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Marcelo E. Seluchi, A. Celeste Saulo, Matilde Nicolini, and Prakki Satyamurty

Abstract

A low pressure system [known as the northwestern Argentinean low (NAL)] is commonly observed over northwestern Argentina near the Andean slopes. This study describes two NAL episodes for summer and winter, with emphasis on the characterization of their three-dimensional structure and temporal variability. With the aid of a high-resolution regional model [Eta/Centro de Previsão de Tempo e Estudos Climáticos (CPTEC)], the main mechanisms involved in the NAL life cycle were studied in order to examine how the thermal topographical processes influenced the system behavior.

Surface pressure changes in the NAL are mostly dominated by the 600–900-hPa thickness variability, suggesting its thermal character. Based on this result, the temperature tendency equation has been used to quantify all the contributions to thermal changes.

The summer NAL has a significant diurnal cycle that has been dominated by surface warming. This single mechanism can explain the low pressure system formation by itself, suggesting that the NAL could always be present during this season unless an adverse process counteracts the positive contribution by the surface sensible heat flux. Other favoring processes found in the analyzed cases were the Foehn effect (warming by subsidence) and the latent heat release. The intermittent behavior of the NAL is associated with a suppression of net warming in the 600–900-hPa layer, due to a cold-air outbreak.

In the winter case, the Foehn effect has been mainly responsible for the NAL development. This mechanism acts in connection with an upper-level cyclonic disturbance approaching the Andes, indicating that the thermal response is triggered by a dynamical forcing. As the Foehn effect (locally known as Zonda wind) is a frequent winter phenomenon, the NAL intermittence during this season could be related to transient baroclinic activity, which modulates both the intensification and the decay stages.

The NAL has been regarded as a thermal-orographic system. This study suggests that the analyzed NALs behave as an almost “pure” surface thermally driven low in summer, while dynamical-orographic forcing is the organizing mechanism in winter.

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A. Celeste Saulo, Marcelo E. Seluchi, and Matilde Nicolini

Abstract

This paper concentrates on the analysis of the life cycle of the low-level jet (LLJ) during a summer Chaco jet event. This is accomplished through the use of the Eta/Centro de Previsão del Tempo e Estudos Climáticos (CPTEC) regional model, in order to obtain high temporal and spatial detail of the main processes taking place. Both the low-level circulation and the geopotential height evolution at different latitudes are analyzed to provide a more detailed description of the effects of topography and differential warming on the evolution of this current.

This study shows that the life cycle of the particular event analyzed is not the same at the different latitudes swept by this well-organized northerly current, expanding from 15° to 32°S during two consecutive days. A common feature to all the examined latitudes is the presence of a diurnal cycle linked to local effects, which is more evident during the first day and a half of the simulation. This cycle was identified not only by a nocturnal maximum of the wind, but also by the oscillations of the geostrophic wind close to the surface in response to differential warming over sloping terrain. However, during the second day, the diurnal oscillation is superseded by synoptic-scale forcing. The meridional growth of this northerly current reacts basically to a deepening of the northwestern Argentinean low, consequently becoming a geostrophic response to a synoptic perturbance. However, during the final stages of this event, a northerly wind area located over the southern tip of the current, which notably increases the northerlies' penetration toward higher latitudes, develops. This last extension is mainly due to a component of ageostrophic origin. Evidence is provided in support of the hypothesis that this secondary development is a feedback between the LLJ and the precipitation at the exit region.

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A. Celeste Saulo, Marcelo Seluchi, Claudia Campetella, and Lorena Ferreira

Abstract

NCEP short-range operational forecast and Limited Area HIBU (Federal Hydrometeorological Institute and Belgrade University) Model (LAHM) regional model performance during a 2-month period over the southern part of South America are evaluated through the analysis of bias and rmse's. While spatial structure of errors could be only examined using gridded operational analyses as the “ground truth,” observed data have been used at two radiosonde stations to have an independent control of forecast and analysis quality. LAHM precipitation forecast error has been also determined using observed 24-h accumulated precipitation over a subregion of interest.

Bias and rmse are, in general, lower for Medium-Range Forecast Model (MRF) 24-h forecasts than for the regional model, though MRF errors appear to be larger than those reported by other studies carried out over the whole Southern Hemisphere, suggesting the necessity to perform regional verification analysis whenever gridded analyses and/or forecasts are being used. This recommendation particularly holds over data-void regions like South America.

While geopotential and wind biases do not exhibit a particular pattern in either forecast, there is a clear tendency to cold biases over the whole troposphere, and for the MRF in particular, growing with height.

The results obtained from LAHM evaluation suggest that continuous development is needed to keep this regional forecast system as a plausible counterpart of available global model products for fulfillment of local requirements.

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Jose A. Marengo, Wagner R. Soares, Celeste Saulo, and Matilde Nicolini

Abstract

A climatology of the South American low-level jet east of the Andes (SALLJ) is developed using the 1950– 2000 circulation and moisture fields from the NCEP–NCAR reanalyses and available upper-air observations made in Bolivia and Paraguay since 1998. Upper- and low-level circulation fields were derived for seasonal means and SALLJ composites during the warm and cold seasons. The Bonner criterion 1 was applied for sites in central Bolivia and downstream near northern Paraguay, to determine the spatial and temporal characteristics of the SALLJ. On the circulation characteristics, SALLJ composites during the warm season show the enhanced low-level meridional moisture transport coming from equatorial South America as well as an upper-level wave train emanating from the west Pacific propagating toward South America. The intensification of the warm season SALLJ follows the establishment of an upper-level ridge over southern Brazil and a trough over most of Argentina. The circulation anomalies at upper and lower levels suggest that the intensification of the SALLJ would lead to an intensification of the South Atlantic convergence zone (SACZ) later on and to the penetration of cold fronts with an area of enhanced convection ahead at the exit region of the SALLJ.

Regarding the time variability, the SALLJ seems to occur all year long, bringing tropical moist air masses from the Amazon into southern Brazil–northern Argentina more frequently in the warm season, and bringing tropical maritime air, which is less humid than the tropical air masses coming from the subtropical Atlantic high, more frequently during the cold season. SALLJs are detected mostly during the warm season to the north of ∼20°S, while to the south the SALLJs seem to occur all year long. The diurnal cycle shows that SALLJs are more frequent and intense between 0600 and 1200 UTC for the warm season north of 20°S, while at the region downstream the maximum is detected between 0000 and 0600 UTC during the cold season. At interannual time scales, even though there is a weak tendency for stronger and more frequent warm season SALLJ episodes in years with anomalously warm surface waters in the tropical Pacific, it cannot be affirmed with a large degree of certainty that there is a strong relationship between the occurrence of El Niño events and the number and/ or intensity of SALLJ episodes. However, the 1998 El Niño featured more frequent and intense warm season jet episodes than occurred during the 1999 La Niña, and this has been demonstrated by the reanalyses, the available Pan American Climate Studies-Sound Network (PACS-SONET) upper-air observations, and by other studies using independent datasets and regional modeling.

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Pablo C. Spennemann, Juan A. Rivera, A. Celeste Saulo, and Olga C. Penalba

Abstract

This study aims to compare simulated soil moisture anomalies derived from different versions of the Global Land Data Assimilation System (GLDAS), the standardized precipitation index (SPI), and a new multisatellite surface soil moisture product over southern South America. The main motivation is the need for assessing the reliability of GLDAS variables to be used in the characterization of soil state and its variability at the regional scale. The focus is on the southeastern part of South America (SESA), which is part of the La Plata basin, one of the largest basins of the world, where agriculture is the main source of income. The results show that GLDAS data capture soil moisture anomalies and their variability, taking into account regional and seasonal dependencies and showing correspondence with other proxies used to characterize soil states. Over large portions of the domain, and particularly over SESA, the correlation with the SPI is very high, with the second version of GLDAS, version 2 (GLDAS-2 v2), exhibiting the highest values regardless of the season. Similar results were obtained by comparing the surface soil moisture anomalies from the GLDAS land surface model (LSM) against the satellite estimations for a shorter period of time. This work documents that the precipitation dataset used to force each LSM and the choice of the LSM are of major relevance for representing soil conditions in an adequate manner. The results are considered to support the use of GLDAS as an indicator of soil moisture states and for developing new soil moisture–monitoring indices that can be applied, for example, in the context of agricultural production management.

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Marcelo E. Seluchi, RenéD. Garreaud, Federico A. Norte, and A. Celeste Saulo

Abstract

The Andes Cordillera produces a significant disruption to the structure and evolution of the weather systems that cross South America. In particular, cold fronts tend to be “channeled” to the north immediately to the east of the Andes, fostering the advance of cold air incursions (cold surges) well into subtropical, and sometimes tropical, latitudes. In contrast, active cold fronts hardly reach subtropical latitudes along the western side of the Andes (Pacific sea border). Instead, as a cold front moves equatorward along the east side of the Andes, a marked low-level warming tends to appear along the west side of the subtropical Andes, leading to the formation of a mesoscale coastal low (or trough) in this region. To further understand the processes that lead to a contrasting evolution of the cold front at each side of the Andes, a typical frontal passage is studied in this work, using synoptic observations and a regional model [Eta–Centro de Previsão de Tempo e Estudos Climáticos (CPTEC)] simulation.

The passage of the postfrontal anticyclone over southern South America produces a poleward-pointing pressure gradient and, hence, geostrophic easterly flow at low levels. The tall and steep mountains block the flow, leading to a very small zonal wind component close to the slopes. Convergence (divergence) of the zonal flow to the east (west) of the subtropical Andes is largely compensated for by upward (downward) motion, and the associated cooling (warming) over this region. The weak zonal wind component near the Andes also breaks down the geostrophic balance over this region, giving rise to an acceleration of the southerly winds (i.e., along-barrier flow) and the consequent increase in cold advection. Therefore, to the east of the subtropical Andes both horizontal and vertical advection cool the lower troposphere, fostering the equatorward propagation of the cold front. To the west of the Andes, horizontal advection is largely offset by the strong warming associated with the enhanced subsidence over that region hindering the advance of the cold front into subtropical latitudes.

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Pablo C. Spennemann, Juan A. Rivera, Marisol Osman, A. Celeste Saulo, and Olga C. Penalba

Abstract

The importance of forecasting extreme wet and dry conditions from weeks to months in advance relies on the need to prevent considerable socioeconomic losses, mainly in regions of large populations and where agriculture is a key value for the economies, such as southern South America (SSA). To improve the understanding of the performance and uncertainties of seasonal soil moisture and precipitation forecasts over SSA, this study aims to 1) perform a general assessment of the Climate Forecast System, version 2 (CFSv2), soil moisture and precipitation forecasts against observations and soil moisture simulations based on GLDAS, version 2.0; 2) evaluate the ability of CFSv2 to represent wet and dry events through the forecasted standardized precipitation index (SPI) and standardized soil moisture anomalies (SSMA); and 3) analyze the capability of a statistical methodology (merging observations and forecasts) in representing a severe drought event. Results show that both SPI and SSMA forecast skill are regionally and seasonally dependent. In general, a fast degradation of the forecasts skill is observed as the lead time increases, resulting in almost no added value with regard to climatology at lead times longer than 3 months. Additionally, a better performance of the SSMA forecasts is observed compared to SPI calculated using three months of precipitation (SPI3), with a higher skill for dry events against wet events. The CFSv2 forecasts are able to represent the spatial patterns of the 2008/09 severe drought event, although it shows crucial limitations regarding the identification of drought onset, duration, severity, and demise, considering both meteorological (SPI) and agricultural (SSMA) drought conditions.

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Brant Liebmann, George N. Kiladis, Carolina S. Vera, A. Celeste Saulo, and Leila M. V. Carvalho

Abstract

Regional and large-scale circulation anomalies associated with variations in rainfall downstream of the South American low-level jet are identified and compared to those in the South Atlantic convergence zone (SACZ). Composites of precipitation associated with strong jets reveal an approximate doubling of the quantities one would expect from climatology, with an evolution of the rainfall pattern from south to north. The occurrence of extreme precipitation events follows a similar pattern. Meridional cross sections of composite wind reveal a distinct low-level jet near 20°S and a baroclinic development farther south that appears to force the jet. Geopotential height, temperature, and large-scale wind composites suggest that this developing disturbance is tied to a wave train that originates in the midlatitude Pacific and turns equatorward as it crosses the Andes Mountains. Similar composites based on SACZ rainfall reveal similar features, but of opposite sign, suggesting that the phase of the wave as it crosses the Andes Mountains determines whether rainfall will be enhanced downstream of the jet or in the SACZ. The alternate suppression or enhancement of rainfall in these adjacent regions results in a precipitation “dipole.” Many previous studies have found a similar out-of-phase relationship over many time scales. The phase of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is composited relative to anomalous precipitation events, revealing statistically relevant amplitudes associated with rainfall both downstream of the jet and in the SACZ. The MJO is a particularly interesting intraseasonal oscillation because it has some predictability. It is speculated that the slowly varying dipole that has been observed is a consequence of the preferred phasing of synoptic waves due to variations of the planetary-scale basic-state flow, which is at times associated with the MJO.

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Adrian M. Tompkins, María Inés Ortiz De Zárate, Ramiro I. Saurral, Carolina Vera, Celeste Saulo, William J. Merryfield, Michael Sigmond, Woo-Sung Lee, Johanna Baehr, Alain Braun, Amy Butler, Michel Déqué, Francisco J. Doblas-Reyes, Margaret Gordon, Adam A. Scaife, Yukiko Imada, Masayoshi Ishii, Tomoaki Ose, Ben Kirtman, Arun Kumar, Wolfgang A. Müller, Anna Pirani, Tim Stockdale, Michel Rixen, and Tamaki Yasuda
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Adam C. Varble, Stephen W. Nesbitt, Paola Salio, Joseph C. Hardin, Nitin Bharadwaj, Paloma Borque, Paul J. DeMott, Zhe Feng, Thomas C. J. Hill, James N. Marquis, Alyssa Matthews, Fan Mei, Rusen Öktem, Vagner Castro, Lexie Goldberger, Alexis Hunzinger, Kevin R. Barry, Sonia M. Kreidenweis, Greg M. McFarquhar, Lynn A. McMurdie, Mikhail Pekour, Heath Powers, David M. Romps, Celeste Saulo, Beat Schmid, Jason M. Tomlinson, Susan C. van den Heever, Alla Zelenyuk, Zhixiao Zhang, and Edward J. Zipser

Abstract

The Cloud, Aerosol, and Complex Terrain Interactions (CACTI) field campaign was designed to improve understanding of orographic cloud life cycles in relation to surrounding atmospheric thermodynamic, flow, and aerosol conditions. The deployment to the Sierras de Córdoba range in north-central Argentina was chosen because of very frequent cumulus congestus, deep convection initiation, and mesoscale convective organization uniquely observable from a fixed site. The C-band Scanning Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Precipitation Radar was deployed for the first time with over 50 ARM Mobile Facility atmospheric state, surface, aerosol, radiation, cloud, and precipitation instruments between October 2018 and April 2019. An intensive observing period (IOP) coincident with the RELAMPAGO field campaign was held between 1 November and 15 December during which 22 flights were performed by the ARM Gulfstream-1 aircraft. A multitude of atmospheric processes and cloud conditions were observed over the 7-month campaign, including numerous orographic cumulus and stratocumulus events; new particle formation and growth producing high aerosol concentrations; drizzle formation in fog and shallow liquid clouds; very low aerosol conditions following wet deposition in heavy rainfall; initiation of ice in congestus clouds across a range of temperatures; extreme deep convection reaching 21-km altitudes; and organization of intense, hail-containing supercells and mesoscale convective systems. These comprehensive datasets include many of the first ever collected in this region and provide new opportunities to study orographic cloud evolution and interactions with meteorological conditions, aerosols, surface conditions, and radiation in mountainous terrain.

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