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Tomoe Nasuno, Hirofumi Tomita, Shinichi Iga, Hiroaki Miura, and Masaki Satoh

Abstract

This study investigated the multiscale organization of tropical convection on an aquaplanet in a model experiment with a horizontal mesh size of 3.5 km (for a 10-day simulation) and 7 km (for a 40-day simulation). The numerical experiment used the nonhydrostatic icosahedral atmospheric model (NICAM) with explicit cloud physics.

The simulation realistically reproduced multiscale cloud systems: eastward-propagating super cloud clusters (SCCs) contained westward-propagating cloud clusters (CCs). SCCs (CCs) had zonal sizes of several thousand (hundred) kilometers; typical propagation speed was 17 (10) m s−1. Smaller convective structures such as mesoscale cloud systems (MCs) of O(10 km) and cloud-scale elements (<10 km) were reproduced. A squall-type cluster with high cloud top (z > 16 km) of O(100 km) area was also reproduced.

Planetary-scale equatorial waves (with wavelengths of 10 000 and 40 000 km) had a major influence on the eastward propagation of the simulated SCC; destabilization east of the SCC facilitated generation of new CCs at the eastern end of the SCC. Large-scale divergence fields associated with the waves enhanced the growth of deep clouds in the CCs. A case study of a typical SCC showed that the primary mechanism forcing westward propagation varies with the life stages of the CCs or with vertical profiles of zonal wind. Cold pools and synoptic-scale waves both affected CC organization. Cloud-scale elements systematically formed along the edges of cold pools to sustain simulated MCs. The location, movement, and duration of the MCs varied with the large-scale conditions.

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Tomoe Nasuno, Hirofumi Tomita, Shinichi Iga, Hiroaki Miura, and Masaki Satoh

Abstract

Large-scale tropical convective disturbances simulated in a 7-km-mesh aquaplanet experiment are investigated. A 40-day simulation was executed using the Nonhydrostatic Icosahedral Atmospheric Model (NICAM). Two scales of eastward-propagating disturbances were analyzed. One was tightly coupled to a convective system resembling super–cloud clusters (SCCs) with a zonal scale of several thousand kilometers (SCC mode), whereas the other was characterized by a planetary-scale dynamical structure (40 000-km mode). The typical phase velocity was 17 (23) m s−1 for the SCC (40 000 km) mode. The SCC mode resembled convectively coupled Kelvin waves in the real atmosphere around the equator, but was accompanied by a pair of off-equatorial gyres. The 40 000-km mode maintained a Kelvin wave–like zonal structure, even poleward of the equatorial Rossby deformation radius. The equatorial structures in both modes matched neutral eastward-propagating gravity waves in the lower troposphere and unstable (growing) waves in the upper troposphere. In both modes, the meridional mass divergence exceeded the zonal component, not only in the boundary layer, but also in the free atmosphere. The forcing terms indicated that the meridional flow was primarily driven by convection via deformation in pressure fields and vertical circulations. Moisture convergence was one order of magnitude greater than the moisture flux from the sea surface. In the boundary layer, frictional convergence in the (anomalous) low-level easterly phase accounted for the buildup of low-level moisture leading to the active convective phase. The moisture distribution in the free atmosphere suggested that the moisture–convection feedback operated efficiently, especially in the SCC mode.

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