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David E. Kofron, Elizabeth A. Ritchie, and J. Scott Tyo

Abstract

As a tropical cyclone moves poleward and interacts with the midlatitude circulation, the question of whether it will undergo extratropical transition (ET) and, if it does, whether it will reintensify or dissipate, is a complex problem. Uncertainties include the tropical cyclone, the midlatitude circulation, the subtropical anticyclone, and the nonlinear interactions among these systems. A large part of the uncertainty is due to a lack of an understanding of when extratropical transition begins and how it progresses. In this study, absolute potential vorticity and isentropic, or Ertel’s, potential vorticity is examined for its ability to more consistently determine significant times (i.e., beginning or end) of the ET life cycle using the Navy Operational Global Assimilation and Prediction System gridded analyses.

It is found that isentropic potential vorticity on the 330-K potential temperature isentropic level is a good discriminator for examining the extratropical transition of tropical cyclones. At this level, a consistent “ET time” is defined as when the TC-centered circular average of isentropic potential vorticity reaches a minimum value. All 82 tropical cyclones moving into the midlatitudes meet this criterion. The completion of extratropical transition for the reintensifying cases is defined as when the storm exceeds an isentropic potential vorticity threshold value of 1.6 PVU at the 330-K potential temperature isentropic level. The success rate of this threshold value for the completion of extratropical transition for the reintensification cases is found to be 94.3% with a 27.6% false-alarm rate.

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David E. Kofron, Elizabeth A. Ritchie, and J. Scott Tyo

Abstract

As a tropical cyclone moves poleward and interacts with the midlatitude circulation, the question of whether it will undergo extratropical transition (ET) and, if it does, whether it will reintensify or dissipate, is a complex problem. Several quantities have been proposed in previous studies to describe extratropical transition including frontogenesis, 500-hPa geopotential heights, and cyclone phase-space parameters. In this study, these parameters are explored for their utility in defining an ET time using the Navy’s Operational Global Assimilation and Prediction System gridded analyses. The 500-hPa geopotential heights and frontogenesis currently do not have objective numerical definitions. Therefore, this study attempts to establish and examine threshold values that may be used to objectively define the ET time. Cyclone phase space already has numerical threshold values that can be examined.

Results show that the 500-hPa geopotential height open wave distinguishes 81 of 82 cases, but it fails to discriminate between transitioning ET and recurving non-ET cases and cannot be determined automatically. The 2D scalar frontogenesis distinguishes 77 of 82 cases but does not discriminate between transitioning ET and recurving non-ET cases. Finally, phase space successfully distinguishes 81 of 82 cases for the “ET time” defined by the asymmetry parameter but is only successful at capturing transitioning ET and recurving non-ET cases properly for 60 of 82 cases. All of the definitions are found to have disadvantages that preclude them from providing consistent guidance for when extratropical transition of a poleward-recurving tropical cyclone is occurring.

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G. M. Heymsfield, Joanne Simpson, J. Halverson, L. Tian, E. Ritchie, and J. Molinari

Abstract

Tropical Storm Chantal during August 2001 was a storm that failed to intensify over the few days prior to making landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula. An observational study of Tropical Storm Chantal is presented using a diverse dataset including remote and in situ measurements from the NASA ER-2 and DC-8 and the NOAA WP-3D N42RF aircraft and satellite. The authors discuss the storm structure from the larger-scale environment down to the convective scale. Large vertical shear (850–200-hPa shear magnitude range 8–15 m s−1) plays a very important role in preventing Chantal from intensifying. The storm had a poorly defined vortex that only extended up to 5–6-km altitude, and an adjacent intense convective region that comprised a mesoscale convective system (MCS). The entire low-level circulation center was in the rain-free western side of the storm, about 80 km to the west-southwest of the MCS. The MCS appears to have been primarily the result of intense convergence between large-scale, low-level easterly flow with embedded downdrafts, and the cyclonic vortex flow. The individual cells in the MCS such as cell 2 during the period of the observations were extremely intense, with reflectivity core diameters of 10 km and peak updrafts exceeding 20 m s−1. Associated with this MCS were two broad subsidence (warm) regions, both of which had portions over the vortex. The first layer near 700 hPa was directly above the vortex and covered most of it. The second layer near 500 hPa was along the forward and right flanks of cell 2 and undercut the anvil divergence region above. There was not much resemblance of these subsidence layers to typical upper-level warm cores in hurricanes that are necessary to support strong surface winds and a low central pressure. The observations are compared to previous studies of weakly sheared storms and modeling studies of shear effects and intensification.

The configuration of the convective updrafts, low-level circulation, and lack of vertical coherence between the upper- and lower-level warming regions likely inhibited intensification of Chantal. This configuration is consistent with modeled vortices in sheared environments, which suggest the strongest convection and rain in the downshear left quadrant of the storm, and subsidence in the upshear right quadrant. The vertical shear profile is, however, different from what was assumed in previous modeling in that the winds are strongest in the lowest levels and the deep tropospheric vertical shear is on the order of 10–12 m s−1.

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Robert Benoit, Pierre Pellerin, Nick Kouwen, Harold Ritchie, Norman Donaldson, Paul Joe, and E. D. Soulis

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to present the possibilities offered by coupled atmospheric and hydrologic models as a new tool to validate and interpret results produced by atmospheric models. The advantages offered by streamflow observations are different from those offered by conventional precipitation observations. The dependence between basins and subbasins can be very useful, and the integrating effect of the large basins facilitates the evaluation of state-of-the-art atmospheric models by filtering out some of the spatial and temporal variability that complicate the point-by-point verifications that are more commonly used. Streamflow permits a better estimate of the amount of water that has fallen over a region. A comparison of the streamflow predicted by the coupled atmospheric–hydrologic model versus the measured streamflow is sufficiently sensitive to clearly assess atmospheric model improvements resulting from increasing horizontal resolution and altering the treatment of precipitation processes in the model.

A case study using the WATFLOOD hydrologic model developed at the University of Waterloo is presented for several southern Ontario river basins. WATFLOOD is one-way coupled to a nonhydrostatic mesoscale atmospheric model that is integrated at horizontal resolutions of 35, 10, and 3 km. This hydrologic model is also driven by radar-derived precipitation amounts from King City radar observations. Rain gauge observations and measured streamflows are also available for this case, permitting multiple validation comparisons. These experiments show some uncertainties associated with each tool independently, and also the interesting complementary nature of these tools when they are used together. The predicted precipitation patterns are also compared directly with rain gauge observations and with radar data. It is demonstrated that the hydrologic model is sufficiently sensitive and accurate to diagnose model and radar errors. This tool brings an additional degree of verification that will be very important in the improvement of technologies associated with atmospheric models, radar observations, and water resource management.

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J. Simpson, E. Ritchie, G. J. Holland, J. Halverson, and S. Stewart

Abstract

With the multitude of cloud clusters over tropical oceans, it has been perplexing that so few develop into tropical cyclones. The authors postulate that a major obstacle has been the complexity of scale interactions, particularly those on the mesoscale, which have only recently been observable. While there are well-known climatological requirements, these are by no means sufficient.

A major reason for this rarity is the essentially stochastic nature of the mesoscale interactions that precede and contribute to cyclone development. Observations exist for only a few forming cases. In these, the moist convection in the preformation environment is organized into mesoscale convective systems, each of which have associated mesoscale potential vortices in the midlevels. Interactions between these systems may lead to merger, growth to the surface, and development of both the nascent eye and inner rainbands of a tropical cyclone. The process is essentially stochastic, but the degree of stochasticity can be reduced by the continued interaction of the mesoscale systems or by environmental influences. For example a monsoon trough provides a region of reduced deformation radius, which substantially improves the efficiency of mesoscale vortex interactions and the amplitude of the merged vortices. Further, a strong monsoon trough provides a vertical wind shear that enables long-lived midlevel mesoscale vortices that are able to maintain, or even redevelop, the associated convective system.

The authors develop this hypothesis by use of a detailed case study of the formation of Tropical Cyclone Oliver observed during . In this case, two dominant mesoscale vortices interacted with a monsoon trough to separately produce a nascent eye and a major rainband. The eye developed on the edge of the major convective system, and the associated atmospheric warming was provided almost entirely by moist processes in the upper atmosphere, and by a combination of latent heating and adiabatic subsidence in the lower and middle atmosphere. The importance of mesoscale interactions is illustrated further by brief reference to the development of two typhoons in the western North Pacific.

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Greg J. Holland, Lance M. Leslie, Elizabeth A. Ritchie, Gary S. Dietachmayer, Peter E. Powers, and Mark Klink

Abstract

The design concept and operational trial of a fully interactive analysis and numerical forecast system for tropical-cyclone motion are described. The design concept emphasizes an interactive system in which forecasters can test various scenarios objectively, rather than having to subjectively decide between conflicting forecasts from standardized techniques. The system is designed for use on a personal computer, or workstation, located on the forecast bench. A choice of a Barnes or statistical interpolation scheme is provided to analyze raw or bogus observations at any atmospheric level or layer mean selected by the forecaster. The track forecast is then made by integration of a nondivergent barotropic model.

An operational trial during the 1990 tropical-cyclone field experiments in the western north Pacific Ocean indicated that the system can be used very effectively in real time. A series of case-study examples is presented.

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R. E. Stewart, H. G. Leighton, P. Marsh, G. W. K. Moore, H. Ritchie, W. R. Rouse, E. D. Soulis, G. S. Strong, R. W. Crawford, and B. Kochtubajda

The Mackenzie River is the largest North American source of freshwater for the Arctic Ocean. This basin is subjected to wide fluctuations in its climate and it is currently experiencing a pronounced warming trend. As a major Canadian contribution to the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX), the Mackenzie GEWEX Study (MAGS) is focusing on understanding and modeling the fluxes and reservoirs governing the flow of water and energy into and through the climate system of the Mackenzie River Basin. MAGS necessarily involves research into many atmospheric, land surface, and hydrological issues associated with cold climate systems. The overall objectives and scope of MAGS will be presented in this article.

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D. S. Gutzler, H. - K. Kim, R. W. Higgins, H. - M. H. Juang, M. Kanamitsu, K. Mitchell, K. Mo, P. Pegion, E. Ritchie, J. - K. Schemm, S. Schubert, Y. Song, and R. Yang
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Energy and Water Cycles in a High-Latitude, North-Flowing River System

Summary of Results from the Mackenzie GEWEX Study—Phase I

W. R. Rouse, E. M. Blyth, R. W. Crawford, J. R. Gyakum, J. R. Janowicz, B. Kochtubajda, H. G. Leighton, P. Marsh, L. Martz, A. Pietroniro, H. Ritchie, W. M. Schertzer, E. D. Soulis, R. E. Stewart, G. S. Strong, and M. K. Woo

The MacKenzie Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) Study, Phase 1, seeks to improve understanding of energy and water cycling in the Mackenzie River basin (MRB) and to initiate and test atmospheric, hydrologic, and coupled models that will project the sensitivity of these cycles to climate change and to human activities. Major findings from the study are outlined in this paper. Absorbed solar radiation is a primary driving force of energy and water, and shows dramatic temporal and spatial variability. Cloud amounts feature large diurnal, seasonal, and interannual fluctuations. Seasonality in moisture inputs and outputs is pronounced. Winter in the northern MRB features deep thermal inversions. Snow hydrological processes are very significant in this high-latitude environment and are being successfully modeled for various landscapes. Runoff processes are distinctive in the major terrain units, which is important to overall water cycling. Lakes and wetlands compose much of MRB and are prominent as hydrologic storage systems that must be incorporated into models. Additionally, they are very efficient and variable evaporating systems that are highly sensitive to climate variability. Mountainous high-latitude sub-basins comprise a mosaic of land surfaces with distinct hydrological attributes that act as variable source areas for runoff generation. They also promote leeward cyclonic storm generation. The hard rock terrain of the Canadian Shield exhibits a distinctive energy flux regimen and hydrologic regime. The MRB has been warming dramatically recently, and ice breakup and spring outflow into the Polar Sea has been occurring progressively earlier. This paper presents initial results from coupled atmospheric-hydrologic modeling and delineates distinctive cold region inputs needed for developments in regional and global climate modeling.

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D. S. Gutzler, L. N. Long, J. Schemm, S. Baidya Roy, M. Bosilovich, J. C. Collier, M. Kanamitsu, P. Kelly, D. Lawrence, M.-I. Lee, R. Lobato Sánchez, B. Mapes, K. Mo, A. Nunes, E. A. Ritchie, J. Roads, S. Schubert, H. Wei, and G. J. Zhang

Abstract

The second phase of the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) Model Assessment Project (NAMAP2) was carried out to provide a coordinated set of simulations from global and regional models of the 2004 warm season across the North American monsoon domain. This project follows an earlier assessment, called NAMAP, that preceded the 2004 field season of the North American Monsoon Experiment. Six global and four regional models are all forced with prescribed, time-varying ocean surface temperatures. Metrics for model simulation of warm season precipitation processes developed in NAMAP are examined that pertain to the seasonal progression and diurnal cycle of precipitation, monsoon onset, surface turbulent fluxes, and simulation of the low-level jet circulation over the Gulf of California. Assessment of the metrics is shown to be limited by continuing uncertainties in spatially averaged observations, demonstrating that modeling and observational analysis capabilities need to be developed concurrently. Simulations of the core subregion (CORE) of monsoonal precipitation in global models have improved since NAMAP, despite the lack of a proper low-level jet circulation in these simulations. Some regional models run at higher resolution still exhibit the tendency observed in NAMAP to overestimate precipitation in the CORE subregion; this is shown to involve both convective and resolved components of the total precipitation. The variability of precipitation in the Arizona/New Mexico (AZNM) subregion is simulated much better by the regional models compared with the global models, illustrating the importance of transient circulation anomalies (prescribed as lateral boundary conditions) for simulating precipitation in the northern part of the monsoon domain. This suggests that seasonal predictability derivable from lower boundary conditions may be limited in the AZNM subregion.

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