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John D. Farrara and Jin-Yi Yu

Abstract

The interannual variability in the southwest U.S. monsoon and its relationship to sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies is investigated via experiments conducted with the University of California, Los Angeles, atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM). When the model is run without interannual variations in SSTs at the lower boundary, the simulation of the climatological mean monsoon is quite similar to the observed. In addition, the interannual precipitation variance and wet minus dry monsoon composite differences in the precipitation and monsoon circulation are largely realistic.

When interannual variations in SSTs are introduced, the simulated interannual precipitation variance over the southwest U.S. monsoon region does not increase. Nor do SSTs seem to be important in selecting for wet or dry monsoons in this simulation, as there is little correspondence between observed wet and dry monsoon years and simulated wet and dry years. These results were confirmed through a 20-member ensemble of shorter seasonal simulations forced by an SST anomaly field corresponding to that observed for a wet minus dry southwest U.S. monsoon composite.

When the AGCM is coupled to a mixed-layer ocean model, the pattern of SST anomalies generated in association with wet and dry monsoons is remarkably similar to that observed: there is a large area of positive SST anomalies in the subtropical eastern Pacific Ocean and weaker negative anomalies in the midlatitude North Pacific and Gulf of Mexico. It is demonstrated that the SST anomalies in the Pacific Ocean are forced by anomalies in the net surface solar radiative flux from the atmosphere associated with variations in planetary boundary layer stratus clouds; these variations are enhanced by a positive feedback between SST and stratus cloud variations. The anomalies in the Gulf of Mexico are associated with anomalous latent heat fluxes there. It is concluded that internal atmospheric variations are capable of 1) producing interannual variations in the southwest U.S. monsoon that are comparable to those observed, and 2) thermodynamically forcing the SST anomalies in the adjacent Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico that are observed to accompany these variations. The implications of these results for seasonal forecasting are rather pessimistic since variations associated with internal atmospheric processes cannot be predicted on seasonal timescales.

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Jinwon Kim, Jongyoun Kim, John D. Farrara, and John O. Roads

Abstract

The impacts of the sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the northern Gulf of California (GC) on warm-season rainfall in the Arizona–New Mexico (AZNM) and the northwestern Mexico (NWM) regions associated with the North American monsoon (NAM) are examined from two sets of seasonal simulations in which different SSTs were prescribed in the GC. The simulations reproduced important features in the low-level mesoscale circulations and upper air fields around the time of monsoon rainfall onset in AZNM such as sea-breeze-like diurnal variations in the low-level winds between the GC and the land, development of south-southeasterly winds over the GC and the western slope of the Sierra Madre Occidental after the onset of rainfall, and the strengthening of the 500-hPa high over AZNM around the onset of monsoon rainfall in AZNM.

The simulated temporal variations in the upper air fields and daily rainfall, as well as the mesoscale circulation around the GC, suggest that the GC SSTs affect the water cycle around the GC mainly by altering mesoscale circulation and water vapor fluxes, but they have minimal impacts on the onset timing of monsoon rainfall in NWM and AZNM. With higher SSTs in the NGC, rainfall in NWM and AZNM increases in response to enhanced water vapor fluxes from the GC into the land. The enhanced onshore component of the low-level water vapor fluxes from the GC with higher GC SSTs results from two opposing effects: weakened sea-breeze-like circulation between the GC and the surrounding lands that tends to reduce the water vapor fluxes from the GC, and increased evaporation from the GC that tends to increase the water vapor fluxes. The simulations also suggest that the development of south-southeasterly low-level winds over the GC after monsoon rainfall onset plays an important role in enhancing rainfall as longer fetches over the GC can provide more water vapor into the low atmosphere.

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Yi Chao, Zhijin Li, John D. Farrara, and Peter Hung

Abstract

A two-dimensional variational data assimilation (2DVAR) method for blending sea surface temperature (SST) data from multiple observing platforms is presented. This method produces continuous fields and has the capability of blending multiple satellite and in situ observations. In addition, it allows specification of inhomogeneous and anisotropic background correlations, which are common features of coastal ocean flows. High-resolution (6 km in space and 6 h in time) blended SST fields for August 2003 are produced for a region off the California coast to demonstrate and evaluate the methodology. A comparison of these fields with independent observations showed root-mean-square errors of less than 1°C, comparable to the errors in conventional SST observations. The blended SST fields also clearly reveal the finescale spatial and temporal structures associated with coastal upwelling, demonstrating their utility in the analysis of finescale flows. With the high temporal resolution, the blended SST fields are also used to describe the diurnal cycle. Potential applications of this SST blending methodology in other coastal regions are discussed.

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Jin-Yi Yu, Shu-Ping Weng, and John D. Farrara

Abstract

This study uses a series of coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model (CGCM) experiments to examine the roles of the Indian and Pacific Oceans in the transition phases of the tropospheric biennial oscillation (TBO) in the Indian–Australian monsoon system. In each of the three CGCM experiments, air–sea interactions are restricted to a certain portion of the Indo-Pacific Ocean by including only that portion of the ocean in the ocean model component of the CGCM. The results show that the in-phase TBO transition from a strong (weak) Indian summer monsoon to a strong (weak) Australian summer monsoon occurs more often in the CGCM experiments that include an interactive Pacific Ocean. The out-of-phase TBO transition from a strong (weak) Australian summer monsoon to a weak (strong) Indian summer monsoon occurs more often in the CGCM experiments that include an interactive Indian Ocean. The associated sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies are characterized by an ENSO-type pattern in the Pacific Ocean and basinwide warming/cooling in the Indian Ocean. The Pacific SST anomalies maintain large amplitude during the in-phase transition in the northern autumn and reverse their sign during the out-of-phase transition in the northern spring. On the other hand, the Indian Ocean SST anomalies maintain large amplitude during the out-of-phase monsoon transition and reverse their sign during the in-phase transition. These seasonally dependent evolutions of Indian and Pacific Ocean SST anomalies allow these two oceans to play different roles in the transition phases of the TBO in the Indian–Australian monsoon system.

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John D. Farrara, Carlos R. Mechoso, and Andrew W. Robertson

Abstract

The impact of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies on the extratropical circulation during the El Niño winter of 1997–98 is studied through atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) integrations. The model’s midlatitude response is found to be very robust, of the correct amplitude, and to have a fairly realistic spatial structure. The sensitivity of the results to different aspects of the anomalous distributions of SST is analyzed. It is found that the extratropical circulation in the North Pacific–North American sector is significantly different if SST anomalies over the Indian Ocean are included. Using a comparison of observed and simulated 200-hPa streamfunction anomalies, it is argued that the modeled midlatitude impact of Indian Ocean SST anomalies is largely realistic. However, while the local sensitivity of the atmosphere to small differences in SST anomalies in the tropical Pacific can be substantial, the remote sensitivity in midlatitudes is small. Consistently, there is little difference between the simulated extratropical circulation anomalies obtained using SSTs predicted by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction in October 1997 and those obtained using observed tropical Pacific SSTs. Neither is there any detectable atmospheric signal associated with SST anomalies over the North Pacific.

Analyses of the results presented here suggest that the influence of SST anomalies in the Pacific and Indian Oceans during the selected ENSO event can be interpreted as the quasi-linear superposition of Rossby wave trains emanating from the subtropics of each ocean. An inspection of intraseasonal weather regimes suggests that the influence of tropical SST anomalies can also be described as a shift in the frequency of occurrence of the model’s modes of intrinsic variability and a change in their amplitude. These findings suggest the potential utility of SST forecasts for the tropical Indian Ocean.

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Carlos R. Mechoso, John D. Farrara, and Michael Ghil

Abstract

The intraseasonal variability of the Southern Hemisphere stratosphere and troposphere is studied using multilevel geopotential height data for nine winters (1979–87). The study uses empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis of unfiltered data at five tropospheric and five stratospheric levels.

The four leading EOFs at all tropospheric levels exhibit the patterns previously detected at 500 mb. Study of the corresponding principal components (PCs) at each level shows that the quasi-stationary anomalies associated with the leading EOFs are equivalent barotropic and exhibit no preference for early, middle or late winter.

The five leading EOFs in the stratosphere fall into two classes. The first three EOFs at all levels form the first class. This class represents anomalies that are dominated by zonal wavenumber one (wave 1), exhibit strong westward tilt with height and travel slowly eastward or remain stationary. Most cases of large, persistent PC values for this class occur in early winter. The fourth and fifth EOFs form the other class. This class represents anomalies that are dominated by wavenumber two, and tilt noticeably, but less strongly than the first class, westward with height. These anomalies tend to develop mostly in late winter and to travel eastward more rapidly. The intraseasonal variability in the stratosphere resides therewith, as expected, in structures dominated by the longest planetary waves.

No systematic connections between tropospheric and stratospheric persistent anomalies are apparent in the dataset.

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Carlos R. Mechoso, Dennis L. Hartmann, and John D. Farrara

Abstract

The climatology and interannual variability of wave–mean flow interaction in the Southern Hemisphere (20–80°S, 0–55 km) is described for the winter months of June–September based on a sample of four years, 1979–82. The stratospheric jet stream shifts downward and poleward over the course of the winter in response to seasonal variations in thermal forcing. The shift occurs at different times in different years, however, so that the months of July and August show substantial interannual variability of monthly mean zonal winds. The poleward and downward shift of the jet axis in an individual year is usually abrupt and occurs in association with a burst of upwardly propagating planetary waves. The driving of the mean flow in the stratosphere generally has a dipolar structure with easterly accelerations near 40°S and westerly accelerations in polar latitudes. The structure of the wave driving is consistent with the structure of the observed mean flow accelerations.

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Andrew W. Robertson, John D. Farrara, and Carlos R. Mechoso

Abstract

The sensitivity of the atmospheric circulation to sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the tropical and subtropical South Atlantic Ocean is studied by means of simulations with an atmospheric general circulation model (GCM). Two types of prescribed SST anomalies are used, motivated by previous analyses of data. The first occurs during austral summers in association with a strengthening of the South Atlantic convergence zone (SACZ) and consists of cold SST anomalies over the subtropical South Atlantic. The second is the leading seasonally varying empirical orthogonal function of SST, consisting of warm basin-scale anomalies with maximum amplitude in the subtropics during January–March and at the equator in June. An ensemble of about 10 seasonal simulations is made using each type of anomaly, focusing on the January–March period in the first case and the January–June seasonal evolution in the second.

During January–March both experiments yield a statistically significant baroclinic response over the subtropical Atlantic with dipolar SACZ-like anomalies. Some evidence of positive feedback is found. The response is shown to be fairly similar in pattern as well as amplitude to the linear regression of observed interannual low-level wind anomalies with subtropical SST anomalies. However, in the first experiment with cold SST anomalies, the simulated response contrasts with the leading interannual mode of observed SACZ variability.

Warm basin-scale anomalies are found to have their largest impact during boreal summer, with a strong statistically significant equatorial baroclinic response and positive rainfall anomalies over the equatorial ocean. The latter do not extend appreciably into the adjacent continents, although there are significant positive rainfall anomalies over the Sahel in April–June and negative anomalies over the western Indian Ocean. In the upper troposphere, a statistically significant wave train extends southwestward to southern South America and northeastward to Europe in April–June, while there is some linkage between the tropically and subtropically forced responses during January–March.

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Zhijin Li, James C. McWilliams, Kayo Ide, and John D. Farrara

Abstract

A multiscale data assimilation (MS-DA) scheme is formulated for fine-resolution models. A decomposition of the cost function is derived for a set of distinct spatial scales. The decomposed cost function allows for the background error covariance to be estimated separately for the distinct spatial scales, and multi-decorrelation scales to be explicitly incorporated in the background error covariance. MS-DA minimizes the partitioned cost functions sequentially from large to small scales. The multi-decorrelation length scale background error covariance enhances the spreading of sparse observations and prevents fine structures in high-resolution observations from being overly smoothed. The decomposition of the cost function also provides an avenue for mitigating the effects of scale aliasing and representativeness errors that inherently exist in a multiscale system, thus further improving the effectiveness of the assimilation of high-resolution observations. A set of one-dimensional experiments is performed to examine the properties of the MS-DA scheme. Emphasis is placed on the assimilation of patchy high-resolution observations representing radar and satellite measurements, alongside sparse observations representing those from conventional in situ platforms. The results illustrate how MS-DA improves the effectiveness of the assimilation of both these types of observations simultaneously.

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John D. Farrara, Michael Fisher, Carlos R. Mechoso, and Alan O'Neill

Abstract

The early winter (mid-April to mid-July) circulation in the Southern Hemisphere stratosphere is studied. Emphasis is placed on the evolution of strong disturbances with structures dominated by the zonal wavenumber-1 component of the flow (wave 1). The approach to this investigation is based on analysis of 12 years (1979–90) of observational data and comparative analyses of control and hypothesis-testing simulations with a three-dimensional primitive equation model of the stratosphere and mesosphere.Considerable interannual variability is found in both the intensity and timing of wave-1 amplification during early winter. Though usually quasi-stationary, there are six extended periods in the dataset when wave 1 travels steadily eastward and is of large amplitude. Two of these periods (June 1980 and June 1985) are examined in detail. The evolution of the circulation in these two cases resembles that during Canadian warmings in the Northern Hemisphere in several ways. First, there is a large, eastward-moving disturbance with a nearly equivalent barotropic structure, with the largest amplitude in the lower and middle stratosphere. Second, temperature increases are smaller than those observed during final warmings in the Southern Hemisphere. Third, irreversible buckling of contours of Ertel's potential vorticity takes place in a region well away from the zero-wind line. Owing to their geographical preference for development over the South Pacific, wave-1 events in the southern stratosphere during early winter are referred to as South Pacific warmings.The hypothesis-testing simulations suggest that the development of South Pacific warmings is connected with the amplification of wave 1 at 100 mb and that the eastward propagation of the disturbances requires eastward propagation of wave 1 at 100 mb. In addition, the results suggest that development of stratospheric disturbances in the southern stratosphere during early winter depends more on the intensity of wave 1 at 100 mb than on the structure of the zonal-mean flow in the stratosphere.

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