of SST on the TIS through numerical experiments with a 2.5-layer atmospheric model on an equatorial β plane, in which SST affects atmospheric heating via control of the horizontal distribution of moist static energy and the degree of convective instability.

The gradient of the antisymmetric (with respect to the equator) component of SST causes a southward propagation of the model TIS toward northern Australia in boreal winter and a northward propagation over the Indian and western Pacific Oceans in boreal summer. The phase speed of the meridional propagation increases with the magnitude, of antisymmetric SST gradients. The poleward propagation of the equatorial disturbance takes the form of moist antisymmetric Rossby modes and influences the summer monsoon.

During May when SST is most symmetric in the western Pacific, a disturbance approaching the date line may evolve into westward-moving, double cyclonelike, symmetric Rossby modes due to the suppression of the moist Kelvin mode by the cold ocean surface cast of the date line. The disturbance over the equatorial Indian Ocean, however, may evolve into an eastward-moving, moist Kelvin–Rossby wave packet; meanwhile, a cyclonic circulation may be induced over the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, drifting slowly westward into the Indian subcontinent.

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Bin Wang and Xiaofan Li

Abstract

Tropical cyclone propagation (the beta drift) is driven by a secondary circulation associated with axially asymmetric gyres (beta gyres) in the vicinity of the cyclone center. In the presence of the beta effect, the environmental flow may interact with the symmetric circulation and beta gyres of the cyclone, affecting the development of the gyres and thereby the cyclone propagation. An energetics analysis is carried out to elucidate the development mechanism of the beta gyres and to explain variations in propagation speed of a barotropic cyclone embedded in a meridionally varying zonal flow on a beta plane. Two types of zonal flows are considered: one with a constant meridional shear resembling those in the vicinity of a subtropical ridge or a monsoon trough, and the other with a constant relative vorticity gradient as in the vicinity of an easterly (westerly) jet.

Zonal flow with a constant meridional shear changes the generation rate of the gyre kinetic energy through an exchange of energy directly with the gyres. The momentum flux associated with gyres acting on the meridional shear of zonal flow accounts for this energy conversion process. Zonal flow with an anticyclonic (cyclonic) shear feeds (extracts) kinetic energy to (from) the gyres. The magnitude of this energy conversion is proportional to the strength of the meridional shear and the gyre intensity. As a result, the gyres are stronger and the beta drift is faster near a subtropical ridge (anticyclonic shear) than within a monsoon trough (cyclonic shear).

Zonal flow with a constant relative vorticity gradient affects gyre intensity via two processes that have opposing effects. A southward vorticity gradient, on the one hand, weakens the gyres by reducing the energy conversion rate from symmetric circulation to gyres; on the other hand, it enhances the gyres by indirectly feeding energy to the symmetric circulation, whose strengthening in turn accelerates the energy conversion from symmetric circulation to gyres. The effect of the second process tends to eventually become dominant.

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Guosen Chen and Bin Wang

Abstract

Current theoretical studies have a debate on whether the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) has a zero or westward group velocity. A recent analysis of the observed Hovmöller diagram of MJO signals suggested that the MJO has a significant westward group velocity. Here it is shown that the observed MJO has a negligibly small group velocity, which is manifested in two aspects. First, on the wavenumber–frequency spectra diagram the precipitation spectra indicate quasi independence of the MJO frequency on wavenumber, suggesting a nearly vanishing group velocity. Second, on the Hovmöller diagram of the regressed intraseasonal daily precipitation, the MJO group velocity is defined by the propagation of the wave envelopes of the precipitation and is shown to be negligibly small for the eastward propagating signals. The causes of the discrepancy between this study and the recent study mentioned above are the calculating method and the data filtering process. The group velocity in the recent study is calculated by the propagation of local convection extrema, which does not necessarily indicate the propagation of the wave envelopes. More importantly, the westward propagation of the local convection extrema is an artifact of the data filtering. The Hovmöller diagram in the recent study was constructed by using only the eastward propagating wavenumber-1–5 signals. This truncation of data onto the planetary scales of the eastward wavenumber domain fails to resolve the Maritime Continent “barrier effect,” causing significant artificial westward propagation of local convection extrema.

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Xiouhua Fu and Bin Wang

Abstract

This study assesses the impact of stratiform rainfall (i.e., large-scale rainfall) in the development and maintenance of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) in a contemporary general circulation model: ECHAM4 AGCM and its coupled version. To examine how the model MJO would change as the stratiform proportion (the ratio of the stratiform versus total rainfall) varies, a suite of sensitivity experiments has been carried out under a weather forecast setting and with three 20-yr free integrations. In these experiments, the detrainment rates of deep/shallow convections that function as a water supply to stratiform clouds were modified, which results in significant changes of stratiform rainfall.

Both the forecast experiments and long-term free integrations indicate that only when the model produces a significant proportion (≥30%) of stratiform rainfall can a robust MJO be sustained. When the stratiform rainfall proportion becomes small, the tropical rainfall in the model is dominated by drizzle-like regimes with neither eastward-propagating nor northward-propagating MJO being sustained.

It is found that the latent heat release of stratiform rainfall significantly warms up the upper troposphere. The covariability between the heating and positive temperature anomaly produces eddy available potential energy that sustains the MJO against dissipation and also allows the direct interaction between the precipitation heating and large-scale low-frequency circulations, which is critical to the development and maintenance of the MJO. This finding calls for better representations of stratiform rainfall and its connections with the convective component in GCMs in order to improve their simulations of the MJO.

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Tianming Li and Bin Wang

Abstract

Diagnosis of the dynamic and thermodynamic balances using observed climatological monthly mean data reveals that 1) anisotropic, latitude-dependent Rayleigh friction coefficients lead to much improved modeling of the monthly mean surface wind field for a given monthly mean sea level pressure field, and 2) the annual variation of the vertically averaged lapse rate is important for modeling sea level pressure.

Based on the aforementioned observations, a thermodynamic equilibrium climate model for the tropical Pacific is proposed. In this model, the sea level pressure is thermodynamically determined from sea surface temperature (SST) through a vertically integrated hydrostatic equation in which the vertical mean lapse rate is a function of SST plus a time-independent correction. The surface winds are then computed from sea level pressure gradients through a linear surface momentum balance with anisotropic, latitude-dependent Rayleigh friction coefficients. The precipitation is finally obtained from a moisture budget by taking into account the effects of SST on convective instability.

Despite its simplicity, the model is capable of simulating realistic annual cycles as well as interannual variations of the surface wind, sea level pressure, and precipitation over the tropical Pacific. The success of the model suggests that the tropical atmosphere on a monthly mean time scale is, to the lowest-order approximation, in a thermodynamic equilibrium state in which sea level pressure is primarily controlled by SST and the effects of dynamic feedback on sea level pressure may be parameterized by an empirical SST-lapse rate relationship. Further studies are needed to establish a firm physical basis for the proposed parameterization.

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Yoshiyuki Kajikawa and Bin Wang

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A significant advance in the onset dates of the South China Sea summer monsoon (SCSSM) is detected around 1993/94: the epochal mean onset date is 30 May for 1979–93 and 14 May for 1994–2008. The relatively late onset during the first epoch is primarily determined by the northward seasonal march of the intertropical convergence zone, whereas the advanced onset during the second epoch is affected by the enhanced activity of northwestward-moving tropical disturbances from the equatorial western Pacific. During 1994–2008, the intraseasonal variability (ISV) over the western Pacific was enhanced during the period from mid-April to mid-May; further, the number of tropical cyclones (TCs), which passed through the South China Sea (SCS) and Philippine Sea during the same period, is about doubled compared with those occurring during 1979–93. This enhanced ISV and TC activity over the SCS and Philippine Sea are attributed to a significant increase in SST over the equatorial western Pacific from the 1980s to 2000s. Therefore, the advanced SCSSM onset is rooted in the decadal change of the SST over the equatorial western Pacific.

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Bin Wang and Xiaosu Xie

Abstract

The mechanism by which a vertically sheared zonal flow affects large-scale, low-frequency equatorial waves is investigated with two-level equatorial,β-plane and spherical coordinates models.

Vertical shears couple barolinic and barotropic components of equatorial wave motion, affecting significantly the Rossby wave and westward propagating Yanai wave but not the Kelvin wave. This difference results from the fact that the barotropic component is a modified Rossby mode and can be resonantly excited only by westward propagating internal waves. The barotropic components emanate poleward into the extratropics with a pronounced amplitude, while the baroclinic components remain equatorially trapped. A westerly vertical shear favors the trapping of Rossby and Yanai waves in the upper troposphere, whereas an easterly shear tends to confine them in the lower troposphere. As such, their westward propagation is slowed down by both westerly and easterly shears. When the strength of the vertical shear varies with latitude, both the vertical modes are locally enhanced in the latitudes of strong shear.

The theory suggests that the vertical shear plays an essential role in emanation of heating-induced internal equatorial Rossby waves into the extratropics with a transformed barotropic structure. It may also be partially responsible for trapping perturbation kinetic energy in the upper-troposphere westerly duct and the lower-troposphere monsoon trough.

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Gary Grunseich and Bin Wang

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The fluctuation of Arctic sea ice concentration (SIC) has been associated with changes in ocean circulation, ecology, and Northern Hemisphere climate. Prediction of sea ice melting patterns is of great societal interest, but such prediction remains difficult because the factors controlling year-to-year sea ice variability remain unresolved. Distinct monsoon–Arctic teleconnections modulate summer Arctic SIC largely by changing wind-forced sea ice transport. East Asian monsoon rainfall produces a northward-propagating meridional Rossby wave train extending into the Siberian Arctic. The Indian summer monsoon excites an eastward-propagating circumglobal teleconnection along the subtropical jet, reaching the North Atlantic before bifurcating into the Arctic. The remote Asian monsoon variations induce a dominant dipole sea ice melt pattern in which the North Atlantic–European Arctic contrasts with the Siberian–North American Arctic. The monsoon-related sea ice variations are complementary and comparable in magnitude to locally forced Arctic Oscillation variability. The monsoon–Arctic link will improve seasonal prediction of summer Arctic sea ice and possibly explain long-term sea ice trends associated with the projected increase in Asian monsoon rainfall over the next century.

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Xiouhua Fu and Bin Wang

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This paper reveals major deficiencies of the existing intermediate climate models for tropical surface winds and elaborates the important roles of cloud-longwave radiational forcing and boundary layer thermodynamics in driving the tropical surface winds.

The heat sink associated with the cloud-longwave radiation is demonstrated as an important driving force for boreal summer northeast trades and Indian Ocean southwest monsoons. Over the western North Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, low cloudiness and high sea surface temperature enhance longwave radiation cooling, strengthening subtropical high and associated trades. On the other hand, in the regions of heavy rainfall over South Asia, reduced cloud-longwave radiation cooling enhances monsoon trough and associated southwest monsoons. The boundary layer thermodynamic processes, primarily both the surface heat fluxes and the vertical temperature advection, are shown to be critical for a realistic simulation of the intertropical convergence zone, the equatorial surface winds, and associated divergence field.

To successfully simulate the tropical surface winds, it is essential for intermediate models to adequately describe the feedback of the boundary layer frictional convergence to convective heat source, cloud-longwave radiation forcing, boundary layer temperature gradient forcing, and their interactions. The capability and limitations of the intermediate tropical climate model in reproducing both climatology and interannual variations are discussed.

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Renguang Wu and Bin Wang

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Using station rainfall data and the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis, the authors investigate changes in the interannual relationship between the east Asian summer monsoon (EASM) and El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the late 1970s, concurrent with the Pacific climate shift. The present study focuses on decaying phases of ENSO because changes in developing phases of ENSO are less significant. Remarkable changes are found in the summer rainfall anomaly in northern China and Japan. From pre- to postshift period, the summer rainfall anomaly in eastern north China during decaying phases of El Niño changed from above to below normal, whereas that in central Japan changed from negative to normal. Consistent with this, the barotropic anticyclonic anomaly over the Japan Sea changed to cyclonic; the associated anomalous winds changed from southerly to northerly over the Yellow Sea–northeastern China and from northeasterly to northwesterly over central Japan.

The change in the ENSO–related east Asian summer circulation anomaly is attributed to changes in the location and intensity of anomalous convection over the western North Pacific (WNP) and India. After the late 1970s, the WNP convection anomaly is enhanced and shifted to higher latitudes due to increased summer mean SST in the Philippine Sea. This induces an eastward shift of an anomalous low pressure from east Asia to the North Pacific along 30°–45°N during decaying phases of El Niño. Thus, anomalous winds over northeastern China and Korea switch from southeasterly to northeasterly. Before the late 1970s, an anomalous barotropic anticyclone develops over east Asia and anomalous southerlies prevail over northeastern China during decaying phases of El Niño. This may relate to anomalous Indian convection through a zonal wave pattern along 30°–50°N. After the late 1970s, anomalous Indian convection weakens, which reduces the impact of the Indian convection on the EASM.

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