Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 9 of 9 items for

  • Author or Editor: Martin S. Singh x
  • Refine by Access: All Content x
Clear All Modify Search
Martin S. Singh

Abstract

The role of planetary rotation in limiting the extent of the cross-equatorial solsticial Hadley cell (SHC) is investigated using idealized simulations with an aquaplanet general circulation model run under perpetual-solstice conditions. Consistent with previous studies that include a seasonal cycle, the SHC extent increases with decreasing rotation rate, and it occupies the entire globe for sufficiently low planetary rotation rates. A simple theory for the summer-hemisphere extent of the SHC is constructed in which it is assumed that the SHC occupies regions for which a hypothetical radiative–convective equilibrium state is physically unattainable. The theory predicts that the SHC extends farther into the summer hemisphere as the rotation rate is decreased, qualitatively reproducing the behavior of the simulations, but it generally underestimates the simulated SHC extent. A diagnostic theory for the summer-hemisphere SHC extent is then developed based on the assumptions of slantwise convective neutrality and conservation of angular momentum within the Hadley cell. The theory relates the structure of the SHC in the summer hemisphere to the distribution of boundary layer entropy in the dynamically equilibrated simulations. The resultant diagnostic for the SHC extent generalizes the convective quasi-equilibrium-based constraint of Privé and Plumb, in which the position of rain belts is related to maxima in the low-level entropy distribution.

Full access
Martin S. Singh and Zhiming Kuang

Abstract

The influence of eddy momentum fluxes on the equinoctial Hadley circulation is explored using idealized simulations on an equatorial beta plane in which the sea surface temperature (SST) distribution is fixed. By comparing simulations run in a wide-domain configuration, in which large-scale eddies are present, to simulations in which the model domain is too narrow to permit baroclinic instability, the role of large-scale eddies in determining the characteristics of the Hadley circulation is elucidated. The simulations also include an explicit representation of deep convection, allowing for an evaluation of the influence of convective momentum transport on the zonal-mean circulation.

The simulated eddy momentum fluxes are much weaker in the narrow-domain configuration than in the wide-domain case, and convective momentum transport is found to be of secondary importance. As a result, many characteristics of the narrow-domain Hadley circulation are well described by axisymmetric theory and differ from those of the wide-domain case. Nevertheless, the strength of the Hadley circulation is similar irrespective of the domain width. The sensitivity of this result to the strength of the eddy forcing is investigated using narrow-domain simulations forced by artificial sinks of zonal momentum. As the magnitude of the momentum sink increases, the Hadley circulation strengthens, but the increase is relatively modest except at very strong forcing magnitudes. The results suggest that the fixed-SST boundary condition places a strong thermodynamic constraint on the Hadley circulation strength and that one should consider the energy budget as well as the angular momentum budget in order to fully understand the influence of large-scale eddies on the zonal-mean circulation in the tropics.

Full access
Sramana Neogi and Martin S. Singh

Abstract

A cloud-resolving model (CRM) is used to investigate how a prototype tropical circulation driven by a sea-surface temperature (SST) contrast changes in a warmer climate. The CRM is used to simulate a region of the atmosphere with a positive SST anomaly, and the large-scale circulation in this region is represented using the weak-temperature-gradient and damped-gravity-wave parameterizations where, the large-scale vertical velocity within the domain is related to the deviation of the simulated density profile from a reference profile representative of the tropical mean state. The behavior of the circulation in response to an increase in SST of both the domain and reference state (i.e., uniform warming) is examined. While the vertical velocity shows an increase in its maximum strength with warming, its value in the lower to mid-troposphere decreases. Since the water vapor concentration is largest in the lower troposphere, this leads to a dynamic weakening of precipitation under warming. In order to understand these results, a simple model for the thermodynamic structure of a convecting atmosphere based on a bulk entraining plume is employed. The model uses a fixed entrainment rate and the relative humidity profiles from the CRM to predict the temperature profiles of the domain and reference state. The vertical velocity profiles calculated from these predicted temperature profiles reproduce important aspects of those simulated with the CRM. This simple modeling framework reveals that the effect of entrainment is crucial to understanding the dynamic response of precipitation to warming, providing a stepping stone to understanding the factors driving changes to the tropical precipitation distribution in a future warmer climate.

Restricted access
Martin S. Singh and Sramana Neogi

Abstract

A simple steady-state model is constructed for the interaction between moist convection and large-scale ascent in the tropics. The model is based on a bulk-plume representation of convection, and it is coupled to the large-scale circulation using methods developed for limited-area numerical models that are consistent with the weak temperature gradient approximation. Given the midtropospheric temperature anomaly in the ascent region, the model solves for the profiles of temperature, relative humidity, and large-scale vertical velocity in this region, as well as the tropical-mean profiles of temperature and relative humidity, as a function of two parameters representing the importance of entrainment and condensate re-evaporation in moist convection. According to the simple model, the ascent region is characterized by an anomalously moist and stable free troposphere with a top-heavy vertical velocity profile that peaks in the upper troposphere. These results are shown to be consistent with simulations using a cloud system–resolving model in which the large-scale circulation is parameterized. Furthermore, it is shown that, due to the effect of entrainment on the tropospheric lapse rate, the predicted vertical velocity profile is more top-heavy than the first-baroclinic mode profile used in previous reduced-complexity models of tropical dynamics. The simple model therefore provides a framework to link mixing and microphysical processes in moist convection to the large-scale structure of the tropical overturning circulation.

Restricted access
Martin S. Singh and Paul A. O’Gorman

Abstract

Many features of the general circulation of the atmosphere shift upward in response to warming in simulations of climate change with both general circulation models (GCMs) and cloud-system-resolving models. The importance of the upward shift is well known, but its physical basis and the extent to which it occurs coherently across variables are not well understood. A transformation is derived here that shows how an upward shift of a solution to the moist primitive equations gives a new approximate solution with higher tropospheric temperatures. According to the transformation, all variables shift upward with warming but with an additional modification to the temperature and a general weakening of the pressure velocity. The applicability of the vertical-shift transformation is explored using a hierarchy of models from adiabatic parcel ascents to comprehensive GCMs. The transformation is found to capture many features of the response to climate change in simulations with an idealized GCM, including the mid- and upper-tropospheric changes in lapse rate, relative humidity, and meridional wind. The transformation is less accurate when applied to simulations with more realistic GCMs, but it nonetheless captures some important features. Deviations from the simulated response are primarily due to the surface boundary conditions, which do not necessarily conform to the transformation, especially in the case of the zonal winds. The results allow for a physical interpretation of the upward shift in terms of the governing equations and suggest that it may be thought of as a coherent response of the general circulation of the mid- and upper troposphere.

Full access
Stephan Pfahl, Paul A. O’Gorman, and Martin S. Singh

Abstract

Cyclones are a key element of extratropical weather and frequently lead to extreme events like wind storms and heavy precipitation. Understanding potential changes of cyclone frequency and intensity is thus essential for a proper assessment of climate change impacts. Here the behavior of extratropical cyclones under strongly varying climate conditions is investigated using idealized climate model simulations in an aquaplanet setup. A cyclone tracking algorithm is applied to assess various statistics of cyclone properties such as intensity, size, lifetime, displacement velocity, and deepening rates. In addition, a composite analysis of intense cyclones is performed. In general, the structure of extratropical cyclones in the idealized simulations is very robust, and changes in major cyclone characteristics are relatively small. Median cyclone intensity, measured in terms of minimum sea level pressure and lower-tropospheric relative vorticity, has a maximum in simulations with global mean temperature slightly warmer than present-day Earth, broadly consistent with the behavior of the eddy kinetic energy analyzed in previous studies. Maximum deepening rates along cyclone tracks behave similarly and are in agreement with linear quasigeostrophic growth rates if the effect of latent heat release on the stratification is taken into account. In contrast to moderate cyclones, the relative vorticity of intense cyclones continues to increase with warming to substantially higher temperatures, and this is associated with enhanced lower-tropospheric potential vorticity anomalies likely caused by increased diabatic heating. Moist processes may, therefore, lead to the further strengthening of intense cyclones in warmer climates even if cyclones weaken on average.

Full access
Martin S. Singh, Zhiming Kuang, and Yang Tian

Abstract

The strength of the equinoctial Hadley circulation (HC) is investigated in idealized simulations conducted on an equatorial beta plane in which the zonal width of the domain is varied to either permit or suppress large-scale eddies. The presence of such eddies is found to amplify the HC by a factor of 2–3 in simulations with slab-ocean boundary conditions or with a simple representation of ocean heat transport. Additional simulations in which the eddy forcing is prescribed externally indicate that this amplification is primarily associated with large-scale eddy momentum fluxes rather than large-scale eddy heat fluxes. These results contrast with results from simulations with fixed distributions of sea surface temperature (SST), in which the HC strength has been found to be relatively insensitive to large-scale eddy momentum fluxes.

In both the interactive- and fixed-SST cases, the influence of nonlinear momentum advection by the mean flow complicates efforts to use the angular-momentum budget to constrain the HC strength. However, a strong relationship is found between the HC strength and a measure of the meridional gradient of boundary layer entropy, indicating a possible thermodynamic control on the HC strength. In simulations with interactive SSTs, meridional eddy momentum fluxes affect the boundary layer entropy by inducing a low-level frictional flow that reduces the ability of the HC to transport heat poleward. This allows for the maintenance of a large meridional entropy gradient in the presence of a strong HC. The results highlight the potential utility of a thermodynamic perspective for understanding the HC in flow regimes for which dynamical constraints may be difficult to apply.

Full access
Paul A. O’Gorman, Nicolas Lamquin, Tapio Schneider, and Martin S. Singh

Abstract

An idealized model of advection and condensation of water vapor is considered as a representation of processes influencing the humidity distribution along isentropic surfaces in the free troposphere. Results are presented for how the mean relative humidity distribution varies in response to changes in the distribution of saturation specific humidity and in the amplitude of a tropical moisture source. Changes in the tropical moisture source are found to have little effect on the relative humidity poleward of the subtropical minima, suggesting a lack of poleward influence despite much greater water vapor concentrations at lower latitudes. The subtropical minima in relative humidity are found to be located just equatorward of the inflection points of the saturation specific humidity profile along the isentropic surface. The degree of mean subsaturation is found to vary with the magnitude of the meridional gradient of saturation specific humidity when other parameters are held fixed.

The atmospheric relevance of these results is investigated by comparison with the positions of the relative humidity minima in reanalysis data and by examining poleward influence of relative humidity in simulations with an idealized general circulation model. It is suggested that the limited poleward influence of relative humidity may constrain the propagation of errors in simulated humidity fields.

Full access
Xubin Zeng, Daniel Klocke, Ben J. Shipway, Martin S. Singh, Irina Sandu, Walter Hannah, Peter Bogenschutz, Yunyan Zhang, Hugh Morrison, Michael Pritchard, and Catherine Rio
Open access