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Francis X. Giraldo

Abstract

This paper shows how to obtain accurate and efficient trajectory calculations for spherical geodesic grids in Cartesian space. Determination of the departure points is essential to characteristic-based methods that trace the value of a function to the foot of the characteristics and then either integrate or interpolate at this location. In this paper, the departure points are all computed in relation to the spherical geodesic grids that are composed of a disjoint set of unstructured equilateral triangles. Interpolating and noninterpolating trajectory calculation approaches are both illustrated and the accuracy of both methods are compared. The noninterpolating method of McGregor results in the most accurate trajectories. The challenge in using McGregor’s method on unstructured triangular grids lies in the computation of the derivatives required in the high-order terms of the Taylor series expansion. This paper extends McGregor’s method to unstructured triangular grids by describing an accurate and efficient method for constructing the derivatives in an element by element approach typical of finite element methods. An order of accuracy analysis reveals that these numerical derivatives are second-order accurate.

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Francis X. Giraldo
and
Thomas E. Rosmond

Abstract

A new dynamical core for numerical weather prediction (NWP) based on the spectral element method is presented. This paper represents a departure from previously published work on solving the atmospheric primitive equations in that the horizontal operators are all written, discretized, and solved in 3D Cartesian space. The advantages of using Cartesian space are that the pole singularity that plagues the equations in spherical coordinates disappears; any grid can be used, including latitude–longitude, icosahedral, hexahedral, and adaptive unstructured grids; and the conversion to a semi-Lagrangian formulation is easily achieved. The main advantage of using the spectral element method is that the horizontal operators can be approximated by local high-order elements while scaling efficiently on distributed-memory computers. In order to validate the 3D global atmospheric spectral element model, results are presented for seven test cases: three barotropic tests that confirm the exponential accuracy of the horizontal operators and four baroclinic test cases that validate the full 3D primitive hydrostatic equations. These four baroclinic test cases are the Rossby–Haurwitz wavenumber 4, the Held–Suarez test, and the Jablonowski–Williamson balanced initial state and baroclinic instability tests. Comparisons with four operational NWP and climate models demonstrate that the spectral element model is at least as accurate as spectral transform models while scaling linearly on distributed-memory computers.

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Tae-Hyeong Yi
and
Francis X. Giraldo

Abstract

This study addresses the treatment of vertical discretization for a high-order, spectral element model of a nonhydrostatic atmosphere in which the governing equations of the model are separated into horizontal and vertical components by introducing a coordinate transformation, so that one can use different orders and types of approximations in both directions. The vertical terms of the decoupled governing equations are discretized using finite elements based on either Lagrange or basis-spline polynomial functions in the sigma coordinate, while maintaining the high-order spectral elements for the discretization of the horizontal terms. This leads to the fact that the high-order model of spectral elements with a nonuniform grid, interpolated within an element, can be easily accommodated with existing physical parameterizations. Idealized tests are performed to compare the accuracy and efficiency of the vertical discretization methods, in addition to the central finite differences, with those of the standard high-order spectral element approach. Our results show, through all the test cases, that the finite element with the cubic basis-spline function is more accurate than the other vertical discretization methods at moderate computational cost. Furthermore, grid dependency studies in the tests with and without orography indicate that the convergence rate of the vertical discretization methods is lower than the expected level of discretization accuracy, especially in the Schär mountain test, which yields approximately first-order convergence.

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Saša Gaberšek
,
Francis X. Giraldo
, and
James D. Doyle

Abstract

A nonhydrostatic, fully compressible spectral element (SE) model is evaluated in a series of two-dimensional idealized simulations. A dry formulation of the model is evaluated for a linear hydrostatic mountain-wave case, and a version with moisture is tested for a squall line. In the SE method, two setup parameters control the spatial resolution: the number of elements (h) and the polynomial order (p) of the basis functions. In this paper, the hp parameter space is systematically explored, with the average horizontal resolution (Δx) varying from 0.2 to 10 km in 91 simulations.

The dry experiments are evaluated using an analytic solution. The ratio of Δx/a < 0.2, where a is the mountain half-width, is sufficient to accurately resolve the mountain wave. Accuracy, computational cost, and convergence to the analytic solution are evaluated and compared to a second-order finite-difference (FD) model. The increase in computational cost by refining the spatial resolution yields a significant accuracy gain for the SE, with only a marginal improvement for the FD model.

The squall line is evaluated across the control parameter space by assessing three integrated quantities: total precipitation accumulation, maximum vertical velocity, and maximum precipitation rate. The squall line is adequately resolved with Δx < 2 km and p > 5. There is little variation in metrics due to the varying nodal spacing within an element at the same average Δx. When the spatial resolution is refined, the analyzed metrics no longer converge. The nonlinear nature of moist convection is responsible for this resolution dependence as a result of localized buoyancy sources, evident in the vertical velocity spectrum.

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Stephen R. Guimond
,
Jon M. Reisner
,
Simone Marras
, and
Francis X. Giraldo

Abstract

The fundamental pathways for tropical cyclone (TC) intensification are explored by considering axisymmetric and asymmetric impulsive thermal perturbations to balanced, TC-like vortices using the dynamic cores of three different nonlinear numerical models. Attempts at reproducing the results of previous work, which used the community WRF Model, revealed a discrepancy with the impacts of purely asymmetric thermal forcing. The current study finds that thermal asymmetries can have an important, largely positive role on the vortex intensification, whereas other studies find that asymmetric impacts are negligible.

Analysis of the spectral energetics of each numerical model indicates that the vortex response to asymmetric thermal perturbations is significantly damped in WRF relative to the other models. Spectral kinetic energy budgets show that this anomalous damping is primarily due to the increased removal of kinetic energy from the vertical divergence of the vertical pressure flux, which is related to the flux of inertia–gravity wave energy. The increased kinetic energy in the other two models is shown to originate around the scales of the heating and propagate upscale with time from nonlinear effects. For very large thermal amplitudes (50 K), the anomalous removal of kinetic energy due to inertia–gravity wave activity is much smaller, resulting in good agreement between models.

The results of this paper indicate that the numerical treatment of small-scale processes that project strongly onto inertia–gravity wave energy can lead to significant differences in asymmetric TC intensification. Sensitivity tests with different time integration schemes suggest that diffusion entering into the implicit solution procedure is partly responsible for the anomalous damping of energy.

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Eric A. Hendricks
,
Michal A. Kopera
,
Francis X. Giraldo
,
Melinda S. Peng
,
James D. Doyle
, and
Qingfang Jiang

Abstract

The utility of static and adaptive mesh refinement (SMR and AMR, respectively) are examined for idealized tropical cyclone (TC) simulations in a two-dimensional spectral element f-plane shallow-water model. The SMR simulations have varying sizes of the statically refined meshes (geometry based) while the AMR simulations use a potential vorticity (PV) threshold to adaptively refine the mesh to the evolving TC. Numerical simulations are conducted for four cases: (i) TC-like vortex advecting in a uniform flow, (ii) binary vortex interaction, (iii) barotropic instability of a PV ring, and (iv) barotropic instability of a thin strip of PV. For each case, a uniform grid high-resolution “truth” simulation is compared to two different SMR simulations and three different AMR simulations for accuracy and efficiency. The multiple SMR and AMR simulations have variations in the number of fully refined elements in the vicinity of the TC. For these idealized cases, it is found that the SMR and AMR simulations are able to resolve the vortex dynamical processes (e.g., barotropic instability, Rossby wave breaking, and filamentation) as well as the truth simulations, with no significant loss in accuracy in the refined region in the vortex vicinity and with significant speedups (factors of 4–15, depending on the total number of refined elements). The overall accuracy is enhanced by a greater area of fully refined mesh in both the SMR and AMR simulations.

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