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Rolando R. Garcia and Jadwiga H. Richter

Abstract

This study documents the contribution of equatorial waves and mesoscale gravity waves to the momentum budget of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) in a 110-level version of the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model. The model has high vertical resolution, 500 m, above the boundary layer and through the lower and middle stratosphere, decreasing gradually to about 1.5 km near the stratopause. Parameterized mesoscale gravity waves and resolved equatorial waves contribute comparable easterly and westerly accelerations near the equator. Westerly acceleration by resolved waves is due mainly to Kelvin waves of zonal wavenumber in the range k = 1–15 and is broadly distributed about the equator. Easterly acceleration near the equator is due mainly to Rossby–gravity (RG) waves with zonal wavenumbers in the range k = 4–12. These RG waves appear to be generated in situ during both the easterly and westerly phases of the QBO, wherever the meridional curvature of the equatorial westerly jet is large enough to produce reversals of the zonal-mean barotropic vorticity gradient, suggesting that they are excited by the instability of the jet. The RG waves produce a characteristic pattern of Eliassen–Palm flux divergence that includes strong easterly acceleration close to the equator and westerly acceleration farther from the equator, suggesting that the role of the RG waves is to redistribute zonal-mean vorticity such as to neutralize the instability of the westerly jet. Insofar as unstable RG waves might be present in the real atmosphere, mixing due to these waves could have important implications for transport in the tropical stratosphere.

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Junhong Wei, Fuqing Zhang, and Jadwiga H. Richter

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This study investigates gravity wave spectral characteristics based on high-resolution mesoscale simulations of idealized moist baroclinic jet–front systems with varying degrees of convective instability, with the intent of improving nonorographic gravity wave parameterizations. In all experiments, there is a clear dominance of negative vertical flux of zonal momentum. The westward momentum flux is distributed around the estimated ground-based baroclinic wave phase velocity along the zonal direction, while strong moist runs indicate a dipole structure pattern with stronger westward momentum flux centers at slower phase velocity and weaker eastward momentum flux centers at faster phase velocity. The spectral properties of short-scale wave components (50–200 km) generally differ from those of medium-scale ones (200–600 km). Compared to the medium-scale wave components, the momentum flux phase speed spectra for the short-scale ones appear to be more sensitive to the increasing initial moisture content. The spectral behavior in horizontal wavenumber space or phase velocity space is highly anisotropic, with a noticeable preference along the jet direction, except for the short-scale components in strong moist runs. It is confirmed that the dry gravity wave source (i.e., upper jet and/or surface front) generates a relatively narrow and less symmetrical power spectrum (dominated by negative momentum flux) centered around lower phase velocity and horizontal wavenumber, whereas the moist gravity wave source (i.e., moist convection) generates a broader and more symmetrical power spectrum, with a broader range of phase speeds and horizontal wavenumbers. This study also shows that the properties of gravity wave momentum flux depend on the location relative to the baroclinic jet.

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Jadwiga H. Richter and Philip J. Rasch

Abstract

Transport of momentum by convection is an important process affecting global circulation. Owing to the lack of global observations, the quantification of the impact of this process on the tropospheric climate is difficult. Here an implementation of two convective momentum transport parameterizations, presented by Schneider and Lindzen and Gregory et al., in the Community Atmosphere Model, version 3 (CAM3) is presented, and their effect on global climate is examined in detail. An analysis of the tropospheric zonal momentum budget reveals that convective momentum transport affects tropospheric climate mainly through changes to the Coriolis torque. These changes result in improvement of the representation of the Hadley circulation: in December–February, the upward branch of the circulation is weakened in the Northern Hemisphere and strengthened in the Southern Hemisphere, and the lower northerly branch is weakened. In June–August, similar improvements are noted. The inclusion of convective momentum transport in CAM3 reduces many of the model’s biases in the representation of surface winds, as well as in the representation of tropical convection. In an annual mean, the tropical easterly bias, subtropical westerly bias, and the bias in the 60°S jet are improved. Representation of convection is improved along the equatorial belt with decreased precipitation in the Indian Ocean and increased precipitation in the western Pacific. The improvements of the representation of tropospheric climate are greater with the implementation of the Schneider and Lindzen parameterization.

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Richard B. Neale, Jadwiga H. Richter, and Markus Jochum

Abstract

The NCAR Community Climate System Model, version 3 (CCSM3) exhibits persistent errors in its simulation of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) mode of coupled variability. The amplitude of the oscillation is too strong, the dominant 2-yr period too regular, and the width of the sea surface temperature response in the Pacific too narrow, with positive anomalies extending too far into the western Pacific. Two changes in the parameterization of deep convection result in a significant improvement to many aspects of the ENSO simulation. The inclusion of convective momentum transport (CMT) and a dilution approximation for the calculation of convective available potential energy (CAPE) are used in development integrations, and a striking improvement in ENSO characteristics is seen. An increase in the periodicity of ENSO is achieved by a reduction in the strength of the existing “short-circuited” delayed-oscillator mode. The off-equatorial response is weaker and less tropically confined, largely as a result of the CMT and an associated redistribution of zonal momentum. The Pacific east–west structure is improved in response to the presence of convective dilution and cooling provided by increased surface fluxes. The initiation of El Niño events is fundamentally different. Enhanced intraseasonal surface stress variability leads to absolute surface westerlies and a cooling–warming dipole between the Philippine Sea and western Pacific. Lag-regression analysis shows that intraseasonal variability may play a significant role in event initiation and maintenance as opposed to being a benign response to increased SSTs. Recent observational evidence appears to support such a leading relationship.

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M. Joan Alexander, Jadwiga H(Beres) Richter, and Bruce R. Sutherland

Abstract

Some parameterizations of gravity wave mean flow forcing in global circulation models (GCMs) add realism by describing wave generation by tropospheric convection. Because the convection in GCMs is itself a parameterized process, these convectively generated wave parameterizations necessarily use many simplifying assumptions. In this work, the authors use a realistic simulation of wave generation by convection described in previous work, which was validated by observations from the Darwin Area Wave Experiment (DAWEX), to test these assumptions and to suggest some possible improvements to the parameterizations. In particular, the authors find that wave trapping in the troposphere significantly modifies the spectrum of vertically propagating waves entering the stratosphere above convective wave sources, and offer a linear method for computing wave transmission and reflection effects on the spectrum suitable for inclusion in the parameterizations. The wave fluxes originate from both a time-varying heating mechanism and an obstacle effect mechanism acting in the simulation. Methods for including both mechanisms in the parameterizations are described. Waves emanating from the obstacle effect remain very sensitive to the depth of penetration of latent heating cells into an overlying shear zone, which will continue to make it difficult to accurately parameterize in a GCM where the convective cells are not resolved.

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Claudia Stephan, M. Joan Alexander, and Jadwiga H. Richter

Abstract

Characteristic properties of gravity waves from convection over the continental United States are derived from idealized high-resolution numerical simulations. In a unique modeling approach, waves are forced by a realistic thermodynamic source based on observed precipitation data. The square of the precipitation rate and the gravity wave momentum fluxes both show lognormal occurrence distributions, with long tails of extreme events. Convectively generated waves can give forces in the lower stratosphere that at times rival orographic wave forcing. Throughout the stratosphere, zonal forces due to convective wave drag are much stronger than accounted for by current gravity wave drag parameterizations, so their contribution to the summer branch of the stratospheric Brewer–Dobson circulation is in fact much larger than models predict. A comparison of these forces to previous estimates of the total drag implies that convectively generated gravity waves are a primary source of summer-hemisphere stratospheric wave drag. Furthermore, intermittency and strength of the zonal forces due to convective gravity wave drag in the lower stratosphere resemble analysis increments, suggesting that a more realistic representation of these waves may help alleviate model biases on synoptic scales. The properties of radar precipitation and gravity waves seen in this study lead to a proposed change for future parameterization methods that would give more realistic drag forces in the stratosphere without compromising mesospheric gravity wave drag.

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Jadwiga H. Richter, Fabrizio Sassi, and Rolando R. Garcia

Abstract

Middle atmospheric general circulation models (GCMs) must employ a parameterization for small-scale gravity waves (GWs). Such parameterizations typically make very simple assumptions about gravity wave sources, such as uniform distribution in space and time or an arbitrarily specified GW source function. The authors present a configuration of the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM) that replaces the arbitrarily specified GW source spectrum with GW source parameterizations. For the nonorographic wave sources, a frontal system and convective GW source parameterization are used. These parameterizations link GW generation to tropospheric quantities calculated by the GCM and provide a model-consistent GW representation. With the new GW source parameterization, a reasonable middle atmospheric circulation can be obtained and the middle atmospheric circulation is better in several respects than that generated by a typical GW source specification. In particular, the interannual NH stratospheric variability is significantly improved as a result of the source-oriented GW parameterization. It is also shown that the addition of a parameterization to estimate mountain stress due to unresolved orography has a large effect on the frequency of stratospheric sudden warmings in the NH stratosphere by changing the propagation of stationary planetary waves into the polar vortex.

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Lorenzo M. Polvani, Lantao Sun, Amy H. Butler, Jadwiga H. Richter, and Clara Deser

Abstract

Stratospheric conditions are increasingly being recognized as an important driver of North Atlantic and Eurasian climate variability. Mindful that the observational record is relatively short, and that internal climate variability can be large, the authors here analyze a new 10-member ensemble of integrations of a stratosphere-resolving, atmospheric general circulation model, forced with the observed evolution of sea surface temperature (SST) during 1952–2003. Previous studies are confirmed, showing that El Niño conditions enhance the frequency of occurrence of stratospheric sudden warmings (SSWs), whereas La Niña conditions do not appear to affect it. However, large differences are noted among ensemble members, suggesting caution when interpreting the relatively short observational record. More importantly, it is emphasized that the majority of SSWs are not caused by anomalous tropical Pacific SSTs. Comparing composites of winters with and without SSWs in each ENSO phase separately, it is demonstrated that stratospheric variability gives rise to large and statistically significant anomalies in tropospheric circulation and surface conditions over the North Atlantic and Eurasia. This indicates that, for those regions, climate variability of stratospheric origin is comparable in magnitude to variability originating from tropical Pacific SSTs, so that the occurrence of a single SSW in a given winter is able to completely alter seasonal climate predictions based solely on ENSO conditions. These findings, corroborating other recent studies, highlight the importance of accurately forecasting SSWs for improved seasonal prediction of North Atlantic and Eurasian climate.

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Yixiong Lu, Tongwen Wu, Weihua Jie, Adam A. Scaife, Martin B. Andrews, and Jadwiga H. Richter

Abstract

It is well known that the stratospheric quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) is forced by equatorial waves with different horizontal/vertical scales, including Kelvin waves, mixed Rossby–gravity (MRG) waves, inertial gravity waves (GWs), and mesoscale GWs, but the relative contribution of each wave is currently not very clear. Proper representation of these waves is critical to the simulation of the QBO in general circulation models (GCMs). In this study, the vertical resolution in the Beijing Climate Center Atmospheric General Circulation Model (BCC-AGCM) is increased to better represent large-scale waves, and a mesoscale GW parameterization scheme, which is coupled to the convective sources, is implemented to provide unresolved wave forcing of the QBO. Results show that BCC-AGCM can spontaneously generate the QBO with realistic periods, amplitudes, and asymmetric features between westerly and easterly phases. There are significant spatiotemporal variations of parameterized convective GWs, largely contributing to a great degree of variability in the simulated QBO. In the eastward wind shear of the QBO at 20 hPa, forcing provided by resolved waves is 0.1–0.2 m s−1 day−1 and forcing provided by parameterized GWs is ~0.15 m s−1 day−1. On the other hand, westward forcings by resolved waves and parameterized GWs are ~0.1 and 0.4–0.5 m s−1 day−1, respectively. It is inferred that the eastward forcing of the QBO is provided by both Kelvin waves and mesoscale convective GWs, whereas the westward forcing is largely provided by mesoscale GWs. MRG waves barely contribute to the formation of the QBO in the model.

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Richard B. Neale, Jadwiga Richter, Sungsu Park, Peter H. Lauritzen, Stephen J. Vavrus, Philip J. Rasch, and Minghua Zhang

Abstract

The Community Atmosphere Model, version 4 (CAM4), was released as part of the Community Climate System Model, version 4 (CCSM4). The finite volume (FV) dynamical core is now the default because of its superior transport and conservation properties. Deep convection parameterization changes include a dilute plume calculation of convective available potential energy (CAPE) and the introduction of convective momentum transport (CMT). An additional cloud fraction calculation is now performed following macrophysical state updates to provide improved thermodynamic consistency. A freeze-drying modification is further made to the cloud fraction calculation in very dry environments (e.g., the Arctic), where cloud fraction and cloud water values were often inconsistent in CAM3. In CAM4 the FV dynamical core further degrades the excessive trade-wind simulation, but reduces zonal stress errors at higher latitudes. Plume dilution alleviates much of the midtropospheric tropical dry biases and reduces the persistent monsoon precipitation biases over the Arabian Peninsula and the southern Indian Ocean. CMT reduces much of the excessive trade-wind biases in eastern ocean basins. CAM4 shows a global reduction in cloud fraction compared to CAM3, primarily as a result of the freeze-drying and improved cloud fraction equilibrium modifications. Regional climate feature improvements include the propagation of stationary waves from the Pacific into midlatitudes and the seasonal frequency of Northern Hemisphere blocking events. A 1° versus 2° horizontal resolution of the FV dynamical core exhibits superior improvements in regional climate features of precipitation and surface stress. Improvements in the fully coupled mean climate between CAM3 and CAM4 are also more substantial than in forced sea surface temperature (SST) simulations.

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