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Akira Kasahara and Pedro L. da Silva Dias

Abstract

The response of planetary waves to stationary tropical heating in a stratified global atmosphere linearized with respect to a basic zonal mean flow is investigated. The basic zonal wind has meridional and vertical shear. The basic equations are solved by using the method of three-dimensional normal-mode expansion. Forced solutions to a prescribed tropospheric equatorial heating distribution with a specific wavenumber in longitude are examined.

Without the basic zonal flow, the internal vertical modes whose equivalent depths are on the order of a few hundred meters are favorably excited, but the response of the external mode (“barotropic” mode) is relatively small. With the inclusion of a zonal flow, the vertical shear of the zonal wind permits the coupling of the external mode with the internal vertical modes. As a result of the coupling, a significant response occurs in the external mode due to the excitation of the “baroclinic” internal modes by tropical heating. The meridional structures of internal vertical modes are equatorially trapped and their intensities are less affected by the basic zonal flow. Since the meridional structures of the external mode is global, a significant response of the external mode to tropospheric tropical heating is no longer confined to the tropics. The direction of the basic zonal flow and its meridional shear have a profound influence on the intensity of planetary waves in the mid- to higher latitudes generated by stationary tropical heating. The present findings may fill in a missing link in the dynamical theory of atmospheric teleconnections.

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Alice M. Grimm and Pedro L. Silva Dias

Abstract

Influence functions (IFs) of a linear barotropic vorticity equation model are computed in order to determine the regions in which anomalous divergence at upper levels, related to tropical heating anomalies, has the largest impact on certain prominent low-frequency anomalies. The present computation differs from that of Branstator in two aspects: (a) the model includes the effects of the basic-flow divergence and the advection by anomalous divergent wind and (b) the influence functions directly assess the influence of upper-level divergence anomalies rather than sources of vorticity. The IFs are applied to the study of low-frequency tropical–extratropical interactions at the interannual (ENSO) and intraseasonal (30–60-day oscillation) timescales. The origin of well-known teleconnection patterns is explored through the identification of comma influence regions in the Tropics and subtropics for their main action centers. The subtropical west and central-east Pacific, north of the equator, is an important source region for the Pacific North America (PNA) pattern, and the South Atlantic convergence zone (SACZ) for the Eurasian and North Atlantic patterns. The IFs and the barotropic model results, as well as the evolution of the anomalous OLR fields associated with the 30–60-day oscillation, indicate the existence of a chain of connections. This chain constitutes a link between the South Pacific convergence zone (SPCZ) and the SACZ, as well as the control of the SACZ over the Atlantic and Eurasian pattern, which possibly connects back to the western Pacific. This connection can also occur at international timescales during ENSO events. An explanation of the relative insensitivity of the PNA pattern to the longitudinal position of the Pacific equatorial convection anomaly, reported by Geisler et al., is proposed.

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James J. Hack, Wayne H. Schubert, and Pedro L. Silva Dias

Abstract

The spectral cumulus parameterization theory of Arakawa and Schubert is presented in the convective flux form as opposed to the original detrainment form. This flux form is more convenient for use in numerical prediction models. The equations are grouped into one of three categories that are members of a control flow diagram: feedback, static control, and dynamic control. The dynamic control, which determines the cloud base mass flux distribution, is formulated as an optimization problem. This allows quasi-equilibrium to be satisfied as closely as possible while maintaining the necessary nonnegativity constraint on the cloud base mass flux.

Results of two applications of the parameterization are shown. The first illustrates the dependence of the predicted cloud mass flux distribution on the vertical profile of the large-scale vertical motion field. According to the assumption of quasi-equilibrium of the cloud work function, the mass flux associated with deep clouds is controlled by large-scale vertical motion in the middle and upper troposphere, not just by vertical motion at the top of the mixed layer. The second application shows the evolution of the mass flux distribution during the simulated intensification of a tropical vortex using an axisymmetric primitive equation model. A similar sensitivity of deep convection to the development of upper level vertical motion is also observed. These examples demonstrate the inherent potential of this spectral approach for helping to establish a better understanding of the physical nature of the interaction of organized cumulus convection with the large-scale fields not available in more conventional empirical parameterization methods.

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Pedro Leite Silva Dias, Jose Paulo Bonatti, and Vernon E. Kousky

Abstract

The impact of diurnally varying thermal forcing on the tropical circulation is studied with a linearized shallow water model on an equatorial beta plane. The mass and flow fields are interpreted as an internal mode with equivalent depth of the order of 250 m. This is the preferred vertical mode excited by typical cumulus heating profiles in the tropics. The diurnal forcing with the horizontal scale of the Amazon source partitions approximately 40% of the input energy to slow modes. The fast modes are trapped by the critical latitudes contributing significantly to oscillations in the divergence field, which emanate out of the source region. The divergence field at the source is approximately in phase with the forcing; the vorticity field lags the forcing by approximately 10 hours. A comparison of the model results with the 500 mb level vertical motion, derived from the National Meteorological Center analysis, shows a similar pattern of propagating oscillations. It is suggested that the diurnally forced convection over the tropical sector of South America controls the timing of heavy precipitation over the adjoining regions.

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Carlos F. M. Raupp and Pedro L. Silva Dias

Abstract

Resonant interactions among equatorial waves in the presence of a diurnally varying heat source are studied in the context of the diabatic version of the equatorial β-plane primitive equations for a motionless, hydrostatic, horizontally homogeneous and stably stratified background atmosphere. The heat source is assumed to be periodic in time and of small amplitude [i.e., O(ε)] and is prescribed to roughly represent the typical heating associated with deep convection in the tropical atmosphere. In this context, using the asymptotic method of multiple time scales, the free linear Rossby, Kelvin, mixed Rossby–gravity, and inertio-gravity waves, as well as their vertical structures, are obtained as leading-order solutions. These waves are shown to interact resonantly in a triad configuration at the O(ε) approximation, and the dynamics of these interactions have been studied in the presence of the forcing.

It is shown that for the planetary-scale wave resonant triads composed of two first baroclinic equatorially trapped waves and one barotropic Rossby mode, the spectrum of the thermal forcing is such that only one of the triad components is resonant with the heat source. As a result, to illustrate the role of the diurnal forcing in these interactions in a simplified fashion, two kinds of triads have been analyzed. The first one refers to triads composed of a k = 0 first baroclinic geostrophic mode, which is resonant with the stationary component of the diurnal heat source, and two dispersive modes, namely, a mixed Rossby–gravity wave and a barotropic Rossby mode. The other class corresponds to triads composed of two first baroclinic inertio-gravity waves in which the highest-frequency wave resonates with a transient harmonic of the forcing. The integration of the asymptotic reduced equations for these selected resonant triads shows that the stationary component of the diurnal heat source acts as an “accelerator” for the energy exchanges between the two dispersive waves through the excitation of the catalyst geostrophic mode. On the other hand, since in the second class of triads the mode that resonates with the forcing is the most energetically active member because of the energy constraints imposed by the triad dynamics, the results show that the convective forcing in this case is responsible for a longer time scale modulation in the resonant interactions, generating a period doubling in the energy exchanges. The results suggest that the diurnal variation of tropical convection might play an important role in generating low-frequency fluctuations in the atmospheric circulation through resonant nonlinear interactions.

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Silvio Nilo Figueroa, Prakki Satyamurty, and Pedro Leite Da Silva Dias

Abstract

A multilevel limited-area primitive equations model in eta coordinate is used to simulate the effects of the Amazonian latent heat source and the Andean topography on the summer (December, January, February) circulation over the South American region. The observed circulation features, such as the Bolivian high and the trough near the coast of Northeast Brazil in the upper troposphere, the elongated South Atlantic convergence zone (SACZ) oriented northwest to southeast from the southern Amazon region into the Atlantic Ocean, and the subtropical anticyclones in the South Pacific and South Atlantic Oceans in the lower levels are well simulated. Although heating alone produces the SACZ, the mountain and the basic flow put it in the observed position. It is found that regular daily pulses of heating are necessary for the maintenance of the SACZ. The position and intensity of the SACZ change rather substantially from the no-mountain case to the mountain case, thus showing the importance of the effect of the Andes on determining the convergence zone.

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Carlos F. M. Raupp and Pedro L. Silva Dias

Abstract

One possible explanation for the relatively high signal of the mixed Rossby–gravity waves observed in the tropical atmosphere is explored in this paper. This explanation is based on the nonlinear interactions among equatorial waves, and is made by adopting the nonlinear shallow water equations on the equatorial β plane. These equations are solved by a spectral method that uses the eigensolutions of the linear problem as the expansion basis. Numerical simulations are performed with a specified stationary mass source representative of the tropospheric heating associated with the typical convective activity over the Amazon Basin during the austral summer period. The numerical results show that the mixed Rossby–gravity waves are excited by a nonlinear mechanism in which the slow modes excited by the thermal forcing generate a quasigeostrophic basic state that supplies energy especially to the mixed Rossby–gravity waves with zonal wavenumbers 4 and 5, which have periods of the order of 4 days. The phase propagation of these unstable mixed modes leads to a periodic energy exchange between the mixed Rossby–gravity waves and the quasigeostrophic modes (Rossby and ultralong Kelvin modes). This regular nonlinear energy exchange implies a 4-day-cycle vacillation in the solution, which might be linked to the 4–6-day local oscillations in the dynamical field data throughout the Amazon region found in observational studies. Besides the importance of quasigeostrophic modes in the excitation of mixed Rossby–gravity waves, the numerical results also suggest that the predominance of the slow modes is crucial for maintaining the high signal of the unstable mixed modes, since these waves are strongly suppressed by the inclusion of the fast modes in the integration.

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Pedro L. Silva Dias, Wayne H. Schubert, and Mark DeMaria

Abstract

We consider the problem of the linear response of a stratified, equatorial, β-plane model atmosphere to specified transient sources of heat and momentum. The method of solution involves transforms in all three spatial coordinates. A finite Stürm-Liouville transform is used in z, a Fourier transform in x, and a generalized Hermite transform in y. The resulting spectral equations can then be solved analytically for a specified forcing. Of particular interest is the case of a Gaussian-shaped heat source centered at latitude yo and with e-folding radius a. The heat source is transient and has time scale 1/α. Using the Parceval relation we compute how the forced energy is partitioned between Kelvin, mixed Rossby-gravity, Rossby and gravity modes as a function of a, yo, α. Model results using a heat source centered at 11°S with an e-folding radius of 750 km and a time scale of about a day indicate that many aspects of the summertime upper tropospheric circulation over South America can be explained by the dispersive properties of Rossby and mixed Rossby-gravity waves. These results also show that the transient heat source excites Kelvin waves which propagate rapidly eastward as a nondispersive wave group. The existence of the Kelvin waves has implications for the initialization of tropical forecast models. By applying a nonlinear normal mode initialization procedure in the middle of a model simulation we investigate how the initialization distorts the subsequent evolution. Much of the distortion is associated with the Kelvin wave response.

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Juliana Dias, Pedro L. Silva Dias, George N. Kiladis, and Maria Gehne

Abstract

The dynamics of convectively coupled equatorial waves (CCEWs) is analyzed in an idealized model of the large-scale atmospheric circulation. The model is composed of a linear rotating shallow-water system with a variable equivalent height, or equivalent gravity wave speed, which varies in space. This model is based on the hypothesis that moist convection acts to remove convective instability, therefore modulating the equivalent height of a shallow-water system. Asymptotic solutions are derived in the case of a small perturbation around a constant coefficient, which is assumed to be a mean moist equivalent height derived from satellite observations. The first-order solutions correspond to the free normal modes of the linear shallow-water system and the second-order flow is derived solving a perturbation eigenvalue problem. The asymptotic solutions are documented in the case of a zonally varying equivalent height and for wavenumbers and frequencies that are consistent with observations of CCEWs. This analysis shows that the dynamics of the secondary divergence and its impact on the full divergence varies mode by mode. For instance, for a negative equivalent height anomaly, which is interpreted as a moister background, the secondary divergence is nearly in phase with the primary divergence in the case of Kelvin waves—in contrast to mixed Rossby–gravity waves where the secondary divergence acts to attenuate the primary divergence. While highly idealized, the modeled waves share some features with observations, providing a mechanism for the relationship between CCEWs phase speed, amplitude, and horizontal structure.

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Victor C. Mayta, George N. Kiladis, Juliana Dias, Pedro L. Silva Dias, and Maria Gehne

Abstract

Rainfall over tropical South America is known to be modulated by convectively coupled Kelvin waves (CCKWs). In this work, the origin and dynamical features of South American Kelvin waves are revisited using satellite-observed brightness temperature, radiosonde, and reanalysis datasets. Two main types of CCKWs over the Amazon are considered: Kelvin waves with a Pacific precursor, and Kelvin waves with a precursor originating over South America. Amazonian CCKWs associated with a preexisting Kelvin convection in the eastern Pacific account for about 35% of the total events. The cases with South American precursors are associated with either pressure surges in the western Amazon from extratropical wave train activity, responsible for 40% of the total events, or “in situ” convection that locally excites CCKWs, accounting for the remaining 25%. The analysis also suggests that CCKWs associated with different precursors are sensitive to Pacific sea surface temperature. Kelvin wave events with a Pacific precursor are more common during ENSO warm events, while Kelvin waves with extratropical South American precursors show stronger activity during La Niña events. This study also explores other triggering mechanisms of CCKWs over the Amazon. These mechanisms are associated with 1) extratropical Rossby wave trains not necessarily of extratropical South American origin; 2) CCKWs initiated in response to the presence of the southern and/or double intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) in the eastern Pacific Ocean; and 3) possible interaction between CCKWs and other equatorial waves in the Amazon.

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