4.3 Comparison of Surface Fluxes Simulated by a Coupled Regional Model and Derived from CYGNSS: Impact on MJO Precipitation Structure

Thursday, 16 January 2020: 4:00 PM
252B (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Xiaowen Li, Morgan State Univ./NASA-GSFC, Greenbelt, MD

This study focuses on ocean surface fluxes, mainly the latent heat flux, and their impact on MJO propagation and associated precipitation structures over the Indian Ocean and Maritime Continent. The Coupled-Ocean-Atmosphere-Wave-Sediment Transport (COAWST) model is used to simulate two MJO events during the 2017-2018 season: the December 10 - January 20, 2017 case, which maintained its strong precipitation signal over the Maritime Continent, and the March 1 – 20, 2018 case, which was weaker and did not propagate through the Maritime Continent. Both simulated MJO events show positive biases in surface rainfall compared with GPM IMERG data. During the MJO suppressed phase, the simulations rain more often than the observations. During the active phase, the westward propagating precipitation structures are more organized and much stronger compared with the observations, sometimes forming westward propagating cyclones that weakened the eastward precipitation signals.

Two aspects of the surface flux interactions are investigated: the impact of the domain mean surface fluxes, and the impact of storm scale circulations and their interactions with local surface fluxes. Both aspects affect water vapor budget, atmosphere instability and mean flow, through which convection initiation, organization, and propagation are influenced. Model sensitivity tests with different radiation, microphysics, PBL schemes and nudging schemes indicate that in the control simulations, higher SST and surface fluxes, especially during the suppressed period, are the main reason of rainfall overestimation compared with IMERG data. The strong westward propagating signals are caused by both increased atmosphere instability and reduced mean wind shear. Unfortunately, the small differences in mean SST and surface fluxes between different model sensitivity tests are all within the satellite observation error margin, and cannot be directly corroborated by observations.

One of the advantages of CYGNSS satellites is that they observe ocean surface wind and heat fluxes underneath strong rainfall events such as the convective systems associated with MJO active phases. Currently we are comparing CYGNSS level 2 surface fluxes retrievals and the model simulations in order to better understand the second aspect of the MJO and surface fluxes interactions, and how this affects MJO strengths and propagations. The interactive atmosphere-ocean-wave model also provides cases that directly comparing satellite observables (the bistatic radar cross section) and the model simulations (through CYGNSS satellite simulator).

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