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Stefan F. Cecelski and Da-Lin Zhang

Abstract

While much attention has been given to investigating the dynamics of tropical cyclogenesis (TCG), little work explores the thermodynamical evolution and related cloud microphysical processes occurring during TCG. This study elaborates on previous research by examining the impact of ice microphysics on the genesis of Hurricane Julia during the 2010 North Atlantic Ocean hurricane season. As compared with a control simulation, two sensitivity experiments are conducted in which the latent heat of fusion owing to depositional growth is removed in one experiment and homogeneous freezing is not allowed to occur in the other. Results show that removing the latent heat of fusion substantially reduces the warming of the upper troposphere during TCG. This results in a lack of meso-α-scale hydrostatic surface pressure falls and no tropical depression (TD)-scale mean sea level pressure (MSLP) disturbance. In contrast, removing homogeneous freezing has little impact on the structure and magnitude of the upper-tropospheric thermodynamic changes and MSLP disturbance. Fundamental changes to the strength and spatial extent of deep convection and related updrafts are found when removing the latent heat of fusion from depositional processes. That is, deep convection and related updrafts are weaker because of the lack of heating in the upper troposphere. These changes to convective development impact the creation of a storm-scale outflow and thus the accumulation of upper-tropospheric warming and the development of the TD-scale MSLP disturbance.

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Da-Lin Zhang and Wei-Zhong Zheng

Abstract

Although most of the planetary boundary layer (PBL) parameterizations have demonstrated the capability to reproduce many meteorological phenomena in the lowest few kilometers, little attention has been paid to the prediction of the diurnal cycles of surface wind speed (V SFC) in relation to surface temperature (T SFC). In this study, the performance of five widely used PBL parameterizations in reproducing the diurnal cycles of V SFC and T SFC is evaluated using the 3-day mesoscale simulations of summertime weak-gradient flows over the central United States where little organized convection and topographical forcing were present. The time series of area-averaged V SFC and T SFC, as well as the vertical wind and thermal profiles from the five sensitivity simulations, are compared with hourly surface observations and other available data. The hourly surface observations reveal that the diurnal cycles of V SFC are in phase (but surface wind directions are 5–6 h out of phase) with those of T SFC. It is shown that both V SFC and T SFC are very sensitive to the PBL parameterizations, given the identical conditions for all of the other model parameters. It is found that all five of the PBL schemes can reproduce the diurnal phases of T SFC (and wind directions), albeit with different amplitudes. However, all of the schemes underestimate the strength of V SFC during the daytime, and most of them overestimate it at night. Moreover, some PBL schemes produce pronounced phase errors in V SFC or substantially weak V SFC all of the time, despite their well-simulated diurnal cycle of T SFC. The results indicate that a perfect simulation of the diurnal T SFC cycle (and the thermal structures above) does not guarantee the reproduction of the diurnal cycles of V SFC. The final outcome would depend on how various physical processes, such as the vertical turbulent exchanges of the mass and momentum under different stability conditions, are parameterized. Because the upper portion of the PBL flow is often nearly opposite in phase to V SFC under weak-gradient conditions, the results have significant implications for the predictability of diurnal precipitation and the studies of air quality, wind energy, and other environmental problems.

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Zuohao Cao, Qin Xu, and Da-Lin Zhang

Abstract

Unlike the classical point vortex model, a new method is developed to extract flows induced not only by vorticity but also by divergence in a well-defined vortex core area of a cyclone. This new method is applied to diagnosing the interactions of three midlatitude cyclones (called A, B, and C) that account for a missed summer severe rainfall forecast, in which the daily precipitation predicted by the Canadian operational model is an order of magnitude smaller than the rain gauge and radar measurements. In this event, cyclone B, responsible for the severe rainfall occurrence, was advected largely by flows induced by two neighboring cyclones: A and C to the west and east, respectively. This work attempts to assess whether and to what degree the vertical tilt of the observed cyclone versus that of the forecast cyclone B is caused by advections of the environmental flows (including A- and C-induced flows) at 500 and 1000 hPa. Results show that the observed cyclone B was advected mainly by the cyclone A–induced flow at 500 hPa into a vertically tilted structure that was northwestward against the vertical shear of the environmental flow and thus favorable for upward motion and cyclone intensification around the time of severe rainfall. However, the forecast cyclone B was advected largely by the cyclone A–induced flow at 500 hPa and the cyclone C–induced flow at 1000 hPa into an increasingly northward-tilted structure that was along the vertical shear of the environmental flow and thus unfavorable for upward motion and cyclone intensification, leading to the missed forecast of severe rainfall. Suggestions are made for future improvements of model forecasts.

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Rudi Xia, Da-Lin Zhang, and Bailin Wang

Abstract

The cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning climatology and its relationship to rainfall over central and eastern China is examined, using data from 32 million CG lightning flashes and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission measurements during a 6-yr period covering 2008–13. Results show substantial spatial and temporal variations of flash density across China. Flash counts are the highest (lowest) in summer (winter) with the lowest (highest) proportion of positive flashes. CG lightning over northern China is more active only in summer, whereas in winter CG lightning is more active only in the Yangtze River basin. The highest CG lightning densities, exceeding 9 flashes per kilometer squared per year and more than 70 CG lightning days per year, are found in the northern Pearl River delta region, followed by the Sichuan basin, the Yangtze River delta, and the southeastern coast of China in that order. Lower-flash-density days occur over mountainous regions as a result of the development of short-lived afternoon storms, while higher-flash-density days, typically associated with nocturnal thunderstorms, appear over the north China plain and Sichuan basin. The highest number of CG lightning flashes is found in August whereas monthly convective rainfall peaks in May or July. Flash rates during the warm season are typically maximized in the afternoon hours in coincidence with a convective rainfall peak except for the Sichuan basin and its surrounding mountainous areas where a single late-night convective rainfall peak dominates. Much less lightning activity corresponds to a late-night to morning rainfall peak over the plains in eastern China because of the increased proportion of stratiform rainfall during that period.

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Yueting Gong, Ying Li, and Da-Lin Zhang

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Tropical cyclones (TCs) tend to change translation direction and speed when moving across Taiwan’s Central Mountain Range (CMR), which makes forecasting of landfalling points a challenging task. This study examines the statistical characteristics of unusual TC tracks around Taiwan Island during the 66-yr period of 1949–2014. Results show that 1) about 10% more TCs were deflected to the right than to the left as they moved across the CMR, but with more occurrences of the latter on Taiwan’s eastern coast and southern strait; 2) TCs around Taiwan Island moved slower than the average speed over the western North Pacific Ocean but then exhibited anomalous acceleration along Taiwan’s eastern coast and anomalous deceleration over the southern Taiwan Strait; 3) about 33% of TCs passing the island were accompanied by terrain-induced secondary low pressure centers (SCs), more favored in the northwestern, southwestern, and southeastern quadrants, with the TC–SC separation distance varying from 33 to 643 km; 4) about 36% of landfalling TCs experienced discontinuous tracks, with an average separation distance of 141 km at the time when TC centers were replaced by SCs, and smaller Froude numbers than those associated with continuous-tracking TCs; and 5) a total of 12 TCs had looping movements near Taiwan Island, most of which were accompanied by SCs on their southern or western sides. Results also indicate that a stronger SC was likely to take place when a stronger TC approached the CMR with a shorter separation distance and that a weaker SC was likely to take place when a weaker TC approached the CMR with a longer separation distance.

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Mingxin Li, Da-Lin Zhang, Jisong Sun, and Qinghong Zhang

Abstract

An 8-yr (i.e., 2008–15) climatology of the spatiotemporal characteristics of hail events in China and their associated environmental conditions are examined using hail observations, L-band rawinsondes, and global reanalysis data. A total of 1003 hail events with maximum hail diameter (MHD) of greater than 5 mm are selected and then sorted into three hail-size bins. Hail events with the largest MHD bin correspond to the median vertical wind shear in the lowest 6-km layer (SHR6) of 21.6 m s−1, precipitable water (PW) of 34.8 mm, and convective available potential energy (CAPE) of 2192 J kg−1. Hail with different MHD bins share similar freezing-level heights (FLHs) of about 4000 m. The thickness of the hail growth zone is thinner for hail events with the largest MHD bin. Hail events with different MHD bins display seasonal variations associated with the summer monsoon; that is, the hail season starts in South China in spring and then shifts to North China in summer. Larger hail is mainly observed during the spring in South China before monsoon onset in the presence of an upper-level jet and a low-level southwesterly flow accounting for large SHR6 and PW. In contrast, smaller-MHD hailstorms occur mainly during the summer in North China when surface heating is high and the low-level southerly flow shifts northward with pronounced baroclinicity providing large CAPE and PW, moderate SHR6, and low FLH. Environmental CAPE and SHR6 for large hailstones in China are comparable in magnitude to those in the United States but larger than those in some European countries.

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Da-Lin Zhang, Shunli Zhang, and Scott J. Weaver

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Although considerable research has been conducted to study the characteristics of the low-level jets (LLJs) over the Great Plains states, little is known about the development of LLJs over the Mid-Atlantic states. In this study, the Mid-Atlantic LLJ and its associated characteristics during the warm seasons of 2001 and 2002 are documented with both the wind profiler data and the daily real-time model forecast products. A case study with three model sensitivity simulations is performed to gain insight into the three-dimensional structures and evolution of an LLJ and the mechanisms by which it developed. It is found that the Mid-Atlantic LLJ, ranging from 8 to 23 m s−1, appeared at an average altitude of 670 m and on 15–25 days of each month. About 90% of the 160 observed LLJ events occurred between 0000 and 0600 LST, and about 60% had southerly to westerly directions. Statistically, the real-time forecasts capture most of the LLJ events with nearly the right timing, intensity, and altitude, although individual forecasts may not correspond to those observed. For a selected southwesterly LLJ case, both the observations and the control simulation exhibit a pronounced diurnal cycle of horizontal winds in the lowest 1.5 km. The simulation shows that the Appalachian Mountains tend to produce a sloping mixed layer with northeasterly thermal winds during the daytime and reversed thermal winds after midnight. With additional thermal contrast effects associated with the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the daytime low-level winds vary significantly from the east coast to the mountainous regions. The LLJ after midnight tends to be peaked preferentially around 77.5°W near the middle portion of the sloping terrain, and it decreases eastward as a result of the opposite thermal gradient across the coastline from the mountain-generated thermal gradient. Although the Mid-Atlantic LLJ is much weaker and less extensive than that over the Great Plains states, it has a width of 300–400 km (to its half-peak value) and a length scale of more than 1500 km, following closely the orientation of the Appalachians. Sensitivity simulations show that eliminating the surface heat fluxes produces the most significant impact on the development of the LLJ, then topography and the land–sea contrast, with its area-averaged intensity reduced from 12 m s−1 to about 6, 9, and 10 m s−1, respectively.

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Xuerong Zhang, Ying Li, Da-Lin Zhang, and Lianshou Chen

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Despite steady improvements in tropical cyclone (TC) track forecasts, it still remains challenging to predict unusual TC tracks (UNTKs), such as the tracks of sharp turning or looping TCs, especially after they move close to coastal waters. In this study 1059 UNTK events associated with 564 TCs are identified from a total of 1320 TCs, occurring in the vicinity of China’s coastal waters, during the 65-yr period of 1949–2013, using the best-track data archived at the China Meteorological Administration’s Shanghai Typhoon Institute. These UNTK events are then categorized into seven types of tracks—sharp westward turning (169), sharp eastward turning (86), sharp northward turning (223), sharp southward turning (46), looping (153), rotating (199), and zigzagging (183)—on the basis of an improved UNTK classification scheme. Results show significant annual variability of unusual tracking TCs, ranging between 2 and 18 per year, many of which experience more than one UNTK event in the same or different UNTK types during their life spans. The monthly distribution of the UNTK events resembles that of TCs, with more occurring in June–November. An analysis of their spatial distributions reveals that all of the UNTK events tend to take place in the areas to the south of 30°N, most frequently in the South China Sea and to the east of the Philippines. The results suggest that more attention be paid to the improved understanding and prediction of UNTK events so that the current positive trend in TC track forecast accuracy can continue for many years to come.

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Da-Lin Zhang, Zuohao Cao, Jianmin Ma, and Aiming Wu

Abstract

The summer nonconvective severe surface wind (NCSSW) frequency over Ontario, Canada, in relation to regional climate conditions and tropical Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures (SSTs) during the period of 1979–2006 is examined using surface wind reports and large-scale analysis data. A statistically robust positive trend in Ontario summer NCSSW frequency is identified using three independent statistical approaches, which include the conventional linear regression that has little disturbance to the original time series, the Mann–Kendall test without a lag-1 autoregressive process, and the Monte Carlo simulation. A composite analysis of the large-scale monthly mean data reveals that the high- (low-) NCSSW occurrence years are linked to stronger (weaker) large-scale horizontal pressure gradients and more (less) intensive vector wind anomalies in the upper troposphere. Unlike the low-event years, anomalous anticyclonic circulations are found at 500 and 250 hPa in the high-event years, which are conducive to downward momentum transport and favorable for severe surface wind development. It is also found that the summer NCSSW occurs more frequently under the conditions of warmer surface air temperature over Ontario. Further analyses indicate that an increase in the summer NCSSW frequency is well correlated with an increase in the previous winter SSTs over the eastern equatorial Pacific, namely, in the Niño-1+2 and Niño-3 areas, through a decrease in sea level pressure over northern Ontario and an increase in surface air temperature over central and southern Ontario.

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Da-Lin Zhang, Menglin S. Jin, Yixuan Shou, and Chunqing Dong

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This paper examines the collective impacts of urban building complexes on the planetary boundary layer (PBL) winds using both observations and a mesoscale model. Horizontal winds measured on the rooftops of federal buildings over the regions of Washington, D.C., and a small city nearby (i.e., Reston, Virginia) show the blocking effects of urban building complexes on the downstream winds during the daytime of 9 July 2007. A modeling study of the case using a coupled version of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF)–multilayer urban canopy model in which the observed building height and density information is implemented to advance the calculations of momentum and heat, reproduces the rooftop-observed wind patterns and the related urban heat island effects, especially the wake flows on the downstream sides of the above-mentioned two cities. Results show that under daytime conditions the building complexes can collectively form a mesoscale wake on the downwind side of each city, about 2–10 km away, horizontally from the edge of the building complexes. The wake flow may extend to much higher levels than the building tops, depending on the incoming flow strength, the static stability in the PBL, the height of the building complexes, and the time of the day because of the strength of surface insolation.

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