School of Earth Sciences - Research Publications

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    Locally forced convection in sub‐kilometre scale simulations with the Unified Model and WRF
    Jucker, M ; Lane, TP ; Vincent, CL ; Webster, S ; Wales, SA ; Louf, V (Wiley, 2020)
    This study evaluates the performance and benefits of kilometre and sub‐kilometre scale convection permitting simulations over tropical Australia. Focusing on an extended Monsoon break period we can directly compare Unified Model (UM) and Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) simulations to CPOL radar observations and soundings. We show that the two models have different behaviour, and both are different to observations. Whereas WRF produces daily squall lines whether or not they occurred in observations, the UM primarily generates small but intense storms. The UM and WRF produce qualitatively different surface density currents at different times in the diurnal cycle. Once the density currents are present, the models also show different behaviour in relation to convective initiation. While higher resolution helps in the distribution of total precipitation over the domain, most characteristics do not change with higher resolutions, and model difference are always larger than resolution differences. While CAPE/CIN does not seem to be important to explain model differences, our findings point to the evolution of density currents in the boundary layer as most important source of model errors and differences.
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    Diurnal Cycle of Surface Winds in the Maritime Continent Observed through Satellite Scatterometry
    Short, E ; Vincent, CL ; Lane, TP (AMER METEOROLOGICAL SOC, 2019-06-01)
    Abstract The diurnal cycle of surface winds throughout the Maritime Continent plays a significant role in the formation of precipitation over the islands of the region and over the surrounding seas. This study investigates the connection between the diurnal cycles of surface wind and offshore precipitation using data from four satellite scatterometer instruments and two satellite precipitation radar instruments. For the first time, data from three scatterometer instruments are combined to yield a more temporally complete picture of the surface wind diurnal cycles over the Maritime Continent’s surrounding seas. The results indicate that land–sea breezes typically propagate over 400 km offshore, produce mean wind perturbations of between 1 and 5 m s−1, and propagate as gravity waves at 25–30 m s−1. Diurnal precipitation cycles are affected through gravity wave propagation processes associated with the land–sea breezes, and through the convergence of land breezes from nearby islands. These observational results are then compared with previous mesoscale modeling results. It is shown that land–sea breezes occur too early, and are too intense in these modeling results, and this may partly explain why these modeling results also exhibit an early, overly intense diurnal precipitation cycle. This study also investigates variations in the diurnal cycle of surface winds at seasonal and intraseasonal time scales. Previous work has suggested that seasonal and intraseasonal variations in surface heating affect the land–sea breeze circulation and diurnal precipitation cycles; we argue that variations in background winds also play a defining role in modulating coastally influenced local winds.
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    Mesoscale Variation in Diabatic Heating around Sumatra, and Its Modulation with the Madden-Julian Oscillation
    Vincent, CL ; Lane, TP (AMER METEOROLOGICAL SOC, 2018-08-01)
    Diabatic heating in the Maritime Continent region is controlled by a unique blend of mesoscale variability associated with steep topography and complex coastlines and intraseasonal variability associated with propagating planetary-scale disturbances. In this study, the diabatic heating from a 10-yr austral summer simulation over the Maritime Continent with a 4-km horizontal grid length is analyzed with respect to diurnal, spatial, and intraseasonal variations. Results are compared, where possible, to analogous estimates from the TRMM precipitation radar. We show that the heating budget is largely a balance between latent heating and vertical advection, with rays of heating and cooling extending upward and outward from the coast evident in the advection terms, consistent with the gravity wave representation of the tropical sea breeze. By classifying rainfall into convective and stratiform components, it is shown that simulated convective heating over Sumatra peaks in MJO phases 2 and 3, while simulated stratiform heating peaks in phase 4. Similarly, spectral latent heating estimates from the TRMM Precipitation Radar show that stratiform heating peaks in phases 3 and 4, while convective heating peaks in phases 2 and 3. It is also shown that stratiform precipitation plays a greater role in offshore precipitation during the night, albeit with embedded convective cores, than over the land during the day. These results emphasize the importance of achieving a realistic representation of convective and stratiform processes in high-resolution simulations in the tropics, both for total rainfall estimates and for realistic latent heating
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    Scatterometer estimates of the tropical sea-breeze circulation near Darwin, with comparison to regional models
    Brown, AL ; Vincent, CL ; Lane, TP ; Short, E ; Nguyen, H (WILEY, 2017-10-01)
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    Evolution of the Diurnal Precipitation Cycle with the Passage of a Madden-Julian Oscillation Event through the Maritime Continent
    Vincent, CL ; Lane, TP (AMER METEOROLOGICAL SOC, 2016-05-01)
    Changes in the diurnal precipitation cycle as the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) propagates through the Maritime Continent are investigated to explore the processes behind seaward-propagating precipitation northeast of New Guinea. Satellite rainfall estimates from TRMM 3B42 and the Climate Prediction Center morphing technique (CMORPH) are combined with simulations from the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model with a horizontal resolution of 4 km. Comparison with 24-h rain gauge measurements indicates that both satellite estimates and the WRF Model exhibit systematic biases. Despite these biases, the changing patterns of offshore precipitation with the passage of the MJO show good consistency between satellite estimates and the WRF Model. In the few days prior to the main MJO envelope, light background wind, relatively clear skies, and an increasingly moist environment promote favorable conditions for the diurnal precipitation cycle. Two distinct processes are identified: 100–200 km from the coast, precipitation moves offshore as a squall line with a propagation speed of 3–5 m s−1. Farther offshore, precipitation propagates with a speed close to 18 m s−1and is associated with an inertia–gravity wave generated by diurnally oscillating heating from radiative and moist convective processes over the land. A gravity wave signature is evident even after the MJO active period when there is little precipitation. By correcting for the background flow perpendicular to the coast, potential temperature anomalies for the lead-up, active, and follow-on MJO periods are shown to collapse to a remarkably invariant shape for a given time of day.
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    A local index of Maritime Continent intraseasonal variability based on rain rates over the land and sea
    Vincent, CL ; Lane, TP ; Wheeler, MC (AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION, 2016-09-01)
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    A 10-Year Austral Summer Climatology of Observed and Modeled Intraseasonal, Mesoscale, and Diurnal Variations over the Maritime Continent
    Vincent, CL ; Lane, TP (American Meteorological Society, 2017-05-15)
    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.