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Heng Xiao and Carlos R. Mechoso

Abstract

This study examines whether shifts between the correlative evolutions of ENSO and the seasonal cycle in the tropical Pacific Ocean can produce effects that are large enough to alter the evolution of the coupled atmosphere–ocean system. The approach is based on experiments with an ocean general circulation model (OGCM) of the Pacific basin, in which the seasonal and nonseasonal (interannually varying) components of the surface forcing are prescribed with different shifts in time. The shift would make no difference in terms of ENSO variability if the system were linear. The surface fluxes of heat and momentum used to force the ocean are taken from 1) simulations in which the OGCM coupled to an atmospheric GCM produces realistic ENSO variability and 2) NCEP reanalysis data corrected by Comprehensive Ocean–Atmosphere Data Set climatology for the 20-yr period 1980–99. It is found that the response to the shifts in terms of eastern basin heat content can be 20%–40% of the maximum interannual anomaly in the first experiment, whereas it is 10%–20% in the second experiment. In addition, the response to the shift is event dependent. A response of this magnitude can potentially generate coupled atmosphere–ocean interactions that alter subsequent event evolution. Analysis of a selected event shows that the major contribution to the response is provided by the anomalous zonal advection of seasonal mean temperature in the equatorial band. Additional OGCM experiments suggest that both directly forced and delayed signals provide comparable contributions to the response. An interpretation of the results based on the “delayed oscillator” paradigm and on equatorial wave–mean flow interaction is given. It is argued that the same oceanic ENSO anomalies in different times of the oceanic seasonal cycle can result in different ENSO evolutions because of nonlinear interactions between equatorially trapped waves at work during ENSO and the seasonally varying upper-ocean currents and thermocline structure.

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Heng Xiao and Carlos R. Mechoso

Abstract

The present paper examines ways in which the seasonal cycle influences the evolution of El Niño in the tropical Pacific. The following hypotheses and associated physical mechanisms are investigated: (i) Hypothesis 1 (H1)—the seasonal warming of the cold tongue early in the calendar year (January–April) favors the initial growth of an event; (ii) hypothesis 2 (H2)—during an event, the warm surface waters migrating in the western basin from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere during the northern spring (April–May) trigger enhanced convection along the equator, which contributes to reinforce the event; and (iii) hypothesis 3 (H3)—the warm surface waters returning in the western basin from the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere toward the end of the calendar year (November–January) favor the demise of ongoing events.

Hypothesis-validation experiments are performed with a coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model (CGCM)—the tropical Pacific version of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) CGCM. The anomaly-coupling technique is applied, in which the simulated seasonal cycle and interannual variability can be separated and artificially modified to highlight the aspect targeted for examination, thus allowing for comparisons of simulations in which seasonal conditions in the CGCM’s atmospheric component are either fixed or time varying. The results obtained in the experiments are supportive of hypotheses H1 and H3. No supportive evidence is found for the validity of hypothesis H2.

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Hsi-Yen Ma, Heng Xiao, C. Roberto Mechoso, and Yongkang Xue

Abstract

This study examines the sensitivity of the global climate to land surface processes (LSP) using an atmospheric general circulation model both uncoupled (with prescribed SSTs) and coupled to an oceanic general circulation model. The emphasis is on the interactive soil moisture and vegetation biophysical processes, which have first-order influence on the surface energy and water budgets. The sensitivity to those processes is represented by the differences between model simulations, in which two land surface schemes are considered: 1) a simple land scheme that specifies surface albedo and soil moisture availability and 2) the Simplified Simple Biosphere Model (SSiB), which allows for consideration of interactive soil moisture and vegetation biophysical process. Observational datasets are also employed to assess the extent to which results are realistic.

The mean state sensitivity to different LSP is stronger in the coupled mode, especially in the tropical Pacific. Furthermore, the seasonal cycle of SSTs in the equatorial Pacific, as well as the ENSO frequency, amplitude, and locking to the seasonal cycle of SSTs, is significantly modified and more realistic with SSiB. This outstanding sensitivity of the atmosphere–ocean system develops through changes in the intensity of equatorial Pacific trades modified by convection over land. The results further demonstrate that the direct impact of land–atmosphere interactions on the tropical climate is modified by feedbacks associated with perturbed oceanic conditions (“indirect effect” of LSP). The magnitude of such an indirect effect is strong enough to suggest that comprehensive studies on the importance of LSP on the global climate have to be made in a system that allows for atmosphere–ocean interactions.

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Hsi-Yen Ma, C. Roberto Mechoso, Yongkang Xue, Heng Xiao, J. David Neelin, and Xuan Ji

Abstract

An evaluation is presented of the impact on tropical climate of continental-scale perturbations given by different representations of land surface processes (LSPs) in a general circulation model that includes atmosphere–ocean interactions. One representation is a simple land scheme, which specifies climatological albedos and soil moisture availability. The other representation is the more comprehensive Simplified Simple Biosphere Model, which allows for interactive soil moisture and vegetation biophysical processes.

The results demonstrate that such perturbations have strong impacts on the seasonal mean states and seasonal cycles of global precipitation, clouds, and surface air temperature. The impact is especially significant over the tropical Pacific Ocean. To explore the mechanisms for such impact, model experiments are performed with different LSP representations confined to selected continental-scale regions where strong interactions of climate–vegetation biophysical processes are present. The largest impact found over the tropical Pacific is mainly from perturbations in the tropical African continent where convective heating anomalies associated with perturbed surface heat fluxes trigger global teleconnections through equatorial wave dynamics. In the equatorial Pacific, the remote impacts of the convection anomalies are further enhanced by strong air–sea coupling between surface wind stress and upwelling, as well as by the effects of ocean memory. LSP perturbations over South America and Asia–Australia have much weaker global impacts. The results further suggest that correct representations of LSP, land use change, and associated changes in the deep convection over tropical Africa are crucial to reducing the uncertainty of future climate projections with global climate models under various climate change scenarios.

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Mikhail Ovchinnikov, Jerome D. Fast, Larry K. Berg, William I. Gustafson Jr., Jingyi Chen, Koichi Sakaguchi, and Heng Xiao

Abstract

Atmospheric properties in a convective boundary layer vary over a wide range of spatial scales and are commonly studied using large-eddy simulations (LES) in various configurations. We examine how the boundary layer depth and distribution of variability across scales are affected by LES grid spacing, domain size, inhomogeneity of surface properties, and external forcing. Two different setups of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model are analyzed. A semi-idealized configuration uses a periodic domain, flat surface, prescribed homogeneous surface heat fluxes, and horizontally uniform profiles of large-scale advective tendencies. A nested LES setup employs a larger domain and realistic initial and boundary conditions, including an interactive land surface model with representative topography and vegetation and soil types. Subdomains of identical size are analyzed for all simulations. Characteristic structure sizes are quantified using the variability scales L 50 and L 95, defined such that features smaller than that contain 50% and 95% of the total variance, respectively. Progressive increase in L 50 from vertical velocity to temperature and moisture structures is systematically reproduced in all simulation configurations. This dependence of L 50 on the considered variable complicates the development of scale-aware parameterizations for models with grid spacing in the “terra incognita.” In simulations using a larger domain with heterogeneous surface properties, the development of internal mesoscale patterns significantly affects variance distributions inside analyzed subdomains. Sizes of boundary layer structures also strongly depend on the LES grid spacing and, in case of heterogeneous surface and topography, on location of the subdomain inside a larger computational domain.

Open access
William I. Gustafson Jr., Andrew M. Vogelmann, Zhijin Li, Xiaoping Cheng, Kyle K. Dumas, Satoshi Endo, Karen L. Johnson, Bhargavi Krishna, Tami Fairless, and Heng Xiao
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William I. Gustafson Jr, Andrew M. Vogelmann, Zhijin Li, Xiaoping Cheng, Kyle K. Dumas, Satoshi Endo, Karen L. Johnson, Bhargavi Krishna, Tami Fairless, and Heng Xiao

Abstract

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility recently initiated the Large-Eddy Simulation (LES) ARM Symbiotic Simulation and Observation (LASSO) activity focused on shallow convection at ARM’s Southern Great Plains (SGP) atmospheric observatory in Oklahoma. LASSO is designed to overcome an oft-shared difficulty of bridging the gap from point-based measurements to scales relevant for model parameterization development, and it provides an approach to add value to observations through modeling. LASSO is envisioned to be useful to modelers, theoreticians, and observationalists needing information relevant to cloud processes. LASSO does so by combining a suite of observations, LES inputs and outputs, diagnostics, and skill scores into data bundles that are freely available, and by simplifying user access to the data to speed scientific inquiry. The combination of relevant observations with observationally constrained LES output provides detail that gives context to the observations by showing physically consistent connections between processes based on the simulated state. A unique approach for LASSO is the generation of a library of cases for days with shallow convection combined with an ensemble of LES for each case. The library enables researchers to move beyond the single-case-study approach typical of LES research. The ensemble members are produced using a selection of different large-scale forcing sources and spatial scales. Since large-scale forcing is one of the most uncertain aspects of generating the LES, the ensemble informs users about potential uncertainty for each date and increases the probability of having an accurate forcing for each case.

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Jerome D. Fast, Larry K. Berg, Lizbeth Alexander, David Bell, Emma D’Ambro, John Hubbe, Chongai Kuang, Jiumeng Liu, Chuck Long, Alyssa Matthews, Fan Mei, Rob Newsom, Mikhail Pekour, Tamara Pinterich, Beat Schmid, Siegfried Schobesberger, John Shilling, James N. Smith, Stephen Springston, Kaitlyn Suski, Joel A. Thornton, Jason Tomlinson, Jian Wang, Heng Xiao, and Alla Zelenyuk

Abstract

Shallow convective clouds are common, occurring over many areas of the world, and are an important component in the atmospheric radiation budget. In addition to synoptic and mesoscale meteorological conditions, land–atmosphere interactions and aerosol–radiation–cloud interactions can influence the formation of shallow clouds and their properties. These processes exhibit large spatial and temporal variability and occur at the subgrid scale for all current climate, operational forecast, and cloud-system-resolving models; therefore, they must be represented by parameterizations. Uncertainties in shallow cloud parameterization predictions arise from many sources, including insufficient coincident data needed to adequately represent the coupling of cloud macrophysical and microphysical properties with inhomogeneity in the surface-layer, boundary layer, and aerosol properties. Predictions of the transition of shallow to deep convection and the onset of precipitation are also affected by errors in simulated shallow clouds. Coincident data are a key factor needed to achieve a more complete understanding of the life cycle of shallow convective clouds and to develop improved model parameterizations. To address these issues, the Holistic Interactions of Shallow Clouds, Aerosols and Land Ecosystems (HI-SCALE) campaign was conducted near the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Southern Great Plains site in north-central Oklahoma during the spring and summer of 2016. We describe the scientific objectives of HI-SCALE as well as the experimental approach, overall weather conditions during the campaign, and preliminary findings from the measurements. Finally, we discuss scientific gaps in our understanding of shallow clouds that can be addressed by analysis and modeling studies that use HI-SCALE data.

Open access
Xiang-Yu Li, Hailong Wang, Jingyi Chen, Satoshi Endo, Geet George, Brian Cairns, Seethala Chellappan, Xubin Zeng, Simon Kirschler, Christiane Voigt, Armin Sorooshian, Ewan Crosbie, Gao Chen, Richard Anthony Ferrare, William I. Gustafson Jr., Johnathan W. Hair, Mary M. Kleb, Hongyu Liu, Richard Moore, David Painemal, Claire Robinson, Amy Jo Scarino, Michael Shook, Taylor J. Shingler, Kenneth Lee Thornhill, Florian Tornow, Heng Xiao, Luke D. Ziemba, and Paquita Zuidema

Abstract

Large-eddy simulation (LES) is able to capture key boundary layer (BL) turbulence and cloud processes. Yet, large-scale forcing and surface turbulent fluxes of sensible and latent heat are often poorly prescribed for LESs. We derive these quantities from measurements and reanalysis obtained for two cold-air outbreak (CAO) events during Phase I of the Aerosol Cloud Meteorology Interactions over the Western Atlantic Experiment (ACTIVATE) in February–March 2020. We study the two contrasting CAO cases by performing LES and test the sensitivity of BL structure and clouds to large-scale forcings and turbulent heat fluxes. Profiles of atmospheric state and large-scale divergence and surface turbulent heat fluxes obtained from ERA5 data agree reasonably well with those derived from ACTIVATE field measurements for both cases at the sampling time and location. Therefore, we adopt the time-evolving heat fluxes, wind, and advective tendencies profiles from ERA5 data to drive the LES. We find that large-scale thermodynamic advective tendencies and wind relaxations are important for the LES to capture the evolving observed BL meteorological states characterized by the hourly ERA5 data and validated by the observations. We show that the divergence (or vertical velocity) is important in regulating the BL growth driven by surface heat fluxes in LESs. The evolution of liquid water path is largely affected by the evolution of surface heat fluxes. The liquid water path simulated in LES agrees reasonably well with the ACTIVATE measurements. This study paves the path to investigate aerosol–cloud–meteorology interactions using LES informed and evaluated by ACTIVATE field measurements.

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