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Rebecca Ward, Kirsten Lackstrom, and Corey Davis

Abstract

Drought is a complex phenomenon that is difficult to characterize and monitor. Accurate and timely communication is necessary to ensure that affected sectors and the public can respond and manage associated risks and impacts. To that end, myriad drought indicators, indices, and other tools have been developed and made available, but understanding and using this information can challenge end users who are unfamiliar with the information or presentation, or for decision makers with expertise in areas outside of climate and drought. This article highlights a project that aimed to improve the usability and dissemination of drought information for North Carolina (NC) audiences by addressing specific needs for a better understanding of how drought is monitored, the climatic and environmental conditions that can cause or worsen drought, and the impacts occurring in NC’s different sectors and sub-regions. Conducted to support NC’s official, statewide drought monitoring process, the project’s methods and results have utility for other geographies and contexts. The project team designed an iterative process to engage users in the development, evaluation, refinement, and distribution of new resources. Featured products include the Weekly Drought Update infographic, which explains the factors used to determine NC’s drought status, and the Short-Range Outlook infographic, a synthesis of National Weather Service forecasts. Effective strategies included using stakeholders’ preferred and existing channels to disseminate products, emphasizing impacts relevant to different user groups (such as agriculture, forestry, water resources) rather than indices, and employing concise narratives and visualizations to translate technical and scientific information.

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Philip J. Klotzbach, Kimberly M. Wood, Michael M. Bell, Eric S. Blake, Steven G. Bowen, Louis-Philippe Caron, Jennifer M. Collins, Ethan J. Gibney, Carl J. Schreck III, and Ryan E. Truchelut

Abstract

The active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season produced 30 named storms, 14 hurricanes, and 7 major hurricanes (Category 3+ on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale). Though the season was active overall, the final two months (October–November) raised 2020 into the upper echelon of Atlantic hurricane activity for integrated metrics such as Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE). This study focuses on October–November 2020, when 7 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes formed and produced ACE of 74 * 104 kt2. Since 1950, October–November 2020 ranks tied for 3rd for named storms, 1st for hurricanes and major hurricanes, and 2nd for ACE. Six named storms also underwent rapid intensification (≥30 kt intensification in ≤24 hr) in October–November 2020—the most on record.

This manuscript includes a climatological analysis of October–November tropical cyclones (TCs) and their primary formation regions. In 2020, anomalously low wind shear in the western Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, likely driven by a moderate intensity La Niña event and anomalously high sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Caribbean provided dynamic and thermodynamic conditions that were much more conducive than normal for late-season TC formation and rapid intensification. This study also highlights October–November 2020 landfalls, including Hurricanes Delta and Zeta in Louisiana and in Mexico and Hurricanes Eta and Iota in Nicaragua. The active late season in the Caribbean would have been anticipated by a statistical model using the July–September-averaged ENSO Longitude Index and Atlantic warm pool SSTs as predictors.

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Peggy McNeal, Wendilyn Flynn, Cody Kirkpatrick, Dawn Kopacz, Daphne LaDue, and Lindsay C. Maudlin

Abstract

Educators can enrich their teaching with best practices, share resources, and contribute to the growing atmospheric science education research community by reading and participating in the scholarship of teaching and learning in atmospheric science. This body of scholarship has grown, particularly over the past fifteen years, and is now a sizable literature base that documents and exemplifies numerous teaching innovations in undergraduate atmospheric science education. This literature base benefits the entire atmospheric science community because graduates of atmospheric science programs are better prepared to enter the workforce. This literature base has not yet been examined, however, to see how well the evidence supports education practices in the atmospheric science education literature. In this study, we characterized that evidence and show that the majority of papers we reviewed share education innovations with anecdotal or correlational evidence of effectiveness. While providing useful practitioner knowledge and preliminary evidence of the effectiveness of numerous innovative teaching practices, opportunities exist for increasing readers’ confidence that the innovations caused the learning gains. Additional studies would also help move conclusions toward generalizability across academic institutions and student populations. We make recommendations for advancing atmospheric science education research and encourage atmospheric science educators to actively use the growing body of education literature as well as contribute to advancing atmospheric science education research.

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Miloslav Müller, Barbora Kocánová, and Petr Zacharov

Abstract

The transformation of meteorology into a modern science raised needs for collections of scientific term definitions (glossaries) and of foreign language equivalents (dictionaries). The Meteorological Glossary (United Kingdom) and the “Lexique météorologique” (France) were the only meteorological glossaries issued separately until World War II. In 1959, a dozen of such works existed, half of which were due to individuals and the other half due to collective efforts, including the comprehensive Glossary of Meteorology (USA) and the provisional version of International Meteorological Vocabulary. Collective authorship has been shown to be more efficient and generally prevailed in recent decades.

Regarding dictionaries, the language in which the terms are sorted tells a lot about the purpose of a dictionary. In the 1930s, the British, French and German multilingual dictionaries were ordered alphabetically in their languages which suggests that the dictionaries were intended mainly for foreign scholars. Since World War II, bilingual dictionaries have originated in many countries, with the terms usually being ordered in foreign languages, which is more useful for domestic scholars. Dictionaries continued to be compiled subsequently because the International Meteorological Vocabulary remained limited to English, French, Russian and Spanish.

Since 2000, some meteorological glossaries and dictionaries have obtained electronic versions because such versions enable them to be kept up-to-date and allow many practical functionalities, including full-text searches, links among terms and the thematic filtering of terms. While the diversity of meteorological glossaries will probably remain in the future, a truly international meteorological dictionary could be created by connecting national databases.

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Rita D. Roberts, Steven J. Goodman, James W. Wilson, Paul Watkiss, Robert Powell, Ralph A. Petersen, Caroline Bain, John Faragher, Ladislaus B. Chang’a, Julius K. Kapkwomu, Paul N. Oloo, Joseph N. Sebaziga, Andrew Hartley, Timothy Donovan, Marion Mittermaier, Lee Cronce, and Katrina S. Virts

Abstract

Up to one thousand drowning deaths occur every year on Lake Victoria in East Africa. Nocturnal thunderstorms are one of the main culprits for the high winds and waves that cause fishing boats to capsize. The HIGHWAY project was established to develop an Early Warning System for Lake Victoria. Prior to HIGHWAY, weather forecasts for the lake were overly general and not trusted. Under the HIGHWAY project, forecasters from weather service offices in East Africa worked with leaders of fishing communities and Beach Management Units to develop marine forecasts and hazardous-weather warnings that were meaningful to fishermen and other stakeholders. Forecasters used high-resolution satellite, radar, and lightning observations collected during a HIGHWAY field campaign, along with guidance from numerical weather prediction models and a 4.4-km resolution Tropical Africa model, to produce specific forecasts and warnings for 10 zones over the lake. Forecasts were communicated to thousands of people by radio broadcasters, local intermediaries, and via smartphones using the WhatsApp application. Fishermen, ferry-boat operators, and lakeside communities used the new marine forecasts to plan their daytime and nighttime activities on the lake. A socio-economic benefits study conducted by HIGHWAY found that ~75% of the people are now using the forecasts to decide if and when to travel on the lake. Significantly, a 30% reduction in drowning fatalities on the lake is likely to have occurred, which when combined with the reduction in other weather-related losses, generates estimated socio-economic benefits of $44M/year due to the HIGHWAY project activities; the new marine forecasts and warnings are helping to save lives and property.

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Zachary J. Handlos, Casey Davenport, and Dawn Kopacz

Abstract

Extensive research within STEM fields has demonstrated that active learning leads to greater educational success for students relative to traditional lecture methods. While studies have explored active learning use across various STEM fields, minimal research has focused specifically on the atmospheric sciences. A baseline knowledge of the use of active learning in this field is vital for determining instructional effectiveness and can identify areas for improvement.

The goal of this study is to provide a baseline regarding the state of active learning within the atmospheric sciences, including understanding what active learning strategies are most widely used, their frequency of use, and who is using them. Atmospheric science instructors were invited to participate in an online survey to provide information about their active learning use in the classroom and resources used to learn more about active learning strategies. Survey results indicate that case studies are the most popular high-use active learning strategy across all levels of instruction, though how they are implemented within the classroom is not clear. New atmospheric science instructors, instructors beyond the typical 5 year tenure mark, and female instructors exhibit the highest number of unique active learning strategies. Future work stresses the need for a larger sample size and more direct classroom observation of instructors using active learning.

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Lars van Galen, Oscar Hartogensis, Imme Benedict, and Gert-Jan Steeneveld

Abstract

We report on renewing the undergraduate course about synoptic meteorology and weather forecasting at Wageningen University (The Netherlands) to meet the current-day requirements of operational forecasters. Weather strongly affects human activities through its impact on transportation, energy demand planning and personal safety, especially in the case of weather extremes. Numerical weather prediction models (NWP) have developed rapidly in recent decades, with reasonably high scores, even on the regional scale. The amount of available NWP model output has sharply increased. Hence, the role and value of the operational weather forecaster has evolved into the role of information selector, data quality manager, storyteller, and product developer for specific customers. To support this evolution, we need new academic training methods and tools at the bachelor’s level. Here, we present a renewed education strategy for our weather forecasting class, called Atmospheric Practical, including redefined learning outcomes, student activities, and assessments. In addition to teaching the interpretation of weather maps, we underline the need for 21st century skills like dealing with open data, data handling, and data analysis. These skills are taught using Jupyter Python notebooks as the leading analysis tool. Moreover, we introduce assignments about communication skills and forecast product development as we aim to benefit from the internationalization of the classroom. Finally, we share the teaching material presented in this paper for the benefit of the community.

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Marina Baldissera Pacchetti, Jillian Schacher, Suraje Dessai, Marta Bruno Soares, Rob Lawlor, and Joseph Daron
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James H. Ruppert Jr., Steven E. Koch, Xingchao Chen, Yu Du, Anton Seimon, Y. Qiang Sun, Junhong Wei, and Lance F. Bosart

Abstract

Over the course of his career, Fuqing Zhang drew vital new insights into the dynamics of meteorologically significant mesoscale gravity waves (MGWs), including their generation by unbalanced jet streaks, their interaction with fronts and organized precipitation, and their importance in midlatitude weather and predictability. Zhang was the first to deeply examine “spontaneous balance adjustment” – the process by which MGWs are continuously emitted as baroclinic growth drives the upper-level flow out of balance. Through his pioneering numerical model investigation of the large-amplitude MGW event of 4 January 1994, he additionally demonstrated the critical role of MGW–moist convection interaction in wave amplification.

Zhang’s curiosity-turned-passion in atmospheric science covered a vast range of topics and led to the birth of new branches of research in mesoscale meteorology and numerical weather prediction. Yet, it was his earliest studies into midlatitude MGWs and their significant impacts on hazardous weather that first inspired him. Such MGWs serve as the focus of this review, wherein we seek to pay tribute to his groundbreaking contributions, review our current understanding, and highlight critical open science issues. Chief among such issues is the nature of MGW amplification through feedback with moist convection, which continues to elude our understanding. The pressing nature of this subject is underscored by the continued failure of operational numerical forecast models to adequately predict most large-amplitude MGW events. Further research into such issues therefore presents a valuable opportunity to improve the understanding and forecasting of this high-impact weather phenomenon, and in turn to preserve the spirit of Zhang’s dedication to this subject.

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Michael Steele, Hajo Eicken, Uma Bhatt, Peter Bieniek, Ed Blanchard-Wrigglesworth, Helen Wiggins, Betsy Turner-Bogren, Lawrence Hamilton, Joseph Little, François Massonnet, Walter N. Meier, James Overland, Mark Serreze, Julienne Stroeve, John Walsh, and Muyin Wang
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