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Takeaki Sampe and Shang-Ping Xie

Abstract

Meiyu-baiu is the major rainy season from central China to Japan brought by a zonally elongated rainband from June to mid-July. Large-scale characteristics and environmental forcing of this important phenomenon are investigated based on a reanalysis dataset. The meiyu-baiu rainband is accompanied by a trough of sea level pressure, horizontal shears, and sharp moisture gradients near the surface, a westerly jet tilted northward with height, and large northeastward moisture transport from the south.

The analysis here reveals the westerly jet as an important culprit for meiyu-baiu. Along the rainband, mean ascending motion corresponds well with a band of warm horizontal temperature advection in the midtroposphere throughout summer. This adiabatic induction of upward motion originates from the advection of warm air by the westerlies from the eastern flank of the Tibetan Plateau. The ascending motion both induces convection and is enhanced by the resultant condensational heating. The westerly jet anchors the meiyu-baiu rainband also by steering transient eddies, creating periods conducive to convection through convective instability and adiabatic updrafts. Indeed, in meiyu-baiu, the probability distribution of convective instability shows large spreads and is strongly skewed, with a sharp cutoff on the unstable side resulting from the effective removal of instability by convection. Thus, active weather disturbances in the westerly waveguide explain a paradox that convection is active in the meiyu-baiu rainband while mean convective instability is significantly higher to the south over the subtropical North Pacific warm pool. In addition to the westerly jet, low-level southerly winds over eastern China between the heat low over Asia and the subtropical high pressure belt over the Pacific are another important environmental forcing for meiyu-baiu by supplying moisture. A conceptual model for meiyu-baiu is presented, and its implications for seasonal and interannual variations are discussed.

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Takeaki Sampe and Shang-Ping Xie

High winds at sea are feared by sailors, but their distribution is poorly known because ships have avoided them as much as possible. The accumulation of spaceborne scatterometer measurements now allows a global mapping of high winds over the ocean. Seven years of Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) data gathered since July 1999 show that high-wind events, defined as wind speeds greater than 20 m s−1 (“strong gale” and higher on the Beaufort scale), mostly happen in winter. Over coastal regions, land orography is the major cause of high winds, forcing wind jets of various types. Over the open ocean, high winds tend to be collocated with the extratropical storm tracks, along which migratory low and high pressure systems travel eastward. In comparison, tropical cyclones do not leave a strong signature in the climatology of high-wind occurrence except in the western Pacific east of Taiwan. In the extratropics, sea surface temperature (SST) fronts and their meanders significantly change the frequency of high-wind events. For example, high winds occur twice as often (or more) over the warmer than the colder flank of the Gulf Stream, and over the poleward than equatorward meanders of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. The collocation of frequent high winds and SST frontal zones is not a mere coincidence because SST gradients anchor storm tracks, which in turn sustain the surface westerlies against friction with lateral heat and momentum flux. Both the high mean speed and large variance of wind increase the probability of high winds. Implications for navigation safety and oceanographic and climate research are discussed.

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Hisashi Nakamura, Takuya Izumi, and Takeaki Sampe

Abstract

Interannual variability of the North Pacific storm track observed over 17 recent winters is documented. The local storm track activity is measured by a meridional flux of sensible heat associated with the lower-tropospheric subweekly fluctuations. The interannual variability in the heat flux over the northwestern (NW) Pacific is found to be strongest in midwinter. The first empirical orthogonal function of the interannual variability in midwinter captures the decadal tendency toward the enhanced storm track activity in midwinter over the NW Pacific, in association with the decadal weakening of the east Asian winter monsoon (Siberian high) and the Aleutian low that occurred in the late 1980s. The most marked signature of this enhancement is that the midwinter minimum in the storm track activity, which had been apparent in the early to mid-1980s, almost disappeared afterward. As opposed to linear theory of baroclinic instability, the enhanced activity occurred despite the weakening of the Pacific jet. As the excessively strong westerlies weakened, the eddy temperature field tended to become better correlated with the eddy meridional and vertical velocities, suggesting that eddy structure tends to become more efficient in converting the mean-flow available potential energy into eddy kinetic energy for growth. The weakened jet also acted to prolong the residence time for migratory eddies in the baroclinic zone, which seemingly overcompensated the effect of the reduced mean-flow baroclinicity but appeared to be of secondary importance. Over the Far East, tropospheric warming to the north of the weakened jet appears to be associated with an anomalous overturning in the thermally direct sense, which is not attributable to the feedback from the concomitant enhancement in the local storm track activity.

Over the NW Pacific, the enhanced poleward heat transport by the intensified storm track tended to be compensated by the reduced transport by the weakened monsoonal flow, leaving rather small anomalies in the net transport. Also over the NW Pacific, the weakened monsoonal flow and enhanced storm track activity since the late 1980s led to the reduction in the evaporation and associated latent heat release from the ocean surface and increased precipitation, respectively. The resultant anomalous moisture deficit was compensated by the anomalous moisture transport from the northeastern Pacific, where the enhanced evaporation and reduced precipitation gave rise to an anomalous moisture surplus.

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Takeaki Sampe, Hisashi Nakamura, Atsushi Goto, and Wataru Ohfuchi
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Takeaki Sampe, Hisashi Nakamura, Atsushi Goto, and Wataru Ohfuchi

Abstract

In a set of idealized “aquaplanet” experiments with an atmospheric general circulation model to which zonally uniform sea surface temperature (SST) is prescribed globally as the lower boundary condition, an assessment is made of the potential influence of the frontal SST gradient upon the formation of a storm track and an eddy-driven midlatitude polar front jet (PFJ), and on its robustness against changes in the intensity of a subtropical jet (STJ). In experiments with the frontal midlatitude SST gradient as that observed in the southwestern Indian Ocean, transient eddy activity in each of the winter and summer hemispheres is organized into a deep storm track along the SST front with an enhanced low-level baroclinic growth of eddies. In the winter hemisphere, another storm track forms just below the intense STJ core, but it is confined to the upper troposphere with no significant baroclinic eddy growth underneath. The near-surface westerlies are strongest near the midlatitude SST front as observed, consistent with westerly momentum transport associated with baroclinic eddy growth. The sharp poleward decline in the surface sensible heat flux across the SST frontal zone sustains strong near-surface baroclinicity against the relaxing effect by vigorous poleward eddy heat transport. Elimination of the midlatitude frontal SST gradient yields marked decreases in the activity of eddies and their transport of angular momentum into midlatitudes, in association with equatorward shifts of the PFJ-associated low-level westerlies and a subtropical high pressure belt, especially in the summer hemisphere. These impacts of the midlatitude frontal SST gradient are found to be robust against modest changes in the STJ intensity as observed in its interannual variability, suggesting the potential importance of midlatitude atmosphere–ocean interaction in shaping the tropospheric general circulation.

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Hiroki Tokinaga, Youichi Tanimoto, Shang-Ping Xie, Takeaki Sampe, Hiroyuki Tomita, and Hiroshi Ichikawa

Abstract

A suite of shipboard and satellite observations are analyzed and synthesized to investigate the three-dimensional structure of clouds and influences from sea surface temperature fronts over the western North Pacific. Sharp transitions are observed across the Kuroshio Extension (KE) front in the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL) and its clouds. The ocean’s influence appears to extend beyond the MABL, with higher cloud tops in altitude along the KE front than the surroundings.

In winter, intense turbulent heat release from the ocean takes place on the southern flank of the KE front, where the cloud top penetrates above the MABL and reaches the midtroposphere. In this band of high cloud tops, frequent lightning activity is observed. The results of this study suggest a sea level pressure mechanism for which the temperature gradient in the MABL induces strong surface wind convergence on the southern flank of the KE front, deepening the clouds there.

In early summer, sea fog frequently occurs on the northern flank of the subtropical KE and subarctic fronts under southerly warm advection that suppresses surface heat flux and stabilizes the surface atmosphere. Sea fog is infrequently observed over the KE front even under southerly conditions, as the warm ocean current weakens atmospheric stratification and promotes vertical mixing. The KE front produces a narrow band of surface wind convergence, helping support a broad band of upward motion at 700 hPa that is associated with the eastward extension of the baiu rainband from Japan in June–July.

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Shang-Ping Xie, Kaiming Hu, Jan Hafner, Hiroki Tokinaga, Yan Du, Gang Huang, and Takeaki Sampe

Abstract

Significant climate anomalies persist through the summer (June–August) after El Niño dissipates in spring over the equatorial Pacific. They include the tropical Indian Ocean (TIO) sea surface temperature (SST) warming, increased tropical tropospheric temperature, an anomalous anticyclone over the subtropical northwest Pacific, and increased mei-yu–baiu rainfall over East Asia. The cause of these lingering El Niño effects during summer is investigated using observations and an atmospheric general circulation model (GCM). The results herein indicate that the TIO warming acts like a capacitor anchoring atmospheric anomalies over the Indo–western Pacific Oceans. It causes tropospheric temperature to increase by a moist-adiabatic adjustment in deep convection, emanating a baroclinic Kelvin wave into the Pacific. In the northwest Pacific, this equatorial Kelvin wave induces northeasterly surface wind anomalies, and the resultant divergence in the subtropics triggers suppressed convection and the anomalous anticyclone. The GCM results support this Kelvin wave–induced Ekman divergence mechanism. In response to a prescribed SST increase over the TIO, the model simulates the Kelvin wave with low pressure on the equator as well as suppressed convection and the anomalous anticyclone over the subtropical northwest Pacific. An additional experiment further indicates that the north Indian Ocean warming is most important for the Kelvin wave and northwest Pacific anticyclone, a result corroborated by observations.

These results have important implications for the predictability of Indo–western Pacific summer climate: the spatial distribution and magnitude of the TIO warming, rather than simply whether there is an El Niño in the preceding winter, affect summer climate anomalies over the Indo–western Pacific and East Asia.

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