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Ge Chen
and
Hui Lin

Abstract

Previous research has shown that oceanic water vapor (OWV) is a useful quantity for studying the low-frequency variability of the atmosphere–ocean system. In this work, 10 years (1993–2002) of high-quality OWV data derived from the Ocean Topography Experiment (TOPEX) microwave radiometer are used to investigate the impact of El Niño/La Niña on the amplitude and phase of the annual cycle. These results suggest that El Niños (La Niñas) can weaken (strengthen) the seasonality of OWV by decreasing (increasing) the annual amplitude. The change of amplitude is usually slight but significant, especially for the five most dynamic seasonal belts across the major continents at midlatitudes. The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) impact on the annual phase of OWV is seen to be fairly systematic and geographically correlated. The most striking feature is a large-scale advancing/delay of about 10 days (as estimated through empirical modeling) for the midlatitude oceans of the Northern Hemisphere in reaching their summer maxima during the El Niño/La Niña years. In addition, an alternative scheme for estimating the mean position of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) based on the annual phase map of OWV is proposed. This ITCZ climatology favors 4°N in mean latitude, and agrees with existing results in that its position meanders from 2°S to 8°N oceanwide, and stays constantly north of the equator over the Atlantic and eastern Pacific.

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Lin Wang
and
Wen Chen

Abstract

The thermal contrast between the Asian continent and the adjacent oceans is the primary aspect of the East Asian winter monsoon (EAWM) that can be well represented in the sea level pressure (SLP) field. Based on this consideration, a new SLP-based index measuring the intensity of the EAWM is proposed by explicitly taking into account both the east–west and the north–south pressure gradients around East Asia. The new index can delineate the EAWM-related circulation anomalies well, including the deepened (shallow) midtropospheric East Asian trough, sharpened and accelerated (widened and decelerated) upper-tropospheric East Asian jet stream, and enhanced (weakened) lower-tropospheric northerly winds in strong (weak) EAWM winters. Compared with previous indices, the new index has a very good performance describing the winter-mean surface air temperature variations over East Asia, especially for the extreme warm or cold winters. The index is strongly correlated with several atmospheric teleconnections including the Arctic Oscillation, the Eurasian pattern, and the North Pacific Oscillation/western Pacific pattern, implying the possible internal dynamics of the EAWM variability. Meanwhile, the index is significantly linked to El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the sea surface temperature (SST) over the tropical Indian Ocean. Moreover, the SST anomalies over the tropical Indian Ocean are more closely related to the index than ENSO as an independent predictor. This adds further knowledge to the prediction potentials of the EAWM apart from ENSO. The predictability of the index is high in the hindcasts of the Centre National de Recherches Météorologiques (CNRM) model from Development of a European Multimodel Ensemble System for Seasonal-to-Interannual Prediction (DEMETER). Hence, it would be a good choice to use this index for the monitoring, prediction, and research of the EAWM.

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Hua Chen
and
Da-Lin Zhang

Abstract

Previous studies have focused mostly on the roles of environmental factors in the rapid intensification (RI) of tropical cyclones (TCs) because of the lack of high-resolution data in inner-core regions. In this study, the RI of TCs is examined by analyzing the relationship between an upper-level warm core, convective bursts (CBs), sea surface temperature (SST), and surface pressure falls from 72-h cloud-permitting predictions of Hurricane Wilma (2005) with the finest grid size of 1 km. Results show that both the upper-level inertial stability increases and static stability decreases sharply 2–3 h prior to RI, and that the formation of an upper-level warm core, from the subsidence of stratospheric air associated with the detrainment of CBs, coincides with the onset of RI. It is found that the development of CBs precedes RI, but most subsidence warming radiates away by gravity waves and storm-relative flows. In contrast, many fewer CBs occur during RI, but more subsidence warming contributes to the balanced upper-level cyclonic circulation in the warm-core (as intense as 20°C) region. Furthermore, considerable CB activity can still take place in the outer eyewall as the storm weakens during its eyewall replacement. A sensitivity simulation, in which SSTs are reduced by 1°C, shows pronounced reductions in the upper-level warm-core intensity and CB activity. It is concluded that significant CB activity in the inner-core regions is an important ingredient in generating the upper-level warm core that is hydrostatically more efficient for the RI of TCs, given all of the other favorable environmental conditions.

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Baode Chen
,
Xin Lin
, and
Julio T. Bacmeister

Abstract

This study attempts to explore a comprehensive and compact approach for delineating the multiscale and multivariate characteristics of the ITCZ over the western–central Pacific based on daily satellite observations of precipitation, SSTs, and surface winds. Essentially six distinct ITCZ spatial patterns—namely, the north, south, equator, double, full, and weak—are identified according to the daily percentage coverage of deep convection within different latitudinal bands on and off the equator over the western–central Pacific. The evolving structure of the ITCZ over the western–central Pacific is investigated with a focus on the transient statistical characteristics. The relationship between these daily ITCZ patterns and SSTs, and near-surface winds, is also examined.

The north (37%), south (24%), and weak (24%) ITCZs represent the three major ITCZ daily patterns over the western–central Pacific, and combined they account for almost 85% of the total number of days within a 10-yr period. The other three ITCZ patterns, namely, the equator (3%), double (6%), and full (5%) ITCZs, occur infrequently. The climatology of the ITCZ, such as monthly, seasonal, and annual means, can be approximately determined by how often and intense these ITCZ daily spatial patterns occur within a specified period. Taking the long-term mean statistics for each ITCZ daily type into account, the double ITCZ deep convection typically observed over the western–central Pacific in monthly, seasonal, and annual mean plots appears to be mainly associated with the frequent occurrence of the north and south ITCZ patterns, instead of the double ITCZ pattern in which an ITCZ appears on each side of the equator simultaneously on a daily basis.

Consistent with the strong seasonality in their frequency of occurrence, the three major ITCZ patterns indicate a dominant correspondence with the seasonal meridional migration of warm SSTs. In contrast, the three less frequent ITCZ patterns show a close relationship with the positive or negative SST anomaly over the equatorial central and eastern Pacific, namely, the extension and retraction of the equatorial cool tongue and its strength. Surface wind divergence/convergence does not show any distinct patterns for these ITCZ spatial patterns, suggesting that little relationship between low-level convergence and precipitation can be discerned from daily data.

As an application of the method proposed, the frequency distribution of daily ITCZ patterns, as derived from a recent version of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) general circulation model (GCM), is evaluated against observations. Preliminary comparisons indicate that the GEOS-5 GCM is capable of simulating the correct ITCZ spatial patterns, but their occurrence frequencies can be further improved, in particular, the weak ITCZ and the patterns with fewer occurrences, which may be associated with significantly different control mechanisms and/or feedbacks.

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Peiqiang Xu
,
Lin Wang
, and
Wen Chen

Abstract

The British–Baikal Corridor (BBC) pattern, a new teleconnection along the summertime upper-tropospheric polar front jet (PFJ), is investigated based on observational and reanalysis datasets. The BBC pattern consists of four geographically fixed centers over the west of the British Isles, the Baltic Sea, western Siberia, and Lake Baikal, respectively. It features a zonally oriented and meridionally confined wavelike structure with a zonal wavenumber 5, and it influences the climate along its route significantly. The BBC pattern forms from the trapped effect of the PFJ waveguide that is characterized by a strong meridional gradient of stratification. As a preferred dynamical mode inherent in the PFJ, it is maintained through the baroclinic energy conversion from the basic flow and the feedback forcing of high-frequency transient eddies. Meanwhile, its geographical location is determined by the barotropic energy conversion, which is sensitive to the configuration of the basic flow. The interannual variability of the BBC pattern is dominated by atmospheric internal dynamics considering its loose relation with immediate atmospheric external forcing. Further analyses suggest that the BBC pattern is excited by the active multiscale interactions among the climatological mean flow, the low-frequency flow, and the synoptic-scale transient eddies in the exit region of the North Atlantic jet, which may also determine the preferential upstream forcing region and anchor the BBC pattern geographically. Budget analyses on vorticity, temperature, and water vapor are performed to interpret the physical nature of the BBC pattern. The possible linkage to the North Atlantic Oscillation is also discussed.

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Lin Chen
,
Tim Li
, and
Yongqiang Yu

Abstract

The mechanisms for El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) amplitude change under global warming are investigated through quantitative assessment of air–sea feedback processes in present-day and future climate simulations of four models participating in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Two models (MPI-ESM-MR and MRI-CGCM3) project strengthened ENSO amplitude, whereas the other two models (CCSM4 and FGOALS-g2) project weakened ENSO amplitude. A mixed layer heat budget diagnosis shows that the major cause of the projected ENSO amplitude difference between the two groups is attributed to the changes of the thermocline and zonal advective feedbacks. A weaker (stronger) equatorial thermocline response to a unit anomalous zonal wind stress forcing in the Niño-4 region is found in CCSM4 and FGOALS-g2 (MPI-ESM-MR and MRI-CGCM3). The cause of the different response arises from the change in the meridional scale of ENSO. A narrower (wider) meridional width of sea surface temperature (SST) and zonal wind stress anomalies causes a strengthening (weakening) of the equatorial thermocline response and thus stronger Bjerknes and zonal advective feedbacks, as the subsurface temperature and zonal current anomalies depend on the thermocline response; consequently, the ENSO amplitude increases (decreases). The change of ENSO meridional width is caused by the change in mean meridional overturning circulation in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, which depends on change of mean wind stress and SST warming patterns under global warming.

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Lin Chen
,
Yongqiang Yu
, and
De-Zheng Sun

Abstract

Previous evaluations of model simulations of the cloud and water vapor feedbacks in response to El Niño warming have singled out two common biases in models from phase 3 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3): an underestimate of the negative feedback from the shortwave cloud radiative forcing (SWCRF) and an overestimate of the positive feedback from the greenhouse effect of water vapor. Here, the authors check whether these two biases are alleviated in the CMIP5 models. While encouraging improvements are found, particularly in the simulation of the negative SWCRF feedback, the biases in the simulation of these two feedbacks remain prevalent and significant. It is shown that bias in the SWCRF feedback correlates well with biases in the corresponding feedbacks from precipitation, large-scale circulation, and longwave radiative forcing of clouds (LWCRF). By dividing CMIP5 models into two categories—high score models (HSM) and low score models (LSM)—based on their individual skills of simulating the SWCRF feedback, the authors further find that ocean–atmosphere coupling generally lowers the score of the simulated feedbacks of water vapor and clouds but that the LSM is more affected by the coupling than the HSM. They also find that the SWCRF feedback is simulated better in the models that have a more realistic zonal extent of the equatorial cold tongue, suggesting that the continuing existence of an excessive cold tongue is a key factor behind the persistence of the feedback biases in models.

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Shu-Lin Chong
and
C. S. Chen

Abstract

A numerical model has been developed to investigate water films or shells on ice pellets and hailstones with radii from 0.1 to 0.5 cm.

The model considers a hydrometeor consisting of a rigid, spherical ice core of density 0.9 gm cm−3 surrounded by a shell or film of water. The water volume of the hydrometeor is assumed to be conserved. A set of deformation equations for the water film is constructed from a series expansion of an equation which is based on the balance of pressures acting on the hydrometeor.

The results indicate that an ice pellet or hailstone with radius <0.45 cm can have a water film more or less evenly distributed over the ice core; for a hailstone >0.45 cm radius a rather unrealistic water distribution is obtained from the present model.

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George Tai-Jen Chen
and
Kuo-Chin Lin

Abstract

A diagnostic case study was carried out for a lower-tropospheric front over southern China in association with lee cyclogenesis over the Yun-Guei Plateau (23°–29°N, 102°–110°E) during the period of 25–27 December 1991. The front over the subtropical latitudes was found to have a structure similar to that of a typical midlatitude cold front with a maximum gradient of potential temperature and strong cyclonic vorticity concentrated within the frontal (baroclinic) zone. As the frontal zone intensified, upward motion associated with transverse circulation increased and frontal contraction occurred.

It is found that the frontal zone was also the zone of maximum frontogenesis. Intensification of the frontal baroclinity was mainly due to the confluence frontogenetical effect of stretching deformation. The twisting term was observed to have a frontogenetical effect to the south of the frontal zone, though with a smaller magnitude. Results also suggest that the front in this case moves southward because of either a frontogenetical or an advective process.

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Jan-Huey Chen
and
Shian-Jiann Lin

Abstract

Retrospective seasonal predictions of tropical cyclones (TCs) in the three major ocean basins of the Northern Hemisphere are performed from 1990 to 2010 using the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory High-Resolution Atmospheric Model (HiRAM) at 25-km resolution. Atmospheric states are initialized for each forecast, with the sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) “persisted” from that at the starting time during the 5-month forecast period (July–November). Using a five-member ensemble, it is shown that the storm counts of both tropical storm (TS) and hurricane categories are highly predictable in the North Atlantic basin during the 21-yr period. The correlations between the 21-yr observed and model predicted storm counts are 0.88 and 0.89 for hurricanes and TSs, respectively. The prediction in the eastern North Pacific is skillful, but it is not as outstanding as that in the North Atlantic. The persistent SSTA assumption appears to be less robust for the western North Pacific, contributing to less skillful predictions in that region. The relative skill in the prediction of storm counts is shown to be consistent with the quality of the predicted large-scale environment in the three major basins. It is shown that intensity distribution of TCs can be captured well by the model if the central sea level pressure is used as the threshold variable instead of the commonly used 10-m wind speed. This demonstrates the feasibility of using the 25-km-resolution HiRAM, a general circulation model designed initially for long-term climate simulations, to study the impacts of climate change on the intensity distribution of TCs.

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