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  1. Abstract It has been proposed that tropical cyclogenesis rates can be expressed as the product of the frequency of “seeds” and a transition probability that depends on the large-scale environment. Here it is demonstrated that the partitioning between seed frequency and transition probability depends on the seed definition and that the existence of such a partition does not resolve the long-standing issue of whether tropical cyclone frequency is controlled more by environmental conditions or by the statistics of background weather. It is here argued that tropical cyclone climatology is mostly controlled by regional environment and that the response of global tropical cyclone activity to globally uniform radiative forcing may be more controlled by the regionality of the response than by the mean response.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  2. Abstract Potential intensity (PI) has been shown to have a linear sensitivity to sea surface temperature (SST) of about 8 m s −1 K −1 , which is close to the sensitivity of PI in simulations subject to a weak temperature gradient (WTG) approximation. This suggests that most of the PI variance is associated with local rather than global SST variations. We verify that PI perturbations are approximately linear in SST, with slopes of 1.8 ± 0.2 m s −1 K −1 in radiative–convective equilibrium (RCE) and 9.1 ± 0.9 m s −1 K −1 in WTG. To do so, we simulate the sensitivity of both RCE and WTG states in a single-column model (SCM) perturbed by changing in turn CO 2 concentration, aerosol concentrations, prescribed SST, and surface winds speeds. While PI is much more sensitive to SST in WTG than in RCE simulations, the SST itself is much less sensitive to radiative forcing in WTG than in RCE because of the absence of strong atmospheric response. Using these results, we develop a linear model, based on SST and midlevel saturation MSE perturbations, to partition SST and PI perturbations between local components occurring under a WTG constraint and globalmore »components that are representative of an RCE state. This model explains up to 95% of the variability of PI in reanalysis. The SCM-derived linear model coefficients are statistically indistinguishable from coefficients from a linear fit of reanalysis PI to SST and midlevel saturation MSE in most ocean basins. Our model shows that North Atlantic PI variations are explained almost entirely by local forcings in recent decades.« less
  3. Abstract A recently developed linear model of eastward-propagating disturbances has two separate unstable modes: convectively coupled Kelvin waves destabilized by the wind dependence of the surface enthalpy flux, and slow, MJO-like modes destabilized by cloud–radiation interaction and driven eastward by surface enthalpy fluxes. This latter mode survives the weak temperature gradient (WTG) approximation and has a time scale dictated by the time it takes for surface fluxes to moisten tropospheric columns. Here we extend that model to include higher-order modes and show that planetary-scale low-frequency waves with more complex structures can also be amplified by cloud–radiation interactions. While most of these waves survive the WTG approximation, their frequencies and growth rates are seriously compromised by that approximation. Applying instead the assumption of zonal geostrophy results in a better approximation to the full spectrum of modes. For small cloud–radiation and surface flux feedbacks, Kelvin waves and equatorial Rossby waves are destabilized, but when these feedbacks are strong enough, the frequencies do not lie close to classical equatorial dispersion curves except in the case of higher-frequency Kelvin and Yanai waves. An eastward-propagating n = 1 mode, in particular, has a structure resembling the observed structure of the MJO.