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Patrick F. Cummins, Lawrence A. Mysak, and Kevin Hamilton

Abstract

The Rossby wave field generated by the annual cycle of the observed wind stress curl over the North Pacific Ocean (15°N–53°, 100°W–175°E) has been obtained through numerical integration of the linearized, reduced-gravity vorticity equation in spherical coordinates. The dominant source region of Rossby waves is adjacent to the eastern boundary between 20°–44°N. More specifically this source is shown to be made up essentially of two distinct parts: a southern region off California-Baja California, which was first identified by White and Saur, and a northern region corresponding to a generation area first proposed by Mysak. In addition, a second, midocean generation region has been identified over the central North Pacific from 35° to 45°N, 150° to 160°W.

The behavior of the model is strongly affected by wave refraction due to the variation of phase velocity with latitude as described in Schopf et al. As waves emanate from the eastern boundary they are refracted such that the wavenumber vector, initially aligned zonally, becomes reoriented to the northwest. Associated with this is a turning of the group velocity vector and of wave rays towards the southwest.

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Philip W. Jones, Kevin Hamilton, and R. John Wilson

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This paper discusses a simulation obtained with the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory “SKYHI” troposphere–stratosphere–mesosphere general circulation model run at very high horizontal resolution (∼60-km grid spacing) and without any parameterization of subgrid-scale gravity wave drag. The results are for a period around the austral winter solstice, and the emphasis is on the simulated Southern Hemisphere (SH) winter circulation. Comparisons are made with results obtained from lower horizontal resolution versions of the same model.

The focus in this paper is on two particularly striking features of the high-resolution simulation: the extratropical surface winds and the winter polar middle atmospheric vortex. In the extratropical SH, the simulated surface westerlies and meridional surface pressure gradients in the high-resolution model are considerably stronger than observed and are stronger than those simulated at lower horizontal resolution. In the middle atmosphere, the high-resolution model produces a simulation of the zonal mean winter polar vortex that is considerably improved over that found with lower resolution models (although it is still significantly affected by the usual cold pole bias). Neither the improvement of the middle atmospheric polar vortex simulation nor the deterioration of the simulation of surface winds with increased model resolution shows a clear convergence, even at the ∼60-km grid spacing employed here.

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Kevin Hamilton, R. John Wilson, and Richard S. Hemler

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The large-scale circulation in the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory “SKYHI” troposphere–stratosphere–mesosphere finite-difference general circulation model is examined as a function of vertical and horizontal resolution. The experiments examined include one with horizontal grid spacing of ∼35 km and another with ∼100 km horizontal grid spacing but very high vertical resolution (160 levels between the ground and about 85 km). The simulation of the middle-atmospheric zonal-mean winds and temperatures in the extratropics is found to be very sensitive to horizontal resolution. For example, in the early Southern Hemisphere winter the South Pole near 1 mb in the model is colder than observed, but the bias is reduced with improved horizontal resolution (from ∼70°C in a version with ∼300 km grid spacing to less than 10°C in the ∼35 km version). The extratropical simulation is found to be only slightly affected by enhancements of the vertical resolution. By contrast, the tropical middle-atmospheric simulation is extremely dependent on the vertical resolution employed. With level spacing in the lower stratosphere ∼1.5 km, the lower stratospheric zonal-mean zonal winds in the equatorial region are nearly constant in time. When the vertical resolution is doubled, the simulated stratospheric zonal winds exhibit a strong equatorially centered oscillation with downward propagation of the wind reversals and with formation of strong vertical shear layers. This appears to be a spontaneous internally generated oscillation and closely resembles the observed QBO in many respects, although the simulated oscillation has a period less than half that of the real QBO.

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Chunxi Zhang, Yuqing Wang, Kevin Hamilton, and Axel Lauer

Abstract

Hawaii’s high and steep topography leads to pronounced small-scale variations in climate, and this makes comprehensive modeling of the weather and climate particularly challenging. This paper describes a regional model formulation designed for simulations of the microclimates in Hawaii and then documents and analyzes an extended retrospective simulation for near-present-day conditions. Part II will apply the model to projected climate conditions near the end of the present century.

A nested version of the Advanced Research version of the Weather Research and Forecasting Model with fine horizontal resolution and improved physics for the Hawaiian region has been configured. A 20-yr triply nested simulation of the atmospheric flow was undertaken with a 3-km-resolution mesh covering all main Hawaiian Islands and a 1-km mesh over Maui. Ocean surface temperatures are prescribed from observations, and meteorological fields at the boundaries of the outermost domain are taken from global reanalyses. The simulations are compared to surface, balloon, and satellite observations over the same period. The 3-km version of the model realistically simulates the frequency of trade wind inversions, time-mean rainfall, and other variables on relatively small scales over the island of Hawaii. There is a reasonable agreement between observed and simulated mean rainfall patterns over the other islands as well. However, the simulated distribution of mean rainfall over Kauai and (most particularly) Maui and Oahu reveals some significant deficiencies, which is attributed to inadequate resolution of the topography on these islands. The 1-km simulation over Maui shows clear improvement in the mean rainfall over the 3-km version.

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Chunxi Zhang, Yuqing Wang, Kevin Hamilton, and Axel Lauer

Abstract

A 20-yr simulation with a fine-resolution regional atmospheric model for projected late twenty-first-century conditions in Hawaii is presented. The pseudo-global-warming method is employed, and the boundary conditions are based on a multimodel mean of projections made with global coupled models run with a moderate greenhouse gas emissions scenario. Results show that surface air temperature over land increases ~2°–4°C with the greatest warming at the highest topographic heights. A modest tendency for the warming to be larger on the leeward sides of the major islands is also apparent. Climatological rainfall is projected to change up to ~25% at many locations. The currently wet windward sides of the major islands will have more clouds and receive more rainfall, while the currently dry leeward sides will generally have even less clouds and rainfall. The average trade wind inversion–base height and the mean marine boundary layer cloud heights are projected to exhibit only small changes. However, the frequency of days with clearly defined trade wind inversions is predicted to increase substantially (~83% to ~91%). The extreme rainfall events are projected to increase significantly. An analysis of the model’s moisture budget in the lower troposphere shows that the increased mean rainfall on the windward sides of the islands is largely attributable to increased boundary layer moisture in the warmer climate. Rainfall changes attributable to mean low-level circulation changes are modest in comparison.

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Chunxi Zhang, Yuqing Wang, Axel Lauer, and Kevin Hamilton

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The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model V3.3 has been configured for the Hawaiian Islands as a regional climate model for the region (HRCM). This paper documents the model configuration and presents a preliminary evaluation based on a continuous 1-yr simulation forced by observed boundary conditions with 3-km horizontal grid spacing in the inner nested domain. The simulated vertical structure of the temperature and humidity are compared with twice-daily radiosonde observations at two stations. Generally the trade wind inversion (TWI) height and occurrence days are well represented. The simulation over the islands is compared with observations from nine surface climatological stations and a dense network of precipitation stations. The model simulation has generally small biases in the simulated surface temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed. The model realistically simulated the magnitude and geographical distribution of the mean rainfall over the Hawaiian Islands. In addition, the model simulation reproduced reasonably well the individual heavy rainfall events as seen from the time series of pentad mean rainfall averaged over island scales. Also the model reproduced the geographical variation of the mean diurnal rainfall cycle even though the observed diurnal cycle displays quite different features over different islands. Comparison with results obtained using the land surface dataset from the official release of the WRF model confirmed that the newly implemented land surface dataset generally improved the simulation of surface variables. These results demonstrate that the WRF can be a useful tool for dynamical downscaling of regional climate over the Hawaiian Islands.

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Kevin Hamilton, R. John Wilson, J. D. Mahlman, and L. J. Umscheid

Abstract

The long-term mean climatology obtained from integrations conducted with different resolutions of the GFDL “SKYHI” finite-difference general circulation model is examined. A number of improvements that have been made recently in the model are also described. The versions considered have 3° × 3.6°, 2° × 2.4°, and 1° × 1.2° latitude–longitude resolution, and in each case the model is run with 40 levels from the ground to 0.0096 mb. The integrations all employ a fixed climatological cycle of sea surface temperature. Over 25 years of integration with the 3° model and shorter integrations with the higher-resolution versions are analyzed. Attention is focused on the December–February and June–August periods.

The model does a reasonable job of representing the atmospheric flow in the troposphere and lower stratosphere. The simulated tropospheric climatology has an interesting sensitivity to horizontal resolution. In common with several spectral GCMs that have been examined earlier, the surface zonal-mean westerlies in the SKYHI extratropics become stronger with increasing horizontal resolution. However, this “zonalization” of the flow with resolution is not as prominent in the upper troposphere of SKYHI as it is in some spectral models. It is noteworthy that—without parameterized gravity wave drag—the SKYHI model at all three resolutions can simulate a realistic separation of the subtropical and polar night jet streams and a fairly realistic strength of the lower-stratospheric winter polar vortex.

The geographical distribution of the annual-mean and seasonal precipitation are reasonably well simulated. When compared against observations in an objective manner, the SKYHI global precipitation simulation is found to be as good or better than that obtained by other state-of-the-art general circulation models. However, some significant shortcomings remain, most notably in the summer extratropical land areas and in the tropical summer monsoon regions. The time-mean precipitation simulation is remarkably insensitive to the horizontal model resolution employed. The other tropospheric feature examined in detail is the tropopause temperature. The whole troposphere suffers from a cold bias of the order of a few degrees Celcius, but in the 3° SKYHI model this grows to about 6°C at 100 mb. Interestingly, the upper-tropospheric bias is reduced with increasing horizontal resolution, despite that the cloud parameters in the radiation code are specified identically in each version.

The simulated polar vortex in the Northern Hemisphere winter in the upper stratosphere is unrealistically confined to high latitudes, although the maximum zonal-mean zonal wind is close to observed values. Near the stratopause the June–August mean temperatures at the South Pole are colder than observations by ∼65°C, 50°C, and 30°C in the 3°, 2°, and 1° simulations, respectively. The corresponding zonal-mean zonal wind patterns display an unrealistically strong polar vortex. The extratropical stratosphere stationary wave field in the Northern Hemisphere winter is examined in some detail using the multiyear averages available from the 3° SKYHI integration. Comparison with comparable long-term mean observations suggests that the model captures the amplitude and phase of the stationary waves rather well.

The SKYHI model simulates the reversed equator-pole temperature gradient near the summer mesopause. The simulated summer polar mesopause temperatures decrease with increasing, horizontal resolution, although even at 1° resolution the predicted temperatures are still warmer than observed. The increasing resolution is accompanied by increased westerly driving of the mean flow in the summer mesosphere by dissipating gravity waves. The present results suggest that the SKYHI model does explicitly resolve a significant component of the gravity waves required to produce the observed summer mesopause structure.

The semiannual oscillation near the tropical stratopause is reasonably well simulated in the 3° version. The main deficiency is in the westerly phase, which is not as strong as observed. There is also a second peak in the amplitude of the semiannual wind oscillation at the top model level (0.0096 mb) corresponding to the observed mesopause semiannual oscillation. This simulated mesopause oscillation is weaker (by a factor of ∼3) than that observed. The simulation in the tropical stratopause and mesosphere changes quite significantly with increasing resolution, however. In the tropical lower stratosphere of the 3° model the zonal-mean zonal wind displays a very weak (∼3 m s−1 peak to peak) interannual variation, which-while rather irregular-does display a roughly biennial period and the downward phase propagation that is characteristic of the observed quasi-biennial oscillation.

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Axel Lauer, Kevin Hamilton, Yuqing Wang, Vaughan T. J. Phillips, and Ralf Bennartz

Abstract

Cloud simulations and cloud–climate feedbacks in the tropical and subtropical eastern Pacific region in 16 state-of-the-art coupled global climate models (GCMs) and in the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) Regional Atmospheric Model (iRAM) are examined. The authors find that the simulation of the present-day mean cloud climatology for this region in the GCMs is very poor and that the cloud–climate feedbacks vary widely among the GCMs. By contrast, iRAM simulates mean clouds and interannual cloud variations that are quite similar to those observed in this region. The model also simulates well the observed relationship between lower-tropospheric stability (LTS) and low-level cloud amount.

To investigate cloud–climate feedbacks in iRAM, several global warming scenarios were run with boundary conditions appropriate for late twenty-first-century conditions. All the global warming cases simulated with iRAM show a distinct reduction in low-level cloud amount, particularly in the stratocumulus regime, resulting in positive local feedback parameters in these regions in the range of 4–7 W m−2 K−1. Domain-averaged (30°S–30°N, 150°–60°W) feedback parameters from iRAM range between +1.8 and +1.9 W m−2 K−1. At most locations both the LTS and cloud amount are altered in the global warming cases, but the changes in these variables do not follow the empirical relationship found in the present-day experiments.

The cloud–climate feedback averaged over the same east Pacific region was also calculated from the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A1B simulations for each of the 16 GCMs with results that varied from −1.0 to +1.3 W m−2 K−1, all less than the values obtained in the comparable iRAM simulations. The iRAM results by themselves cannot be connected definitively to global climate feedbacks; however, among the global GCMs the cloud feedback in the full tropical–subtropical zone is correlated strongly with the east Pacific cloud feedback, and the cloud feedback largely determines the global climate sensitivity. The present iRAM results for cloud feedbacks in the east Pacific provide some support for the high end of current estimates of global climate sensitivity.

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Yoshio Kawatani, Kevin Hamilton, Kaoru Sato, Timothy J. Dunkerton, Shingo Watanabe, and Kazuyoshi Kikuchi

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Observational studies have shown that, on average, the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) exhibits a faster phase progression and shorter period during El Niño than during La Niña. Here, the possible mechanism of QBO modulation associated with ENSO is investigated using the MIROC-AGCM with T106 (~1.125°) horizontal resolution. The MIROC-AGCM simulates QBO-like oscillations without any nonorographic gravity wave parameterizations. A 100-yr integration was conducted during which annually repeating sea surface temperatures based on the composite observed El Niño conditions were imposed. A similar 100-yr La Niña integration was also conducted. The MIROC-AGCM simulates realistic differences between El Niño and La Niña, notably shorter QBO periods, a weaker Walker circulation, and more equatorial precipitation during El Niño than during La Niña. Near the equator, vertical wave fluxes of zonal momentum in the uppermost troposphere are larger and the stratospheric QBO forcing due to interaction of the mean flow with resolved gravity waves (particularly for zonal wavenumber ≥43) is much larger during El Niño. The tropical upwelling associated with the Brewer–Dobson circulation is also stronger in the El Niño simulation. The effects of the enhanced tropical upwelling during El Niño are evidently overcome by enhanced wave driving, resulting in the shorter QBO period. The integrations were repeated with another model version (MIROC-ECM with T42 horizontal resolution) that employs a parameterization of nonorographic gravity waves in order to simulate a QBO. In the MIROC-ECM the average QBO periods are nearly identical in the El Niño and La Niña simulations.

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Axel Lauer, Chunxi Zhang, Oliver Elison-Timm, Yuqing Wang, and Kevin Hamilton

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The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model has been configured as a regional climate model for the Hawaii region (HRCM) to assess the uncertainties associated with the pseudo–global warming (PGW) downscaling method using different warming increments from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) model experiments. Results from 15-km downscaling experiments using warming increments from 10 individual CMIP5 models for the two warming scenarios representative concentration pathway 4.5 (RCP4.5) and 8.5 (RCP8.5) are compared with experiments using multimodel mean warming increments. The results show that changes in 2-m temperatures, 10-m wind speed, rainfall, water vapor path, and trade wind inversion vary significantly among the individual model experiments. This translates into large uncertainties when picking one particular CMIP5 model to provide the warming increments for dynamical downscaling in the Hawaii region. The simulations also show that, despite the large interexperiment spread, a single downscaling experiment using multimodel mean warming increments gives very similar results to the ensemble mean of downscaling experiments using warming increments obtained from 10 individual CMIP5 models. Robust changes of the projected climate by the end of the twenty-first century in the Hawaii region shown by most downscaling experiments include increasing 2-m temperatures with stronger warming at higher elevations, a large increase in precipitable water, and an increase in the number of days with a trade wind inversion (TWI). Furthermore, most experiments agree on a reduction in TWI height and an increase in the TWI strength. Uncertainties in the projected changes in rainfall and 10-m wind speed are large and there is little consensus among the individual downscaling experiments.

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