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Paul D. Williams

Abstract

The leapfrog time-stepping scheme makes no amplitude errors when integrating linear oscillations. Unfortunately, the Robert–Asselin filter, which is used to damp the computational mode, introduces first-order amplitude errors. The Robert–Asselin–Williams (RAW) filter, which was recently proposed as an improvement, eliminates the first-order amplitude errors and yields third-order amplitude accuracy. However, it has not previously been shown how to further improve the accuracy by eliminating the third- and higher-order amplitude errors. Here, it is shown that leapfrogging over a suitably weighted blend of the filtered and unfiltered tendencies eliminates the third-order amplitude errors and yields fifth-order amplitude accuracy. It is further shown that the use of a more discriminating (1, −4, 6, −4, 1) filter instead of a (1, −2, 1) filter eliminates the fifth-order amplitude errors and yields seventh-order amplitude accuracy. Other related schemes are obtained by varying the values of the filter parameters, and it is found that several combinations offer an appealing compromise of stability and accuracy. The proposed new schemes are tested in numerical integrations of a simple nonlinear system. They appear to be attractive alternatives to the filtered leapfrog schemes currently used in many atmosphere and ocean models.

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Paul D. Williams

Abstract

Errors caused by discrete time stepping may be an important component of total model error in contemporary atmospheric and oceanic simulations. To reduce time-stepping errors in leapfrog integrations, the Robert–Asselin–Williams (RAW) filter was proposed by the author as a simple improvement to the widely used Robert–Asselin (RA) filter. The present paper examines the behavior of the RAW filter in semi-implicit integrations. First, in a linear theoretical analysis, the stability and accuracy are interrogated by deriving analytic expressions for the amplitude errors and phase errors. Then, power-series expansions are used to interpret the leading-order errors for small time steps and hence to identify optimal values of the filter parameters. Finally, the RAW filter is tested in a realistic nonlinear setting, by applying it to semi-implicit integrations of the elastic pendulum equations. The results suggest that replacing the RA filter with the RAW filter could reduce time-stepping errors in semi-implicit integrations.

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Paul D. Williams

Abstract

The Robert–Asselin time filter is widely used in numerical models of weather and climate. It successfully suppresses the spurious computational mode associated with the leapfrog time-stepping scheme. Unfortunately, it also weakly suppresses the physical mode and severely degrades the numerical accuracy. These two concomitant problems are shown to occur because the filter does not conserve the mean state, averaged over the three time slices on which it operates. The author proposes a simple modification to the Robert–Asselin filter, which does conserve the three-time-level mean state. When used in conjunction with the leapfrog scheme, the modification vastly reduces the impacts on the physical mode and increases the numerical accuracy for amplitude errors by two orders, yielding third-order accuracy. The modified filter could easily be incorporated into existing general circulation models of the atmosphere and ocean. In principle, it should deliver more faithful simulations at almost no additional computational expense. Alternatively, it may permit the use of longer time steps with no loss of accuracy, reducing the computational expense of a given simulation.

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Thomas Birner and Paul D. Williams

Abstract

Sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs) are usually considered to be initiated by planetary wave activity. Here it is asked whether small-scale variability (e.g., related to gravity waves) can lead to SSWs given a certain amount of planetary wave activity that is by itself not sufficient to cause a SSW. A highly vertically truncated version of the Holton–Mass model of stratospheric wave–mean flow interaction, recently proposed by Ruzmaikin et al., is extended to include stochastic forcing. In the deterministic setting, this low-order model exhibits multiple stable equilibria corresponding to the undisturbed vortex and SSW state, respectively. Momentum forcing due to quasi-random gravity wave activity is introduced as an additive noise term in the zonal momentum equation. Two distinct approaches are pursued to study the stochastic system. First, the system, initialized at the undisturbed state, is numerically integrated many times to derive statistics of first passage times of the system undergoing a transition to the SSW state. Second, the Fokker–Planck equation corresponding to the stochastic system is solved numerically to derive the stationary probability density function of the system. Both approaches show that even small to moderate strengths of the stochastic gravity wave forcing can be sufficient to cause a SSW for cases for which the deterministic system would not have predicted a SSW.

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Javier Amezcua, Eugenia Kalnay, and Paul D. Williams

Abstract

In a recent study, Williams introduced a simple modification to the widely used Robert–Asselin (RA) filter for numerical integration. The main purpose of the Robert–Asselin–Williams (RAW) filter is to avoid the undesired numerical damping of the RA filter and to increase the accuracy. In the present paper, the effects of the modification are comprehensively evaluated in the Simplified Parameterizations, Primitive Equation Dynamics (SPEEDY) atmospheric general circulation model. First, the authors search for significant changes in the monthly climatology due to the introduction of the new filter. After testing both at the local level and at the field level, no significant changes are found, which is advantageous in the sense that the new scheme does not require a retuning of the parameterized model physics. Second, the authors examine whether the new filter improves the skill of short- and medium-term forecasts. January 1982 data from the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis are used to evaluate the forecast skill. Improvements are found in all the model variables (except the relative humidity, which is hardly changed). The improvements increase with lead time and are especially evident in medium-range forecasts (96–144 h). For example, in tropical surface pressure predictions, 5-day forecasts made using the RAW filter have approximately the same skill as 4-day forecasts made using the RA filter. The results of this work are encouraging for the implementation of the RAW filter in other models currently using the RA filter.

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Paul D. Williams and Christopher W. Kelsall

Abstract

Multiple alternating zonal jets are a ubiquitous feature of planetary atmospheres and oceans. However, most studies to date have focused on the special case of barotropic jets. Here, the dynamics of freely evolving baroclinic jets are investigated using a two-layer quasigeostrophic annulus model with sloping topography. In a suite of 15 numerical simulations, the baroclinic Rossby radius and baroclinic Rhines scale are sampled by varying the stratification and root-mean-square eddy velocity, respectively. Small-scale eddies in the initial state evolve through geostrophic turbulence and accelerate zonally as they grow in horizontal scale, first isotropically and then anisotropically. This process leads ultimately to the formation of jets, which take about 2500 rotation periods to equilibrate. The kinetic energy spectrum of the equilibrated baroclinic zonal flow steepens from a −3 power law at small scales to a −5 power law near the jet scale. The conditions most favorable for producing multiple alternating baroclinic jets are large baroclinic Rossby radius (i.e., strong stratification) and small baroclinic Rhines scale (i.e., weak root-mean-square eddy velocity). The baroclinic jet width is diagnosed objectively and found to be 2.2–2.8 times larger than the baroclinic Rhines scale, with a best estimate of 2.5 times larger. This finding suggests that Rossby wave motions must be moving at speeds of approximately 6 times the turbulent eddy velocity in order to be capable of arresting the isotropic inverse energy cascade.

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John A. Knox, Donald W. McCann, and Paul D. Williams
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John A. Knox, Donald W. McCann, and Paul D. Williams

Abstract

A new method of clear-air turbulence (CAT) forecasting based on the Lighthill–Ford theory of spontaneous imbalance and emission of inertia–gravity waves has been derived and applied on episodic and seasonal time scales. A scale analysis of this shallow-water theory for midlatitude synoptic-scale flows identifies advection of relative vorticity as the leading-order source term. Examination of leading- and second-order terms elucidates previous, more empirically inspired CAT forecast diagnostics. Application of the Lighthill–Ford theory to the Upper Mississippi and Ohio Valleys CAT outbreak of 9 March 2006 results in good agreement with pilot reports of turbulence. Application of Lighthill–Ford theory to CAT forecasting for the 3 November 2005–26 March 2006 period using 1-h forecasts of the Rapid Update Cycle (RUC) 2 1500 UTC model run leads to superior forecasts compared to the current operational version of the Graphical Turbulence Guidance (GTG1) algorithm, the most skillful operational CAT forecasting method in existence. The results suggest that major improvements in CAT forecasting could result if the methods presented herein become operational.

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Paul D. Williams, Thomas W. N. Haine, and Peter L. Read

Abstract

This paper describes laboratory observations of inertia–gravity waves emitted from balanced fluid flow. In a rotating two-layer annulus experiment, the wavelength of the inertia–gravity waves is very close to the deformation radius. Their amplitude varies linearly with Rossby number in the range 0.05–0.14, at constant Burger number (or rotational Froude number). This linear scaling challenges the notion, suggested by several dynamical theories, that inertia–gravity waves generated by balanced motion will be exponentially small. It is estimated that the balanced flow leaks roughly 1% of its energy each rotation period into the inertia–gravity waves at the peak of their generation.

The findings of this study imply an inevitable emission of inertia–gravity waves at Rossby numbers similar to those of the large-scale atmospheric and oceanic flow. Extrapolation of the results suggests that inertia–gravity waves might make a significant contribution to the energy budgets of the atmosphere and ocean. In particular, emission of inertia–gravity waves from mesoscale eddies may be an important source of energy for deep interior mixing in the ocean.

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Jung-Hoon Kim, William N. Chan, Banavar Sridhar, Robert D. Sharman, Paul D. Williams, and Matt Strahan

Abstract

The variation of wind-optimal transatlantic flight routes and their turbulence potential is investigated to understand how upper-level winds and large-scale flow patterns can affect the efficiency and safety of long-haul flights. In this study, the wind-optimal routes (WORs) that minimize the total flight time by considering wind variations are modeled for flights between John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York, New York, and Heathrow Airport (LHR) in London, United Kingdom, during two distinct winter periods of abnormally high and low phases of North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) teleconnection patterns. Eastbound WORs approximate the JFK–LHR great circle (GC) route following northerly shifted jets in the +NAO period. Those WORs deviate southward following southerly shifted jets during the −NAO period, because eastbound WORs fly closely to the prevailing westerly jets to maximize tailwinds. Westbound WORs, however, spread meridionally to avoid the jets near the GC in the +NAO period to minimize headwinds. In the −NAO period, westbound WORs are north of the GC because of the southerly shifted jets. Consequently, eastbound WORs are faster but have higher probabilities of encountering clear-air turbulence than westbound ones, because eastbound WORs are close to the jet streams, especially near the cyclonic shear side of the jets in the northern (southern) part of the GC in the +NAO (−NAO) period. This study suggests how predicted teleconnection weather patterns can be used for long-haul strategic flight planning, ultimately contributing to minimizing aviation’s impact on the environment.

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