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Matthew A. Janiga and Chidong Zhang

Abstract

Contributions by different physical processes and cloud types to the sum of the large-scale vertical moisture advection and apparent moisture sink observed by the DYNAMO field campaign northern sounding array during the passage of a Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) event are estimated using a cloud-resolving model. The sum of these two moisture budget terms is referred to as the column-confined moisture tendency M C. Assuming diabatic balance, the contribution of different physical processes and cloud types to the large-scale vertical velocity and M C can be estimated using simulated diabatic tendencies and the domain-averaged static stability and vertical moisture gradient. Low-level moistening preceding MJO passage is captured by M C and dominated by the effects of shallow clouds. Because of the large vertical moisture gradient at this level, condensational heating in these clouds generates ascent and vertical moisture advection overwhelming the removal of water vapor by condensation. Shallow convective eddy transport also contributes to low-level moistening during this period. Eddy transport by congestus and deep convective clouds contributes to subsequent mid- and upper-level moistening, respectively, as well as low-level drying. Because the upper-level vertical moisture gradient is small, ice deposition within stratiform clouds has a net drying effect. The weak eddy transport in stratiform clouds is unable to compensate for this drying. Nonprecipitating clouds mainly modulate M C through their effects on radiation. During the enhanced phase, reduced longwave cooling results in less subsidence and drying; the opposite occurs during the suppressed phase. Large-scale horizontal advection, which is not included in M C, is responsible for much of the drying during the dissipating phase.

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Matthew A. Janiga and Chris D. Thorncroft

Abstract

The geographic and diurnal variability of moist convection over tropical Africa and the east Atlantic is examined using the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite and related to the variability of the convective environment. The stratiform rain fraction is highest within oceanic and continental regions just north of the equator. Both regions have high column relative humidity (CRH). In both monsoon and semiarid continental regions, stratiform rain fractions are significantly higher on days when the CRH is high, which suggests a relationship between these quantities. Large convective systems with high echo tops dominate the rainfall over the Sahel. The importance of CAPE and shear to the development of these types of systems is suggested by the fact these systems are especially common on days when the CAPE and shear are unusually high.

Both deep convective and stratiform conditional rain rates increase with the size and echo-top height of convective systems. According to the TRMM Precipitation Radar (PR) near-surface rain rate, the highest deep convective and stratiform conditional rain rates occur off the coast of West Africa. However, comparisons between the PR near-surface rain rate and rain rates computed from Z–R relationships from the literature suggest that deep convective conditional rain rates over the Sahel are underestimated by the TRMM precipitation algorithm. Over the Sahel, small (large) convective systems produce most of the rainfall in the afternoon (early morning). This is associated with enhanced convective rainfall in the afternoon and stratiform in the early morning. The transition from small to large convective systems as convection propagates away from topographic features is also observed.

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Matthew A. Janiga and Chris D. Thorncroft

Abstract

Using data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), the modulation of convection by African easterly waves (AEWs) is investigated over regions of the east Atlantic and tropical Africa. To explain the modulation of convection, the large-scale environment (lift, moisture, conditional instability, and shear) is also examined as a function of AEW phase in each region.

Over semiarid portions of tropical Africa, unconditional rain rates are greatest in the northerly phase of AEWs due to the strong adiabatic forcing for ascent. Along the Guinea Coast, the western coast of Africa, and over the east Atlantic—where forcing for ascent is weaker—rainfall is shifted toward the trough where the air is moist. Significant contrasts in the characteristics of convection as a function of AEW phase—comparable in magnitude to regional contrasts—are also observed. In all regions, large and high echo-top convective systems are more sensitive to AEW phase than small and low echo-top systems. In semiarid regions, deep convection and large high echo-top convective systems account for a large fraction of the rainfall in the ridge and northerlies. Stratiform and small low echo-top convective systems dominate in the trough and southerlies. Convective system height and conditional rain rates increase with conditional instability and system sizes may increase with shear. Over the east Atlantic, stratiform fractions and convective system sizes and echo-top heights are greatest in the trough while the ridge is dominated by shallow convection. This is primarily related to the presence of moist air in the trough and dry air in the ridge.

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Michael J. Ventrice, Christopher D. Thorncroft, and Matthew A. Janiga

Abstract

This paper explores a three-way interaction between an African easterly wave (AEW), the diurnal cycle of convection over the Guinea Highlands (GHs), and a convectively coupled atmospheric equatorial Kelvin wave (CCKW). These interactions resulted in the genesis of Tropical Storm Debby over the eastern tropical Atlantic during late August 2006. The diurnal cycle of convection downstream of the GHs during the month of August is explored. Convection associated with the coherent diurnal cycle is observed off the coast of West Africa during the morning. Later, convection initiates over and downstream of the GHs during the afternoon. These convective features were pronounced during the passage of the pre-Debby AEW. The superposition between the convectively active phase of a strong CCKW and the pre-Debby AEW occurred shortly after merging with the diurnally varying convection downstream of the GHs. The CCKW–AEW interaction preceded tropical cyclogenesis by 18 h. The CCKW provided a favorable environment for deep convection. An analysis of high-amplitude CCKWs over the tropical Atlantic and West Africa during the Northern Hemisphere boreal summer (1979–2009) highlights a robust relationship between CCKWs and the frequency of tropical cyclogenesis. Tropical cyclogenesis is found to be less frequent immediately prior to the passage of the convectively active phase of the CCKW, more frequent during the passage, and most frequent just after the passage.

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Carl J. Schreck III, Matthew A. Janiga, and Stephen Baxter

Abstract

This study applies Fourier filtering to a combination of rainfall estimates from TRMM and forecasts from the CFSv2. The combined data are filtered for low-frequency (LF, ≥120 days) variability, the MJO, and convectively coupled equatorial waves. The filtering provides insight into the sources of skill for the CFSv2. The LF filter, which encapsulates persistent anomalies generally corresponding with SSTs, has the largest contribution to forecast skill beyond week 2. Variability within the equatorial Pacific is dominated by its response to ENSO, such that both the unfiltered and the LF-filtered forecasts are skillful over the Pacific through the entire 45-day CFSv2 forecast. In fact, the LF forecasts in that region are more skillful than the unfiltered forecasts or any combination of the filters. Verifying filtered against unfiltered observations shows that subseasonal variability has very little opportunity to contribute to skill over the equatorial Pacific. Any subseasonal variability produced by the model is actually detracting from the skill there. The MJO primarily contributes to CFSv2 skill over the Indian Ocean, particularly during March–May and MJO phases 2–5. However, the model misses opportunities for the MJO to contribute to skill in other regions. Convectively coupled equatorial Rossby waves contribute to skill over the Indian Ocean during December–February and the Atlantic Ocean during September–November. Convectively coupled Kelvin waves show limited potential skill for predicting weekly averaged rainfall anomalies since they explain a relatively small percent of the observed variability.

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Paul E. Roundy, Carl J. Schreck III, and Matthew A. Janiga

Abstract

The real-time multivariate (RMM) Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) indices have been widely applied to diagnose and track the progression of the MJO. Although it has been well demonstrated that the MJO contributes to the leading signals in these indices, the RMM indices vary erratically from day to day. These variations are associated with noise in the outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) and wind data used to generate the indices. This note demonstrates that some of this “noise” evolves systematically and is associated with other types of propagating modes that project onto the RMM eigenmodes. OLR and zonal wind data are filtered in the wavenumber–frequency domain for the MJO, convectively coupled equatorial Rossby (ER) waves, and convectively coupled Kelvin waves. The filtered data are then projected onto the RMM modes. An example phase space associated with these projections is presented. Linear regression is then applied to isolate the wave signals from random variations in the same bands of the wavenumber–frequency domain, and the regressed data are projected onto the RMM EOFs. Results demonstrate the magnitudes of the contributions of the systematically evolving signals associated with these waves to variations in the RMM principal components, and how these contributions vary with the longitude of the active moist deep convection coupled to the waves.

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Stephanie S. Rushley, Matthew A. Janiga, James A. Ridout, and Carolyn A. Reynolds

Abstract

The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is a key source of predictability in the subseasonal timescale (weeks-months) and influences a wide range of weather and climate phenomena. Although there have been enormous gains in simulating the MJO, many climate and forecast models still have biases in MJO behavior and structure. In this study, we examine the MJO in the Navy Earth System Prediction Capability (Navy ESPC) forecasts performed for the Subseasonal eXperiment (SubX) using process-based diagnostics and a moisture budget analysis which uses wavenumber-frequency filtering to isolate the MJO.

The MJO in the Navy ESPC is too strong in both boreal winter and summer. This amplitude bias is driven by biases in the vertical moisture advection in the Navy ESPC, which is too strong and deep, driven by a more bottom heavy vertical motion profile and too steep lower tropospheric vertical moisture gradient. Additionally, the convective moisture adjustment timescale in the Navy ESPC is faster than observed, such that for a given moisture anomaly the precipitation response is greater than observed. In the Navy ESPC, the MJO propagation shows strong agreement with observations in the Indian Ocean, followed by too rapid propagation east of the Maritime Continent in both seasons. This MJO acceleration east of the Maritime Continent is linked to an acceleration of moisture anomalies driven by biases in anomalous moisture tendency. The mechanisms that drive this bias have seasonal differences: with excess evaporation in the Western Pacific dominating in boreal winter, and horizontal moisture advection dominating in boreal summer.

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Kurt A. Hansen, Sharanya J. Majumdar, Ben P. Kirtman, and Matthew A. Janiga

Abstract

Hansen et al. found patterns of vertical wind shear, relative humidity (RH), and nonlinear interactions between the Madden–Julian oscillation and El Niño–Southern Oscillation that impact subseasonal Atlantic TC activity. We test whether these patterns can be used to improve subseasonal predictions. To do this we build a statistical–dynamical hybrid model using Navy-ESPC reforecasts as a part of the SUBX project. By adding and removing Navy-ESPC reforecasted values of predictors from a logistic regression model, we assess the contribution of skill from each predictor. We find that Atlantic SSTs and the MJO are the most important factors governing subseasonal Atlantic TC activity. RH contributes little to subseasonal TC predictions; however, shear predictors improve forecast skill at 5–10-day lead times, before forecast shear errors become too large. Nonlinear MJO–ENSO interactions did not improve skill compared to separate linear considerations of these factors but did improve the reliability of predictions for high-probability active TC periods. Both nonlinear MJO–ENSO interactions and the subseasonal shear signal appear linked to PV streamer activity. This study suggests that correcting model shear biases and improving representation of Rossby wave breaking is the most efficient way to improve subseasonal Atlantic TC forecasts.

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William A. Komaromi, Xiaodong Hong, Matthew A. Janiga, Carolyn A. Reynolds, James A. Ridout, and James D. Doyle

Abstract

Given the prohibitive expense of running a global coupled high-resolution model for multiweek forecasts, we explore the feasibility of running a limited-area model forced by a global model on monthly time scales. Specifically, we seek to understand the constraints of the accuracy of lateral boundary conditions (LBCs) produced by NAVGEM on the skill of limited-area COAMPS forecasts. In this study, we analyze simulations of the successive MJO events of November 2011. In the NAVGEM simulations, the effect of ocean boundary conditions are examined, including fixed sea surface temperature (SST), observed SST, and coupled SST with HYCOM. With fixed SST, the second MJO fails to develop, highlighting the importance of the ocean response in the ability to model successive MJO events. Next, we examine the dependence of the regional COAMPS skill on the global model forecast performance. It is found that even when using the inferior but computationally inexpensive uncoupled NAVGEM for LBCs, coupled COAMPS can accurately predict the successive MJO events. A well-resolved atmospheric Rossby wave that slowly propagates westward in the COAMPS domain contributes to increased predictive skill. Ocean coupling and the ability of the model to sufficiently warm the ocean during the convectively suppressed phase also appears to be critical. Last, while COAMPS exhibits a significant moist bias, the sign and magnitude of the vertical and horizontal moisture flux appear to be consistent with reanalysis, a necessary attribute of any model to be used in multiweek MJO prediction.

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Sue Chen, Carolyn A. Reynolds, Jerome M. Schmidt, Philippe P. Papin, Matthew A. Janiga, Richard Bankert, and Andrew Huang

Abstract

A high-impact atmospheric river (AR) event that made landfall on the U.S. West Coast on Valentine’s Day of 2019 and produced widespread flooding in California is examined. The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory cloud resolving and high-resolution Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) captures the main features impacting the life cycle and structure of the Valentine’s Day AR. Analysis of the model-simulated AR reveals the complex processes leading up to the initial northeastward surge of the water vapor and enhanced near-surface flow associated with this AR. These include the preexistence of a mesoscale cold-core kona low, a mesoscale anticyclone, and a strong low-level convergence in the corridor between the kona low and mesoscale anticyclone where the environment becomes supersaturated in a region of weak vertical wind shear. Model sensitivity experiments show that the eastward progression and magnitude of the AR water vapor surge are strongly sensitive to the magnitude of kona low circulation. Experiments with the kona low circulation amplitude reduced to less than 25% showed that the AR is not able to reach the U.S. West Coast. These results help to identify key new aspects of an important player—the kona low—and its significant contributions to the overall AR characteristics of this particular observed event.

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