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Da Yang

Abstract

Organized rainstorms and their associated overturning circulations can self-emerge over an ocean surface with uniform temperature in cloud-resolving simulations. This phenomenon is referred to as convective self-aggregation. Convective self-aggregation is argued to be an important building block for tropical weather systems and may help regulate tropical atmospheric humidity and thereby tropical climate stability. Here the author presents a boundary layer theory for the horizontal scale λ of 2D (x, z) convective self-aggregation by considering both the momentum and energy constraints for steady circulations. This theory suggests that λ scales with the product of the boundary layer height h and the square root of the amplitude of density variation between aggregated moist and dry regions in the boundary layer, and that this density variation mainly arises from the moisture variation due to the virtual effect of water vapor. This theory predicts the following: 1) the order of magnitude of λ is ~2000 km, 2) the aspect ratio of the boundary layer λ/h increases with surface warming, and 3) λ decreases when the virtual effect of water vapor is disabled. These predictions are confirmed using a suite of cloud-resolving simulations spanning a wide range of climates.

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Da Yang

Abstract

Randomly distributed convective storms can self-aggregate in the absence of large-scale forcings. Here we present a 1D shallow water model to study the convective self-aggregation. This model simulates the dynamics of the planetary boundary layer and represents convection as a triggered process. Once triggered, convection lasts for finite time and occupies finite length. We show that the model can successfully simulate self-aggregation, and that the results are robust to a wide range of parameter values. In the simulations, convection excites gravity waves. The gravity waves then form a standing wave pattern, separating the domain into convectively active and inactive regions. We analyze the available potential energy (APE) budget and show that convection generates APE, providing energy for self-aggregation. By performing dimensional analysis, we develop a scaling theory for the size of convective aggregation, which is set by the gravity wave speed, damping timescale, and number density of convective storms. This paper provides a simple modeling framework to further study convective self-aggregation.

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Da Yang and Andrew P. Ingersoll

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The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO), also known as the intraseasonal oscillation (ISO), is a planetary-scale mode of variation in the tropical Indian and western Pacific Oceans. Basic questions about the MJO are why it propagates eastward at ∼5 m s−1, why it lasts for intraseasonal time scales, and how it interacts with the fine structure that is embedded in it. This study will test the hypothesis that the MJO is not a wave but a wave packet—the interference pattern produced by a narrow frequency band of mixed Rossby–gravity (MRG) waves. As such, the MJO would propagate with the MRG group velocity, which is eastward at ∼5 m s−1. Simulation with a 3D model shows that MRG waves can be forced independently by relatively short-lived, eastward- and westward-moving disturbances, and the MRG wave packet can last long enough to form the intraseasonal variability. This hypothesis is consistent with the view that the MJO is episodic, with an irregular time interval between events rather than a periodic oscillation. The packet is defined as the horizontally smoothed variance of the MRG wave—the rectified MRG wave, which has features in common with the MJO. The two-dimensional Fourier analysis of the NOAA outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) dataset herein indicates that there is a statistically significant correlation between the MJO amplitude and wave packets of MRG waves but not equatorial Rossby waves or Kelvin waves, which are derived from the Matsuno shallow water theory. However, the biggest absolute value of the correlation coefficient is only 0.21, indicating that the wave packet hypothesis explains only a small fraction of the variance of the MJO in the OLR data.

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Da Yang and Andrew P. Ingersoll

Abstract

The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is the dominant mode of intraseasonal variability in the tropics. Despite its primary importance, a generally accepted theory that accounts for fundamental features of the MJO, including its propagation speed, planetary horizontal scale, multiscale features, and quadrupole structures, remains elusive. In this study, the authors use a shallow-water model to simulate the MJO. In this model, convection is parameterized as a short-duration localized mass source and is triggered when the layer thickness falls below a critical value. Radiation is parameterized as a steady uniform mass sink. The following MJO-like signals are observed in the simulations: 1) slow eastward-propagating large-scale disturbances, which show up as low-frequency, low-wavenumber features with eastward propagation in the spectral domain, 2) multiscale structures in the time–longitude (Hovmöller) domain, and 3) quadrupole vortex structures in the longitude–latitude (map view) domain. The authors propose that the simulated MJO signal is an interference pattern of westward and eastward inertia–gravity (WIG and EIG) waves. Its propagation speed is half of the speed difference between the WIG and EIG waves. The horizontal scale of its large-scale envelope is determined by the bandwidth of the excited waves, and the bandwidth is controlled by the number density of convection events. In this model, convection events trigger other convection events, thereby aggregating into large-scale structures, but there is no feedback of the large-scale structures onto the convection events. The results suggest that the MJO is not so much a low-frequency wave, in which convection acts as a quasi-equilibrium adjustment, but is more a pattern of high-frequency waves that interact directly with the convection.

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Da Yang and Seth D. Seidel

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The molar mass of water vapor is much less than that of dry air. This makes a moist parcel lighter than a dry parcel of the same temperature and pressure. This effect is referred to as the vapor buoyancy effect and has often been overlooked in climate studies. We propose that the vapor buoyancy effect increases Earth’s outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) and that this negative radiative effect increases with warming, stabilizing Earth’s climate. We illustrate this mechanism in an idealized tropical atmosphere, where there is no horizontal buoyancy gradient in the free troposphere. Temperature increases toward dry atmosphere columns to compensate the reduced vapor buoyancy, increasing OLR by O(1 W m−2) at the reference climate. In warmer climates, the temperature difference between moist and dry columns would increase as a result of increasing atmospheric water vapor, leading to enhanced radiative effect and thereby stabilizing Earth’s climate. We estimate that this feedback strength is about O(0.2 W m−2 K−1) in the idealized atmosphere, which compares to cloud feedback and surface albedo feedback in the current climate. We further show evidence from observations and real-gas radiative transfer calculations for a significant radiative effect of vapor buoyancy in the tropical atmosphere.

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Michael S. Pritchard and Da Yang

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The climate sensitivity of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is measured across a broad range of temperatures (1°–35°C) using a convection-permitting global climate model with homogenous sea surface temperatures. An MJO-like signal is found to be resilient in all simulations. These results are used to investigate two ideas related to the modern “moisture mode” view of MJO dynamics. The first hypothesis is that the MJO has dynamics analogous to a form of radiative convective self-aggregation in which longwave energy maintenance mechanisms shut down for SST ≪ 25°C. Inconsistent with this hypothesis, the explicitly simulated MJO survives cooling and retains leading moist static energy (MSE) budget terms associated with longwave destabilization even at SST < 10°C. Thus, if the MJO is a form of longwave-assisted self-aggregation, it is not one that is temperature critical, as is observed in some cases of radiative–convective equilibrium (RCE) self-aggregation. The second hypothesis is that the MJO is propagated by horizontal advection of column MSE. Inconsistent with this view, the simulated MJO survives reversal of meridional moisture gradients in the basic state and a striking role for horizontal MSE advection in its propagation energy budget cannot be detected. Rather, its eastward motion is balanced by vertical MSE advection reminiscent of gravity or Kelvin wave dynamics. These findings could suggest a tight relation between the MJO and classic equatorial waves, which would tend to challenge moisture mode views of MJO dynamics that assume horizontal moisture advection as the MJO’s propagator. The simulation suite provides new opportunities for testing predictions from MJO theory across a broad climate regime.

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Da-Sheng Yang and T. N. Krishnamurti

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A study of the potential vorticity budget for the low-level flows over the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean is presented here. This study covers a 17-day period between 11 and 27 June 1979 during the GARP Monsoon Experiment (MONEX). Data sets for this study include the special observing systems for the Global Experiment, i.e., cloud winds from the geostationary satellites, surface and upper air data from the First GARP Global Experiment, FGGE and MONEX, data from low-level constant-level balloons, upper air data from dropwindsonde aircraft, and the World Weather Watch. The selection of the 17-day period is important logically for both phenomena and from the availability of the maximum data sets, over oceans during the global experiment. As many as 50 soundings per day were available from this observing system. The framework for the calculations are three equations that describe the changes in potential vorticity, absolute vorticity and the dry static stability. These equations include as relevant forcing the effects of shortwave and longwave radiative processes, shallow and deep cumulus convection, surface friction, and the air-sea transfers of momentum, heat and moisture.

The period of this study coincides with that of the onset and establishment of deep moist westerlies of the monsoons. The Somali jet established itself around 10°N during this period and the onset of monsoon rain had begun. A large increase of positive potential vorticity on the cyclonic shear side of the low-level jet is attributed to an increase of both the absolute vorticity and of the dry static stability. The mechanisms responsible for this increase are explored via detailed budget calculations. The salient mechanisms arise from the covariance of potential vorticity and differential radiative heating along the vertical, and vertical convergence of potential vorticity by the cumulus mass flux, which contributes to a generation of potential vorticity. On the other hand, the role of horizontal advection and friction seems to be opposite.

The meridional flow is countergradient, such that horizontal advection brings low values of dry static stability, absolute vorticity and potential vorticity into the region of their large positive values north of the equator. The wind-stress curl in this region is positive; it contributes to a diminution of the absolute as well as potential vorticity.

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Ming-Jen Yang, Da-Lin Zhang, and Hsiao-Ling Huang

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Although there have been many observational and modeling studies of tropical cyclones, understanding of their intensity and structural changes after landfall is rather limited. In this study, several 84-h cloud-resolving simulations of Typhoon Nari (2001), a typhoon that produced torrential rainfall of more than 1400 mm over Taiwan, are carried out using a quadruply nested–grid mesoscale model whose finest grid size was 2 km. It is shown that the model reproduces reasonably well Nari’s kinematic and precipitation features as well as structural changes, as verified against radar and rain gauge observations. These include the storm track, the contraction and sizes of the eye and eyewall, the spiral rainbands, the rapid pressure rise (∼1.67 hPa h−1) during landfall, and the nearly constant intensity after landfall. In addition, the model captures the horizontal rainfall distribution and some local rainfall maxima associated with Taiwan’s orography.

A series of sensitivity experiments are performed in which Taiwan’s topography is reduced to examine the topographic effects on Nari’s track, intensity, rainfall distribution, and amount. Results show that the impact of island terrain on Nari’s intensity is nearly linear, with stronger storm intensity but less rainfall in lower-terrain runs. In contrast, changing the terrain heights produces nonlinear tracks with circular shapes and variable movements associated with different degrees of blocking effects. Parameter and diagnostic analyses reveal that the nonlinear track dependence on terrain heights results from the complex interactions between the environmental steering flow, Nari’s intensity, and Taiwan’s topography, whereas the terrain-induced damping effects balance the intensifying effects of latent heat release associated with the torrential rainfall in maintaining the near-constant storm intensity after landfall.

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Hong-Bo Liu, Jing Yang, Da-Lin Zhang, and Bin Wang

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During the mei-yu season of the summer of 2003, the Yangtze and Huai River basin (YHRB) encountered anomalously heavy rainfall, and the northern YHRB (nYHRB) suffered a severe flood because of five continuous extreme rainfall events. A spectral analysis of daily rainfall data over YHRB reveals two dominant frequency modes: one peak on day 14 and the other on day 4 (i.e., the quasi-biweekly and synoptic-scale mode, respectively). Results indicate that the two scales of disturbances contributed southwesterly and northeasterly anomalies, respectively, to the mei-yu frontal convergence over the southern YHRB (sYHRB) at the peak wet phase. An analysis of bandpass-filtered circulations shows that the lower and upper regions of the troposphere were fully coupled at the quasi-biweekly scale, and a lower-level cyclonic anomaly over sYHRB was phase locked with an anticyclonic anomaly over the Philippines. At the synoptic scale, the strong northeasterly components of an anticyclonic anomaly with a deep cold and dry layer helped generate the heavy rainfall over sYHRB. Results also indicate the passages of five synoptic-scale disturbances during the nYHRB rainfall. Like the sYHRB rainfall, these disturbances originated from the periodical generations of cyclonic and anticyclonic anomalies at the downstream of the Tibetan Plateau. The nYHRB rainfalls were generated as these disturbances moved northeastward under the influence of monsoonal flows and higher-latitude eastward-propagating Rossby wave trains. It is concluded that the sYHRB heavy rainfall resulted from the superposition of quasi-biweekly and synoptic-scale disturbances, whereas the intermittent passages of five synoptic-scale disturbances led to the flooding rainfall over nYHRB.

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Na Wei, Ying Li, Da-Lin Zhang, Zi Mai, and Shi-Qi Yang

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The geographical and temporal characteristics of upper-tropospheric cold low (UTCL) and their relationship to tropical cyclone (TC) track and intensity change over the western North Pacific (WNP) during 2000–12 are examined using the TC best track and global meteorological reanalysis data. An analysis of the two datasets shows that 73% of 346 TCs coexist with 345 UTCLs, and 21% of the latter coexist with TCs within an initial cutoff distance of 15°. By selecting those coexisted systems within this distance, the possible influences of UTCL on TC track and intensity change are found, depending on their relative distance and on the sectors of UTCLs where TCs are located. Results show that the impact of UTCLs on TC directional changes are statistically insignificant when averaged within the 15° radius. However, left-turning TCs within 5° distance from the UTCL center exhibit large deviated directional changes from the WNP climatology, due to the presence of highly frequent abrupt left turnings in the eastern semicircle of UTCL. The abrupt turnings of TCs are often accompanied by their slow-down movements. Results also show that TCs seem more (less) prone to intensify at early (late) development stages when interacting with UTCLs compared to the WNP climatology. Intensifying (weakening) TCs are more distributed in the southern (northern) sectors of UTCLs, with less hostile conditions for weakening within 9°–13° radial range. In addition, rapid intensifying TCs take place in the south-southwest and east-southeast sectors of UTCLs, whereas rapid weakening cases appear in the western semicircle of UTCLs due to their frequent proximity to mainland coastal regions.

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