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Wen-Bi Yu and John L. Stanford

Abstract

Daily global grids of high-quality, satellite-borne microwave measurements have been used to study the behavior of stratospheric waves during November 1980–March 1981. The primary motivation was to investigate, by comparing with earlier analyses, the interannual variation of recently reported medium-scale wave domination of Southern Hemisphere (SH) summer circulation. Zonal means, as well as time-mean and transient zonal waves 1–10, are studied. In addition, space-time spectra are determined from the 138-day record. Prominent medium-scale features are found to occur in 1980–81, although wave 4 is strongest, in contrast to the Global Weather Experiment period (1978–79) when wave 5 dominated the SH summer circulation. The same highly-continuous, regular eastward phase movement of SH medium-scale waves is found in 1980–81 as in 1978–79. A second noteworthy observation is that of strong, time-mean waves 3–4 with symmetry about the equator, with positive temperature perturbations over the western Pacific and Atlantic equatorial regions, and negative anomalies over South America, Africa, and Indonesia. Confidence in the SH spectral results is enhanced by good agreement between our Northern Hemisphere (NH) medium-scale analyses and recent geopotential height studies by other investigators.

These results serve to bring into sharper focus the question of why, in contrast with the more well-known NH, the SH circulation evidences such robust and highly continuous medium-scale eddies in summer.

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Yu-Lin Chang and L.-Y. Oey

Abstract

Recent studies on Loop Current’s variability in the Gulf of Mexico suggest that the system may behave with some regularity forced by the biannually varying trade winds. The process is analyzed here using a reduced-gravity model and satellite data. The model shows that a biannual signal is produced by vorticity and transport fluctuations in the Yucatan Channel because of the piling up and retreat of warm water in the northwestern Caribbean Sea forced by the biannually varying trade wind. The Loop grows and expands with increased northward velocity and cyclonic vorticity of the Yucatan Current, and eddies are shed when these are near minima. Satellite sea surface height (SSH) data from 1993 to 2010 are analyzed. These show, consistent with the reduced-gravity experiments and previous studies, a (statistically) significant asymmetric biannual variation of the growth and wane of Loop Current: strong from summer to fall and weaker from winter to spring; the asymmetry being due to the asymmetry that also exists in the long-term observed wind. The biannual signal is contained in the two leading EOF modes, which together explain 47% of the total variance, and which additionally describe the eddy shedding and westward propagation from summer to fall. The EOFs also show connectivity between Loop Current and Caribbean Sea’s variability by mass and vorticity fluxes through the Yucatan Channel.

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Jin-Yi Yu and Dennis L. Hartmann

Abstract

The effect of large-scale mountains on atmospheric variability is studied in a series of GCM experiments in which a single mountain is varied in height from 0 to 4 km. High-frequency (τ < 7 days) and low-frequency (τ > 30 days) variability are largest in the jet exit region, while the intermediate-frequency (7 < τ < 30 days) variability has its maximum upstream of the mountain where it exhibits enhanced equatorward propagation. High and intermediate frequencies change from zonal wave trains to localized wave packets as orographic forcing is increased, but they retain their characteristic scale and frequency. The dominant pattern of low-frequency is variability changes from a zonally symmetric oscillation, for which transient eddy-zonal flow interaction is the dominant mechanism, to a more localized oscillation of the jet downstream of the mountain. The transient eddy forcing still plays a significant role in maintaining the variations of this more localized jet, however.

The total amount of wave energy remains almost constant as the mountain height is increased, but the distribution of wave energy shifts from transient to stationary and from high frequencies to low frequencies. Low-frequency variability shows a step function response to orographic forcing in that it shows no response to a 1-km mountain, increases substantially in response to a 2-km mountain, and then shows little further increase as the mountain is raised to 3 and 4 km. This behavior suggests that the mechanism that generates the additional low-frequency variability in the mountain-forced experiments becomes effective after the zonal asymmetry reaches a critical value and then does not respond much to further increases in asymmetry.

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Jin-Yi Yu and Dennis L. Hartmann

Abstract

Zonal flow vacillation with very long time scales is observed in a 3070-day simple GCM simulation with zonally symmetric forcing. The long lasting zonal wind anomalies suggest that zonal flow vacillation is self-maintained. Wave-mean flow interactions are investigated by composite analysis and transform Eulerian momentum budget analysis. Nonlinear life-cycle simulations are conducted to demonstrate that each extreme phase of the zonal flow vacillation is a quasi stable state and is self-maintained by the embedded synoptic eddies.

The firm EOF mode of zonal-mean wind shows an out of phase relation between anomalies at 60°S and at 40°S with a barotropic structure. This structure is similar to the dominant vacillation pattern observed in the Southern Hemisphere. The composite jet stream in the high (low) index phase of zonal flow vacillation shifts poleward (equatorward) from the time-mean location and becomes broader (narrower) and weaker (stronger). Composite eddies in the high index Phase tilt NW-SE and show mostly equatorward propagation, while eddies in the low index phase have “banana” shapes and propagate both equatorward and poleward. Transformed Eulerian momentum budget analyses show that the differences of wave propagation between two extreme phases result in the anomalous eddy forcing needed to maintain zonal wind anomalies against frictional damping.

Budget analyses also indicate that eddy momentum flux convergence is the major positive forcing in both the extreme and transition phases. Eddy baroclinic forcing exerts weak damping on the wind anomalies in the upper troposphere but acts together with residual circulation forcing to counteract frictional damping near the surface. The major balance during the index cycle is between eddy barotropic forcing and residual circulation forcing in the upper troposphere and between residual circulation forcing and frictional damping in the lower troposphere. Further comparisons of eddy forcing from various time-scale eddies show that the anomalous eddy forcing is primarily provided by synoptic time scales. Two nonlinear life-cycle simulations, started separately from the composite zonal flows of the two extreme phases and small-amplitude wavenumber 6 perturbations, display the intensification of initial wind anomalies by the growing eddies. A dual-jet stream structure appears in the life-cycle simulation started from the high index composite, and a more intense single jet stream structure evolves from the low index initial state.

It is noticed that maximum wind anomalies are established earlier at higher latitudes than at lower latitudes. This suggests that the mechanisms triggering transitions from one self-maintained phase to the other operate at higher latitudes. It is suspected that barotropic instability/stability is a possible triggering mechanism for transition from one state to another.

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Wen-Bi Yu, John L. Stanford, and Russell L. Martin

Abstract

Remarkable domination of the summer Southern Hemisphere circulation by medium-scale features (zonal waves 4–7) has been reported. More recently, it has been shown that these features derive their energy from baroclinic instabilities of the mean state. As one aspect of attempting to further explain the unusual spectral peak and phase-time continuity of the SH waves, we use the same microwave satellite instrument to compare characteristics of medium-wale lower stratospheric temperature waves in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere (NH and SH, respectively) summertimes. Data from the Tiros-N Microwave Sounding Unit from August 1979 are analyzed here and compared with previous analyses for January 1979 reported by Yu and others. The interhemispheric comparison reveals that summertime medium-scale waves in the NH do not exhibit the striking phase-time continuity of their SH summer counterparts. In addition, winter NH medium-scale waves are also found to have less phase-time continuity than those in the SH winter. The mason for the interhemispheric difference in maintenance of the medium-scale waves, especially in summertime, remains to be explained.

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Xin-Hai Gao, Wen-Bi Yu, and John L. Stanford

Abstract

Four years of satellite-derived microwave and infrared radiances are analyzed for the three-dimensional and seasonal variation of semiannual oscillations (SAO) in stratospheric temperatures, with particular focus on high latitudes, to investigate the effect of stratospheric warmings on SAO. Separate analyses of individual seasons in each hemisphere reveal that the strongest SAO in temperature occur in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) winter polar upper stratosphere. These results, together with the latitudinal structure of the temperature SAO and the fact that the NH polar SAO is nearly out of phase with the lower latitude, SAO, are consistent with the existence of a global-scale, meridional circulation on the SAO time scale. The results suggest that polar

stratospheric warmings are an important source of SAO in both high and low latitude stratospheric temperature fields. Interannual variations, three-dimensional phase structure, and zonal asymmetry of SAO are also detailed. The SH stratospheric SAO is dominated by a localized feature in the high-latitude, eastern hemisphere which tilts westward with height.

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Xiangze Jin, Lisan Yu, Darren L. Jackson, and Gary A. Wick

Abstract

A near-surface specific humidity (Qa) and air temperature (Ta) climatology on daily and 0.25° grids was constructed by the objectively analyzed air–sea fluxes (OAFlux) project by objectively merging two recent satellite-derived high-resolution analyses, the OAFlux existing 1° analysis, and atmospheric reanalyses. The two satellite products include the multi-instrument microwave regression (MIMR) Qa and Ta analysis and the Goddard Satellite-Based Surface Turbulent Fluxes, version 3 (GSSTF3), Qa analysis. This study assesses the degree of improvement made by OAFlux using buoy time series measurements at 137 locations and a global empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis. There are a total of 130 855 collocated daily values for Qa and 283 012 collocated daily values for Ta in the buoy evaluation. It is found that OAFlux Qa has a mean difference close to 0 and a root-mean-square (RMS) difference of 0.73 g kg−1, and Ta has a mean difference of −0.03°C and an RMS difference of 0.45°C. OAFlux shows no major systematic bias with respect to buoy measurements over all buoy locations except for the vicinity of the Gulf Stream boundary current, where the RMS difference exceeds 1.8°C in Ta and 1.2 g kg−1 in Qa. The buoy evaluation indicates that OAFlux represents an improvement over MIMR and GSSTF3. The global EOF-based intercomparison analysis indicates that OAFlux has a similar spatial–temporal variability pattern with that of three atmospheric reanalyses including MERRA, NCEP-1, and ERA-Interim, but that it differs from GSSTF3 and the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR).

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Matthias Steiner, Thomas L. Bell, Yu Zhang, and Eric F. Wood

Abstract

The uncertainty of rainfall estimated from averages of discrete samples collected by a satellite is assessed using a multiyear radar dataset covering a large portion of the United States. The sampling-related uncertainty of rainfall estimates is evaluated for all combinations of 100-, 200-, and 500-km space domains; 1-, 5-, and 30-day rainfall accumulations; and regular sampling time intervals of 1, 3, 6, 8, and 12 h. These extensive analyses are combined to characterize the sampling uncertainty as a function of space and time domain, sampling frequency, and rainfall characteristics by means of a simple scaling law. Moreover, it is shown that both parametric and nonparametric statistical techniques of estimating the sampling uncertainty produce comparable results. Sampling uncertainty estimates, however, do depend on the choice of technique for obtaining them. They can also vary considerably from case to case, reflecting the great variability of natural rainfall, and should therefore be expressed in probabilistic terms. Rainfall calibration errors are shown to affect comparison of results obtained by studies based on data from different climate regions and/or observation platforms.

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Shih-Yu Wang, Michelle L'Heureux, and Jin-Ho Yoon

Abstract

Using multiple observational and model datasets, the authors document a strengthening relationship between boreal winter sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTAs) in the western North Pacific (WNP) and the development of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the following year. The increased WNP–ENSO association emerged in the mid-twentieth century and has grown through the present, reaching correlation coefficients as high as ~0.70 in recent decades. Fully coupled climate experiments with the Community Earth System Model, version 1 (CESM1), replicate the WNP–ENSO association and indicate that greenhouse gases (GHGs) are largely responsible for this observed increase. The authors speculate that shifts in the location of the largest positive SST trends between the subtropical and tropical western Pacific impact the low-level circulation in a manner that reinforces the link between the WNP and the development of ENSO. A strengthened GHG-driven relationship with the WNP provides an example of how anthropogenic climate change may directly influence one of the most prominent patterns of natural climate variability, ENSO, and potentially improve the skill of intraseasonal-to-interannual climate prediction.

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Nicholas L. Tyrrell, Alexey Yu. Karpechko, and Sebastian Rast

Abstract

We investigate the effect of systematic model biases on teleconnections influencing the Northern Hemisphere wintertime circulation. We perform a two-step nudging and bias-correcting scheme for the dynamic variables of the ECHAM6 atmospheric model to reduce errors in the model climatology relative to ERA-Interim. One result is a significant increase in the strength of the Northern Hemisphere wintertime stratospheric polar vortex, reducing errors in the December–February mean zonal stratospheric winds by up to 75%. The bias corrections are applied to the full atmosphere or the stratosphere only. We compare the response of the bias-corrected and control runs to an increase in Siberian snow cover in October—a surface forcing that, in our experiments, weakens the stratospheric polar vortex from October to December. We find that despite large differences in the vortex strength the magnitude of the stratospheric weakening is similar among the different climatologies, with some differences in the timing and length of the response. Differences are more pronounced in the stratosphere–troposphere coupling, and the subsequent surface response. The snow forcing with the stratosphere-only bias corrections results in a stratospheric response that is comparable to control, yet with an enhanced surface response that extends into early January. The full-atmosphere bias correction’s snow response also has a comparable stratospheric response but a somewhat suppressed surface response. Despite these differences, our results show an overall small sensitivity of the Eurasian snow teleconnection to the background climatology.

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