Mesoscale predictability of moist baroclinic waves: Convection-permitting experiments and multistage error growth dynamics

Fuqing Zhang, Naifang Bei, Richard Rotunno, Chris Snyder, Craig C. Epifanio

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219 Scopus citations


A recent study examined the predictability of an idealized baroclinic wave amplifying in a conditionally unstable atmosphere through numerical simulations with parameterized moist convection. It was demonstrated that with the effect of moisture included, the error starting from small random noise is characterized by upscale growth in the short-term (0-36 h) forecast of a growing synoptic-scale disturbance. The current study seeks to explore further the mesoscale error-growth dynamics in idealized moist baroclinic waves through convection-permitting experiments with model grid increments down to 3.3 km. These experiments suggest the following three-stage error-growth model: in the initial stage, the errors grow from small-scale convective instability and then quickly [O(1 h)] saturate at the convective scales. In the second stage, the character of the errors changes from that of convective-scale unbalanced motions to one more closely related to large-scale balanced motions. That is, some of the error from convective scales is retained in the balanced motions, while the rest is radiated away in the form of gravity waves. In the final stage, the large-scale (balanced) components of the errors grow with the background baroclinic instability. Through examination of the error-energy budget, it is found that buoyancy production due mostly to moist convection is comparable to shear production (nonlinear velocity advection). It is found that turning off latent heating not only dramatically decreases buoyancy production, but also reduces shear production to less than 20% of its original amplitude.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3579-3594
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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