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Tim Li

Abstract

The origin of the summertime synoptic wave train in the western North Pacific is investigated with a multilevel, nonlinear baroclinic model. A realistic three-dimensional summer mean state is specified and eigenvectors are calculated by introducing small perturbation initially to the model. Numerical experiments indicate that the origin of the synoptic wave train may arise from instability of the summer mean flow in the presence of a convection–frictional convergence (CFC) feedback. In the lack of the CFC feedback, the summer mean flow supports only a least damped mode, characterized by a northwest–southeast-oriented wave train pattern with a zonal wavelength of 2500 km. In the presence of both the realistic summer mean flow and the CFC feedback, the model reproduces a fast growing mode, whose structure and propagation characters are similar to the observed.

Sensitivity experiments with different initial perturbation patterns indicate that the model solution is not sensitive to initial conditions. Further sensitivity experiments reveal that the basic-state vertical shear may affect the growth rate and propagation character of the wave train. An easterly shear may lead to a faster growth and northwestward phase propagation, whereas a westerly shear may favor a slower growth and southeastward phase propagation.

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Li Deng and Tim Li

Abstract

The interannual variability of the boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation (BSISO) is investigated using observed outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) and ERA-Interim data for the period of 1980–2012. It is found that the interannual variability of BSISO intensity is much stronger in the tropical western Pacific (TWP) than the tropical Indian Ocean (TIO). A BSISO intensity index is defined based on a multivariate EOF analysis in TWP. It is found that strong BSISO years are associated with El Niño–like sea surface temperature anomalies in the tropical Pacific, anomalous easterly shear, and enhanced background moisture condition in the region. Using a 2.5-layer atmospheric model with a specified idealized background mean state, the authors further examine the relative roles of background moisture and vertical shear fields in modulating the BSISO intensity. Sensitivity numerical experiments indicate that the background moisture change is most important in regulating the BSISO intensity, whereas the background vertical shear change also plays a role.

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Jiangnan Li and Tim Li

Abstract

The structure and evolution characteristics of atmospheric entropy production associated with the climatologic monsoon onset and evolution were investigated using the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis data. The entropy balance equation contains two parts. The first part is internal entropy production that corresponds to natural dissipation. The second part is external entropy production that is associated with lower-boundary entropy supply. It is shown that the dissipation process represented by internal entropy production can be used to describe the thermal and dynamical structures of the monsoon. The thermal dissipation due to turbulent vertical diffusion and convection is highly correlated to precipitation. The dynamic dissipation due to wind stress becomes very strong over the Arabian Sea and southwestern part of India in boreal summer, and dynamic dissipation can describe the monsoon structure more clearly than variables such as wind shear. The correlation between surface entropy supply and internal entropy production is so large that the surface entropy supply can also be used to evaluate the monsoon. Over the desert region of Rajasthan, the dissipation is relatively weaker than its surroundings owing to descending large-scale eddy flow and a weak convective flux. The analysis of atmospheric entropy provides a new way to describe the monsoon development characteristics, which differs from those derived from a traditional analysis method.

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Zhiwei Zhu and Tim Li

Abstract

Hawaiian surface air temperature (HST) during the summer of 2015 (from July to October) was about 1.5°C higher than the climatological mean, which was the hottest since records began in 1948. In the context of record-breaking seasonal-mean high temperature, 98 exceptional local heatwave days occurred during the summer of 2015. Based on diagnoses and simulations, this paper demonstrates that the record-high HST during the summer of 2015 arose mainly from the combined effects of the interannual and interdecadal variability of sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTAs). The interannual variability of SSTAs, with an El Niño–like pattern in the tropics and cold (warm) anomalies over the western (eastern) North Pacific, was the primary contributor to the abnormally high HST in the summer of 2015. This interannual tropical–extratropical SSTA pattern was accompanied by low-level southwesterly anomalies over the central North Pacific, which weakened the climatological northeasterly trade winds and reduced the ventilation effect, warming Hawaii. Numerical experiments further revealed that the SST warming in the subtropical eastern North Pacific was mostly responsible for the weakened trade winds and warming over Hawaii. Interdecadal SST warming in the tropics was a secondary factor. By superimposing the positive SSTAs over the Indo-Pacific warm pool and tropical North Atlantic Ocean upon the climatological-mean maximum SST regions, it was found that these anomalies led to enhanced convection over the Maritime Continent and the oceans around Mexico, causing anomalous subsidence and reduced cloud cover over the tropical central North Pacific. The reduced cloudiness increased the amount of downward solar radiation, thus warming Hawaii.

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Jianyun Gao and Tim Li

Abstract

The statistical feature of occurrence of multiple tropical cyclone (MTC) events in the western North Pacific (WNP) is examined during summer (June–September) for the period of 1979–2006. The number of MTC events ranged from one to eight per year, experiencing a marked interannual variation. The spatial distance between the TCs associated with MTC events is mostly less than 3000 km, which accounts for 73% of total samples. The longest active phase of an MTC event lasts for nine days, and about 80% of the MTC events last for five days or less. A composite analysis of active and inactive MTC phases reveals that positive low-level (negative upper-level) vorticity anomalies and enhanced convection and midtropospheric relative humidity are the favorable large-scale conditions for MTC genesis. About 77% of the MTC events occurred in the region where either the atmospheric intraseasonal (25–70 day) oscillation (ISO) or biweekly (10–20 day) oscillation (BWO) is in a wet phase. The overall occurrence of the MTC events is greatly regulated by the combined large-scale impact of BWO, ISO, and the lower-frequency (90 days or longer) oscillation. On the interannual time scale, the MTC frequency is closely related to the seasonal mean anomalies of 850-hPa vorticity, outgoing longwave radiation (OLR), and 500-hPa humidity fields. The combined ISO and BWO activity is greatly strengthened (weakened) in the WNP region during the MTC active (inactive) years.

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Chunhua Zhou and Tim Li

Abstract

Analysis of observational data suggests two-way interactions between the tropical intraseasonal oscillation (ISO) and synoptic-scale variability (SSV). On one hand, SSV is strongly modulated by the ISO; that is, a strengthened (weakened) SSV appears during the enhanced (suppressed) ISO phase. The northwest–southeast-oriented synoptic wave train is strengthened and well organized in the northwestern Pacific during the enhanced ISO phase but weakened during the suppressed ISO phase. On the other hand, SSV may exert an upscale feedback to ISO through the nonlinearly rectified surface latent heat flux (LHF). The maximum synoptic contribution exceeds 20%–30% of the total intraseasonal LHF over the tropical Indian Ocean, western Pacific, and northeastern Pacific. The nonlinearly rectified LHF leads the ISO convection and boundary layer specific humidity, and thus it may contribute to the propagation of the ISO in boreal summer through the preconditioning of the surface moisture and moist static energy ahead of the convection.

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Lei Zhang and Tim Li

Abstract

How sea surface temperature (SST) changes under global warming is critical for future climate projection because SST change affects atmospheric circulation and rainfall. Robust features derived from 17 models of phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) include a much greater warming in high latitudes than in the tropics, an El Niño–like warming over the tropical Pacific and Atlantic, and a dipole pattern in the Indian Ocean. However, the physical mechanism responsible for formation of such warming patterns remains open.

A simple theoretical model is constructed to reveal the cause of the future warming patterns. The result shows that a much greater polar, rather than tropical, warming depends primarily on present-day mean SST and surface latent heat flux fields, and atmospheric longwave radiation feedback associated with cloud change further enhances this warming contrast. In the tropics, an El Niño–like warming over the Pacific and Atlantic arises from a similar process, while cloud feedback resulting from different cloud regimes between east and west ocean basins also plays a role. A dipole warming over the equatorial Indian Ocean is a response to weakened Walker circulation in the tropical Pacific.

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Tim Li and Bing Fu

Abstract

The structure and evolution characteristics of Rossby wave trains induced by tropical cyclone (TC) energy dispersion are revealed based on the Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI) data. Among 34 cyclogenesis cases analyzed in the western North Pacific during 2000–01 typhoon seasons, six cases are associated with the Rossby wave energy dispersion of a preexisting TC. The wave trains are oriented in a northwest–southeast direction, with alternating cyclonic and anticyclonic vorticity circulation. A typical wavelength of the wave train is about 2500 km. The TC genesis is observed in the cyclonic circulation region of the wave train, possibly through a scale contraction process.

The satellite data analyses reveal that not all TCs have a Rossby wave train in their wakes. The occurrence of the Rossby wave train depends to a certain extent on the TC intensity and the background flow. Whether or not a Rossby wave train can finally lead to cyclogenesis depends on large-scale dynamic and thermodynamic conditions related to both the change of the seasonal mean state and the phase of the tropical intraseasonal oscillation. Stronger low-level convergence and cyclonic vorticity, weaker vertical shear, and greater midtropospheric moisture are among the favorable large-scale conditions. The rebuilding process of a conditional unstable stratification is important in regulating the frequency of TC genesis.

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Pallav Ray and Tim Li

Abstract

A set of atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) experiments is designed to explore the relative roles of the circumnavigating waves and the extratropics on the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). In a “control” simulation, the model is forced by the climatological monthly sea surface temperature for 20 yr. In the first sensitivity experiment, model prognostic variables are relaxed in the tropical Atlantic region (20°S–20°N, 80°W–0°) toward the “controlled” climatological annual cycle to suppress the influences from the circumnavigating waves. In the second sensitivity experiment, model prognostic variables are relaxed in the 20°–30° latitude zones toward the controlled climatological annual cycle to suppress the influences from the extratropics (or the tropics–extratropics interactions). The numerical results demonstrate that the extratropics play a more important role in maintaining the MJO variance than the circumnavigating waves.

The simulations further show that both the tropical mean precipitation and the intraseasonal precipitation variability are reduced when the extratropical influences are suppressed. The in-phase relationship is primarily attributed to the effect of the mean state on perturbations. A moisture budget analysis indicates that a positive feedback to the mean precipitation by the anomalous moisture convergence is offset by a negative feedback due to the anomalous moisture advection. The change in the mean precipitation in the absence of extratropical influences is primarily determined by the change in the mean moisture convergence, which in turn is due to the change in circulation. This study is the first attempt to quantitatively separate the effects of the circumnavigating waves and the extratropics on the MJO. Implications and limitations of this study are discussed.

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Mengyuan Ma and Tim Li

Abstract

Typhoon Lan (2017) was one of the largest tropical cyclones (TC) in the western North Pacific Ocean (WNP), and it was developed in a low-frequency (10–90-day filtered) large-scale cyclonic vortex environment. The physical mechanism responsible for the TC’s unusual size was investigated through idealized numerical experiments with the Weather Research and Forecasting Model. Sensitivity experiments showed that the low-frequency cyclonic circulation played an important role in modulating the TC size through the following three processes. First, it weakened the background vertical wind shear and provided a favorable condition for a more rapid growth of Lan. Second, it strengthened a vorticity aggregation process through enhanced background vorticity. As a result, a stronger and more organized TC core was quickly set up, which strengthened the TC intensity and expanded its size. Third, it enhanced the total surface wind speed and surface latent heat flux, strengthening convective instability in the outer region through increased moisture. The development of the outer rainband expanded the radial profile of diabatic heating, leading to greater low-level inflow and tangential wind acceleration in the outer region and thus a large TC size.

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