Aggregated convection and the regulation of tropical climate
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Aggregated Convection and the Regulation of Tropical Climate. Kerry Emanuel Program in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate MIT. Numerical simulations of RC equilibrium show that, under some conditions, moist convection self-aggregates. Day 10. Day 50. From Bretherton et al. (2005).

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Aggregated Convection and the Regulation of Tropical Climate

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Aggregated convection and the regulation of tropical climate

Aggregated Convection and the Regulation of Tropical Climate

Kerry Emanuel

Program in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate

MIT


Aggregated convection and the regulation of tropical climate

Numerical simulations of RC equilibrium show that, under some conditions, moist convection self-aggregates

Day 10

Day 50

From Bretherton et al. (2005)


Aggregated convection and the regulation of tropical climate

Vertically integrated water vapor at 4 (a), 6 (b), 8 (c), and 10 (d) days (Nolan et al., QJRMS, 2007)


Aggregated convection and the regulation of tropical climate

Effect of Self-Aggregation on Humidity

(Bretherton et al. , 2005)


Nolan et al qjrms 2007

Nolan et al., QJRMS, 2007


Aggregated convection and the regulation of tropical climate

Self-Aggregation is Temperature-Dependent (Nolan et al., 2007; Emanuel and Khairoutdinov, in preparation, 2009)


Aggregated convection and the regulation of tropical climate

Empirical Necessary Conditions for Self-Aggregation (after Held et al., 1993; Bretherton et al., 2005; Nolan et al.; 2007)

  • Small vertical shear of horizontal wind

  • Interaction of radiation with clouds and/or water vapor

  • Feedback of convective downdraft surface winds on surface fluxes

  • Sufficiently high surface temperature


Hypothesis

Hypothesis

  • At high temperature, convection self-aggregates

  • →Horizontally averaged humidity drops dramatically

  • →Reduced greenhouse effect cools system

  • →Convection disaggregates

  • →Humidity increases, system warms

  • →System wants to be near phase transition to aggregated state


Recipe for self organized criticality first proposed by david neelin but by different mechanism

Recipe for Self-Organized Criticality(First proposed by David Neelin, but by different mechanism)

  • System should reside near critical threshold for self-aggregation

  • Convective cluster size should follow power law distribution


Toy model

Toy Model


Properties

Properties

  • PBL quasi-equilibrium enforced

  • Bulk aerodynamic surface fluxes with convective gustiness

  • Albedo and emissivity simple weighted average of clear and cloudy regions

  • Water vapor-dependent clear sky emissivity

  • Horizontally uniform temperature but variable moist static energy (i.e. water vapor) at mid-level

  • Vertical motion calculated to enforce zero horizontal temperature gradient

  • PBL moist static energy adjusted to yield zero domain-averaged vertical motion

  • Slow horizontal diffusion of moisture at mid-level


Results self aggregation occurs for

ResultsSelf-Aggregation Occurs for:

  • Small or negative gross moist stability

  • Sufficiently large feedback between convective gustiness and surface enthalpy fluxes

  • Sufficiently high surface temperature


Example

Example:


Summary of toy model results

Summary of Toy Model Results

  • Self-aggregation driven by convective gustiness at high temperature

  • No self-aggregation at low temperature

  • Aggregated state is much drier at mid levels

  • System tends towards self-organized criticality (SOC)

  • Climate sensitivity of SOC state much lower (0.04 K/Wm-2) than sensitivity of uniform convection (0.2 K/Wm-2)


Overall summary

Overall Summary

  • Spontaneous aggregation of convection can occur in low-shear environments at sufficiently high temperature

  • Aggregation results in profound drying of the troposphere (associated with increase in precipitation efficiency)

  • Drying results in decrease of surface temperature

  • Above points suggest that low-shear tropical environments are “attracted” to the critical point between disaggregated and aggregated states


Aggregated convection and the regulation of tropical climate

  • Climate sensitivity of this self-organized critical state likely to be quite different from normal radiative-convective states

  • Global models probably do not represent this process

  • Idea currently being tested with cloud-resolving model (w/Marat Khairoutdinov)


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