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R. L. H. Essery, M. J. Best, R. A. Betts, P. M. Cox, and C. M. Taylor

Abstract

A land surface scheme that may be run with or without a tiled representation of subgrid heterogeneity and includes an implicit atmospheric coupling scheme is described. Simulated average surface air temperatures and diurnal temperature ranges in a GCM using this surface model are compared with climatology. Surface tiling is not found to give a clear improvement in the simulated climate but offers more flexibility in the representation of heterogeneous land surface processes. Using the same meteorological forcing in offline simulations using versions of the surface model with and without tiling, the tiled model gives slightly lower winter temperatures at high latitudes and higher summer temperatures at midlatitudes. When the surface model is coupled to a GCM, reduced evaporation in the tiled version leads to changes in cloud cover and radiation at the surface that enhance these differences.

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E. J. Barton, C. M. Taylor, C. Klein, P. P. Harris, and X. Meng

Abstract

Convection over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) has been linked to heavy rain and flooding in downstream parts of China. Understanding processes which influence the development of convection on the TP could contribute to better forecasting of these extreme events. TP scale (~1000 km) soil moisture gradients have been shown to influence formation of convective systems over the eastern TP. The importance of smaller-scale (~10 km) variability has been identified in other regions (including the Sahel and Mongolia) but has yet to be investigated for the TP. In addition, compared to studies over flat terrain, much less is known about soil moisture–convection feedbacks above complex topography. In this study we use satellite observations of cold cloud, land surface temperature, and soil moisture to analyze the effect of mesoscale soil moisture heterogeneity on the initiation of strong convection in the complex TP environment. We find that strong convection is favored over negative (positive) land surface temperature (soil moisture) gradients. The signal is strongest for less vegetation and low topographic complexity, though still significant up to a local standard deviation of 300 m in elevation, accounting for 65% of cases. In addition, the signal is dependent on background wind. Strong convective initiation is only sensitive to local (tens of kilometers) soil moisture heterogeneity for light wind speeds, though large-scale (hundreds of kilometers) gradients may still be important for strong wind speeds. Our results demonstrate that, even in the presence of complex topography, local soil moisture variability plays an important role in storm development.

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J. R. Taylor, S. M. de Bruyn Kops, C. P. Caulfield, and P. F. Linden

Abstract

Direct numerical simulations of stratified turbulence are used to test several fundamental assumptions involved in the Osborn, Osborn–Cox, and Thorpe methods commonly used to estimate the turbulent diffusivity from field measurements. The forced simulations in an idealized triply periodic computational domain exhibit characteristic features of stratified turbulence including intermittency and layer formation. When calculated using the volume-averaged dissipation rates from the simulations, the vertical diffusivities inferred from the Osborn and Osborn–Cox methods are within 40% of the value diagnosed using the volume-averaged buoyancy flux for all cases, while the Thorpe-scale method performs similarly well in the simulation with a relatively large buoyancy Reynolds number (Reb ≃ 240) but significantly overestimates the vertical diffusivity in simulations with Reb < 60. The methods are also tested using a limited number of vertical profiles randomly selected from the computational volume. The Osborn, Osborn–Cox, and Thorpe-scale methods converge to their respective estimates based on volume-averaged statistics faster than the vertical diffusivity calculated directly from the buoyancy flux, which is contaminated with reversible contributions from internal waves. When applied to a small number of vertical profiles, several assumptions underlying the Osborn and Osborn–Cox methods are not well supported by the simulation data. However, the vertical diffusivity inferred from these methods compares reasonably well to the exact value from the simulations and outperforms the assumptions underlying these methods in terms of the relative error. Motivated by a recent theoretical development, it is speculated that the Osborn method might provide a reasonable approximation to the diffusivity associated with the irreversible buoyancy flux.

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K. E. Taylor, M. Crucifix, P. Braconnot, C. D. Hewitt, C. Doutriaux, A. J. Broccoli, J. F. B. Mitchell, and M. J. Webb

Abstract

Feedback analysis in climate models commonly involves decomposing any change in the system’s energy balance into radiative forcing terms due to prescribed changes, and response terms due to the radiative effects of changes in model variables such as temperature, water vapor, clouds, sea ice, and snow. The established “partial radiative perturbation” (PRP) method allows an accurate separation of these terms, but requires processing large volumes of model output with an offline version of the model’s radiation code. Here, we propose an “approximate PRP” (APRP) method for the shortwave that provides an accurate estimate of the radiative perturbation, but derived from a quite modest amount of monthly mean model output.

The APRP method is based on a simplified shortwave radiative model of the atmosphere, where surface absorption and atmospheric scattering and absorption are represented by means of three parameters that are diagnosed for overcast and clear-sky portions of each model grid cell. The accuracy of the method is gauged relative to full PRP calculations in two experiments: one in which carbon dioxide concentration is doubled and another in which conditions of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) are simulated. The approximate PRP method yields a shortwave cloud feedback accurate in the global mean to within 7%. Forcings and feedbacks due to surface albedo and noncloud atmospheric constituents are also well approximated with errors of order 5%–10%. Comparison of two different model simulations of the LGM shows that the regional and global differences in their ice sheet albedo forcing fields are clearly captured by the APRP method. Hence this method is an efficient and satisfactory tool for studying and intercomparing shortwave forcing and feedbacks in climate models.

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M. J. Yelland, B. I. Moat, P. K. Taylor, R. W. Pascal, J. Hutchings, and V. C. Cornell

Abstract

A large dataset of wind stress estimates, covering a wide range of wind speed and stability conditions, was obtained during three cruises of the RRS Discovery in the Southern Ocean. These data were used by Yelland and Taylor to determine the relationship between 10-m height, neutral stability values for the drag coefficient, and the wind speed, and to devise a new formulation for the nondimensional dissipation function under diabatic conditions. These results have been reevaluated allowing for the airflow distortion caused by the ship. The acceleration and vertical displacement of the flow have been modeled in three dimensions using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). The CFD modeling was tested, first by comparison with wind tunnel measurements on models of two Canadian research ships and second, by analysis of data from four anemometers on the foremast of the RRS Charles Darwin. Originally, the four anemometers gave drag coefficient values that differed by up to 20% from one to another and were all unexpectedly high. The CFD results showed that the airflow had been decelerated by 4%–14% and displaced vertically by about 1 m. These effects caused the original drag coefficient results to be overestimated by up to 60%. After correcting for flow distortion effects, the results from the different anemometers became consistent, which gave confidence in the quantitative CFD-derived corrections.

The CFD modeling showed that the anemometer position on the RRS Discovery was much less affected by airflow distortion. For a given wind speed the CFD corrections reduced the drag coefficient by about 6%. The resulting mean drag coefficient to wind speed relationship confirmed that suggested by Smith from a more limited set of open ocean data.

The effects of flow distortion are sensitive to changes in the relative wind direction. It is shown that much of the scatter in drag coefficient estimates may be due to variations in airflow distortion rather than to the effect of changing sea states. The Discovery wind stress data is examined for evidence of a sea-state dependence: none is found. It is concluded that a wave-age-dependent wind stress formulation is not applicable to open ocean conditions.

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Neil M. Taylor, David M. L. Sills, John M. Hanesiak, Jason A. Milbrandt, Craig D. Smith, Geoff S. Strong, Susan H. Skone, Patrick J. McCarthy, and Julian C. Brimelow

Severe thunderstorms are a common occurrence in summer on the Canadian prairies, with a large number originating along the Alberta, Canada, foothills, just east of the Rocky Mountains. Most of these storms move eastward to affect the Edmonton–Calgary corridor, one of the most densely populated and fastest-growing regions in Canada. Previous studies in the United States, Europe, and Canada have stressed the importance of mesoscale features in thunderstorm development. However, such processes cannot be adequately resolved using operational observation networks in many parts of Canada. Current conceptual models for severe storm outbreaks in Alberta were developed almost 20 years ago and do not focus explicitly on mesoscale boundaries that are now known to be important for thunderstorm development.

The Understanding Severe Thunderstorms and Alber ta Boundary Layers Experiment (UNSTABLE) is a field and modeling study aiming to improve our understanding of the processes associated with the initiation of severe thunderstorms, to refine associated conceptual models, and to assess the ability of convectivescale NWP models to simulate relevant physical processes. As part of UNSTABLE in 2008, Environment Canada and university scientists conducted a pilot field experiment over the Alberta foothills to investigate mesoscale processes associated with the development of severe thunderstorms. Networks of fixed and mobile surface and upper-air instrumentation provided observations of the atmospheric boundary layer at a level of detail never before seen in this region. Preliminary results include the most complete documentation of a dryline in Canada and an analysis of variability in boundary layer evolution across adjacent forest and crop vegetation areas. Convective-scale NWP simulations suggest that although additional information on convective mode may be provided, there is limited benefit overall to downscaling to smaller grid spacing without assimilation of mesoscale observations.

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D. R. Allen, J. L. Stanford, M. A. López-Valverde, N. Nakamura, D. J. Lary, A. R. Douglass, M. C. Cerniglia, J. J. Remedios, and F. W. Taylor

Abstract

Structure and kinematics of carbon monoxide in the upper stratosphere and lower mesosphere (10–0.03 hPa) are studied for the early northern winter 1991/92 using the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite Improved Stratospheric and Mesospheric Sounder (ISAMS) measurements. The study is aided by data from a 6-week parameterized-chemistry run of the Goddard Space Flight Center 3D Chemistry and Transport Model (CTM), initialized on 8 December 1991.

Generally, CO mixing ratios increase with height due to the increasing source contribution from CO2 photolysis. In the tropical upper stratosphere, however, a local maximum in CO mixing ratio occurs. A simple photochemical model is used to show that this feature results largely from methane oxidation.

In the extratropics the photochemical lifetime of CO is long, and therefore its evolution is dictated by large-scale motion of air, evidenced by strong correlation with Ertel potential vorticity. This makes CO one of the few useful observable tracers at the stratopause level and above. Thus CO maps are used to study the synoptic evolution of the polar vortex in early January 1992.

Modified Lagrangian mean mixing diagnostics are applied to ISAMS and CTM data to examine the strength of the mixing barrier at the polar vortex edge. It is demonstrated that planetary wave activity weakens the barrier, promoting vortex erosion. The vortex erosion first appears in the lower mesosphere and subsequently descends through the upper stratosphere, and is attributed to effects of planetary wave dissipation.

Agreement between ISAMS and CTM is good in the horizontal distribution of CO throughout the examined period, but vertical CO gradients in the CTM weaken with time relative to the ISAMS observations.

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S. Platnick, P. A. Durkee, K. Nielsen, J. P. Taylor, S.-C. Tsay, M. D. King, R. J. Ferek, P. V. Hobbs, and J. W. Rottman

Abstract

The authors investigate the extent to which the contrast brightness of ship tracks, that is, the relative change in observed solar reflectance, in visible and near-infrared imagery can be explained by the microphysics of the background cloud in which they form. The sensitivity of visible and near-infrared wavelengths for detecting reflectance changes in ship tracks is discussed, including the use of a modified cloud susceptibility parameter, termed the “contrast susceptibility,” for assessing the sensitivity of background cloud microphysics on potential track development. It is shown that the relative change in cloud reflectance for ship tracks is expected to be larger in the near-infrared than in the visible and that 3.7-μm channels, widely known to be useful for detecting tracks, have the greatest sensitivity. The usefulness of contrast susceptibility as a predictor of ship track contrast is tested with airborne and satellite remote sensing retrievals of background cloud parameters and track contrast. Retrievals are made with the high spatial resolution Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer Airborne Simulator flown on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s high-altitude ER-2 aircraft, and with the larger-scale perspective of the advanced very high resolution radiometer. Observed modifications in cloud droplet effective radius, optical thickness, liquid water path, contrast susceptibility, and reflectance contrast are presented for several ship tracks formed in background clouds with both small and large droplet sizes. The remote sensing results are augmented with in situ measurements of cloud microphysics that provide data at the smaller spatial scales.

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P. A. Durkee, K. J. Noone, R. J. Ferek, D. W. Johnson, J. P. Taylor, T. J. Garrett, P. V. Hobbs, J. G. Hudson, C. S. Bretherton, G. Innis, G. M. Frick, W. A. Hoppel, C. D. O’Dowd, L. M. Russell, R. Gasparovic, K. E. Nielsen, S. A. Tessmer, E. Öström, S. R. Osborne, R. C. Flagan, J. H. Seinfeld, and H. Rand

Abstract

Anomalously high reflectivity tracks in stratus and stratocumulus sheets associated with ships (known as ship tracks) are commonly seen in visible and near-infrared satellite imagery. Until now there have been only a limited number of in situ measurements made in ship tracks. The Monterey Area Ship Track (MAST) experiment, which was conducted off the coast of California in June 1994, provided a substantial dataset on ship emissions and their effects on boundary layer clouds. Several platforms, including the University of Washington C-131A aircraft, the Meteorological Research Flight C-130 aircraft, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration ER-2 aircraft, the Naval Research Laboratory airship, the Research Vessel Glorita, and dedicated U.S. Navy ships, participated in MAST in order to study processes governing the formation and maintenance of ship tracks.

This paper tests the hypotheses that the cloud microphysical changes that produce ship tracks are due to (a) particulate emission from the ship’s stack and/or (b) sea-salt particles from the ship’s wake. It was found that ships powered by diesel propulsion units that emitted high concentrations of aerosols in the accumulation mode produced ship tracks. Ships that produced few particles (such as nuclear ships), or ships that produced high concentrations of particles but at sizes too small to be activated as cloud drops in typical stratocumulus (such as gas turbine and some steam-powered ships), did not produce ship tracks. Statistics and case studies, combined with model simulations, show that provided a cloud layer is susceptible to an aerosol perturbation, and the atmospheric stability enables aerosol to be mixed throughout the boundary layer, the direct emissions of cloud condensation nuclei from the stack of a diesel-powered ship is the most likely, if not the only, cause of the formation of ship tracks. There was no evidence that salt particles from ship wakes cause ship tracks.

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Ronald B. Smith, Alison D. Nugent, Christopher G. Kruse, David C. Fritts, James D. Doyle, Steven D. Eckermann, Michael J. Taylor, Andreas Dörnbrack, M. Uddstrom, William Cooper, Pavel Romashkin, Jorgen Jensen, and Stuart Beaton

Abstract

During the Deep Propagating Gravity Wave Experiment (DEEPWAVE) project in June and July 2014, the Gulfstream V research aircraft flew 97 legs over the Southern Alps of New Zealand and 150 legs over the Tasman Sea and Southern Ocean, mostly in the low stratosphere at 12.1-km altitude. Improved instrument calibration, redundant sensors, longer flight legs, energy flux estimation, and scale analysis revealed several new gravity wave properties. Over the sea, flight-level wave fluxes mostly fell below the detection threshold. Over terrain, disturbances had characteristic mountain wave attributes of positive vertical energy flux (EFz), negative zonal momentum flux, and upwind horizontal energy flux. In some cases, the fluxes changed rapidly within an 8-h flight, even though environmental conditions were nearly unchanged. The largest observed zonal momentum and vertical energy fluxes were MFx = −550 mPa and EFz = 22 W m−2, respectively.

A wide variety of disturbance scales were found at flight level over New Zealand. The vertical wind variance at flight level was dominated by short “fluxless” waves with wavelengths in the 6–15-km range. Even shorter scales, down to 500 m, were found in wave breaking regions. The wavelength of the flux-carrying mountain waves was much longer—mostly between 60 and 150 km. In the strong cases, however, with EFz > 4 W m−2, the dominant flux wavelength decreased (i.e., “downshifted”) to an intermediate wavelength between 20 and 60 km. A potential explanation for the rapid flux changes and the scale “downshifting” is that low-level flow can shift between “terrain following” and “envelope following” associated with trapped air in steep New Zealand valleys.

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