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Patrick Martineau
,
Gang Chen
, and
D. Alex Burrows

Abstract

Diagnostics of finite-amplitude local wave activity (LWA) are applied to the 500-hPa geopotential height field to diagnose persistent synoptic weather events of anomalously large wave activity in the Northern Hemisphere. By considering the cyclonic and anticyclonic components of LWA separately, persistent weather systems associated with large-amplitude troughs and ridges are detected. While anticyclonic wave events are predominantly found over Europe and Alaska, cyclonic wave events usually occur over East Asia and northeastern Canada. Those preferred regions correspond to the location of planetary-scale ridges and troughs, which contribute, together with transient anomalies, to the formation of wave events. Although wave events are not blocking events per definition, they are typically associated with increased blocking in their vicinity. Their spatial relationship to blocking, however, varies depending on their cyclonic or anticyclonic nature and the type of wave-breaking signatures. Wave events are also shown to be accompanied by warm or cold temperature extremes, whose spatial pattern depends on the type of events, cyclonic or anticyclonic, and the sector affected. Trends in the frequency of wave events indicate that cyclonic wave events and the associated cold extremes affecting East Asia have become more frequent in recent decades and could be linked to recent trends toward La Niña–like conditions in the Pacific and trends toward the negative phase of Arctic Oscillation.

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D. Alex Burrows
,
Gang Chen
, and
Lantao Sun

Abstract

Studies have suggested that the persistence in the meridional vacillation of the midlatitude jet (i.e., annular mode time scale) in comprehensive climate models is related to the model biases in climatological jet latitude, with important implications for projections of future climates and midlatitude weather events. Through the use of the recently developed finite-amplitude wave activity formalism and feedback quantifying techniques, this paper has quantified the role of barotropic and baroclinic eddy feedbacks in annular mode time scales using an idealized dry atmospheric model.

The eddy–mean flow interaction that characterizes the persistent anomalous state of the midlatitude jet depends on processes associated with the lower-tropospheric source of vertically propagating Rossby waves, baroclinic mechanisms, and processes associated with upper-tropospheric wave propagation and breaking, barotropic mechanisms. A variety of climate change–like thermal forcings are used to generate a range of meridional shifts in the midlatitude eddy-driven jet. The idealized model shows a reduction in annular mode time scale associated with an increase in jet latitude, similar to comprehensive climate models. This decrease in time scale can be attributed to a similar decrease in the strength of the barotropic eddy feedback, which, in the positive phase of the annular mode, is characterized by anomalous potential vorticity (PV) mixing on the equatorward flank of the climatological jet. The decrease in subtropical PV mixing is, in turn, associated with a stronger subtropical jet as the eddy-driven jet is more distant from the subtropics. These results highlight the importance of subtropical eddy–mean flow interactions for the persistence of an eddy-driven jet.

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Shubhi Agrawal
,
Craig R. Ferguson
,
Lance Bosart
, and
D. Alex Burrows

Abstract

A spectral analysis of Great Plains 850-hPa meridional winds (V850) from ECMWF’s coupled climate reanalysis of 1901–2010 (CERA-20C) reveals that their warm season (April–September) interannual variability peaks in May with 2–6-yr periodicity, suggestive of an underlying teleconnection influence on low-level jets (LLJs). Using an objective, dynamical jet classification framework based on 500-hPa wave activity, we pursue a large-scale teleconnection hypothesis separately for LLJs that are uncoupled (LLJUC) and coupled (LLJC) to the upper-level jet stream. Differentiating between jet types enables isolation of their respective sources of variability. In the U.S. south-central plains (SCP), May LLJCs account for nearly 1.6 times more precipitation and 1.5 times greater V850 compared to LLJUCs. Composite analyses of May 250-hPa geopotential height (Z250) conditioned on LLJC and LLJUC frequencies highlight a distinct planetary-scale Rossby wave pattern with wavenumber 5, indicative of an underlying circumglobal teleconnection (CGT). An index of May CGT is found to be significantly correlated with both LLJC (r = 0.62) and LLJUC (r = −0.48) frequencies. Additionally, a significant correlation is found between May LLJUC frequency and NAO (r = 0.33). Further analyses expose decadal-scale variations in the CGT–LLJC and CGT–LLJUC teleconnections that are linked to the PDO. Dynamically, these large-scale teleconnections impact LLJ class frequency and intensity via upper-level geopotential anomalies over the western United States that modulate near-surface geopotential and temperature gradients across the SCP.

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D. Alex Burrows
,
Craig R. Ferguson
, and
Lance F. Bosart

Abstract

The Great Plains (GP) southerly nocturnal low-level jet (GPLLJ) is a dominant contributor to the region’s warm-season (May–September) mean and extreme precipitation, wind energy generation, and severe weather outbreaks—including mesoscale convective systems. The spatiotemporal structure, variability, and impact of individual GPLLJ events are closely related to their degree of upper-level synoptic coupling, which varies from strong coupling in synoptic trough–ridge environments to weak coupling in quiescent, synoptic ridge environments. Here, we apply an objective dynamic classification of GPLLJ upper-level coupling and fully characterize strongly coupled (C) and relatively uncoupled (UC) GPLLJs from the perspective of the ground-based observer. Through composite analyses of C and UC GPLLJ event samples taken from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts’ Coupled Earth Reanalysis of the twentieth century (CERA-20C), we address how the frequency of these jet types, as well as their inherent weather- and climate-relevant characteristics—including wind speed, direction, and shear; atmospheric stability; and precipitation—vary on diurnal and monthly time scales across the southern, central, and northern subregions of the GP. It is shown that C and UC GPLLJ events have similar diurnal phasing, but the diurnal amplitude is much greater for UC GPLLJs. C GPLLJs tend to have a faster and more elevated jet nose, less low-level wind shear, and enhanced CAPE and precipitation. UC GPLLJs undergo a larger inertial oscillation (Blackadar mechanism) for all subregions, and C GPLLJs have greater geostrophic forcing (Holton mechanism) in the southern and northern GP. The results underscore the need to differentiate between C and UC GPLLJs in future seasonal forecast and climate prediction activities.

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D. Alex Burrows
,
Craig R. Ferguson
,
Matthew A. Campbell
,
Geng Xia
, and
Lance F. Bosart

Abstract

Low-level jets (LLJ) around the world critically support the food, water, and energy security in regions that they traverse. For the purposes of development planning and weather and climate prediction, it is important to improve understanding of how LLJs interact with the land surface and upper-atmospheric flow, and collectively, how LLJs have and may change over time. This study details the development and application of a new automated, dynamical objective classification of upper-atmospheric jet stream coupling based on a merging of the Bonner–Whiteman vertical wind shear classification and the finite-amplitude local wave activity diagnostic. The classification approach is transferable globally, but applied here only for the Great Plains (GP) LLJ (GPLLJ). The analysis spans the period from 1901 to 2010, enabled by the ECMWF climate-quality, coupled Earth reanalysis of the twentieth century. Overall, statistically significant declines in total GPLLJ event frequency over the twentieth century are detected across the entire GP corridor and attributed to declines in uncoupled GPLLJ frequency. Composites of lower- and upper-atmospheric flow are shown to capture major differences in the climatological, coupled GPLLJ, and uncoupled GPLLJ synoptic environments. Detailed analyses for southern, central, and northern GP subregions further highlight synoptic differences between weak and strong GPLLJs and provide quantification of correlations between total, coupled, and uncoupled GPLLJ frequencies and relevant atmospheric anomalies. Because uncoupled GPLLJs tend to be associated with decreased precipitation and low-level wind speed and enhanced U.S. ridge strength, this finding may suggest that support for drought over the twentieth century has waned.

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Jian Lu
,
Gang Chen
,
L. Ruby Leung
,
D. Alex Burrows
,
Qing Yang
,
Koichi Sakaguchi
, and
Samson Hagos

Abstract

Systematic sensitivity of the jet position and intensity to horizontal model resolution is identified in several aquaplanet AGCMs, with the coarser resolution producing a more equatorward eddy-driven jet and a stronger upper-tropospheric jet intensity. As the resolution of the models increases to 50 km or finer, the jet position and intensity show signs of convergence within each model group. The mechanism for this convergence behavior is investigated using a hybrid Eulerian–Lagrangian finite-amplitude wave activity budget developed for the upper-tropospheric absolute vorticity. The results suggest that the poleward shift of the eddy-driven jet with higher resolution can be attributed to the smaller effective diffusivity of the model in the midlatitudes that allows more wave activity to survive the dissipation and to reach the subtropical critical latitude for wave breaking. The enhanced subtropical wave breaking and associated irreversible vorticity mixing act to maintain a more poleward peak of the vorticity gradient, and thus a more poleward jet. Being overdissipative, the coarse-resolution AGCMs misrepresent the nuanced nonlinear aspect of the midlatitude eddy–mean flow interaction, giving rise to the equatorward bias of the eddy-driven jet. In accordance with the asymptotic behavior of effective diffusivity of Batchelor turbulence in the large Peclet number limit, the upper-tropospheric effective diffusivity of the aquaplanet AGCMs displays signs of convergence in the midlatitude toward a value of approximately 107 m2 s−1 for the ∇2 diffusion. This provides a dynamical underpinning for the convergence of the jet stream observed in these AGCMs at high resolution.

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Craig R. Ferguson
,
Shubhi Agrawal
,
Mark C. Beauharnois
,
Geng Xia
,
D. Alex Burrows
, and
Lance F. Bosart

Abstract

In the context of forecasting societally impactful Great Plains low-level jets (GPLLJs), the potential added value of satellite soil moisture (SM) data assimilation (DA) is high. GPLLJs are both sensitive to regional soil moisture gradients and frequent drivers of severe weather, including mesoscale convective systems. An untested hypothesis is that SM DA is more effective in forecasts of weakly synoptically forced, or uncoupled GPLLJs, than in forecasts of cyclone-induced coupled GPLLJs. Using the NASA Unified Weather Research and Forecasting (NU-WRF) Model, 75 GPLLJs are simulated at 9-km resolution both with and without NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive SM DA. Differences in modeled SM, surface sensible (SH) and latent heat (LH) fluxes, 2-m temperature (T2), 2-m humidity (Q2), PBL height (PBLH), and 850-hPa wind speed (W850) are quantified for individual jets and jet-type event subsets over the south-central Great Plains, as well as separately for each GPLLJ sector (entrance, core, and exit). At the GPLLJ core, DA-related changes of up to 5.4 kg m−2 in SM can result in T2, Q2, LH, SH, PBLH, and W850 differences of 0.68°C, 0.71 g kg−2, 59.9 W m−2, 52.4 W m−2, 240 m, and 4 m s−1, respectively. W850 differences focus along the jet axis and tend to increase from south to north. Jet-type differences are most evident at the GPLLJ exit where DA increases and decreases W850 in uncoupled and coupled GPLLJs, respectively. Data assimilation marginally reduces negative wind speed bias for all jets, but the correction is greater for uncoupled GPLLJs, as hypothesized.

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Matthew A. Campbell
,
Craig R. Ferguson
,
D. Alex Burrows
,
Mark Beauharnois
,
Geng Xia
, and
Lance F. Bosart

Abstract

The Great Plains (GP) low-level jet (GPLLJ) contributes to GP warm season water resources (precipitation), wind resources, and severe weather outbreaks. Past research has shown that synoptic and local mesoscale physical mechanisms (Holton and Blackadar mechanisms) are required to explain GPLLJ variability. Although soil moisture–PBL interactions are central to local mechanistic theories, the diurnal effect of regional soil moisture anomalies on GPLLJ speed, northward penetration, and propensity for severe weather is not well known. In this study, two 31-member WRF-ARW stochastic kinetic energy backscatter scheme ensembles simulate a typical warm season GPLLJ case under CONUS-wide wet and dry soil moisture scenarios. In the GP (24°–48°N, 103°–90°W), ensemble mean differences in sensible heating and PBL height of 25–150 W m−2 and 100–700 m, respectively, at 2100 UTC (afternoon) culminate in GPLLJ 850-hPa wind speed differences of 1–4 m s−1 12 hours later (0900 UTC; early morning). Greater heat accumulation in the daytime PBL over dry soil impacts the east–west geopotential height gradient in the GP (synoptic conditions and Holton mechanism) resulting in a deeper thermal low in the northern GP, causing increases in the geostrophic wind. Enhanced daytime turbulent mixing over dry soil impacts the PBL structure (Blackadar mechanism), leading to increased ageostrophic wind. Overnight geostrophic and ageostrophic winds constructively interact, leading to a faster nocturnal GPLLJ over dry soil. Ensemble differences in CIN (~50–150 J kg−1) and CAPE (~500–1000 J kg−1) have implications for severe weather predictability.

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