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Chih-Pei Chang, Yi-Ting Yang, and Hung-Chi Kuo

Abstract

Taiwan, which is in the middle of one of the most active of the western North Pacific Ocean’s tropical cyclone (TC) zones, experienced a dramatic increase in typhoon-related rainfall in the beginning of the twenty-first century. This record-breaking increase has led to suggestions that it is the manifestation of the effects of global warming. With rainfall significantly influenced by its steep terrain, Taiwan offers a natural laboratory to study the role that terrain effects may play in the climate change of TC rainfall. Here, it is shown that most of the recently observed large increases in typhoon-related rainfall are the result of slow-moving TCs and the location of their tracks relative to the meso-α-scale terrain. In addition, stronger interaction between the typhoon circulation and southwest monsoon wind surges after the typhoon center moves into the Taiwan Strait may cause a long-term trend of increasing typhoon rainfall intensity, which is not observed before the typhoon center exits Taiwan. The variation in the location of the track cannot be related to the effects of global warming on western North Pacific TC tracks reported in the literature. The weaker steering flow and the stronger monsoon–TC interaction are consistent with the recently discovered multidecadal trend of intensifying subtropical monsoon and tropical circulations, which is contrary to some theoretical and model projections of global warming. There is also no evidence of a positive feedback between global warming–related water vapor supply and TC intensity, as the number of strong landfalling TCs has decreased significantly since 1960 and the recent heavy rainfall typhoons are all of weak-to-medium intensity.

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Yi-Hung Kuo, J. David Neelin, and C. Roberto Mechoso

Abstract

Previous work by various authors has pointed to the role of lower-free-tropospheric humidity in affecting the onset of deep convection in the tropics. Empirical relationships between column water vapor (CWV) and precipitation have been inferred to result from these effects. Evidence from previous work has included deep convective conditional instability calculations for entraining plumes, in which the lower-free-tropospheric environment affects the onset of deep convection due to the differential impact on buoyancy of turbulent entrainment of dry versus moist air. The relationship between deep convection and water vapor is, however, a two-way interaction because convection also moistens the free troposphere. The present study adds an additional line of evidence toward fully establishing the causality of the precipitation–water vapor relationship. Parameter perturbation experiments using the coupled Community Earth System Model (CESM) with high-time-resolution output are analyzed for a set of statistics for the transition to deep convection, coordinated with observational diagnostics for the Green Ocean Amazon (GOAmazon) campaign and tropical western Pacific Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) sites. For low values of entrainment in the deep convective scheme, these statistics are radically altered and the observed pickup of precipitation with CWV is no longer seen. In addition to helping cement the dominant direction of causality in the fast-time-scale precipitation–CWV relationship, the results point to impacts of entrainment on the climatology. Because at low entrainment convection can fire before tropospheric moistening, the climatological values of relative humidity are lower than observed. These findings can be consequential to biases in simulated climate and to projections of climate change.

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Yi-Hung Kuo, Kathleen A. Schiro, and J. David Neelin

Abstract

Convective transition statistics, which describe the relation between column-integrated water vapor (CWV) and precipitation, are compiled over tropical oceans using satellite and ARM site measurements to quantify the temperature and resolution dependence of the precipitation–CWV relation at fast time scales relevant to convection. At these time scales, and for precipitation especially, uncertainties associated with observational systems must be addressed by examining features with a variety of instrumentation and identifying robust behaviors versus instrument sensitivity at high rain rates. Here the sharp pickup in precipitation as CWV exceeds a certain critical threshold is found to be insensitive to spatial resolution, with convective onset occurring at higher CWV but at lower column relative humidity as bulk tropospheric temperature increases. Mean tropospheric temperature profiles conditioned on precipitation show vertically coherent structure across a wide range of temperature, reaffirming the use of a bulk temperature measure in defining the convective transition statistics. The joint probability distribution of CWV and precipitation develops a peak probability at low precipitation for CWV above critical, with rapidly decreasing probability of high precipitation below and near critical, and exhibits systematic changes under spatial averaging. The precipitation pickup with CWV is reasonably insensitive to time averaging up to several hours but is smoothed at daily time scales. This work demonstrates that CWV relative to critical serves as an effective predictor of precipitation with only minor geographic variations in the tropics, quantifies precipitation-related statistics subject to different spatial–temporal resolution, and provides a baseline for model comparison to apply these statistics as observational constraints on precipitation processes.

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Yi-Xian Li, J. David Neelin, Yi-Hung Kuo, Huang-Hsiung Hsu, and Jia-Yuh Yu

Abstract

In convective quasi-equilibrium theory, tropical tropospheric temperature perturbations are expected to follow vertical profiles constrained by convection, referred to as A-profiles here, often approximated by perturbations of moist adiabats. Differences between an idealized A-profile based on moist-static energy conservation and temperature perturbations derived from entraining and non-entraining parcel computations are modest under convective conditions—deep convection mostly occurs when lower troposphere is close to saturation, thus minimizing the impact of entrainment on tropospheric temperature. Simple calculations with pseudo-adiabatic perturbations about the observed profile thus provide useful baseline A-profiles. The first EOF mode of tropospheric temperature (TEOF1) from the ERA-Interim reanalysis and AIRS retrievals below the level of neutral buoyancy (LNB) is compared with these A-profiles. The TEOF1 profiles with high LNB, typically above 400 hPa, yield high vertical spatial correlation (∼0.9) with A-profiles, indicating that tropospheric temperature perturbations tend to be consistent with the quasi-equilibrium assumption where the environment is favorable to deep convection. Lower correlation tends to occur in regions with low climatological LNB, less favorable to deep convection. Excluding temperature profiles with low LNB significantly increases the tropical mean vertical spatial correlation. The temperature perturbations near LNB exhibit negative deviations from the A-profiles—the convective cold top phenomenon—with greater deviation for higher LNB. In regions with lower correlation, the deviation from A-profile shows an S-like shape beneath 600 hPa, usually accompanied by a drier lower troposphere. These findings are robust across a wide range of timescales from daily to monthly, although the vertical spatial correlation and TEOF1 explained variance tend to decrease on short timescales.

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Yi-Ting Yang, Hung-Chi Kuo, Eric A. Hendricks, Yi-Chin Liu, and Melinda S. Peng

Abstract

The typhoons with concentric eyewalls (CE) over the western North Pacific in different phases of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) between 1997 and 2012 are studied. They find a good correlation (0.72) between the annual CE typhoon number and the oceanic Niño index (ONI), with most of the CE typhoons occurring in the warm and neutral episodes. In the warm (neutral) episode, 55% (50%) of the typhoons possessed a CE structure. In contrast, only 25% of the typhoons possessed a CE structure in the cold episode. The CE formation frequency is also significantly different with 0.9 (0.2) CEs per month in the warm (cold) episode. There are more long-lived CE cases (CE structure maintained more than 20 h) and typhoons with multiple CE formations in the warm episodes. There are no typhoons with multiple CE formations in the cold episode. The warm episode CE typhoons generally have a larger size, stronger intensity, and smaller variation in convective activity and intensity. This may be due to the fact that the CE formation location is farther east in the warm episodes. Shifts in CE typhoon location with favorable conditions thus produce long-lived CE typhoons and multiple CE formations. The multiple CE formations may lead to expansion of the typhoon size.

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Yi-Ting Yang, Eric A. Hendricks, Hung-Chi Kuo, and Melinda S. Peng

Abstract

The authors report on western North Pacific Typhoon Soulik (2013), which had two anomalously long-lived concentric eyewall (CE) episodes, as identified from microwave satellite data, radar data, and total precipitable water data. The first period was 25 h long and occurred while Soulik was at category 4 intensity. The second period was 34 h long and occurred when Soulik was at category 2 intensity. A large moat and outer eyewall width were present in both CE periods, and there was a significant contraction of the inner eyewall radius from the first period to the second period. The typhoon intensity decrease was partially due to encountering unfavorable environmental conditions of low ocean heat content and dry air, even though inner eyewall contraction would generally support intensification. The T–Vmax diagram (where T is the brightness temperature and Vmax is the best track–estimated intensity) is used to analyze the time sequence of the intensity and convective activity. The convective activity (and thus the integrated kinetic energy) increased during the CE periods despite the weakening of intensity.

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Hung-Chi Kuo, R. T. Williams, Jen-Her Chen, and Yi-Liang Chen

Abstract

The impact of the island topographic β effect on hurricane-like vortex tracks is studied. Both f plane and spherical geometry without a mean flow are considered. The simulations used in this study indicate the existence of a track mode in which vortices are trapped by the topography and follow a clockwise island-circulating path. The trapping of a hurricane-like vortex can be interpreted in terms of the influence of the island topographic β effect on the vortex track. Experiments on the f plane indicate that the drift speed along the clockwise path is proportional to the square root of βevmax. The applicability of the square root law on the f plane is dependent on the degree to which the local βe effect is felt by the vortex. The experiments on the sphere also demonstrate that the speed along the clockwise path is larger for a vortex with a larger maximum wind vmax. The occurrence of hurricane-like vortex trapping, however, is not sensitive to the value of vmax. When there is no background flow, the vortex will drift to the northwest in the presence of the planetary vorticity gradient. The β drift speed acts to keep the vortex from being trapped. The insensitivity of the vortex trapping to vmax on the sphere appears to be due to the possible cancellation of stronger planetary β and topographic β effects. The experiments suggest that the topographic scale must be comparable to (if not larger than) the vortex radius of maximum wind for the trapping to occur. Nonlinear effects are important in that they hold the vortex together and keep it moving without strong dispersion in the island-circulating path. This vortex coherency can be explained with the β Rossby number dynamics. The global shallow-water model calculations used in this study indicate that the vortex trapping increases with peak height, topographic length scale, and latitude (larger topographic β effect). In general, the trapping and clockwise circulating path in the presence of a planetary vorticity gradient will occur if the scale of the topography is greater than the vortex radius of maximum wind and if the planetary β parameter is less than the topographic β parameter.

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Hung-Chi Kuo, Chih-Pei Chang, Yi-Ting Yang, and Hau-Jang Jiang

Abstract

This study examines the intensity change and moat dynamics of typhoons with concentric eyewalls using passive microwave data and best-track data in the western North Pacific between 1997 and 2006. Of the 225 typhoons examined, 55 typhoons and 62 cases with concentric eyewalls have been identified. The data indicate that approximately 57% of category 4 and 72% of category 5 typhoons possessed concentric eyewalls at some point during their lifetime. While major typhoons are most likely to form concentric eyewalls, the formation of the concentric structure may not be necessarily at the lifetime maximum intensity. Approximately one-third of concentric eyewall cases are formed at the time of maximum intensity.

The moat is known to be heavily influenced by the subsidence forced by the two eyewalls. Rozoff et al. proposed that the rapid filamentation dynamics may also contribute to the organization of the moat. This paper examines the possibility of rapid filamentation dynamics by devising a filamentation moat width parameter. This parameter can be computed from the best-track typhoon intensity and the passive microwave satellite-estimated inner eyewall radius for each typhoon with concentric eyewalls. The filamentation moat width explains 40% of the variance of the satellite-observed moat width in the group with concentric eyewall formation intensity greater than 130 kt.

The typhoon intensity time series in both the concentric and nonconcentric composites are studied. The time series of intensity is classified according to the 24-h intensity change before and after the concentric eyewalls formation. The averaged concentric eyewall formation latitudes in the groups with negative intensity change before concentric eyewall formation are at higher latitudes than that of the positive intensity change groups. Intensity of the concentric typhoons tends to peak at the time of secondary eyewall formation, but the standard model of intensification followed by weakening is valid for only half of the cases. Approximately 74% of the cases intensify 24 h before secondary eyewall formation and approximately 72% of the cases weaken 24 h after formation. The concentric composites have a much slower intensification rate 12 h before the peak intensity (time of concentric formation) than that of the nonconcentric composites. For categories 4 and 5, the peak intensity of the concentric typhoons is comparable to that of the nonconcentric typhoons. However, 60 h before reaching the peak the concentric composites are 25% more intense than the nonconcentric composites. So a key feature of concentric eyewall formation appears to be the maintenance of a relatively high intensity for a longer duration, rather than a rapid intensification process that can reach a higher intensity.

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Yi-Ting Yang, Hung-Chi Kuo, Eric A. Hendricks, and Melinda S. Peng

Abstract

An objective method is developed to identify concentric eyewalls (CEs) for typhoons using passive microwave satellite imagery from 1997 to 2011 in the western North Pacific basin. Three CE types are identified: a CE with an eyewall replacement cycle (ERC; 37 cases), a CE with no replacement cycle (NRC; 17 cases), and a CE that is maintained for an extended period (CEM; 16 cases). The inner eyewall (outer eyewall) of the ERC (NRC) type dissipates within 20 h after CE formation. The CEM type has its CE structure maintained for more than 20 h (mean duration time is 31 h). Structural and intensity changes of CE typhoons are demonstrated using a T–Vmax diagram (where T is the brightness temperature and Vmax is the best-track estimated intensity) for a time sequence of the intensity and convective activity (CA) relationship. While the intensity of typhoons in the ERC and CEM cases weakens after CE formation, the CA is maintained or increases. In contrast, the CA weakens in the NRC cases. The NRC (CEM) cases typically have fast (slow) northward translational speeds and encounter large (small) vertical shear and low (high) sea surface temperatures. The CEM cases have a relatively high intensity (63 m s−1), and the moat size (61 km) and outer eyewall width (70 km) are approximately 50% larger than the other two categories. Both the internal dynamics and environmental conditions are important in the CEM cases, while the NRC cases are heavily influenced by the environment. The ERC cases may be dominated by the internal dynamics because of more uniform environmental conditions.

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Todd Emmenegger, Yi-Hung Kuo, Shaocheng Xie, Chengzhu Zhang, Cheng Tao, and J. David Neelin

Abstract

A set of diagnostics based on simple, statistical relationships between precipitation and the thermodynamic environment in observations is implemented to assess Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) model behavior with respect to precipitation. Observational data from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) permanent field observational sites are augmented with satellite observations of precipitation and temperature as an observational baseline. A robust relationship across observational datasets between column water vapor (CWV) and precipitation, in which conditionally-averaged precipitation exhibits a sharp pickup at some critical CWV value, provides a useful convective onset diagnostic for climate model comparison. While a few models reproduce an appropriate precipitation pickup, most models begin their pickup at too low CWV and the increase in precipitation with increasing CWV is too weak. Convective transition statistics compiled in column relative humidity (CRH) partially compensate for model temperature biases—although imperfectly since the temperature dependence is more complex than that of column saturation. Significant errors remain in individual models and weak pickups are generally not improved. The conditional-average precipitation as a function of CRH can be decomposed into the product of the probability of raining and mean precipitation during raining times (conditional intensity). The pickup behavior is primarily dependent on the probability of raining near the transition and on the conditional intensity at higher CRH. Most models roughly capture the CRH dependence of these two factors. However, compensating biases often occur: model conditional intensity that is too low at a given CRH is compensated in part by excessive probability of precipitation.

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