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J. F. Schubert

Abstract

Acoustic sounder measurements of a vertical profile of the abrupt transition from a laminar to a turbulent atmospheric boundary layer were compared with meteorological measurements made at 10 and 137 m on an instrumented tower. Sounder data show that conditions necessary for the onset of the momentum burst phenomenon exist sometime during a clear afternoon when heat flux changes sign and the planetary surface cools. Under these conditions, the lowest part of the atmospheric boundary layer becomes stable. Prior to this situation, the entire boundary layer is in turbulent motion from surface heating. The boundary layer is then an effective barrier for all fluxes, and as the maximum flux Richardson number is reached at some height close to but above the surface, turbulence is dampened and a laminar layer forms. The profile of this layer is recorded by the sounder. Surface temperature drops, a strong wind shear develops, and the Richardson number decreases below its critical value (Ricr < 0.25). Subsequently, the laminar layer is eroded by turbulence from above, and with a burst of momentum and heat, it eventually reaches the ground.

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René Schubert, Arne Biastoch, Meghan F. Cronin, and Richard J. Greatbatch

Abstract

Benthic storms are important for both the energy budget of the ocean and for sediment resuspension and transport. Using 30 years of output from a high-resolution model of the North Atlantic, it is found that most of the benthic storms in the model occur near the western boundary in association with the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Current, in regions that are generally collocated with the peak near-bottom eddy kinetic energy. A common feature is meander troughs in the near-surface jets that are accompanied by deep low pressure anomalies spinning up deep cyclones with near-bottom velocities of up to more than 0.5 m s−1. A case study of one of these events shows the importance of both baroclinic and barotropic instability of the jet, with energy being extracted from the jet in the upstream part of the meander trough and partly returned to the jet in the downstream part of the meander trough. This motivates examining the 30-yr time mean of the energy transfer from the (annual mean) background flow into the eddy kinetic energy. This quantity is shown to be collocated well with the region in which benthic storms and large increases in deep cyclonic relative vorticity occur most frequently, suggesting an important role for mixed barotropic–baroclinic instability-driven cyclogenesis in generating benthic storms throughout the model simulation. Regions of the largest energy transfer and most frequent benthic storms are found to be the Gulf Stream west of the New England Seamounts and the North Atlantic Current near Flemish Cap.

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Jia-Lin Lin, George N. Kiladis, Brian E. Mapes, Klaus M. Weickmann, Kenneth R. Sperber, Wuyin Lin, Matthew C. Wheeler, Siegfried D. Schubert, Anthony Del Genio, Leo J. Donner, Seita Emori, Jean-Francois Gueremy, Frederic Hourdin, Philip J. Rasch, Erich Roeckner, and John F. Scinocca

Abstract

This study evaluates the tropical intraseasonal variability, especially the fidelity of Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) simulations, in 14 coupled general circulation models (GCMs) participating in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). Eight years of daily precipitation from each model’s twentieth-century climate simulation are analyzed and compared with daily satellite-retrieved precipitation. Space–time spectral analysis is used to obtain the variance and phase speed of dominant convectively coupled equatorial waves, including the MJO, Kelvin, equatorial Rossby (ER), mixed Rossby–gravity (MRG), and eastward inertio–gravity (EIG) and westward inertio–gravity (WIG) waves. The variance and propagation of the MJO, defined as the eastward wavenumbers 1–6, 30–70-day mode, are examined in detail.

The results show that current state-of-the-art GCMs still have significant problems and display a wide range of skill in simulating the tropical intraseasonal variability. The total intraseasonal (2–128 day) variance of precipitation is too weak in most of the models. About half of the models have signals of convectively coupled equatorial waves, with Kelvin and MRG–EIG waves especially prominent. However, the variances are generally too weak for all wave modes except the EIG wave, and the phase speeds are generally too fast, being scaled to excessively deep equivalent depths. An interesting result is that this scaling is consistent within a given model across modes, in that both the symmetric and antisymmetric modes scale similarly to a certain equivalent depth. Excessively deep equivalent depths suggest that these models may not have a large enough reduction in their “effective static stability” by diabatic heating.

The MJO variance approaches the observed value in only 2 of the 14 models, but is less than half of the observed value in the other 12 models. The ratio between the eastward MJO variance and the variance of its westward counterpart is too small in most of the models, which is consistent with the lack of highly coherent eastward propagation of the MJO in many models. Moreover, the MJO variance in 13 of the 14 models does not come from a pronounced spectral peak, but usually comes from part of an overreddened spectrum, which in turn is associated with too strong persistence of equatorial precipitation. The two models that arguably do best at simulating the MJO are the only ones having convective closures/triggers linked in some way to moisture convergence.

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I.-S. Kang, K. Jin, K.-M. Lau, J. Shukla, V. Krishnamurthy, S. D. Schubert, D. E. Waliser, W. F. Stern, V. Satyan, A. Kitoh, G. A. Meehl, M. Kanamitsu, V. Ya. Galin, Akimasa Sumi, G. Wu, Y. Liu, and J.-K. Kim

Abstract

The atmospheric anomalies for the 1997/98 El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) period have been analyzed and intercompared using the data simulated by the atmospheric general circulation models (GCMs) of 11 groups participating in the Monsoon GCM Intercomparison Project initiated by the Climate Variability and Prediction Program (CLIVAR)/Asian–Australian Monsoon Panel. Each participating GCM group performed a set of 10 ensemble simulations for 1 September 1996–31 August 1998 using the same sea surface temperature (SST) conditions but with different initial conditions. The present study presents an overview of the intercomparison project and the results of an intercomparison of the global atmospheric anomalies during the 1997/98 El Niño period. Particularly, the focus is on the tropical precipitation anomalies over the monsoon–ENSO region and the upper-tropospheric circulation anomalies in the Pacific–North American (PNA) region.

The simulated precipitation anomalies show that all of the models simulate the spatial pattern of the observed anomalies reasonably well in the tropical central Pacific, although there are large differences in the amplitudes. However, most of the models have difficulty in simulating the negative anomalies over the Maritime Continent during El Niño. The 200-hPa geopotential anomalies over the PNA region are reasonably well reproduced by most of the models. But, the models generally underestimate the amplitude of the PNA pattern. These weak amplitudes are related to the weak precipitation anomalies in the tropical Pacific. The tropical precipitation anomalies are found to be closely related to the SST anomalies not only during the El Niño seasons but also during the normal seasons that are typified by weak SST anomalies in the tropical Pacific. In particular, the pattern correlation values of the 11-model composite of the precipitation anomalies with the observed counterparts for the normal seasons are near 0.5 for the tropical region between 30°S and 30°N.

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Ben P. Kirtman, Dughong Min, Johnna M. Infanti, James L. Kinter III, Daniel A. Paolino, Qin Zhang, Huug van den Dool, Suranjana Saha, Malaquias Pena Mendez, Emily Becker, Peitao Peng, Patrick Tripp, Jin Huang, David G. DeWitt, Michael K. Tippett, Anthony G. Barnston, Shuhua Li, Anthony Rosati, Siegfried D. Schubert, Michele Rienecker, Max Suarez, Zhao E. Li, Jelena Marshak, Young-Kwon Lim, Joseph Tribbia, Kathleen Pegion, William J. Merryfield, Bertrand Denis, and Eric F. Wood

The recent U.S. National Academies report, Assessment of Intraseasonal to Interannual Climate Prediction and Predictability, was unequivocal in recommending the need for the development of a North American Multimodel Ensemble (NMME) operational predictive capability. Indeed, this effort is required to meet the specific tailored regional prediction and decision support needs of a large community of climate information users.

The multimodel ensemble approach has proven extremely effective at quantifying prediction uncertainty due to uncertainty in model formulation and has proven to produce better prediction quality (on average) than any single model ensemble. This multimodel approach is the basis for several international collaborative prediction research efforts and an operational European system, and there are numerous examples of how this multimodel ensemble approach yields superior forecasts compared to any single model.

Based on two NOAA Climate Test bed (CTB) NMME workshops (18 February and 8 April 2011), a collaborative and coordinated implementation strategy for a NMME prediction system has been developed and is currently delivering real-time seasonal-to-interannual predictions on the NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) operational schedule. The hindcast and real-time prediction data are readily available (e.g., http://iridl.ldeo.columbia.edu/SOURCES/.Models/.NMME/) and in graphical format from CPC (www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/NMME/). Moreover, the NMME forecast is already currently being used as guidance for operational forecasters. This paper describes the new NMME effort, and presents an overview of the multimodel forecast quality and the complementary skill associated with individual models.

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