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Suhas U. Pol and Michael J. Brown

Abstract

During the Joint Urban 2003 experiment held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, an east–west-running street canyon was heavily instrumented with wind sensors. In this paper, the flow patterns at the street canyon ends are investigated by looking at sonic anemometers placed near ground level and tethersonde wind vane systems operated in “ladder” mode that were suspended over the sides of the buildings on each side of the street. For southerly flow conditions, the street-level wind sensors often showed what appeared to be a horizontally rotating “corner” or “end” vortex existing at each end of the street canyon near the intersections. It was found that this vortex flow pattern appeared for a wide range of upper-level wind directions but then changed to purely unidirectional flow for wind directions that were outside this range. The tethersonde wind vane measurements show that this vortexlike flow regime occasionally existed through the entire depth of the street canyon. The horizontal extent of the end vortex into the street canyon was found to be different at each end of the street. Under high-wind conditions, the mean wind patterns in the street did not vary appreciably during the day and night. The end vortex may be important in the dispersal of airborne contaminants, acting to enhance lateral and vertical mixing.

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Michael J. Naughton, Gerald L. Browning, and William Bourke

Abstract

The convergence of spectral model numerical solutions of the global shallow-water equations is examined as a function of the time step and the spectral truncation. The contributions to the errors due to the spatial and temporal discretizations are separately identified and compared. Numerical convergence experiments are performed with the inviscid equations from smooth (Rossby-Haurwitz wave) and observed (R45 atmospheric analysis) initial conditions, and also with the diffusive shallow-water equations. Results are compared with the forced inviscid shallow-water equations case studied by Browning et at. Reduction of the time discretization error by the removal of fast waves from the solution using initialization is shown. The effects of forcing and diffusion on the convergence are discussed. Time truncation errors are found to dominate when a feature is large scale and well resolved; spatial truncation errors dominate-for small-scale features and also for large scales after the small scales have affected them. Possible implications of these results for global atmospheric modeling are discussed.

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Michael J. Brown, S. Pal Arya, and William H. Snyder

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The vertical diffusion of a passive tracer released from surface and elevated sources in a neutrally stratified boundary layer has been studied by comparing field and laboratory experiments with a non-Gaussian K-theory model that assumes power-law profiles for the mean velocity and vertical eddy diffusivity. Several important differences between model predictions and experimental data were discovered: 1) the model overestimated ground-level concentrations from surface and elevated releases at distances beyond the peak concentration; 2) the model overpredicted vertical mixing near elevated sources, especially in the upward direction; 3) the model-predicted exponent α in the exponential vertical concentration profile for a surface release [C̄(z) exp(−z α)] was smaller than the experimentally measured exponent. Model closure assumptions and experimental shortcomings are discussed in relation to their probable effect on model predictions and experimental measurements.

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Francisco J. Beron-Vera, María J. Olascoaga, Michael G. Brown, and Huseyin Koçak

Abstract

Applications of recent results from dynamical systems theory to the study of transport and mixing in incompressible two-dimensional flows lead to the expectation that, independent of the background potential vorticity (PV) distribution, weakly perturbed zonal jets are associated with barriers that inhibit meridional transport. Here the authors provide evidence in support of this expectation based on the analysis of isentropic winds in the lower stratosphere as produced by the Canadian Middle Atmosphere Model (CMAM), a comprehensive general circulation model. Specifically, barriers to meridional transport are found to be associated with the (eastward) austral polar night jet, for which the meridional gradient of background PV is large, and also for the (westward) boreal summer subtropical jet, for which the background PV gradient is quite small. The identification of the meridional transport barriers is based on the computation of finite-time Lyapunov exponents (FTLEs), which characterize the amount of stretching about fluid particle trajectories. Being composed of regular fluid particle trajectories lying on invariant tori, the meridional transport barriers are identified with topologically circular, local minimizing curves or trenches of the backward-plus-forward FTLE field. Results from explicit passive tracer advection experiments and flux computations are also presented, which are consistent with results inferred using the FTLE diagnostic.

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Timothy J. Brown, L. Mark Berliner, Daniel S. Wilks, Michael B. Richman, and Christopher K. Wikle

Analyses of atmospheric sciences data and models are heavily dependent upon statistical and probabilistic reasoning. Statistical methods have played an important role in establishing physical relationships of atmosphere–ocean–land interactions and in the development and verification of numerical forecast models. There is no reason to expect statistics to play a lesser role in the years ahead. Yet there has been and remains minimal formal training in statistics and probability for atmospheric sciences students in the United States. This is in sharp contrast to other fields such as the social sciences. This paper describes issues surrounding the general weakness in formal statistics education for both undergraduate and graduate atmospheric sciences students, and the minimal collaboration between statisticians and atmospheric scientists. Recommendations are offered on statistics curriculum guidelines for undergraduate and graduate atmospheric sciences students, and on improving the overall interaction between the statistics and atmospheric sciences disciplines.

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Jaclyn N. Brown, Peter C. McIntosh, Michael J. Pook, and James S. Risbey

Abstract

The causes of rainfall variations in southeastern Australia associated with three key El Niño years (1982, 1997, and 2002) are explored. Whereas 1982 and 2002 were exceptionally dry years, 1997 had near-average rainfall. These variations in rainfall can be explained by changes in the behavior of cutoff low pressure systems. Although each year had a similar number of cutoff low events, 1997 had higher rainfall per cutoff low event when compared with the other years. In particular, rain in 1997 is attributable to five large wet events from cutoff low pressure systems. In each of these wet events, the moist air originated from the marine boundary layer off the coast of northeastern Australia. Cutoff lows in 1982 and 2002 were much drier and did not draw in moist air from the northeastern coast. In typical classifications, 1982 and 1997 are grouped together as “canonical” El Niños whereas 2002 is a Modoki El Niño. The results presented here imply that these groupings are not definitive in explaining variations in southeastern Australian rainfall.

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Michael J. Brown, John D. Locatelli, Mark T. Stoelinga, and Peter V. Hobbs

Abstract

A nonhydrostatic, three-dimensional, mesoscale model, including cloud physics, is used to simulate the structure of a narrow cold-frontal rainband (NCFR). The model simulations reproduce the observed “core–gap” structure of the NCFR. Trapped gravity waves, triggered by regions of stronger convection on the cold front, induce subsidence and regions of warming aloft. In these regions, precipitation is suppressed, thereby creating precipitation gaps along the front separated by precipitation cores. The advection of hydrometeors is responsible for the parallel orientation and the elliptical shapes of the precipitation cores.

Gravity waves produce pressure perturbations just behind the cold front, which modify the wind and thermal structure. Parts of the front behave locally like a gravity current, traveling at the theoretical gravity current speed in a direction perpendicular to the local orientation of the front, but the motion of the front as a whole is not well described by the gravity current speed calculated from quantities averaged along the length of the front.

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Gregory R. Foltz, Amato T. Evan, H. Paul Freitag, Sonya Brown, and Michael J. McPhaden

Abstract

Long-term and direct measurements of surface shortwave radiation (SWR) have been recorded by the Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic (PIRATA) since 1997. Previous studies have shown that African dust, transported westward from the Sahara and Sahel regions, can accumulate on mooring SWR sensors in the high-dust region of the North Atlantic (8°–25°N, 20°–50°W), potentially leading to significant negative SWR biases. Here dust-accumulation biases are quantified for each PIRATA mooring using direct measurements from the moorings, combined with satellite and reanalysis datasets and statistical models. The SWR records from five locations in the high-dust region (8°, 12°, and 15°N along 38°W; 12° and 21°N along 23°W) are found to contain monthly-mean accumulation biases as large as −200 W m−2 and record-length mean biases on the order of −10 W m−2. The other 12 moorings, located mainly between 10°S and 4°N, are in regions of lower atmospheric dust concentration and do not show statistically significant biases. Seasonal-to-interannual variability of the accumulation bias is found at all locations in the high-dust region. The moorings along 38°W also show decreasing trends in the bias magnitude since 1998 that are possibly related to a corresponding negative trend in atmospheric dust concentration. The dust-accumulation biases described here will be useful for interpreting SWR data from PIRATA moorings in the high-dust region. The biases are also potentially useful for quantifying dust deposition rates in the tropical North Atlantic, which at present are poorly constrained by satellite data and numerical models.

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Kabir Suara, Charles Wang, Yanming Feng, Richard J. Brown, Hubert Chanson, and Michael Borgas

Abstract

The use of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)-tracked Lagrangian drifters allows more realistic quantification of fluid motion and dispersion coefficients than Eulerian techniques because such drifters are analogs of particles that are relevant to flow field characterization and pollutant dispersion. Using the fast-growing real-time kinematic (RTK) positioning technique derived from GNSS, drifters are developed for high-frequency (10 Hz) sampling with position estimates with centimeter accuracy. The drifters are designed with small size and less direct wind drag to follow the subsurface flow that characterizes dispersion in shallow waters. An analysis of position error from stationary observation indicates that the drifter can efficiently resolve motion up to 1 Hz. The result of the field deployments of the drifter in conjunction with acoustic Eulerian devices shows a higher estimate of the drifter streamwise velocities. Single particle statistical analysis of field deployments in a shallow estuarine zone yielded estimates of dispersion coefficients comparable to those of dye tracer studies. The drifters capture the tidal elevation during field studies in a tidal estuary.

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Thomas M. Hamill, Michael J. Brennan, Barbara Brown, Mark DeMaria, Edward N. Rappaport, and Zoltan Toth

Uncertainty information from ensemble prediction systems can enhance and extend the suite of tropical cyclone (TC) forecast products. This article will review progress in ensemble prediction of TCs and the scientific issues in ensemble system development for TCs. Additionally, it will discuss the needs of forecasters and other users for TC uncertainty information and describe some ensemble-based products that may be able to be disseminated in the near future. We hope these proposals will jump-start a community-wide discussion of how to leverage ensemble-based uncertainty information for TC prediction.

A supplement to this article is available online (10.1175/2011BAMS3106.2)

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