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  • Author or Editor: Michael Pritchard x
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Michael S. Pritchard
and
Christopher S. Bretherton

Abstract

The authors investigate the hypothesis that horizontal moisture advection is critical to the eastward propagation of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). Consistent diagnostic evidence has been found in recent MJO-permitting global models viewed from the moisture-mode dynamical paradigm. To test this idea in a causal sense, tropical moisture advection by vorticity anomalies is artificially modulated in a superparameterized global model known to produce a realistic MJO signal. Boosting horizontal moisture advection by tropical vorticity anomalies accelerates and amplifies the simulated MJO in tandem with reduced environmental gross moist stability. Limiting rotational horizontal moisture advection shuts the MJO down. These sensitivities are robust in that they are nearly monotonic with respect to the control parameter and emerge despite basic-state sensitivities favoring the opposite response. Speedup confirms what several diagnostic lines of evidence already suggest—that anomalous moisture advection is fundamental to MJO propagation. The rotational component is shown to be especially critical. Amplification further suggests it may play a role in adiabatically maintaining the MJO.

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Michael S. Pritchard
,
Mitchell W. Moncrieff
, and
Richard C. J. Somerville

Abstract

In the lee of major mountain chains worldwide, diurnal physics of organized propagating convection project onto seasonal and climate time scales of the hydrologic cycle, but this phenomenon is not represented in conventional global climate models (GCMs). Analysis of an experimental version of the superparameterized (SP) Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) demonstrates that propagating orogenic nocturnal convection in the central U.S. warm season is, however, representable in GCMs that use the embedded explicit convection model approach [i.e., multiscale modeling frameworks (MMFs)]. SP-CAM admits propagating organized convective systems in the lee of the Rockies during synoptic conditions similar to those that generate mesoscale convective systems in nature. The simulated convective systems exhibit spatial scales, phase speeds, and propagation speeds comparable to radar observations, and the genesis mechanism in the model agrees qualitatively with established conceptual models. Convective heating and condensate structures are examined on both resolved scales in SP-CAM, and coherently propagating cloud “metastructures” are shown to transcend individual cloud-resolving model arrays. In reconciling how this new mode of diurnal convective variability is admitted in SP-CAM despite the severe idealizations in the cloud-resolving model configuration, an updated discussion is presented of what physics may transcend the re-engineered scale interface in MMFs. The authors suggest that the improved diurnal propagation physics in SP-CAM are mediated by large-scale first-baroclinic gravity wave interactions with a prognostic organization life cycle, emphasizing the physical importance of preserving “memory” at the inner resolved scale.

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Noah D. Brenowitz
,
Tom Beucler
,
Michael Pritchard
, and
Christopher S. Bretherton

Abstract

Neural networks are a promising technique for parameterizing subgrid-scale physics (e.g., moist atmospheric convection) in coarse-resolution climate models, but their lack of interpretability and reliability prevents widespread adoption. For instance, it is not fully understood why neural network parameterizations often cause dramatic instability when coupled to atmospheric fluid dynamics. This paper introduces tools for interpreting their behavior that are customized to the parameterization task. First, we assess the nonlinear sensitivity of a neural network to lower-tropospheric stability and the midtropospheric moisture, two widely studied controls of moist convection. Second, we couple the linearized response functions of these neural networks to simplified gravity wave dynamics, and analytically diagnose the corresponding phase speeds, growth rates, wavelengths, and spatial structures. To demonstrate their versatility, these techniques are tested on two sets of neural networks, one trained with a superparameterized version of the Community Atmosphere Model (SPCAM) and the second with a near-global cloud-resolving model (GCRM). Even though the SPCAM simulation has a warmer climate than the cloud-resolving model, both neural networks predict stronger heating/drying in moist and unstable environments, which is consistent with observations. Moreover, the spectral analysis can predict that instability occurs when GCMs are coupled to networks that support gravity waves that are unstable and have phase speeds larger than 5 m s−1. In contrast, standing unstable modes do not cause catastrophic instability. Using these tools, differences between the SPCAM-trained versus GCRM-trained neural networks are analyzed, and strategies to incrementally improve both of their coupled online performance unveiled.

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