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Yao Jin, William B. Rossow, and Don P. Wylie

Abstract

Comparison of individually matched analyses of high-level cloudiness from the High-Resolution Infrared Sounder (HIRS) CO2-slicing analysis and the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) analysis of satellite data for 4 months shows that the former reports about 0.12 more high-level clouds than the latter. Almost all of the difference in high-level cloud amounts occurs as differences of thin cirrus, defined by infrared emissivity ε < 0.5 or τvis < 1.3, consistent with a previous comparison of Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment II and ISCCP. Some of this difference may be caused by the large field of view of the HIRS instrument. Over oceans the differences in cirrus cloud amounts are caused by the higher sensitivity of the HIRS analysis to optically thin clouds, aided by a small high bias of the sea surface temperatures used in the HIRS cloud detection step. Over land the higher detection sensitivity of the HIRS analysis was partially offset by the effect of large low biases in the surface temperatures used in the HIRS cloud detection step, most especially over high mountainous terrains. From these two datasets the authors conclude that about one-third of the earth is covered by high-level clouds (tops above the 440-mb level) and more than two-thirds of these clouds are cirrus, defined as those clouds that have a net radiative heating effect (i.e., infrared ε < 0.84 or τvis < 3.6). About half of all cirrus clouds are optically very thin (ε < 0.5 or τvis < 1.3). Optically thicker (τvis > 3.6) high-level clouds appear to be more frequently associated with each other than with cirrus. Notable concentrations of cirrus in the Tropics mark regions of frequent deep convective activity. However, there are also prominent features associated with the subtropical jet streams. In midlatitudes, cirrus concentrations occur in the oceanic cyclone tracks, but they are even larger over major mountain complexes. Although the quantitative uncertainties of both datasets are large in the polar regions, the agreements and disagreements between them can be explained by the presence of large amounts of cirrus over both polar regions.

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Bowen Zhou, Shiwei Sun, Kai Yao, and Kefeng Zhu

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Turbulent mixing in the daytime convective boundary layer (CBL) is carried out by organized nonlocal updrafts and smaller local eddies. In the upper mixed layer of the CBL, heat fluxes associated with nonlocal updrafts are directed up the local potential temperature gradient. To reproduce such countergradient behavior in parameterizations, a class of planetary boundary layer schemes adopts a countergradient correction term in addition to the classic downgradient eddy-diffusion term. Such schemes are popular because of their simple formulation and effective performance. This study reexamines those schemes to investigate the physical representations of the gradient and countergradient (GCG) terms, and to rebut the often-implied association of the GCG terms with heat fluxes due to local and nonlocal (LNL) eddies. To do so, large-eddy simulations (LESs) of six idealized CBL cases are performed. The GCG fluxes are computed a priori with horizontally averaged LES data, while the LNL fluxes are diagnosed through conditional sampling and Fourier decomposition of the LES flow field. It is found that in the upper mixed layer, the gradient term predicts downward fluxes in the presence of positive mean potential temperature gradient but is compensated by the upward countergradient correction flux, which is larger than the total heat flux. However, neither downward local fluxes nor larger-than-total nonlocal fluxes are diagnosed from LES. The difference reflects reduced turbulence efficiency for GCG fluxes and, in terms of physics, conceptual deficiencies in the GCG representation of CBL heat fluxes.

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Dehai Luo, Yao Ge, Wenqi Zhang, and Aiguo Dai

Abstract

In this paper, reanalysis data are first analyzed to reveal that the individual negative (positive)-phase Pacific–North American pattern (PNA) or PNA (PNA+) has a lifetime of 10–20 days, is characterized by strong (weak) westerly jet stream meanders, and exhibits clear wave train structures, whereas the PNA with rapid retrogression tends to have longer lifetime and larger amplitude than the PNA+ with slow retrogression. In contrast, the wave train structure of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is less distinct, and the positive (negative)-phase NAO shows eastward (westward) movement around a higher latitude than the PNA. Moreover, it is found that the PNA wave train occurs under a larger background meridional potential vorticity gradient (PVy) over the North Pacific than that over the North Atlantic for the NAO. A unified nonlinear multiscale interaction (UNMI) model is then developed to explain why the PNA as a nonlinear wave packet has such characteristics and its large difference from the NAO. The model results reveal that the larger background PVy for the PNA (due to its location at lower latitudes) leads to its larger energy dispersion and weaker nonlinearity than the NAO, thus explaining why the PNA (NAO) is largely a linear (nonlinear) process with a strong (weak) wave train structure, though it is regarded as a nonlinear initial-value problem. The smaller PVy for the PNA than for the PNA+ leads to lower energy dispersion and stronger nonlinearity for PNA, which allows it to maintain larger amplitude and have a longer lifetime than the PNA+. Thus, the difference in the background PVy is responsible for the asymmetry between the two phases of PNA and the difference between the PNA and NAO.

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Yao Ha, Zhong Zhong, Yimin Zhu, and Yijia Hu

Abstract

The contribution of barotropic energy conversion to tropical cyclone (TC) activity over the western North Pacific (WNP) during warm and cold phases of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is investigated by separating TC vortices from reanalysis data and using a linearized eddy kinetic energy tendency equation. By comparing the characteristics of TC disturbances with synoptic-scale disturbances, it is found that the modulation of ENSO on the WNP TC intensity is presented more objectively by using TC kinetic energy (EKETC) than eddy kinetic energy (EKE). Barotropic energy conversion (KmKe) into TC disturbances (KmKeTC) is an effective indicator in detecting the barotropic energy source of low-level cyclone genesis and maintenance during the ENSO cycle. However, its dynamical processes play different roles. Shear in large-scale zonal wind and convergence in large-scale meridional wind provide direct barotropic energy source for TC genesis, but make effects in different regions of the WNP. In contrast, convergence in large-scale zonal and shear in large-scale meridional wind exert little influence on TC genesis during ENSO.

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Jing Gao, You He, Valerie Masson-Delmotte, and Tandong Yao

Abstract

Although El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) influences the Indian summer monsoon, its impact on moisture transport toward the southern Tibetan Plateau (TP) remains poorly understood. Precipitation stable isotopes are useful indices for climate change in the TP. Classical interpretations of variations of precipitation stable isotopes focus on the local surface air temperature or precipitation amount. However, several of the latest studies suggested they may correlate with large-scale modes of variability, such as ENSO. This paper presents a detailed study of ENSO’s effect on annual variations of the oxygen stable isotopic composition of precipitation (δ 18Op) at Lhasa in the southern TP for up to 10 years. The stable isotopic composition of water vapor from satellite data [Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES)] and simulations from an isotopically enabled atmospheric general circulation model (zoomed LMDZiso) are used to explore the mechanism that leads to variations of δ 18Op at Lhasa. Statistically significant correlations between δ 18Op and ENSO indices [Southern Oscillation index (SOI) and Niño-3.4 sea surface temperature index (Niño-3.4)] are observed. This paper shows that ENSO’s effects on the location and intensity of convection over the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the tropical Indian Ocean, along moisture transport paths toward Lhasa, further impact convection from the northern Tibetan Plateau. The changing of this convection results in lower δ 18Op at Lhasa in 2007, a La Niña year, and higher δ 18Op in 2006, an El Niño year. The study presented here confirms that the regional upstream convection related to ENSO teleconnections plays an important role in variations of δ 18Op at the interannual scale and that the more depleted oxygen stable isotopic composition of vapor (δ 18Oυ) from the northwestern region of India during a La Niña year intensifies the lower δ 18Op at Lhasa in a La Niña year. The study’s results have implications for the interpretation of past variations of archives with precipitation stable isotopes, such as ice cores, tree rings, lake sediments, and speleothems, in this region.

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Lung-Yao Chang, Kevin K. W. Cheung, and Cheng-Shang Lee

Abstract

A total of 40 out of 531 tropical cyclones that formed in the western North Pacific during 1986–2005 have accompanied trade wind surges located 5°–15° latitude to the north of the pretropical cyclone disturbance centers. Composite and empirical orthogonal function analyses indicate that the trade wind surges are related to a midlatitude eastward-moving high pressure system often found during the East Asian winter monsoon. Therefore, these trade wind surge tropical cyclones tend to occur in late season (with one-third of them in December), and at lower latitudes (7° latitude lower than the climatological average formation position).

The evolution of mesoscale features during formation of trade wind surge tropical cyclones is examined. Various satellite datasets show similar mesoscale patterns during their formations. A few convective lines form by convergence between the trade wind surges and the strengthening cyclonic circulation associated with incipient vortex within the 24 h before formation. Some mesoscale convective systems are embedded in the convective line with lifetimes of about 5 h, and these are illustrated through case studies. Formations usually occur when the trade winds start to decrease in magnitude and a short period after the major episodes of convection in the convective lines and mesoscale convective systems. The relationships between the temporal variability of synoptic-scale trade wind surges, the mesoscale features, and associated tropical cyclone formations are discussed.

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Shangfeng Chen, Renguang Wu, Wen Chen, and Shuailei Yao

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The present study reveals a marked enhancement in the relationship between Eurasian winter and spring atmospheric interannual variability since the early 1990s. Specifically, the dominant mode of winter Eurasian 500-hPa geopotential height anomalies, with same-sign anomalies over southern Europe and East Asia and opposite-sign anomalies over north-central Eurasia, is largely maintained to the following spring after the early 1990s, but not before the early 1990s. The maintenance of the dominant atmospheric circulation anomaly pattern after the early 1990s is associated with a triple sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly pattern in the North Atlantic that is sustained from winter to the subsequent spring. This triple SST anomaly pattern triggers an atmospheric wave train over the North Atlantic through Eurasia during winter through spring. Atmospheric model experiments verify the role of the triple SST anomaly in maintaining the Eurasian atmospheric circulation anomalies. By contrast, before the early 1990s, marked SST anomalies related to the winter dominant mode only occur in the tropical North Atlantic during winter and they disappear during the following spring. The triple SST anomaly pattern after the early 1990s forms in response to a meridional atmospheric dipole over the North Atlantic induced by a La Niña–like cooling over tropical Pacific, and its maintenance into the following spring may be via a positive air–sea interaction process over the North Atlantic. Results of this analysis suggest a potential source for the seasonal prediction of the Eurasian spring climate.

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Haijun Yang, Qin Wen, Jie Yao, and Yuxing Wang

Abstract

Using a coupled Earth climate model, freshwater forcing experiments are performed to study the Bjerknes compensation (BJC) between meridional atmosphere heat transport (AHT) and meridional ocean heat transport (OHT). Freshwater hosing in the North Atlantic weakens the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) and thus reduces the northward OHT in the Atlantic significantly, leading to a cooling (warming) in the surface layer in the Northern (Southern) Hemisphere. This results in an enhanced Hadley cell and northward AHT. Meanwhile, the OHT in the Indo-Pacific is increased in response to the Hadley cell change, partially offsetting the reduced OHT in the Atlantic. Two compensations occur here: compensation between the AHT and the Atlantic OHT, and that between the Indo-Pacific OHT and the Atlantic OHT. The AHT change undercompensates the OHT change by about 60% in the extratropics, while the former overcompensates the latter by about 30% in the tropics due to the Indo-Pacific change. The BJC can be understood from the viewpoint of large-scale circulation change. However, the intrinsic mechanism of BJC is related to the climate feedback of the Earth system. The authors’ coupled model experiments confirm that the occurrence of BJC is an intrinsic requirement of local energy balance, and local climate feedback determines the extent of BJC, consistent with previous theoretical results. Even during the transient period of climate change, the BJC is well established when the ocean heat storage is slowly varying and its change is much weaker than the net local heat flux change at the ocean surface. The BJC can be deduced from the local climate feedback. Under the freshwater forcing, the overcompensation in the tropics is mainly caused by the positive longwave feedback related to clouds, and the undercompensation in the extratropics is due to the negative longwave feedback related to surface temperature change. Different dominant feedbacks determine different BJC scenarios in different regions, which are in essence constrained by local energy balance.

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Yao Xu, Hailun He, Jinbao Song, Yijun Hou, and Funing Li

Abstract

Buoy-based observations of surface waves during three typhoons in the South China Sea were used to obtain the wave characteristics. With the local wind speeds kept below 35 m s−1, the surface waves over an area with a radius 5 times that of the area in which the maximum sustained wind was found were mainly dominated by wind-wave components, and the wave energy distribution was consistent with fetch-limited waves. Swells dominated the surface waves at the front of and outside the central typhoon region. Next, the dynamics of the typhoon waves were studied numerically using a state-of-the-art third-generation wave model. Wind forcing errors made a negligible contribution to the surface wave results obtained using hindcasting. Near-realistic wind fields were constructed by correcting the idealized wind vortex using in situ observational data. If the different sets of source terms were further considered for the forcing stage of the typhoon, which was defined as the half inertial period before and after the typhoon arrival time, the best model performance had mean relative biases and root-mean-square errors of −0.7% and 0.76 m, respectively, for the significant wave height, and −3.4% and 1.115 s, respectively, for the peak wave period. Different sets of source terms for wind inputs and whitecapping breaking dissipation were also used and the results compared. Finally, twin numerical experiments were performed to investigate the importance of nonlinear wave–wave interactions on the spectrum formed. There was evidence that nonlinear wave–wave interactions efficiently transfer wave energy from high frequencies to low frequencies and prevent double-peak structures occurring in the frequency-based spectrum.

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Qianzi Yang, Yingying Zhao, Qin Wen, Jie Yao, and Haijun Yang

Abstract

The Bjerknes compensation (BJC) under global warming is studied using a simple box model and a coupled Earth system model. The BJC states the out-of-phase changes in the meridional atmosphere and ocean heat transports. Results suggest that the BJC can occur during the transient period of global warming. During the transient period, the sea ice melting in the high latitudes can cause a significant weakening of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), resulting in a cooling in the North Atlantic. The meridional contrast of sea surface temperature would be enhanced, and this can eventually enhance the Hadley cell and storm-track activities in the Northern Hemisphere. Accompanied by changes in both ocean and atmosphere circulations, the northward ocean heat transport in the Atlantic is decreased while the northward atmosphere heat transport is increased, and the BJC occurs in the Northern Hemisphere. Once the freshwater influx into the North Atlantic Ocean stops, or the ocean even loses freshwater because of strong heating in the high latitudes, the AMOC would recover. Both the atmosphere and ocean heat transports would be enhanced, and they can eventually recover to the state of the control run, leading to the BJC to become invalid. The above processes are clearly demonstrated in the coupled model CO2 experiment. Since it is difficult to separate the freshwater effect from the heating effect in the coupled model, a simple box model is used to understand the BJC mechanism and freshwater’s role under global warming. In a warming climate, the freshwater flux into the ocean can cool the global surface temperature, mitigating the temperature rise. Box model experiments indicate clearly that it is the freshwater flux into the North Atlantic that causes out-of-phase changes in the atmosphere and ocean heat transports, which eventually plays a stabilizing role in global climate change.

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