Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 38 items for

  • Author or Editor: Todd P. Lane x
  • All content x
Clear All Modify Search
Todd P. Lane and Fuqing Zhang

Abstract

An idealized cloud-system-resolving model simulation is used to examine the coupling between a tropical cloud population and the mesoscale gravity waves that it generates. Spectral analyses of the cloud and gravity wave fields identify a clear signal of coupling between the clouds and a deep tropospheric gravity wave mode with a vertical wavelength that matches the depth of the convection, which is about two-thirds of the tropospheric depth. This vertical wavelength and the period of the waves, defined by a characteristic convective time scale, means that the horizontal wavelength is constrained through the dispersion relation. Indeed, the wave–convection coupling manifests at the appropriate wavelength, with the emergence of quasi-regular cloud-system spacing of order 100 km. It is shown that cloud systems at this spacing achieve a quasi-resonant state, at least for a few convective life cycles. Such regular spacing is a key component of cloud organization and is likely a contributor to the processes controlling the upscale growth of convective systems. Other gravity wave processes are also elucidated, including their apparent role in the maintenance of convective systems by providing a mechanism for renewed convective activity and system longevity.

Full access
Todd P. Lane and Mitchell W. Moncrieff

Abstract

Dynamical models of organized mesoscale convective systems have identified the important features that help maintain their overarching structure and longevity. The standard model is the trailing stratiform archetype, featuring a front-to-rear ascending circulation, a mesoscale downdraft circulation, and a cold pool/density current that affects the propagation speed and the maintenance of the system. However, this model does not represent all types of mesoscale convective systems, especially in moist environments where the evaporation-driven cold pools are weak and the convective inhibition is small. Moreover, questions remain about the role of gravity waves in creating and maintaining organized systems and affecting their propagation speed.

This study presents simulations and dynamical models of self-organizing convection in a moist, low–convective inhibition environment and examines the long-lived convective regimes that emerge spontaneously. This paper, which is Part I of this study, specifically examines the structure, kinematics, and maintenance of long-lived, upshear-propagating convective systems that differ in important respects from the standard model of long-lived convective systems. Linear theory demonstrates the role of ducted gravity waves in maintaining the long-lived, upshear-propagating systems. A steady nonlinear model approximates the dynamics of upshear-propagating density currents that are key to the maintenance of the mesoscale convective system.

Full access
Todd P. Lane and Michael J. Reeder

Abstract

This study uses a two-dimensional cloud-resolving model to examine how convectively generated gravity waves modify the environment of an isolated convective cloud. The model is initialized with an idealized sounding, and the cloud is initiated by adding a locally buoyant perturbation. The modeled convection generates a spectrum of gravity waves with vertical wavelengths that are harmonics of the depth of the troposphere. It is shown that the first three wave modes significantly modify the cloud environment.

The modification of the cloud environment is quantified in terms of the convective available potential energy (CAPE) and convective inhibition (CIN). The first two wave modes travel fastest away from the cloud and are responsible for the changes in CAPE, whereas the third wave mode causes low-level lifting and hence a reduction in CIN. The maximum far-field perturbations in CAPE and CIN are approximately 15% and 33% of the initial background values, respectively. These results agree with previous studies of more organized convection, predicting the existence of a region surrounding the convective system that favors the development of new convection.

Full access
Claire L. Vincent and Todd P. Lane

Abstract

The Maritime Continent is one of the wettest regions on the planet and has been shown to be important for global budgets of heat and moisture. Convection in the region, however, varies on several interrelated scales, making it difficult to quantify the precipitation climate and understand the key processes. For example, the diurnal cycle in precipitation over the land varies substantially according to the phase of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO), and the diurnal precipitation cycle over the water is coupled to that over the land, in some cases for distances of over 1000 km from the coast.

Here, a 10-yr austral summer climatology of diurnal and MJO-scale variations in rain rate over the land and sea over the Maritime Continent is presented. The climatology is based on mesoscale model simulations with a horizontal grid length of 4 km and satellite precipitation estimates. The amplitude of the observed diurnal precipitation cycle is shown to reach a maximum just prior to the MJO active phase, with a weaker secondary maximum after the MJO active phase. Although these two maxima also exist in the modeled diurnal precipitation cycle, there is less difference between the maxima before and after the MJO active phase than in the observations. The modeled sea-breeze circulation is also shown to possess approximately equal maxima just before and just after the MJO active period, suggesting that the asymmetry of the diurnal precipitation cycle about the MJO active period is related more to moisture availability than kinematic forcing.

Full access
Campbell D. Watson and Todd P. Lane

Abstract

This study examines how variations in relatively simple terrain geometries influence orographic precipitation and its spatial patterns of sensitivity to small changes in upstream conditions. An idealized three-dimensional model is used to simulate a moist flow impinging upon three alpine-scale terrain shapes: a straight ridge, a concave ridge, and a convex ridge. A variety of simulations are conducted to investigate the sensitivity of precipitation patterns to ridge length and upstream thermodynamic and wind conditions for an impinging flow with a nondimensional mountain height of approximately unity. It is found that for the straight and convex ridges, the flow response is mostly linear for the conditions examined here and passes over the obstacles with little lateral deflection. The concave ridge, however, exhibits strengthened flow deceleration, wave breaking in the lee, and flow confluence between the ridge arms. The concave ridge also generates substantially more precipitation than the other two ridge geometries via an established precipitation-enhancing funneling mechanism near the ridge vertex. However, for some concave ridge configurations the results feature dual-precipitation maxima, which is an important difference from previous findings. Finally, results from a simple ensemble of simulations elucidate the sensitivity of precipitation patterns to small variations in upstream conditions and how these vary for the different terrain geometries.

Full access
Tiffany A. Shaw and Todd P. Lane

Abstract

This study examines the characteristics of convective momentum transport (CMT) and gravity wave momentum transport (GWMT) in two-dimensional cloud-system-resolving model simulations, including the relationships between the two transports. A linear group velocity criterion is shown to objectively separate CMT and GWMT. The GWMT contribution is mostly consistent with upward-propagating gravity waves and is present in the troposphere and the stratosphere. The CMT contribution forms a large part of the residual (nonupward-propagating contribution) and dominates the fluxes in the troposphere. Additional analysis of the vertical sensible heat flux supports the physical interpretation of the two contributions, further isolating the effects of unstable convection from vertically propagating gravity waves.

The role of transient and nonconservative (friction and diabatic heating) processes in generating momentum flux and their dependence on changes in convective organization was assessed using a pseudomomentum budget analysis. Nonconservative effects were found to dominate the transports; the GWMT contribution involved a diabatic source region in the troposphere and a dissipative sink region in the stratosphere. The CMT contribution was consistent with transport between the boundary layer and free troposphere via tilted convection. Transient buoyancy–vorticity correlations highlighted wave sources in the region of convective outflow and the boundary layer. These sources were akin to the previously described “mechanical oscillator” mechanism. Fluxes associated with this upper-level source were most sensitive to convective organization, highlighting the mechanism by which changes in organization are communicated to GWMT. The results elucidate important interactions between CMT and GWMT, adding further weight to suggestions that the two transports should be linked in parameterizations.

Full access
Dragana Zovko-Rajak and Todd P. Lane

Abstract

This study explores the generation of turbulence in the upper outflow regions of simulated idealized mesoscale convective systems. The simulated storms are shown to generate parameterized turbulence that occurs significant distances (>100 km) from the main convective regions, in both the clear air surrounding the convection and low simulated reflectivity regions with cloud ice but negligible amounts of graupel and snow. The source of the turbulence is related to Kelvin–Helmholtz instabilities that occur in the shear zones above and below the storm-induced upper-level outflow jet that is centered near the tropopause; the model produces resolved-scale billows within regions of low gradient Richardson number. Short-scale gravity waves are also coincident with the regions of turbulence, become trapped within the jet core, and appear to be generated by the shear instability. Additional experiments with different initial upper-level wind shear show similar mechanisms to those simulations with no initial upper-level shear. These results help elucidate the dynamics of turbulence generation near convection, which has important implications for the aviation industry and the fundamental understanding of how convective clouds interact with their environment.

Full access
Todd P. Lane and Mitchell W. Moncrieff

Abstract

The generation of gravity waves by multiscale cloud systems evolving in an initially motionless and thermodynamically uniform environment is explored using a two-dimensional cloud-system-resolving model. The simulated convection has similar depth and intensity to observed tropical oceanic systems. The convection self-organizes into preferred horizontal and temporal scales involving weakly organized propagating cloud clusters. The multiscale systems generate a broad spectrum of gravity waves with horizontal scales that range from the cloud-system scale up to the cloud-cluster scale. The gravity waves with the largest horizontal scale play an important role in modifying layered tropospheric inflow and outflow to the cloud systems, which in turn influence the multiscale convective organization. Slower-moving short-scale gravity waves make the strongest individual contribution to the vertical flux of horizontal momentum and cause a robust peak in the momentum flux spectrum that corresponds to the lifetime and spatial scale of the individual cloud systems.

Full access
Jackson Tan, Christian Jakob, and Todd P. Lane

Abstract

The use of cloud regimes in identifying tropical convection and the associated large-scale atmospheric properties is investigated. The regimes are derived by applying cluster analysis to satellite retrievals of daytime-averaged frequency distributions of cloud-top pressure and optical thickness within grids of 280 km by 280 km resolution from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project between 1983 and 2008. An investigation of atmospheric state variables as a function of cloud regime reveals that the regimes are useful indicators of the archetypal states of the tropical atmosphere ranging from a strongly convecting regime with large stratiform cloudiness to strongly suppressed conditions showing a large coverage with stratocumulus clouds. The convectively active regimes are shown to be moist and unstable with large-scale ascending motion, while convectively suppressed regimes are dry and stable with large-scale descending winds. Importantly, the cloud regimes also represent several transitional states. In particular, the cloud regime approach allows for the identification of the “building blocks” of tropical convection, namely, the regimes dominated by stratiform, deep, and congestus convection. The availability of the daily distribution of these building blocks for more than 20 years opens new avenues for the diagnosis of convective behavior as well as the evaluation of the representation of convection in global and regional models.

Full access
Campbell D. Watson and Todd P. Lane

Abstract

This study examines how variations to the nondimensional mountain height Ĥ and the horizontal aspect ratio β of a straight ridge and a concave ridge influence orographic precipitation. An idealized three-dimensional model is used to simulate a moist flow impinging upon these two ridges with Ĥ = 0.66–2.0 and β = 1.0–8.0. The concave ridge generates substantially more precipitation than the straight ridge via an established precipitation-enhancing funneling mechanism near the ridge vertex when the flow is unblocked. Based on previous work, it was hypothesized that when the approaching flow becomes blocked, the strength of the precipitation enhancement by the concave ridge relative to the straight ridge becomes negligible. This study reveals that, if Ĥ is sufficiently large to induce flow reversal on the windward slope, then a secondary circulation develops that is strengthened by the concave ridge with a subsequent enhancement of precipitation. It is also shown that the competing effects of the ridge length and width render the strength of the precipitation enhancement largely insensitive to β. A flow regime diagram for the straight ridge and the concave ridge is also constructed to illustrate the sensitivity of the critical Ĥ value for flow regime transition to changes in the terrain geometry; variations to the low-level relative humidity are also explored.

Full access