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Yuanlong Li and Weiqing Han

Abstract

In this study decadal (≥10 yr) sea level variations in the Indian Ocean (IO) during 1950–2012 are investigated using the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM). The solution of the main run agrees well with observations in the western-to-central IO. Results of HYCOM experiments reveal large spatial variations in the mechanisms of decadal sea level variability. Within the tropical IO (north of 20°S), decadal sea level variations achieve maximum amplitude in the south IO thermocline ridge region. They are predominantly forced by decadal fluctuations of surface wind stress associated with climate variability modes, while the impact of other processes is much smaller. The Somali coast and the western Bay of Bengal are two exceptional regions, where ocean internal (unforced) variability has large contribution. Between 28° and 20°S in the subtropical south IO, surface heat flux and ocean internal variability are the major drivers of decadal sea level variability. Heat budget analysis for the upper 300 m of this region suggests that surface heat flux affects regional thermosteric sea level through both local surface heating and heat transport by ocean circulation. In the southwestern IO south of 30°S, where stochastic winds are strong, stochastic wind forcing and its interaction with ocean internal variability generate pronounced decadal variations in sea level. The comprehensive investigation of decadal sea level variability over the IO from an oceanic perspective will contribute to decadal sea level prediction research, which has a high societal demand.

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Yuanlong Li, Fan Wang, and Fangguo Zhai

Abstract

The Philippine Sea (PS) is a key region connecting North Pacific subtropics to the equator via western boundary currents. Using available measurements from Argo profiling floats, satellite altimeters, and research surveys, the authors investigate the characteristics and mechanism of subsurface spiciness variability (represented by salinity changes between 23.5 and 24.5 σθ) in the PS. During the past decade, low-frequency salinity variability was dominated by interannual signals characterized by out-of-phase changes between the southern and northern PS with peak-to-peak amplitudes exceeding 0.1 psu. These salinity anomalies are mainly generated locally by anomalous cross-front geostrophic advections. In 2003, an anomalous cyclonic circulation developed in the PS, which transported greater (less) than normal high-salinity North Pacific Tropical Water to the northern (southern) PS and produced positive (negative) salinity anomalies there. In 2009, an anomalous anticyclone emerged, which produced negative (positive) salinity anomalies in the northern (southern) PS. These year-to-year variations are closely associated with ENSO cycle. During strong El Niño (La Niña) episodes, positive (negative) wind stress curl anomalies between 8° and 18°N evoke westward-propagating upwelling (downwelling) Rossby waves in the central Pacific and positive (negative) anomalous Ekman pumping in the western Pacific, resulting in the observed current and salinity changes in the PS. Further analysis suggests that these locally generated spiciness anomalies disperse quickly while propagating to the equatorial Pacific in the Mindanao Current (MC). In the meantime, anomalies advected from higher latitudes are nearly diminished upon reaching the PS. The western boundary of the North Pacific seems quite efficient in damping extratropical signals.

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Yuanlong Li, Yuqing Wang, and Yanluan Lin

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The dynamics of eyewall contraction of tropical cyclones (TCs) has been revisited in this study based on both three-dimensional and axisymmetric simulations and dynamical diagnostics. Because eyewall contraction is closely related to the contraction of the radius of maximum wind (RMW), its dynamics is thus often studied by examining the RMW tendency in previous studies. Recently, Kieu and Stern et al. proposed two different frameworks to diagnose the RMW tendency but had different conclusions. In this study, the two frameworks are evaluated first based on theoretical analysis and idealized numerical simulations. It is shown that the framework of Kieu is a special case of the earlier framework of Willoughby et al. if the directional derivative is applied. An extension of Stern et al.’s approach not only can reproduce but also can predict the RMW tendency. A budget of the azimuthal-mean tangential wind tendency indicates that the contributions by radial and vertical advections to the RMW tendency vary with height. Namely, radial advection dominates the RMW contraction in the lower boundary layer, and vertical advection favors the RMW contraction in the upper boundary layer and lower troposphere. In addition to the curvature, the increase of the radial gradient of horizontal mixing (including the resolved eddy mixing in three dimensions) near the eyewall prohibits eyewall contraction in the lower boundary layer. Besides, the vertical mixing including surface friction also plays an important role in the cessation of eyewall contraction in the lower boundary layer.

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Yuanlong Li, Yuqing Wang, and Yanluan Lin

Abstract

This is a reply to the comments by , hereafter ) on the work of , hereafter ) recently published in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. All the comments and concerns by have been well addressed or clarified. We think that most of the comments by are not in line with the intention of and provide one-sided and thus little scientifically meaningful arguments. Regarding the comment on the adequacy of the methodology adopted in , we believe that the design of the thought (sensitivity) experiment is adequate to address the scientific issue under debate and helps quantify the contribution by the upward advection of the supergradient component of boundary layer wind to tropical cyclone intensification, which is shown to be very marginal. Note that we are open to accept any alternative, better methods to be used to further address this scientific issue.

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Yuanlong Li, Yuqing Wang, and Yanluan Lin

Abstract

Although the development of supergradient winds is well understood, the importance of supergradient winds in tropical cyclone (TC) intensification is still under debate. One view is that the spinup of the eyewall occurs by the upward advection of high tangential momentum associated with supergradient winds from the boundary layer. The other view argues that the upward advection of supergradient winds by eyewall updrafts results in an outward agradient force, leading to the formation of a shallow outflow layer immediately above the inflow boundary layer. As a result, the spinup of tangential wind in the eyewall by the upward advection of supergradient wind from the boundary layer is largely offset by the spindown of tangential wind due to the outflow resulting from the agradient force. In this study, the net contribution by the upward advection of the supergradient wind component from the boundary layer to the intensification rate and final intensity of a TC are quantified through ensemble sensitivity numerical experiments using an axisymmetric TC model. Results show that consistent with the second view above, the positive upward advection of the supergradient wind component from the boundary layer by eyewall updrafts is largely offset by the negative radial advection due to the outflow resulting from the outward agradient force. As a result, the upward advection of the supergradient wind component contributes little (often less than 4%) to the intensification rate and but it contributes about 10%–15% to the final intensity of the simulated TC due to the enhanced inner-core air–sea thermodynamic disequilibrium.

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Fan Wang, Yuanlong Li, and Jianing Wang

Abstract

The surface circulation of the tropical Pacific Ocean is characterized by alternating zonal currents, such as the North Equatorial Current (NEC), North Equatorial Countercurrent (NECC), South Equatorial Current (SEC), and South Equatorial Countercurrent (SECC). In situ measurements of subsurface moorings and satellite observations reveal pronounced intraseasonal variability (ISV; 20–90 days) of these zonal currents in the western tropical Pacific Ocean (WTPO). The amplitude of ISV is the largest within the equatorial band exceeding 20 cm s−1 and decreases to ~10 cm s−1 in the NECC band and further to 4–8 cm s−1 in the NEC and SECC. The ISV power generally increases from high frequencies to low frequencies and exhibits a peak at 50–60 days in the NECC, SEC, and SECC. These variations are faithfully reproduced by an ocean general circulation model (OGCM) forced by satellite winds, and parallel model experiments are performed to gain insights into the underlying mechanisms. It is found that large-scale ISV (>500 km) is primarily caused by atmospheric intraseasonal oscillations (ISOs), such as the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO), through wind stress forcing. These signals are confined within 10°S–8°N, mainly as baroclinic ocean wave responses to ISO winds. For scales shorter than 200 km, ISV is dominated by ocean internal variabilities with mesoscale structures. They arise from the baroclinic and barotropic instabilities associated with the vertical and horizontal shears of the upper-ocean circulation. The ISV exhibits evident seasonal variation, with larger (smaller) amplitude in boreal winter (summer) in the SEC and SECC.

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Lingling Liu, Yuanlong Li, and Fan Wang

Abstract

Change of oceanic surface mixed layer depth (MLD) is critical for vertical exchanges between the surface and subsurface oceans and modulates surface temperature variabilities on various time scales. In situ observations have documented prominent intraseasonal variability (ISV) of MLD with 30–105-day periods in the equatorial Indian Ocean (EIO) where the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) initiates. Simulation of Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) reveals a regional maximum of intraseasonal MLD variability in the EIO (70°–95°E, 3°S–3°N) with a standard deviation of ~14 m. Sensitivity experiments of HYCOM demonstrate that, among all of the MJO-related forcing effects, the wind-driven downwelling and mixing are primary causes for intraseasonal MLD deepening and explain 83.7% of the total ISV. The ISV of MLD gives rise to high-frequency entrainments of subsurface water, leading to an enhancement of the annual entrainment rate by 34%. However, only a small fraction of these entrainment events (<20%) can effectively contribute to the annual obduction rate of 1.36 Sv, a quantification for the amount of resurfacing thermocline water throughout a year that mainly (84.6%) occurs in the summer monsoon season (May–October). The ISV of MLD achieves the maximal intensity in April–May and greatly affects the subsequent obduction. Estimation based on our HYCOM simulations suggests that MJOs overall reduce the obduction rate in the summer monsoon season by as much as 53%. A conceptual schematic is proposed to demonstrate how springtime intraseasonal MLD deepening events caused by MJO winds narrow down the time window for effective entrainment and thereby suppress the obduction of thermocline water.

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Rong Fei, Yuqing Wang, and Yuanlong Li

Abstract

The existence of supergradient wind in the interior of the boundary layer is a distinct feature of a tropical cyclone (TC). Although the vertical advection is shown to enhance supergradient wind in the TC boundary layer (TCBL), how and to what extent the strength and structure of supergradient wind are modulated by vertical advection are not well understood. In this study, both a TCBL model and an axisymmetric full-physics model are used to quantify the contribution of the vertical advection process to the strength and vertical structure of supergradient wind in TCBL. Results from the TCBL model show that the removal of vertical advection of radial wind reduces both the strength and height of supergradient wind by slightly more than 50%. The removal of vertical advection of agradient wind reduces the height of the supergradient wind core by ~30% but increases the strength of supergradient wind by ~10%. Results from the full-physics model show that the removal of vertical advection of radial wind or agradient wind reduces both the strength and height of supergradient wind but the removal of that of radial wind produces a more substantial reduction (52%) than the removal of that of agradient wind (35%). However, both the intensification rate and final intensity of the simulated TCs in terms of maximum 10-m wind speed show little differences in experiments with and without the vertical advection of radial or agradient wind, suggesting that supergradient wind contributes little to either the intensification rate or the steady-state intensity of the simulated TC.

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Yuanlong Li, Yuqing Wang, and Zhe-Min Tan

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The phenomenon that rapid contraction (RC) of the radius of maximum wind (RMW) could precede rapid intensification (RI) in tropical cyclones (TCs) has been found in several previous studies, but it is still unclear how frequently and to what extent RC precedes RI in rapidly intensifying and contracting TCs in observations. In this study, the statistical relationship between RMW RC and TC RI is examined based on the extended best-track dataset for the North Atlantic and Eastern North Pacific during 1999–2019. Results show that for more than ∼65% of available TCs, the time of the peak contraction rate precedes the time of the peak intensification rate, on average, by ∼10–15 h. With the quantitatively defined RC and RI, results show that ∼50% TCs with RC experience RI, and TCs with larger intensity and smaller RMW and embedded in more favorable environmental conditions tend to experience RI more readily following an RC. Among those TCs with RC and RI, more than ∼65% involve the onset of RC preceding the onset of RI, on average, by ∼15–25 h. The preceding time tends to be longer with lower TC intensity and larger RMW and shows weak correlations with environmental conditions. The qualitative results are insensitive to the time interval for the calculation of intensification/contraction rates and the definition of RI. The results from this study can improve our understanding of TC structure and intensity changes.

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Yuqing Wang, Yuanlong Li, and Jing Xu

Abstract

In this study, the boundary layer tangential wind budget equation following the radius of maximum wind, together with an assumed thermodynamical quasi-equilibrium boundary layer, is used to derive a new equation for tropical cyclone (TC) intensification rate (IR). A TC is assumed to be axisymmetric in thermal-wind balance, with eyewall convection coming into moist slantwise neutrality in the free atmosphere above the boundary layer as the storm intensifies, as found recently based on idealized numerical simulations. An ad hoc parameter is introduced to measure the degree of congruence of the absolute angular momentum and the entropy surfaces. The new IR equation is evaluated using results from idealized ensemble full-physics axisymmetric numerical simulations. Results show that the new IR equation can reproduce the time evolution of the simulated TC intensity. The new IR equation indicates a strong dependence of IR on both TC intensity and the corresponding maximum potential intensity (MPI). A new finding is the dependence of TC IR on the square of the MPI in terms of the near-surface wind speed for any given relative intensity. Results from some numerical integrations of the new IR equation also suggest the finite-amplitude nature of TC genesis. In addition, the new IR theory is also supported by some preliminary results based on best-track TC data over the North Atlantic Ocean and eastern and western North Pacific Ocean. As compared with the available time-dependent theories of TC intensification, the new IR equation can provide a realistic intensity-dependent IR during weak intensity stage as seen in observations.

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