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Rui Mei and Guiling Wang

Abstract

This study examines the impact of sea surface temperature (SST) and soil moisture on summer precipitation over two regions of the United States (the upper Mississippi River basin and the Great Plains) based on data from observation and observation-forced model simulations (in the case of soil moisture). Results from SST–precipitation correlation analysis show that spatially averaged SST of identified oceanic areas are better predictors than derived SST patterns from the EOF analysis and that both predictors are strongly associated with the Pacific Ocean. Results from conditioned soil moisture–precipitation correlation analysis show that the impact of soil moisture on precipitation differs between the outer-quartiles years (with summer precipitation amount in the first and fourth quartiles) and inner-quartiles years (with summer precipitation amount in the second and third quartiles), and also between the high- and low-skill SST years (categorized according to the skill of SST-based precipitation prediction). Specifically, the soil moisture–precipitation feedback is more likely to be positive and significant in the outer-quartiles years and in the years when the skill of precipitation prediction based on SST alone is low. This study indicates that soil moisture should be included as a useful predictor in precipitation prediction, and the resulting improvement in prediction skills will be especially substantial during years of large precipitation anomalies. It also demonstrates the complexity of the impact of SST and soil moisture on precipitation, and underlines the important complementary roles both SST and soil moisture play in determining precipitation.

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Hualan Rui and Bin Wang

Abstract

The development and dynamical structure of intraseasonal low-frequency convection anomalies in the equatorial region are investigated using 10 years (1975–85) of outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) and 7 years (1979–85) of 200 and 850 mb wind data.

The composite OLR anomalies for 36 cases show a four-stage development process: initiation over equatorial Africa, rapid intensification when passing through the Indian Ocean, mature evolution characterized by a weakening in the maritime continent and redevelopment over the western Pacific, and dissipation near the date line in moderate events or emanation from the equator toward North America and southeastern Pacific in strong events.

A noticeable feature in vertical structure is that the 850 mb convergence leads convection and midtropospheric upward motion by about 30 degrees longitude in both developing and mature phases. Equatorial upper- (lower-) level easterly (westerly) anomalies and associated twin anomalous anticyclonic (cyclonic) circulation anomalies couple with equatorial convection anomalies. The wind anomalies, however, generally lag convection anomalies in development and early mature phases, but nearly overlap in late mature phase and slightly lead the convection anomalies in dissipation phase. The upper-level twin cyclonic cells associated with the westerly anomalies in front of the convection travel across eastern Pacific after the convection ceases in the central Pacific, while the low-level wind anomalies die out east of the date line.

The implications of the findings in relation to theoretical hypotheses on low-frequency motion are discussed.

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Rui Mei and Guiling Wang

Abstract

This study examines the land–atmosphere coupling strength during summer over subregions of the United States based on observations [Climate Prediction Center (CPC)–Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC)], reanalysis data [North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) and NCEP Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR)], and models [Community Atmosphere Model, version 3 (CAM3)–Community Land Model, version 3 (CLM3) and CAM4–CLM4]. The probability density function of conditioned correlation between soil moisture and subsequent precipitation or surface temperature during the years of large precipitation anomalies is used as a measure for the coupling strength. There are three major findings: 1) among the eight subregions (classified by land cover types), the transition zone Great Plains (and, to a lesser extent, the Midwest and Southeast) are identified as hot spots for strong land–atmosphere coupling; 2) soil moisture–precipitation coupling is weaker than soil moisture–surface temperature coupling; and 3) the coupling strength is stronger in observational and reanalysis products than in the models examined, especially in CAM4–CLM4. The conditioned correlation analysis also indicates that the coupling strength in CAM4–CLM4 is weaker than in CAM3–CLM3, which is further supported by Global Land–Atmosphere Coupling Experiments1 (GLACE1)-type experiments and attributed to changes in CAM rather than modifications in CLM. Contrary to suggestions in previous studies, CAM–CLM models do not seem to overestimate the land–atmosphere coupling strength.

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Bin Wang and Hualan Rui

Abstract

A simple theoretical analysis on the stability of a resting tropical atmosphere to semigeostrophic perturbations is given using a free atmosphere–boundary layer coupled model on an equatorial β-plane.

An unstable mode emerges when sea surface temperature is higher than a critical value. The growing mode is a moist Kelvin wave modified through coupling with a Rossby wave of the lowest meridional index. The modified Rossby modes, however, remain damped even for high SST. The unstable mode selection can be explained in terms of wave energy generation due to the latent heating induced by frictional moisture convergence.

The horizontal mode-coupling has profound impacts on wave instability. It favors the amplification of long planetary-scale waves, slows down eastward propagation, and suppresses unrealistically fast growth of the uncoupled moist Kelvin mode by creating substantial meridional flows. These effects make the coupled unstable mode more resemble observed equatorial intraseasonal disturbances.

The results also demonstrate that when maximum SST moves from the equator to 7.5°N, the growth rate of the unstable wave is significantly reduced, suggesting that the annual march of the “thermal equator” and associated convective heating is likely responsible for annual variations of the equatorial 40–50 day wave activity.

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Qi Wang and Rui Xin Huang

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A method based on isopycnal trajectory analysis is proposed to quantify the pathways from the subtropics to the Tropics. For a continuous stratified ocean a virtual streamfunction is defined, which can be used to characterize these pathways. This method is applied to the climatological dataset produced from a data-assimilated model. Analysis indicates that in each layer contours of the virtual streamfunction are a good approximation for streamlines, even if there is a cross-isopycnal mass flux. The zonal-integrated meridional transport per unit layer thickness through each pathway varies in proportion to 1/sinθ, where θ is latitude. The vertical-integrated total transport through pathways behaves similarly. Transport through pathways has a prominent decadal variability. Results suggest that in decadal time scales the interior pathway transport (IPT) anomaly may be mainly caused by the wind stress anomaly at low latitude. The western boundary pathway transport (WBPT) anomaly often has a sign opposite to the IPT anomaly, reflecting compensation between the IPT and the WBPT. However, more often than not the wind stress anomaly within tropical latitudes can also be used to explain the WBPT anomaly.

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Liping Wang and Rui Xin Huang

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An analytical solution is sought for a wind-driven circulation in the inviscid limit in a linear barotropic channel model of the Antarctic Circumpolar Ocean in the presence of a bottom ridge. There is a critical height of the ridge, above which all geostrophic contours in the channel are blocked. In the subcritical case, the Sverdrup balance does not apply and there is no solution in the inviscid limit. In the supercritical case, however, the Sverdrup balance applies and an explicit form for the zonal transport in the channel is obtained.

In the case with a uniform wind stress, the transport in the β-plane channel is independent of the width of the ridge, linearly proportional to the wind stress and the length of the channel, while inversely linearly proportional to the ridge height. In the f plane with β = 0, the transport is even independent of the width of the channel. In the case with a nonuniform wind stress τx = τ0(1-−cosπy/D), the Sverdrup flow driven by the vorticity input always induces a form drag against the mean wind stress. Now, the transport depends on the width of the ridge but not on the length of the channel.

The model clearly demonstrates how the topographic form drag is generated in a linear barotropic model, which is fundamentally different from the nonlinear Rossby wave drag generation. Here, in this linear model, the presence of a supercritical high ridge is essential in the inviscid limit. The form drag is generated regardless of the flow direction. Besides, the model demonstrates that most of the potential vorticity dissipation occurs at the northern boundary where the ridge is located.

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Wei Wang and Rui Xin Huang

Abstract

Wind stress energy input through the surface ageostrophic currents is studied. The surface ageostrophic velocity is calculated using the classical formula of the Ekman spiral, with the Ekman depth determined from an empirical formula. The total amount of energy input over the global oceans for subinertial frequency is estimated as 2.4 TW averaged over a period from 1997 to 2002, or 2.3 TW averaged over a period from 1948 to 2002, based on daily wind stress data from NCEP–NCAR. Thus, in addition to the energy input to the near inertial waves of 0.5–0.7 TW reported by Alford and by Watanabe and Hibiya, the total energy input to the Ekman layer is estimated as 3 TW. This input is concentrated primarily over the Southern Ocean and the storm track in both the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans.

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Rui Xin Huang and Qi Wang

Abstract

The communication from the subtropical gyre interior to the Tropics is examined using wind stress datasets and results from an ocean data assimilation system. It is shown that the interior communication can be clarified by a simple interior mass communication rate (IMCR), which can be easily calculated from the Sverdrup function. For the Northern (Southern) Hemisphere the IMCR can be defined as the meridional minimum (maximum) of the Sverdrup function maximum (minimum) at each latitude. The interior communication is closely related to the ENSO cycle, and its rate and pathway have strong interannual–decadal variability.

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Liping Wang and Rui Xin Huang

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A simple barotropic model of abyssal circulation in a circumpolar ocean basin is constructed. In the presence of a sufficiently high ridge, the classical Stommel and Arons theory applies here with very substantial modifications In the case with a point source at one side of the channel and a point sink at the other side of the channel, there is a through-channel recirculation in addition to the flow from the source to the sink. The volume flux of this recirculation is critically determined by the supercriticality of the ridge height. In the case with a uniform sink and point sources and sinks, the circulation is essentially in the Stommel and Arons sense with one major novelty; that is, a through-channel recirculating flow is generated. Both its strength and direction depend critically upon the model parameters. This suggests that the Antarctic Bottom Water formation could drive a substantial amount of westward flow that counterbalances the wind-driven eastward flow. Last, a schematic picture of the abyssal circulation in an idealized Southern Ocean is obtained. The most significant feature is the narrow current along the northern boundary of the circumpolar basin, which feeds the deep western boundary currents of the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean and connects all the oceanic basins in the Southern Ocean.

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Wei Wang and Rui Xin Huang

Abstract

Wind energy input into the ocean is primarily produced through surface waves. The total rate of this energy source, integrated over the World Ocean, is estimated at 60 TW, based on empirical formulas and results from a numerical model of surface waves. Thus, surface wave energy input is about 50 times the energy input to the surface geostrophic current and 20 times the total tidal dissipation rate. Most of the energy input is concentrated within the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.

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