Closure is a problem of defining the convective intensity in a given
parameterization. In spite of many years of efforts and progress, it is
still considered an overall unresolved problem. The present article
reviews this problem from phenomenological perspectives.
The physical variables that may contribute in defining the convective
intensity are listed, and their statistical significances identified by
observational data analyses are reviewed. A possibility is discussed for
identifying a correct closure hypothesis by performing a linear
stability analysis of tropical convectively coupled waves with various
different closure hypotheses. Various individual theoretical issues are
considered from various different perspectives. The review also
emphasizes that the dominant physical factors controlling convection
differ between the tropics and extra-tropics, as well as between oceanic
and land areas.
Both observational as well as theoretical analyses, often focused on the
tropics, do not necessarily lead to conclusions consistent with our
operational experiences focused on mid-latitudes. Though we emphasize
the importance of the interplays between these observational,
theoretical and operational perspectives, we also face challenges for
establishing a solid research framework that is universally applicable.
An energy cycle framework is suggested as such a candidate.
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