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Brian A. Colle, Rosemary Auld, Kenneth Johnson, Christine O’Connell, Temis G. Taylor, and Joshua Rice

Abstract

It is challenging to communicate uncertainty for high-impact weather events to the public and decision-makers. As a result, there is an increased emphasis and training within the National Weather Service (NWS) for “impact-based decision support.” A Collaborative Science, Technology, And Research (CSTAR) project led by Stony Brook University (SBU) in collaboration with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, several NWS forecast offices, and NWS operational centers held two workshops at SBU on effective forecast communication of probabilistic information for high-impact weather. Trainers in two 1.5-day workshops helped 15–20 forecasters learn to distill their messages, engage audiences, and more effectively communicate risk and uncertainty to decision-makers, media, and the general public. The novel aspect of the first workshop focused on using improvisational techniques to connect with audiences along with exercises to improve communication skills using short, clear, conversational statements. The same forecasters participated in the second workshop, which focused on matching messages to intended audiences and stakeholder interaction. Using a recent high-impact weather event, representatives in emergency management, TV media, departments of transportation, and emergency services provided feedback on the forecaster oral presentations (2–3 min) and a visual slide. This article describes our innovative workshop approach, illustrates some of the techniques used, and highlights participant feedback.

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Bradley Wade Bishop, Ashley Marie Orehek, and Hannah R. Collier

Abstract

This study’s purpose is to capture the skills of Earth science data managers and librarians through interviews with current job holders. Job analysis interviews were conducted of 14 participants—six librarians and eight data managers—to assess the types and frequencies of job tasks. Participants identified tasks related to communication, including collaboration, teaching, and project management activities. Data-specific tasks included data discovery, processing, and curation, which require an understanding of the data, technology, and information infrastructures to support data use, reuse, and preservation. Most respondents had formal science education and six had a master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences. Most of the knowledge, skills, and abilities for these workers were acquired through on-the-job experience, but future professionals in these careers may benefit from tailored education informed through job analyses.

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Heidi Kreibich, Paul Hudson, and Bruno Merz

Abstract

Flood warning systems are longstanding success stories with respect to protecting human life, but monetary losses continue to grow. Knowledge on the effectiveness of flood early warning in reducing monetary losses is scarce, especially at the individual level. To gain more knowledge in this area, we analyze a dataset that is unique with respect to detailed information on warning reception and monetary losses at the property level and with respect to amount of data available. The dataset contains 4,468 loss cases from six flood events in Germany. These floods occurred between 2002 and 2013. The data from each event were collected by computer-aided telephone interviews in four surveys following a repeated cross-sectional design. We quantitatively reveal that flood early warning is only effective in reducing monetary losses when people know what to do when they receive the warning. We also show that particularly long-term preparedness is associated with people knowing what to do when they receive a warning. Thus, risk communication, training, and (financial) support for private preparedness are effective in mitigating flood losses in two ways: precautionary measures and more effective emergency responses.

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Robert Palmer, David Whelan, David Bodine, Pierre Kirstetter, Matthew Kumjian, Justin Metcalf, Mark Yeary, Tian-You Yu, Ramesh Rao, John Cho, David Draper, Stephen Durden, Stephen English, Pavlos Kollias, Karen Kosiba, Masakazu Wada, Joshua Wurman, William Blackwell, Howard Bluestein, Scott Collis, Jordan Gerth, Aaron Tuttle, Xuguang Wang, and Dusan Zrnić
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Tristan S. L’Ecuyer, Brian J. Drouin, James Anheuser, Meredith Grames, David S. Henderson, Xianglei Huang, Brian H. Kahn, Jennifer E. Kay, Boon H. Lim, Marian Mateling, Aronne Merrelli, Nathaniel B. Miller, Sharmila Padmanabhan, Colten Peterson, Nicole-Jeanne Schlegel, Mary L. White, and Yan Xie

Abstract

Earth’s climate is strongly influenced by energy deficits at the poles that emit more thermal energy than they receive from the sun. Energy exchanges between the surface and atmosphere influence the local environment while heat transport from lower latitudes drives midlatitude atmospheric and oceanic circulations. In the Arctic, in particular, local energy imbalances induce strong seasonality in surface–atmosphere heat exchanges and an acute sensitivity to forced climate variations. Despite these important local and global influences, the largest contributions to the polar atmospheric and surface energy budgets have not been fully characterized. The spectral variation of far-infrared radiation that makes up 60% of polar thermal emission has never been systematically measured impeding progress toward consensus in predicted rates of Arctic warming, sea ice decline, and ice sheet melt. Enabled by recent advances in sensor miniaturization and CubeSat technology, the Polar Radiant Energy in the Far Infrared Experiment (PREFIRE) mission will document, for the first time, the spectral, spatial, and temporal variations of polar far-infrared emission. Selected under NASA’s Earth Ventures Instrument (EVI) program, PREFIRE will utilize new lightweight, low-power, ambient temperature detectors capable of measuring at wavelengths up to 50 μm to quantify Earth’s far-infrared spectrum. Estimates of spectral surface emissivity, water vapor, cloud properties, and the atmospheric greenhouse effect derived from these measurements offer the potential to advance our understanding of the factors that modulate thermal fluxes in the cold, dry conditions characteristic of the polar regions.

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Bing Pu and Qinjian Jin

Abstract

High concentrations of dust can affect climate and human health, yet our understanding of extreme dust events is still limited. A record-breaking trans-Atlantic African dust plume occurred during 14–28 June 2020, greatly degrading air quality over large areas of the Caribbean Basin and the United States. Daily PM2.5 concentrations exceeded 50 µg m−3 in several Gulf States, while the air quality index reached unhealthy levels for sensitive groups in more than 11 states. The magnitude and duration of aerosol optical depth over the tropical North Atlantic Ocean were the greatest ever observed during summer over the past 18 years based on satellite retrievals. This extreme trans-Atlantic dust event is associated with both enhanced dust emissions over western North Africa and atmospheric circulation extremes that favor long-range dust transport. An exceptionally strong African easterly jet and associated wave activities export African dust across the Atlantic toward the Caribbean in the middle to lower troposphere, while a westward extension of the North Atlantic subtropical high and a greatly intensified Caribbean low-level jet further transport the descended, shallower dust plume from the Caribbean Basin into the United States. Over western North Africa, increased dust emissions are associated with strongly enhanced surface winds over dust source regions and reduced vegetation coverage in the western Sahel. While there are large uncertainties associated with assessing future trends in African dust emissions, model-projected atmospheric circulation changes in a warmer future generally favor increased long-range transport of African dust to the Caribbean Basin and the United States.

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Mark S. Kulie, Claire Pettersen, Aronne J. Merrelli, Timothy J. Wagner, Norman B. Wood, Michael Dutter, David Beachler, Todd Kluber, Robin Turner, Marian Mateling, John Lenters, Peter Blanken, Maximilian Maahn, Christopher Spence, Stefan Kneifel, Paul A. Kucera, Ali Tokay, Larry F. Bliven, David B. Wolff, and Walter A. Petersen

Abstract

A multisensor snowfall observational suite has been deployed at the Marquette, Michigan, National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office (KMQT) since 2014. Micro Rain Radar (MRR; profiling radar), Precipitation Imaging Package (PIP; snow particle imager), and ancillary ground-based meteorological observations illustrate the unique capabilities of these combined instruments to document radar and concomitant microphysical properties associated with northern Great Lakes snowfall regimes. Lake-effect, lake-orographic, and transition event case studies are presented that illustrate the variety of snowfall events that occur at KMQT. Case studies and multiyear analyses reveal the ubiquity of snowfall produced by shallow events. These shallow snowfall features and their distinctive microphysical fingerprints are often difficult to discern with conventional remote sensing instruments, thus highlighting the scientific and potential operational value of MRR and PIP observations. The importance of near-surface lake-orographic snowfall enhancement processes in extreme snowfall events and regime-dependent snow particle microphysical variability controlled by regime and environmental factors are also highlighted.

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Renato Molina, David Letson, Brian McNoldy, Pallab Mozumder, and Matthew Varkony

Abstract

Hurricanes are the costliest type of natural disaster in the United States. Every year, these natural phenomena destroy billions of dollars in physical capital, displace thousands, and greatly disrupt local economies. While this damage will never be eliminated, the number of fatalities and the cost of preparing and evacuating can be reduced through improved forecasts. This paper seeks to establish the public’s willingness to pay for further improvement of hurricane forecasts by integrating atmospheric modeling and a double-bounded dichotomous choice method in a large-scale contingent valuation experiment. Using an interactive survey, we focus on areas affected by hurricanes in 2018 to elicit residents’ willingness to pay for improvements along storm track, wind speed, and precipitation forecasts. Our results indicate improvements in wind speed forecast are valued the most, followed by storm track and precipitation, and that maintaining the current annual rate of error reduction for another decade is worth between $90.25 and $121.86 per person in vulnerable areas. Our study focuses on areas recently hit by hurricanes in the United States, but the implications of our results can be extended to areas vulnerable to tropical cyclones globally. In a world where the intensity of hurricanes is expected to increase and research funds are limited, these results can inform relevant agencies regarding the effectiveness of different private and public adaptive actions, as well as the value of publicly funded hurricane research programs.

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Mark Weber, Kurt Hondl, Nusrat Yussouf, Youngsun Jung, Derek Stratman, Bryan Putnam, Xuguang Wang, Terry Schuur, Charles Kuster, Yixin Wen, Juanzhen Sun, Jeff Keeler, Zhuming Ying, John Cho, James Kurdzo, Sebastian Torres, Chris Curtis, David Schvartzman, Jami Boettcher, Feng Nai, Henry Thomas, Dusan Zrnić, Igor Ivić, Djordje Mirković, Caleb Fulton, Jorge Salazar, Guifu Zhang, Robert Palmer, Mark Yeary, Kevin Cooley, Michael Istok, and Mark Vincent

Abstract

This article summarizes research and risk reduction that will inform acquisition decisions regarding NOAA’s future national operational weather radar network. A key alternative being evaluated is polarimetric phased-array radar (PAR). Research indicates PAR can plausibly achieve fast, adaptive volumetric scanning, with associated benefits for severe-weather warning performance. We assess these benefits using storm observations and analyses, observing system simulation experiments, and real radar-data assimilation studies. Changes in the number and/or locations of radars in the future network could improve coverage at low altitude. Analysis of benefits that might be so realized indicates the possibility for additional improvement in severe-weather and flash-flood warning performance, with associated reduction in casualties. Simulations are used to evaluate techniques for rapid volumetric scanning and assess data quality characteristics of PAR. Finally, we describe progress in developing methods to compensate for polarimetric variable estimate biases introduced by electronic beam-steering. A research-to-operations (R2O) strategy for the PAR alternative for the WSR-88D replacement network is presented.

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Francelino Márcio Rocha, Schaefer Carlos, Maria de Los Milagros Skansi, Steve Colwell, David H. Bromwich, Phil Jones, John C. King, Matthew Lazzara, James Renwick, Susan Solomon, Manola Brunet, and Randall S. Cerveny

Abstract

Two reports of Antarctic Region potential new record high temperature observations (18.3°C, 6 February 2020 at Esperanza station and 20.8°C, 9 February 2020 at a Brazilian automated permafrost monitoring station on Seymour Island) were evaluated by a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) panel of atmospheric scientists. The latter figure was reported as 20.75°C in the media. The panel considered the synoptic situation and instrumental setups. It determined that a large high-pressure system over the area created föhn conditions and resulted in local warming for both situations. Examination of the data and metadata of the Esperanza station observation revealed no major concerns. However, analysis of data and metadata of the Seymour Island permafrost monitoring station indicated that an improvised radiation shield led to a demonstrable thermal bias error for the temperature sensor. Consequently, the WMO has accepted the 18.3° C value for 12 noon (LST) 6 February 2020 [1500 UTC 6 February 2020] at the Argentine Esperanza station as the new “Antarctic Region [continental, including mainland and surrounding islands] highest temperature recorded observation” but rejected the 20.8° C observation at the Brazilian automated Seymour Island permafrost monitoring station as biased. The committee strongly emphasizes the permafrost monitoring station was not badly designed for its purpose, but the project investigators were forced to improvise a non-optimal radiation shield after losing the original covering. Secondly, with regard to media dissemination of this type of information, the committee urges increased caution in early announcements as many media outlets often tend to sensationalize and mischaracterize potential records.

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