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Ngar-Cheung Lau
and
Mary Jo Nath

Abstract

The structural characteristics and vorticity dynamics of westward-traveling patterns (WTP) in the troposphere are examined using the National Centers for Environmental Prediction–National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP–NCAR) reanalyses based on observations for the 1973–95 period, as well as the output from a 100-yr integration of a general circulation model (GCM) with a rhomboidal truncation at 30 wavenumbers and 14 vertical levels. An identical set of diagnostic tools, including progressive/retrogressive variance analysis, cross-spectra, and complex empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs), are applied to the reanalysis and GCM datasets for 300-mb height. These diagnoses all indicate that the WTP are most prominent during the cold season in the high-latitude zone extending westward from northwestern Canada to northeastern Siberia, with a typical period of ∼22 days. Outstanding episodes are identified on the basis of the temporal coefficients of the leading complex EOF. Composite charts of the anomalous 300-mb height, sea level pressure, and 850-mb temperature fields at various phases of these events are constructed. The typical circulation changes accompanying the passage of the WTP are similar to those associated with well-known regional weather phenomena such as amplified pressure ridges over Alaska, cold air outbreaks over western North America and east Asia, and heavy snowfall over the Pacific Northwest. The occurrence of the WTP over the North Pacific is also characterized by notable changes in the spatial distribution and intensity of synoptic scale activity.

The contributions of relative vorticity advection, planetary vorticity advection (the “β effect”), and horizontal divergence to the vorticity tendency in various phases of the composite wave at 300, 500, and 850 mb are investigated. In the mid- and upper troposphere, the vorticity dynamics of the WTP is similar to that of free external Rossby waves, with the β effect (which leads to westward propagation) being the dominant term, whereas the eastward advection of relative vorticity is less important due to the weak mean zonal flow in the Alaska–Siberia sector.

Most of the essential characteristics of the observed WTP deduced from the NCEP–NCAR reanalyses are well reproduced by the GCM. The realism with which this phenomenon can be simulated in a model environment offers considerable promise for using the GCM as a tool for studying the impact of WTP on intraseasonal atmospheric variability in extended model experiments, and for assessing the dependence of the locality and activity level of the WTP on various states of the ambient circulation.

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Ngar-Cheung Lau
and
Mary Jo Nath

Abstract

The summertime northeastward march of the climatological maritime monsoon over the South China Sea (SCS) and subtropical western North Pacific (WNP) is examined using the output from a 200-yr integration of a coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model (GCM). Increased cloud cover and surface wind speed during monsoon onset over the SCS in May–June reduce the incoming shortwave flux and enhance the upward latent heat flux at the ocean surface, thereby cooling the local sea surface temperature (SST). The resulting east–west gradient in the SST pattern, with lower temperature in the SCS and higher temperature in the WNP, is conducive to eastward migration of the monsoon precipitation over this region. Upon arrival of the precipitation center in the WNP in July–August, the local circulation changes lead to weakening of the mei-yu–baiu rainband near 30°N. The subsequent increases in local shortwave flux and SST impart a northward tendency to the evolution of the WNP monsoon. Many of these model inferences are supported by a parallel analysis of various observational datasets.

The modulation of the above climatological scenario by El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events is investigated by diagnosing the output from the coupled GCM and from experiments based on the atmospheric component of this GCM with SST forcings being prescribed separately in the equatorial Pacific, Indian Ocean, and SCS/WNP domains. During the May period after the peak phase of ENSO, the simulated monsoon onset over the SCS occurs later (earlier) than normal in El Niño (La Niña) events. These changes are primarily remote responses to the anomalous SST forcing in the equatorial Pacific and Indian Ocean. The ENSO-related changes in the SCS/WNP are associated with above-normal (below normal) mei-yu–baiu activity during warm (cold) events. In the ensuing July period of the warm events, the simulated precipitation response over the SCS to the local warm SST anomaly tends to oppose the remote response to SST forcing in the northern Indian Ocean. In the July period of cold events, the equatorial Pacific SST anomaly retains its strength and moves still farther westward. This forcing cooperates with the cold SST anomaly in the SCS in influencing the precipitation pattern in the SCS/WNP sector.

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Ngar-Cheung Lau
and
Mary Jo Nath

Abstract

The influences of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events on air–sea interaction in the Indian–western Pacific (IWP) Oceans have been investigated using a general circulation model. Observed monthly sea surface temperature (SST) variations in the deep tropical eastern/central Pacific (DTEP) have been inserted in the lower boundary of this model through the 1950–99 period. At all maritime grid points outside of DTEP, the model atmosphere has been coupled with an oceanic mixed layer model with variable depth. Altogether 16 independent model runs have been conducted.

Composite analysis of selected ENSO episodes illustrates that the prescribed SST anomalies in DTEP affect the surface atmospheric circulation and precipitation patterns in IWP through displacements of the near-equatorial Walker circulation and generation of Rossby wave modes in the subtropics. Such atmospheric responses modulate the surface fluxes as well as the oceanic mixed layer depth, and thereby establish a well-defined SST anomaly pattern in the IWP sector several months after the peak in ENSO forcing in DTEP. In most parts of the IWP region, the net SST tendency induced by atmospheric changes has the same polarity as the local composite SST anomaly, thus indicating that the atmospheric forcing acts to reinforce the underlying SST signal.

By analyzing the output from a suite of auxiliary experiments, it is demonstrated that the SST perturbations in IWP (which are primarily generated by ENSO-related atmospheric changes) can, in turn, exert notable influences on the atmospheric conditions over that region. This feedback mechanism also plays an important role in the eastward migration of the subtropical anticyclones over the western Pacific in both hemispheres.

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Ngar-Cheung Lau
and
Mary Jo Nath

Abstract

The nature of a recurrent pattern of variability in the tropical Indian Ocean (IO) during the boreal autumn has been investigated using a 900-yr experiment with a coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model. This Indian Ocean Pattern (IOP) is characterized by zonal surface wind perturbations along the equator, as well as east–west contrasts in the anomalous sea surface temperature (SST), surface pressure, and precipitation fields. The IOP is seen to be linked to the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon in the tropical Pacific. By constructing composite charts and analyzing the heat budget for the top ocean layer, it is illustrated that the ENSO-related changes in the surface wind modify the intensity of oceanic upwelling, horizontal temperature advection, and surface heat fluxes in various parts of the IO basin. These processes lead to SST perturbations with opposite signs in the eastern and western equatorial IO.

Further diagnosis of the model output reveals that some strong IOP episodes occur even in the near absence of ENSO influences. In such IOP events that do not coincide with prominent ENSO development, the most noteworthy signal is a zonally elongated sea level pressure anomaly situated south of Australia during the southern winter. The anomalous atmospheric circulation on the equatorward flank of this feature contributes to the initiation of IOP-like events when the ENSO forcing is weak. Both simulated and observational data show that the pressure anomaly south of Australia is part of a hemisphere-wide pattern bearing a considerable resemblance to the Antarctic Oscillation. This annular mode of variability is characterized by opposite pressure changes in the midlatitude and polar zones, and is only weakly correlated with ENSO.

The findings reported here indicate that the IOP is attributable to multiple factors, including remote influences due to ENSO and extratropical changes, as well as internal air–sea feedbacks occurring within the IO basin.

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Ngar-Cheung Lau
and
Mary Jo Nath

Abstract

The influences of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on the summer- and wintertime precipitation and circulation over the principal monsoon regions of Asia and Australia have been studied using a suite of 46-yr experiments with a 30-wavenumber, 14-level general circulation model. Observed monthly varying sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies for the 1950–95 period have been prescribed in the tropical Pacific in these experiments. The lower boundary conditions at maritime sites outside the tropical Pacific are either set to climatological values [in the Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere (TOGA) runs], predicted using a simple 50-m oceanic mixed layer (TOGA-ML runs), or prescribed using observed monthly SST variations. Four independent integrations have been conducted for each of these three forcing scenarios.

The essential characteristics of the model climatology for the Asian–Australian sector compare well with the observations. Composites of the simulated precipitation data over the outstanding warm and cold ENSO events reveal that a majority of the warm episodes are accompanied by below-normal summer rainfall in India and northern Australia, and above-normal winter rainfall in southeast Asia. The polarity of these anomalies is reversed in the cold events. These relationships are particularly evident in the TOGA experiment.

Composite charts of the simulated flow patterns at 850 and 200 mb indicate that the above-mentioned precipitation changes are associated with well-defined circulation features over the affected monsoon regions. Dry conditions are typically coincident with low-level anticyclonic anomalies, and vice versa. These circulation centers are situated to the northwest and southwest of a prominent precipitation anomaly situated near 120°–150°E at the equator, which corresponds to the western half of a dipolar heating pattern resulting from east–west displacements of the ascending branch of the Walker circulation during ENSO. The large-scale anomalous circulation over the monsoon regions is similar to that of a Rossby wave pattern associated with a condensational heat source or sink in the western equatorial Pacific.

Diagnosis of the output from the TOGA-ML experiment reveals that variations in the circulation and cloud cover accompanying ENSO-induced monsoon anomalies could modulate the latent heat and shortwave radiative fluxes at the air–sea interface in the Indian Ocean, thereby changing the SST conditions in that basin. These simulated SST anomalies compare well with observational results. The local atmospheric response to these SST anomalies opposes the remote response of the south Asian monsoon flow to SST anomalies in the tropical Pacific, thus leading to a negative feedback loop in the air–sea coupled system.

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Ngar-Cheung Lau
and
Mary Jo Nath

Abstract

The characteristics of summertime heat waves in North America are examined using reanalysis data and simulations by two general circulation models with horizontal resolution of 50 and 200 km. Several “key regions” with spatially coherent and high amplitude fluctuations in daily surface air temperature are identified. The typical synoptic features accompanying warm episodes in these regions are described. The averaged intensity, duration, and frequency of occurrence of the heat waves in various key regions, as simulated in the two models for twentieth-century climate, are in general agreement with the results based on reanalysis data.

The impact of climate change on the heat wave characteristics in various key regions is assessed by contrasting model runs based on a scenario for the twenty-first century with those for the twentieth century. Both models indicate considerable increases in the duration and frequency of heat wave episodes, and in number of heat wave days per year, during the twenty-first century. The duration and frequency statistics of the heat waves in the mid-twenty-first century, as generated by the model with 50-km resolution, can be reproduced by adding the projected warming trend to the daily temperature data for the late twentieth century, and then recomputing these statistics. The detailed evolution of the averaged intensity, duration, and frequency of the heat waves through individual decades of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as simulated and projected by the model with 200-km resolution, indicates that the upward trend in these heat wave measures should become apparent in the early decades of the twenty-first century.

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Ngar-Cheung Lau
and
Mary Jo Nath

Abstract

The climatological characteristics and interannual variations of the development of the South Asian summer monsoon (SASM) in early summer are studied using output from a 200-yr simulation of a coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model (CM2.1). Some of the model results are compared with corresponding observations. Climatological charts of the model and observational data at pentadal intervals indicate that both the precipitation and SST signals exhibit a tendency to migrate northward. Enhanced monsoonal precipitation at a given site is accompanied by a reduction in incoming shortwave radiation and intensification of upward latent heat flux, and by oceanic cooling.

An extended empirical orthogonal function analysis is used to identify the dates for initiation of the northward march of SASM in individual summers. It is noted that early monsoon development prevails after the mature phase of La Niña events, whereas delayed development occurs after El Niño.

Sensitivity experiments based on the atmospheric component of CM2.1 indicate that the effects of SST forcings in the tropical Pacific (TPAC) and Indian Ocean (IO) on monsoon development are opposite to each other. During El Niño events, the atmospheric response to remote TPAC forcing tends to suppress or postpone monsoon development over South Asia. Conversely, the warm SST anomalies in IO, which are generated by the “atmospheric bridge” mechanism in El Niño episodes, lead to accelerated monsoon development. The net result of these two competing effects is an evolution scenario with a timing that is intermediate between the response to TPAC forcing only and the response to IO forcing only.

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Ngar-Cheung Lau
and
Mary Jo Nath

Abstract

The synoptic behavior of present-day heat waves (HW) over Europe is studied using the GFDL high-resolution atmospheric model (HiRAM) with 50-km grid spacing. Three regions of enhanced and coherent temperature variability are identified over western Russia, eastern Europe, and western Europe. The simulated HW characteristics are compared with those derived from Climate Forecast System Reanalysis products. Composite charts for outstanding HW episodes resemble well-known recurrent circulation types. The HW region is overlain by a prominent upper-level anticyclone, which blocks the passage of synoptic-scale transients. The altered eddy vorticity transports in turn reinforce the anticyclone. The anticyclone is part of a planetary-scale wave train. The successive downstream development of this wave train is indicative of Rossby wave dispersion.

Additional runs of HiRAM are conducted for the “time slices” of 2026–35 and 2086–95 in the climate scenario corresponding to representative concentration pathway 4.5 (RCP4.5). By the end of the twenty-first century, the average duration and frequency of HW in the three European sites are projected to increase by a factor of 1.4–2.0 and 2.2–4.5, respectively, from the present-day values. These changes can be reproduced by adding the mean shift between the present and future climatological temperatures to the daily fluctuations in the present-day simulation. The output from a continuous integration of a coupled general circulation model through the 1901–2100 period indicates a monotonic increase in severity, duration, and HW days during the twenty-first century.

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Ngar-Cheung Lau
and
Mary Jo Nath

Abstract

The heat and vorticity transports by synoptic-scale eddies at various levels between 1000 and 100 mb have been compiled for each winter month of the 1966–84 period using time-filtered daily analyses produced by the U.S. National Meteorological Center. These circulation statistics were used to compute the three-dimensional distributions of the quasigeostrophic geopotential tendency and vertical motion induced by baroclinic and barotropic eddy processes in individual months. The latter fields serve as the basis for describing the synoptic-scale eddy forcing associated with the leading modes of month-to-month variability of the storm tracks over the North Pacific and North Atlantic. These modes are associated with the meridional displacements of the storm-track axes from their climatological positions.

The placement of a storm track at a certain latitude ϕ in a certain month is accompanied by enhanced convergence of eddy heat fluxes poleward of ϕ. In the tropospheric column poleward of the storm track, this baroclinic eddy forcing leads to positive geopotential tendency near the tropopause and negative geopotential tendency near sea level, as well as strong positive temperature tendency and rising motion. In the same month, the convergence of eddy vorticity transport is also enhanced poleward of ϕ. This barotropic forcing results in negative geopotential tendency throughout the troposphere, as well as rising motion and weak negative temperature tendency poleward of ϕ. All of these features appear with reversed polarity in latitudes equatorward of ϕ.

In the upper troposphere, the geopotential tendency induced by vorticity fluxes is stronger than the opposing effects due to heat fluxes, so that the net eddy forcing retains most of the characteristics of the forcing associated with barotropic processes alone, but with considerably reduced amplitudes. Near sea level, the geopotential tendencies induced by heat and vorticity fluxes reinforce each other and are comparable in amplitude. Throughout the troposphere, the patterns of net geopotential tendency exhibit a positive spatial correlation with those of the concurrent monthly averaged height anomaly. The characteristic time scale associated with this constructive eddy forcing in the storm-track region ranges from several days at 1000 mb, to 1–2 months near the tropopause. On the other hand, the eddy-induced temperature tendency is negatively correlated with the local monthly mean temperature anomaly. The dissipative time scale for this thermal forcing in the storm-track region is ∼10 days at 850 mb.

The barotropic geopotential tendency and the baroclinic temperature tendency are essentially determined by the convergences of vorticity and heat fluxes, respectively. The eddy-induced secondary circulation plays a minor role in these tendencies.

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Ngar-Cheung Lau
and
Mary Jo Nath

Abstract

The impacts of ENSO on the evolution of the East Asian monsoon have been studied using output from a general circulation model experiment. Observed monthly variations of the sea surface temperature (SST) field have been prescribed in the tropical eastern and central Pacific, whereas the atmosphere has been coupled to an oceanic mixed layer model beyond this forcing region. During the boreal summer of typical El Niño events, a low-level cyclonic anomaly is simulated over the North Pacific in response to enhanced condensational heating over the equatorial central Pacific. Advective processes associated with the cyclone anomaly lead to temperature tendencies that set the stage for the abrupt establishment of a strong Philippine Sea anticyclone (PSAC) anomaly in the autumn. The synoptic development during the onset of the PSAC anomaly is similar to that accompanying cold-air surges over East Asia.

The air–sea interactions accompanying the intraseasonal variations (ISV) in the model atmosphere exhibit a strong seasonal dependence. During the summer, the climatological monsoon trough over the subtropical western Pacific facilitates positive feedbacks between the atmospheric and oceanic fluctuations. Conversely, the prevalent northeasterly monsoon over this region in the winter leads to negative feedbacks. The onset of the PSAC anomaly is seen to be coincident with a prominent episode of the leading ISV mode. The ENSO events could influence the amplitude of the ISV by modulating the large-scale flow environment in which the ISV are embedded. Amplification of the summer monsoon trough over the western Pacific during El Niño enhances air–sea feedbacks on intraseasonal time scales, thereby raising the amplitudes of the ISV. A weakening of the northeasterly monsoon in El Niño winters suppresses the frequency and strength of the cold-air surges associated with the leading ISV mode in that season.

Many aspects of the model simulation of the relationships between ENSO and the East Asian monsoon are in agreement with observational findings.

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