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Longtao Wu
,
Hui Su
,
Xubin Zeng
,
Derek J. Posselt
,
Sun Wong
,
Shuyi Chen
, and
Ad Stoffelen

Abstract

Atmospheric winds are crucial to the transport of heat, moisture, momentum, and chemical species, facilitating Earth’s climate system interactions. Existing weather and climate studies rely heavily on the wind fields from reanalysis datasets. In this study, we analyze the uncertainty of instantaneous atmospheric winds in three reanalysis (ERA5, MERRA-2, and CFSv2) datasets. We show that the mean wind vector differences (WVDs) between the reanalysis datasets are about 3–6 m s−1 in the troposphere. The mean absolute wind direction differences can be more than 50°. Large WVDs greater than 5 m s−1 are found for 30%–50% of the time when the observed precipitation rate is larger than 0.1 mm h−1 over the eastern Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and some mountain areas. The mean WVDs exhibit seasonal variations but no significant diurnal variations. The uncertainty of vertical wind shear has a correlation of 0.59 with the uncertainty of winds at 300 hPa. The magnitudes of vorticity and horizontal divergence uncertainties are on the order of 1 × 10−5 s−1, which is comparable to the mean values of vorticity and horizontal divergence. In comparison with some limited observations from field campaigns, the reanalysis datasets exhibit a mean WVD ranging from 2 to 4.5 m s−1. Among the three reanalysis datasets, ERA5 shows the closest agreement with the observations while MERRA-2 has the largest discrepancy. The substantial uncertainty and errors of the reanalysis wind products highlight the critical need for new satellite missions dedicated to 3D wind measurements.

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Reinel Sospedra-Alfonso
,
William J. Merryfield
,
Viatsheslav V. Kharin
,
Woo-Sung Lee
,
Hai Lin
,
Gulilat T. Diro
, and
Ryan Muncaster

Abstract

We evaluate the soil moisture hindcasts and the reconstruction runs giving the hindcasts initial conditions in version 2.1 of the Canadian Seasonal to Interannual Prediction System (CanSIPSv2.1). Different strategies are used to initialize the hindcasts for the two CanSIPSv2.1 models, CanCM4i and the coupled Global Environmental Multiscale, version 5.1, (GEM5)–NEMO model (GEM5-NEMO), with contrasting impacts on the soil moisture initial conditions and forecast performance. Forecast correlation skill is decomposed into contributions from persistence of the initial anomalies and contributions not linked to persistence, with performance largely driven by the accuracy of the initial conditions in regions of strong persistence. Seasonal soil moisture correlation skill is significant for several months into the hindcasts depending on initial and target months, with contributions not linked to persistence becoming more notable at longer lead times. For the first 2–4 months, the quality of CanSIPSv2.1 ensemble mean forecasts tends to be higher on average during summer and fall and is comparable to that of the best performing model, whereas CanSIPSv2.1 outperforms the single models during spring and winter. For longer lead times, remote climate influences from the Pacific Ocean are notable and contribute to predictable soil moisture variability in teleconnected regions.

Open access
Austin P. Hope
,
Israel Lopez-Coto
,
Kris Hajny
,
Jay M. Tomlin
,
Robert Kaeser
,
Brian Stirm
,
Anna Karion
, and
Paul B. Shepson

Abstract

We investigated the ability of three planetary boundary layer (PBL) schemes in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model to simulate boundary layer turbulence in the “gray zone” (i.e., resolutions from 100 m to 1 km). The three schemes chosen are the well-established MYNN PBL scheme and the two newest PBL schemes added to WRF: the three-dimensional scale-adaptive turbulent kinetic energy scheme (SMS-3DTKE) and the E–ε parameterization scheme (EEPS). The SMS-3DTKE scheme is designed to be scale aware and avoid the double counting of TKE in simulations within the gray zone. We evaluated their performance using aircraft measurements obtained during three research flights immediately downwind of Manhattan, New York City, New York. The MYNN PBL scheme simulates TKE best, despite not being scale aware and slightly underestimating TKE from observations, whereas the SMS-3DTKE scheme appears to be overly scale aware for the three flights examined, in particular, when combined with the MM5 surface layer scheme. The EEPS scheme significantly underestimates TKE, mostly in the elevated layers of the boundary layer. In addition, we examined the impact of flow over tall buildings on observed TKE and found that only the windiest day showed a significant increase in TKE directly downwind of Manhattan. This impact was not reproduced by any of the model configurations, regardless of the land-use data selected, although the better resolved National Land Cover Database (NLCD) land use led to a slight improvement of the spatial distribution of TKE, implying that more explicit representation of the impact of tall buildings may be needed to fully capture their impact on boundary layer turbulence.

Significance Statement

Because the majority of the world’s population lives in cities, it is important to accurately simulate the atmosphere above and around these cities including the turbulence caused by tall buildings. This turbulence can significantly impact the mixing and dilution of air pollutants and other toxins in highly populated urban environments. The scale of cities often falls into what is known as the “gray zone” for turbulence modeling, which has been analyzed theoretically before but rarely in varied real-world conditions. Our analysis around New York City, New York, suggests that model turbulence schemes can match observations relatively well even at gray zone scales, although newer schemes require refinement, and all schemes tend to underestimate turbulence downwind of tall buildings.

Open access
Chunyan Zhang
,
Donghai Wang
,
Lebao Yao
,
Zhenzhen Wu
,
Qianhui Ma
,
Yongsheng Li
, and
Peidong Wang

Abstract

This study investigates and compares large-scale moisture and heat budgets over the eastern rainy sea area around Dongsha, the western rainless sea area around Xisha, and the northern coastland of the South China Sea. Ten-year (2011–20) surface, balloon-sounding, satellite measurements, and ERA5 reanalysis are merged into the physically consistent data to study annual and vertical variations of the budgets. It shows that the surface and column-integrated heat and moisture budgets have the smallest annual evolution over the coastland. The latent heat as a key heat contributor in summer is mainly offset by total cold advection and partially offset by net radiative cooling. The horizontal moisture advection below 700 hPa presents moistening over the sea whereas drying over the coastland during rainy months, in which the vertical moisture advection presents moistening up to 250 hPa for all three subregions. The horizontal temperature advection is weak throughout the year over the sea but displays strong top warming and bottom cooling in summer and nearly the opposite in winter over the coastland. The diabatic cooling with a peak at ∼700 hPa in winter is largely due to the enhanced radiative cooling and latent cooling. While the diabatic heating with a peak at ∼500 hPa in summer is largely due to the enhanced latent heating. The earliest atmospheric heating and moistening occur in spring over the coastland, inducing the earliest precipitation increase. The enhanced heating and moistening over Xisha have a 1-month lag relative to Dongsha, resulting in lagging precipitation.

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Luis A. Gil-Alana
and
Marlon J. Castillo

Abstract

In this paper, we perform a fractional integration analysis of the average monthly temperature and precipitation data in 17 departments of Guatemala. Two analyses are performed, the first with the original data and the second with the anomalies based on the period January 1994–December 1999. The results indicate that there is a significant positive time trend in temperatures in the departments of Guatemala (0.0045°C month−1), Quetzaltenango (0.0040°C month−1), Escuintla (0.0034°C month−1), and Huehuetenango (0.0047°C month−1), whereas in the case of precipitation no time trend was observed. An important relevant result is that the departments of El Progreso, Baja Verapaz, and Guatemala occupy the second, third and fourth highest levels of persistence for both temperatures and precipitation, with Sacatepéquez and Quiché displaying the first places for temperature and precipitation, respectively, thus making these five departments the ones that are most vulnerable to climate change since a shock would take a long time to disappear.

Open access
Mathieu Lachapelle
,
Hadleigh D. Thompson
,
Nicolas R. Leroux
, and
Julie M. Thériault

Abstract

This study aims to characterize the shapes and fall speeds of ice pellets formed in various atmospheric conditions and to investigate the possibility to use a laser-optical disdrometer to distinguish between ice pellets and other types of precipitation. To do so, four ice pellet events were documented using manual observations, macrophotography, and laser-optical disdrometer data. First, various ice pellet fall speeds and shapes, including spherical, bulged, fractured, and irregular particles, were associated with distinct atmospheric conditions. A higher fraction of bulged and fractured ice pellets was observed when solid precipitation was completely melted aloft while more irregular particles were observed during partial melting. These characteristics affected the diameter–fall speed relations measured. Second, the measurements of particles’ fall speed and diameter show that ice pellets could be differentiated from rain or freezing rain. Ice pellets larger than 1.5 mm tend to fall > 0.5 m s−1 slower than raindrops of the same size. In addition, the fall speed of a small fraction of ice pellets was < 2 m s−1 regardless of their size, as compared with a fall speed > 3 m s−1 for ice pellets with diameter > 1.5 mm. Video analysis suggests that these slower particles could be ice pellets passing through the laser-optical disdrometer after colliding with the head of the instrument. Overall, these findings contribute to a better understanding of the microphysics of ice pellets and their measurement using a laser-optical disdrometer.

Significance Statement

Ice pellets are challenging to forecast and to detect automatically. In this study, we documented the fall speed and physical characteristics of ice pellets during various atmospheric conditions using a combination of a laser-optical disdrometer, manual observations, and macrophotography images. Relationships were found between the shape and fall speed of ice pellets. These findings could be used to refine the parameterization of ice pellets in atmospheric models and, consequently, improve the forecast of impactful winter precipitation types such as freezing rain. Furthermore, they will also help to physically interpret laser-optical disdrometer data during ice pellets and freezing rain.

Open access
Kelley M. Murphy
,
Lawrence D. Carey
,
Christopher J. Schultz
,
Nathan Curtis
, and
Kristin M. Calhoun

Abstract

A unique storm identification and tracking method is analyzed in varying storm environments within the United States spanning 273 hours in 2018. The methodology uses a quantity calculated through fusion of radar-based vertically integrated liquid (VIL) and satellite-based GLM flash rate density (FRD) called VILFRD to identify storms in space and time. This research analyzes GLM data use within VILFRD for the first time (method original: O), assesses four modifications to VILFRD implementation to find a more stable storm size with time (method new: N), larger storms (method original dilated: OD), or both (method new dilated: ND), and compares VILFRD methods with storm tracking using the 35-dBZ isosurface at −10°C (method non-VILFRD: NV). A case study analysis from 2019 is included to assess methods on a smaller scale and introduce a “lightning only” (LO) version of VILFRD. Large study results highlight that VILFRD-based storm identification produces smaller storms with more lightning than the NV method, and the NV method produces larger storms with a more stable size over time. Methods N and ND create smaller storm size fluctuations, but size changes more often. Dilation (OD, ND) creates larger storms and almost double the number of storms identified relative to nondilated methods (O, N, NV). The case study results closely resemble the large sample results and show that the LO method identifies storms with more lightning and shorter durations. Overall, these findings can aid in choice of storm tracking method based on desired user application and promote further testing of a lightning-only version of VILFRD.

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Jielun Sun
,
Volker Wulfmeyer
,
Florian Späth
,
Holger Vömel
,
William Brown
, and
Steven Oncley

Abstract

The hydrostatic equilibrium addresses the approximate balance between the positive force of the vertical pressure gradient and the negative gravity force and has been widely assumed for atmospheric applications. The hydrostatic imbalance of the mean atmospheric state for the acceleration of vertical motions in the vertical momentum balance is investigated using tower, the global positioning system radiosonde, and Doppler lidar and radar observations throughout the diurnally varying atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) under clear-sky conditions. Because of the negligibly small mean vertical velocity, the acceleration of vertical motions is dominated by vertical variations of vertical turbulent velocity variances. The imbalance is found to be mainly due to the vertical turbulent transport of changing air density as a result of thermal expansion/contraction in response to air temperature changes following surface temperature changes. In contrast, any pressure change associated with air temperature changes is small, and the positive vertical pressure-gradient force is strongly influenced by its background value. The vertical variation of the turbulent velocity variance from its vertical increase in the lower convective boundary layer (CBL) to its vertical decrease in the upper CBL is observed to be associated with the sign change of the imbalance from positive to negative due to the vertical decrease of the positive vertical pressure-gradient force and the relative increase of the negative gravity force as a result of the decreasing upward transport of the low-density air. The imbalance is reduced significantly at night but does not steadily approach zero. Understanding the development of hydrostatic imbalance has important implications for understanding large-scale atmosphere, especially for cloud development.

Significance Statement

It is well known that the hydrostatic imbalance between the positive pressure-gradient force due to the vertical decrease of atmospheric pressure and the negative gravity forces in the vertical momentum balance equation has important impacts on the vertical acceleration of atmospheric vertical motions. Vertical motions for mass, momentum, and energy transfers contribute significantly to changing atmospheric dynamics and thermodynamics. This study investigates the often-assumed hydrostatic equilibrium and investigate how the hydrostatic imbalance is developed using field observations in the atmospheric boundary layer under clear-sky conditions. The results reveal that hydrostatic imbalance can develop from the large-eddy turbulent transfer of changing air density in response to the surface diabatic heating/cooling. The overwhelming turbulence in response to large-scale thermal forcing and mechanical work of the vast Earth surface contributes to the hydrostatic imbalance on large spatial and temporal scales in numerical weather forecast and climate models.

Open access
Troy J. Zaremba
,
Robert M. Rauber
,
Larry Di Girolamo
,
Jesse R. Loveridge
, and
Greg M. McFarquhar

Abstract

Recent studies from the Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime Clouds: The Idaho Experiment (SNOWIE) demonstrated definitive radar evidence of seeding signatures in winter orographic clouds during three intensive operation periods (IOPs) where the background signal from natural precipitation was weak and a radar signal attributable to seeding could be identified as traceable seeding lines. Except for the three IOPs where seeding was detected, background natural snowfall was present during seeding operations and no clear seeding signatures were detected. This paper provides a quantitative analysis to assess if orographic cloud seeding effects are detectable using radar when background precipitation is present. We show that a 5-dB change in equivalent reflectivity factor Ze is required to stand out against background natural Ze variability. This analysis considers four radar wavelengths, a range of background ice water contents (IWC) from 0.012 to 1.214 g m−3, and additional IWC introduced by seeding ranging from 0.012 to 0.486 g m−3. The upper-limit values of seeded IWC are based on measurements of IWC from the Nevzorov probe employed on the University of Wyoming King Air aircraft during SNOWIE. This analysis implies that seeding effects will be undetectable using radar within background snowfall unless the background IWC is small, and the seeding effects are large. It therefore remains uncertain whether seeding had no effect on cloud microstructure, and therefore produced no signature on radar, or whether seeding did have an effect, but that effect was undetectable against the background reflectivity associated with naturally produced precipitation.

Significance Statement

Operational glaciogenic seeding programs targeting wintertime orographic clouds are funded by a range of stakeholders to increase snowpack. Glaciogenic seeding signatures have been observed by radar when natural background snowfall is weak but never when heavy background precipitation was present. This analysis quantitatively shows that seeding effects will be undetectable using radar reflectivity under conditions of background snowfall unless the background snowfall is weak, and the seeding effects are large. It therefore remains uncertain whether seeding had no effect on cloud microstructure, and therefore produced no signature on radar, or whether seeding did have an effect, but that effect was undetectable against the background reflectivity associated with naturally produced precipitation. Alternative assessment methods such as trace element analysis in snow, aircraft measurements, precipitation measurements, and modeling should be used to determine the efficacy of orographic cloud seeding when heavy background precipitation is present.

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