Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 17 items for

  • Author or Editor: S. L. Gray x
  • All content x
Clear All Modify Search
H. F. Dacre and S. L. Gray

Abstract

A climatology of extratropical cyclones is produced using an objective method of identifying cyclones based on gradients of 1-km height wet-bulb potential temperature. Cyclone track and genesis density statistics are analyzed and this method is found to compare well with other cyclone identification methods. The North Atlantic storm track is reproduced along with the major regions of genesis. Cyclones are grouped according to their genesis location and the corresponding lysis regions are identified. Most of the cyclones that cross western Europe originate in the east Atlantic where the baroclinicity and the sea surface temperature gradients are weak compared to the west Atlantic. East Atlantic cyclones also have higher 1-km height relative vorticity and lower mean sea level pressure at their genesis point than west Atlantic cyclones. This is consistent with the hypothesis that they are secondary cyclones developing on the trailing fronts of preexisting “parent” cyclones. The evolution characteristics of composite west and east Atlantic cyclones have been compared. The ratio of their upper- to lower-level forcing indicates that type B cyclones are predominant in both the west and east Atlantic, with strong upper- and lower-level features. Among the remaining cyclones, there is a higher proportion of type C cyclones in the east Atlantic, whereas types A and C are equally frequent in the west Atlantic.

Full access
S. L. Gray and T. W. N. Haine

Abstract

Measurements of anthropogenic tracers such as chlorofluorocarbons and tritium must be quantitatively combined with ocean general circulation models as a component of systematic model development. The authors have developed and tested an inverse method, using a Green’s function, to constrain general circulation models with transient tracer data. Using this method chlorofluorocarbon-11 and -12 (CFC-11 and -12) observations are combined with a North Atlantic configuration of the Miami Isopycnic Coordinate Ocean Model with 4/3° resolution.

Systematic differences can be seen between the observed CFC concentrations and prior CFC fields simulated by the model. These differences are reduced by the inversion, which determines the optimal gas transfer across the air–sea interface, accounting for uncertainties in the tracer observations. After including the effects of unresolved variability in the CFC fields, the model is found to be inconsistent with the observations because the model/data misfit slightly exceeds the error estimates. By excluding observations in waters ventilated north of the Greenland–Scotland ridge (σ 0 < 27.82 kg m−3; shallower than about 2000 m), the fit is improved, indicating that the Nordic overflows are poorly represented in the model. Some systematic differences in the model/data residuals remain and are related, in part, to excessively deep model ventilation near Rockall and deficient ventilation in the main thermocline of the eastern subtropical gyre. Nevertheless, there do not appear to be gross errors in the basin-scale model circulation. Analysis of the CFC inventory using the constrained model suggests that the North Atlantic Ocean shallower than about 2000 m was near 20% saturated in the mid-1990s. Overall, this basin is a sink to 22% of the total atmosphere-to-ocean CFC-11 flux—twice the global average value. The average water mass formation rates over the CFC transient are 7.0 and 6.0 Sv (Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) for subtropical mode water and subpolar mode water, respectively.

Full access
S. L. Gray and A. J. Thorpe

Abstract

Slantwise convective available potential energy (SCAPE) is a measure of the degree to which the atmosphere is unstable to conditional symmetric instability (CSI). It has, until now, been defined by parcel theory in which the atmosphere is assumed to be nonevolving and balanced, that is, two-dimensional. When applying this two-dimensional theory to three-dimensional evolving flows, these assumptions can be interpreted as an implicit assumption that a timescale separation exists between a relatively rapid timescale for slantwise ascent and a slower timescale for the development of the system. An approximate extension of parcel theory to three dimensions is derived and it is shown that calculations of SCAPE based on the assumption of relatively rapid slantwise ascent can be qualitatively in error. For a case study example of a developing extratropical cyclone, SCAPE calculated along trajectories determined without assuming the existence of the timescale separation show large SCAPE values for parcels ascending from the warm sector and along the warm front. These parcels ascend into the cloud head within which there is some evidence consistent with the release of CSI from observational and model cross sections. This region of high SCAPE was not found for calculations along the relatively rapidly ascending trajectories determined by assuming the existence of the timescale separation.

Full access
Grey S. Nearing, Benjamin L. Ruddell, Martyn P. Clark, Bart Nijssen, and Christa Peters-Lidard

Abstract

We propose a conceptual and theoretical foundation for information-based model benchmarking and process diagnostics that provides diagnostic insight into model performance and model realism. We benchmark against a bounded estimate of the information contained in model inputs to obtain a bounded estimate of information lost due to model error, and we perform process-level diagnostics by taking differences between modeled versus observed transfer entropy networks. We use this methodology to reanalyze the recent Protocol for the Analysis of Land Surface Models (PALS) Land Surface Model Benchmarking Evaluation Project (PLUMBER) land model intercomparison project that includes the following models: CABLE, CH-TESSEL, COLA-SSiB, ISBA-SURFEX, JULES, Mosaic, Noah, and ORCHIDEE. We report that these models (i) use only roughly half of the information available from meteorological inputs about observed surface energy fluxes, (ii) do not use all information from meteorological inputs about long-term Budyko-type water balances, (iii) do not capture spatial heterogeneities in surface processes, and (iv) all suffer from similar patterns of process-level structural error. Because the PLUMBER intercomparison project did not report model parameter values, it is impossible to know whether process-level error patterns are due to model structural error or parameter error, although our proposed information-theoretic methodology could distinguish between these two issues if parameter values were reported. We conclude that there is room for significant improvement to the current generation of land models and their parameters. We also suggest two simple guidelines to make future community-wide model evaluation and intercomparison experiments more informative.

Full access
L. J. Gray, S. T. Rumbold, and K. P. Shine

Abstract

The 11-yr solar cycle temperature response to spectrally resolved solar irradiance changes and associated ozone changes is calculated using a fixed dynamical heating (FDH) model. Imposed ozone changes are from satellite observations, in contrast to some earlier studies. A maximum of 1.6 K is found in the equatorial upper stratosphere and a secondary maximum of 0.4 K in the equatorial lower stratosphere, forming a double peak in the vertical. The upper maximum is primarily due to the irradiance changes while the lower maximum is due to the imposed ozone changes. The results compare well with analyses using the 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40) and NCEP/NCAR datasets. The equatorial lower stratospheric structure is reproduced even though, by definition, the FDH calculations exclude dynamically driven temperature changes, suggesting an important role for an indirect dynamical effect through ozone redistribution. The results also suggest that differences between the Stratospheric Sounding Unit (SSU)/Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) and ERA-40 estimates of the solar cycle signal can be explained by the poor vertical resolution of the SSU/MSU measurements. The adjusted radiative forcing of climate change is also investigated. The forcing due to irradiance changes was 0.14 W m−2, which is only 78% of the value obtained by employing the standard method of simple scaling of the total solar irradiance (TSI) change. The difference arises because much of the change in TSI is at wavelengths where ozone absorbs strongly. The forcing due to the ozone change was only 0.004 W m−2 owing to strong compensation between negative shortwave and positive longwave forcings.

Full access
S. C. Hardiman, N. Butchart, T. J. Hinton, S. M. Osprey, and L. J. Gray

Abstract

The importance of using a general circulation model that includes a well-resolved stratosphere for climate simulations, and particularly the influence this has on surface climate, is investigated. High top model simulations are run with the Met Office Unified Model for the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5). These simulations are compared to equivalent simulations run using a low top model differing only in vertical extent and vertical resolution above 15 km. The period 1960–2002 is analyzed and compared to observations and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) reanalysis dataset. Long-term climatology, variability, and trends in surface temperature and sea ice, along with the variability of the annular mode index, are found to be insensitive to the addition of a well-resolved stratosphere. The inclusion of a well-resolved stratosphere, however, does improve the impact of atmospheric teleconnections on surface climate, in particular the response to El Niño–Southern Oscillation, the quasi-biennial oscillation, and midwinter stratospheric sudden warmings (i.e., zonal mean wind reversals in the middle stratosphere). Thus, including a well-represented stratosphere could improve climate simulation on intraseasonal to interannual time scales.

Full access
David L. A. Flack, Suzanne L. Gray, Robert S. Plant, Humphrey W. Lean, and George C. Craig

Abstract

Convection-permitting ensembles have led to improved forecasts of many atmospheric phenomena. However, to fully utilize these forecasts the dependence of predictability on synoptic conditions needs to be understood. In this study, convective regimes are diagnosed based on a convective time scale that identifies the degree to which convection is in equilibrium with the large-scale forcing. Six convective cases are examined in a convection-permitting ensemble constructed using the Met Office Unified Model. The ensemble members were generated using small-amplitude buoyancy perturbations added into the boundary layer, which can be considered to represent turbulent fluctuations close to the grid scale. Perturbation growth is shown to occur on different scales with an order of magnitude difference between the regimes [O(1) km for cases closer to nonequilibrium convection and O(10) km for cases closer to equilibrium convection]. This difference reflects the fact that cell locations are essentially random in the equilibrium events after the first 12 h of the forecast, indicating a more rapid upscale perturbation growth compared to the nonequilibrium events. Furthermore, large temporal variability is exhibited in all perturbation growth diagnostics for the nonequilibrium regime. Two boundary condition–driven cases are also considered and show similar characteristics to the nonequilibrium cases, implying that caution is needed to interpret the time scale when initiation is not within the domain. Further understanding of perturbation growth within the different regimes could lead to a better understanding of where ensemble design improvements can be made beyond increasing the model resolution and could improve interpretation of forecasts.

Open access
L. M. McMillin, D. G. Gray, H. F. Drahos, M. W. Chalfant, and C. S. Novak

Abstract

Root-mean-square differences between satellite and radiosondes for the past three years that TIROS-N has been operational are examined. They show a pronounced annual cycle because the statistics are dominated by the Northern Hemisphere. Differences are smaller in the summer and are larger in the winter, but they reflect a change in the effect of location differences as well as retrieval error. In addition to the annual cycle, there is an increase in retrieval accuracy with time. For the partly cloudy retrievals, the increase approaches 1.3 K for some levels.

Full access
E. A. Irvine, S. L. Gray, J. Methven, and I. A. Renfrew

Abstract

For a targeted observations case, the dependence of the size of the forecast impact on the targeted dropsonde observation error in the data assimilation is assessed. The targeted observations were made in the lee of Greenland; the dependence of the impact on the proximity of the observations to the Greenland coast is also investigated. Experiments were conducted using the Met Office Unified Model (MetUM), over a limited-area domain at 24-km grid spacing, with a four-dimensional variational data assimilation (4D-Var) scheme. Reducing the operational dropsonde observation errors by one-half increases the maximum forecast improvement from 5% to 7%–10%, measured in terms of total energy. However, the largest impact is seen by replacing two dropsondes on the Greenland coast with two farther from the steep orography; this increases the maximum forecast improvement from 5% to 18% for an 18-h forecast (using operational observation errors). Forecast degradation caused by two dropsonde observations on the Greenland coast is shown to arise from spreading of data by the background errors up the steep slope of Greenland. Removing boundary layer data from these dropsondes reduces the forecast degradation, but it is only a partial solution to this problem. Although only from one case study, these results suggest that observations positioned within a correlation length scale of steep orography may degrade the forecast through the anomalous upslope spreading of analysis increments along terrain-following model levels.

Full access
Oscar Martínez-Alvarado, Laura H. Baker, Suzanne L. Gray, John Methven, and Robert S. Plant

Abstract

Strong winds equatorward and rearward of a cyclone core have often been associated with two phenomena: the cold conveyor belt (CCB) jet and sting jets. Here, detailed observations of the mesoscale structure in this region of an intense cyclone are analyzed. The in situ and dropsonde observations were obtained during two research flights through the cyclone during the Diabatic Influences on Mesoscale Structures in Extratropical Storms (DIAMET) field campaign. A numerical weather prediction model is used to link the strong wind regions with three types of “airstreams” or coherent ensembles of trajectories: two types are identified with the CCB, hooking around the cyclone center, while the third is identified with a sting jet, descending from the cloud head to the west of the cyclone. Chemical tracer observations show for the first time that the CCB and sting jet airstreams are distinct air masses even when the associated low-level wind maxima are not spatially distinct. In the model, the CCB experiences slow latent heating through weak-resolved ascent and convection, while the sting jet experiences weak cooling associated with microphysics during its subsaturated descent. Diagnosis of mesoscale instabilities in the model shows that the CCB passes through largely stable regions, while the sting jet spends relatively long periods in locations characterized by conditional symmetric instability (CSI). The relation of CSI to the observed mesoscale structure of the bent-back front and its possible role in the cloud banding is discussed.

Full access