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Ronald D. Leeper
,
Michael A. Palecki
,
Matthew Watts
, and
Howard Diamond

Abstract

Remotely sensed soil moisture observations provide an opportunity to monitor hydrological conditions from droughts to floods. The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Climate Change Initiative has released both Combined and Passive datasets, which include multiple satellites’ measurements of soil moisture conditions since the 1980s. In this study, both volumetric soil moisture and soil moisture standardized anomalies from the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) were compared with ESA’s Combined and Passive datasets. Results from this study indicate the importance of using standardized anomalies over volumetric soil moisture conditions as satellite datasets were unable to capture the frequency of conditions observed at the extreme ends of the volumetric distribution. Overall, the Combined dataset had slightly lower measures of soil moisture anomaly errors for all regions; although these differences were not statistically significant. Both satellite datasets were able to detect the evolution from worsening to amelioration of the 2012 drought across the central United States and 2019 flood over the upper Missouri River basin. While the ESA datasets were not able to detect the magnitude of the extremes, the ESA standardized datasets were able to detect the interannual variability of extreme wet and dry day counts for most climate regions. These results suggest that remotely sensed standardized soil moisture can be included in hydrological monitoring systems and combined with in situ measures to detect the magnitude of extreme conditions.

Significance Statement

This study examines how well soil moisture extremes, wet or dry, can be detected from space using one of the lengthiest remotely sensed soil moisture datasets. Comparisons with high-quality station data from the U.S. Climate Reference Network revealed the satellite datasets could capture the frequency of extreme conditions important for climate monitoring, but often missed the absolute magnitudes of the extremes. Future research should focus on how to combine satellite and station data to improve the detection of extreme values important for monitoring.

Restricted access
Oscar Brousse
,
Charles Simpson
,
Owain Kenway
,
Alberto Martilli
,
E. Scott Krayenhoff
,
Andrea Zonato
, and
Clare Heaviside

Abstract

Urban climate model evaluation often remains limited by a lack of trusted urban weather observations. The increasing density of personal weather sensors (PWSs) make them a potential rich source of data for urban climate studies that address the lack of representative urban weather observations. In our study, we demonstrate that carefully quality-checked PWS data not only improve urban climate models’ evaluation but can also serve for bias correcting their output prior to any urban climate impact studies. After simulating near-surface air temperatures over London and southeast England during the hot summer of 2018 with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model and its building Effect parameterization with the building energy model (BEP–BEM) activated, we evaluated the modeled temperatures against 402 urban PWSs and showcased a heterogeneous spatial distribution of the model’s cool bias that was not captured using official weather stations only. This finding indicated a need for spatially explicit urban bias corrections of air temperatures, which we performed using an innovative method using machine learning to predict the models’ biases in each urban grid cell. This bias-correction technique is the first to consider that modeled urban temperatures follow a nonlinear spatially heterogeneous bias that is decorrelated from urban fraction. Our results showed that the bias correction was beneficial to bias correct daily minimum, daily mean, and daily maximum temperatures in the cities. We recommend that urban climate modelers further investigate the use of quality-checked PWSs for model evaluation and derive a framework for bias correction of urban climate simulations that can serve urban climate impact studies.

Significance Statement

Urban climate simulations are subject to spatially heterogeneous biases in urban air temperatures. Common validation methods using official weather stations do not suffice for detecting these biases. Using a dense set of personal weather sensors in London, we detect these biases before proposing an innovative way to correct them with machine learning techniques. We argue that any urban climate impact study should use such a technique if possible and that urban climate scientists should continue investigating paths to improve our methods.

Open access
Jacob Coburn
and
Sara C. Pryor

Abstract

Daily expected wind power production from operating wind farms across North America are used to evaluate capacity factors (CF) computed using simulation output from the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model and to condition statistical models linking atmospheric conditions to electricity production. In Parts I and II of this work, we focus on making projections of annual energy production and the occurrence of electrical production drought. Here, we extend evaluation of the CF projections for sites in the Northeast, Midwest, southern Great Plains (SGP), and southwest U.S. coast (SWC) using statewide wind-generated electricity supply to the grid. We then quantify changes in the time scales of CF variability and the seasonality. Currently, wind-generated electricity is lowest in summer in each region except SWC, which causes a substantial mismatch with electricity demand. While electricity of residential heating may shift demand, research presented here suggests that summertime CF are likely to decline, potentially exacerbating the offset between seasonal peak power production and current load. The reduction in summertime CF is manifest for all regions except the SGP and appears to be linked to a reduction in synoptic-scale variability. Using fulfillment of 50% and 90% of annual energy production to quantify interannual variability, it is shown that wind power production exhibits higher (earlier fulfillment) or lower (later fulfillment) production for periods of over 10–30 years as a result of the action of internal climate modes.

Significance Statement

Electrical power system reassessment and redesign may be needed to aid efficient increased use of variable renewables in the generation of electricity. Currently wind-generated electricity in many regions of North America exhibits a minimum in summertime and hence is not well synchronized with electricity demand, which tends to be maximized in summer. Future projections indicate evidence of reductions in wind power during summer that would amplify this offset. However, electrification of heating may lead to increased wintertime demand, which would lead to greater synchronization.

Restricted access
Zachary J. Suriano
,
Gina R. Henderson
,
Julia Arthur
,
Kricket Harper
, and
Daniel J. Leathers

Abstract

Extreme snow ablation can greatly impact regional hydrology, affecting streamflow, soil moisture, and groundwater supplies. Relatively little is known about the climatology of extreme ablation events in the eastern United States, and the causal atmospheric forcing mechanisms behind such events. Studying the Susquehanna River basin over a 50-yr period, here we evaluate the variability of extreme ablation and river discharge events in conjunction with a synoptic classification and global-scale teleconnection pattern analysis. Results indicate that an average of 4.2 extreme ablation events occurred within the basin per year, where some 88% of those events resulted in an increase in river discharge when evaluated at a 3-day lag. Both extreme ablation and extreme discharge events occurred most frequently during instances of southerly synoptic-scale flow, accounting for 35.7% and 35.8% of events, respectively. However, extreme ablation was also regularly observed during high pressure overhead and rain-on-snow synoptic weather types. The largest magnitude of snow ablation per extreme event occurred during occasions of rain-on-snow, where a basinwide, areal-weighted 5.7 cm of snow depth was lost, approximately 23% larger than the average extreme event. Interannually, southerly flow synoptic weather types were more frequent during winter seasons when the Arctic and North Atlantic Oscillations were positively phased. Approximately 30% of the variance in rain-on-snow weather type frequency was explained by the Pacific–North American pattern. Evaluating the pathway of physical forcing mechanisms from regional events up through global patterns allows for improved understanding of the processes resulting in extreme ablation and discharge across the Susquehanna basin.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to better understand how certain weather patterns are related to extreme snowmelt and streamflow events and what causes those weather patterns to vary with time. This is valuable information for informing hazard preparation and resource management within the basin. We found that weather patterns with southerly winds were the most frequent patterns responsible for extreme melt and streamflow, and those patterns occurred more often when the Arctic and North Atlantic Oscillations were in their “positive” configuration. Future work should consider the potential for these patterns, and related impacts, to change over time.

Open access
Troy P. Wixson
and
Daniel Cooley

Abstract

Wildfire risk is greatest during high winds after sustained periods of dry and hot conditions. This paper is a statistical extreme-event risk attribution study that aims to answer whether extreme wildfire seasons are more likely now than under past climate. This requires modeling temporal dependence at extreme levels. We propose the use of transformed-linear time series models, which are constructed similarly to traditional autoregressive–moving-average (ARMA) models while having a dependence structure that is tied to a widely used framework for extremes (regular variation). We fit the models to the extreme values of the seasonally adjusted fire weather index (FWI) time series to capture the dependence in the upper tail for past and present climate. We simulate 10 000 fire seasons from each fitted model and compare the proportion of simulated high-risk fire seasons to quantify the increase in risk. Our method suggests that the risk of experiencing an extreme wildfire season in Grand Lake, Colorado, under current climate has increased dramatically relative to the risk under the climate of the mid-twentieth century. Our method also finds some evidence of increased risk of extreme wildfire seasons in Quincy, California, but large uncertainties do not allow us to reject a null hypothesis of no change.

Restricted access
E. Montoya Duque
,
Y. Huang
,
P. T. May
, and
S. T. Siems

Abstract

Recent voyages of the Australian R/V Investigator across the remote Southern Ocean have provided unprecedented observations of precipitation made with both an Ocean Rainfall and Ice-Phase Precipitation Measurement Network (OceanRAIN) maritime disdrometer and a dual-polarization C-band weather radar (OceanPOL). This present study employs these observations to evaluate the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) and the fifth major global reanalysis produced by ECMWF (ERA5) precipitation products. Working at a resolution of 60 min and 0.25° (∼25 km), light rain and drizzle are most frequently observed across the region. The IMERG product overestimated precipitation intensity when evaluated against the OceanRAIN but captured the frequency of occurrence well. Looking at the synoptic/process scale, IMERG was found to be the least accurate (overestimated intensity) under warm-frontal and high-latitude cyclone conditions, where multilayer clouds were commonly present. Under postfrontal conditions, IMERG underestimated the precipitation frequency. In comparison, ERA5’s skill was more consistent across various synoptic conditions, except for high pressure conditions where the precipitation frequency (intensity) was highly overestimated (underestimated). Using the OceanPOL radar, an area-to-area analysis (fractional skill score) finds that ERA5 has greater skill than IMERG. There is little agreement in the phase classification between the OceanRAIN disdrometer, IMERG, and ERA5. The comparisons are complicated by the various assumptions for phase classification in the different datasets.

Significance Statement

Our best quantitative estimates of precipitation over the remote, pristine Southern Ocean (SO) continue to suffer from a high degree of uncertainty, with large differences present among satellite-based and reanalysis products. New instrumentation on the R/V Investigator, specifically a dual-polarization C-band weather radar (OceanPOL) and a maritime disdrometer (OceanRAIN), provide unprecedented high-quality observations of precipitation across the SO that will aid in improving precipitation estimates in this region. We use these observations to evaluate the IMERG and ERA5 precipitation products. We find that, in general, IMERG overestimated precipitation intensity, but captured the frequency of occurrence well. In comparison, ERA5 was found to overestimate the frequency of precipitation. Using the OceanPOL radar, an area-to-area analysis finds that ERA5 has greater skill than IMERG.

Restricted access
Christopher M. Rozoff
,
David S. Nolan
,
George H. Bryan
,
Eric A. Hendricks
, and
Jason C. Knievel

Abstract

Populated urban areas along many coastal regions are vulnerable to landfalling tropical cyclones (TCs). To the detriment of surface parameterizations in mesoscale models, the complexities of turbulence at high TC wind speeds in urban canopies are presently poorly understood. Thus, this study explores the impacts of urban morphology on TC-strength winds and boundary layer turbulence in landfalling TCs. To better quantify how urban structures interact with TC winds, large-eddy simulations (LESs) are conducted with the Cloud Model 1 (CM1). This implementation of CM1 includes immersed boundary conditions (IBCs) to represent buildings and eddy recycling to maintain realistic turbulent flow perturbations. Within the IBCs, an idealized coastal city with varying scales is introduced. TC winds impinge perpendicularly to the urbanized coastline. Numerical experiments show that buildings generate distinct, intricate flow patterns that vary significantly as the city structure is varied. Urban IBCs produce much stronger turbulent kinetic energy than is produced by conventional surface parameterizations. Strong effective eddy viscosity due to resolved eddy mixing is displayed in the wake of buildings within the urban canopy, while deep and enhanced effective eddy viscosity is present downstream. Such effects are not seen in a comparison LES using a simple surface parameterization with high roughness values. Wind tunneling effects in streamwise canyons enhance pedestrian-level winds well beyond what is possible without buildings. In the arena of regional mesoscale modeling, this type of LES framework with IBCs can be used to improve parameters in surface and boundary layer schemes to more accurately represent the drag coefficient and the eddy viscosity in landfalling TC boundary layers.

Significance Statement

This is among the first large-eddy simulation model studies to examine the impacts of tropical cyclone–like winds around explicitly resolved buildings. This work is a step forward in bridging the gap between engineering studies that use computational fluid dynamics models or laboratory experiments for flow through cities and mesoscale model simulations of landfalling tropical cyclones that use surface parameterizations specialized for urban land use.

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Free access
Junjun Cao
,
Fu Guan
,
Xiang Zhang
,
Won-Ho Nam
,
Guoyong Leng
,
Haoran Gao
,
Qingqing Ye
,
Xihui Gu
,
Jiangyuan Zeng
,
Xu Zhang
,
Tailai Huang
, and
Dev Niyogi

Abstract

Predicting drought severity is essential for drought management and early warning systems. Although numerous physical model-based and data-driven methods have been put forward for drought prediction, their abilities are largely constrained by data requirements and modeling complexity. There remains a challenging task to efficiently predict categorial drought, especially for the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM). Aiming at this issue, multiple Markov chains for USDM-based categorial drought prediction are successfully proposed and evaluated in this paper. In particular, this study concentrated on how the Markov order, step size, and training set length affected prediction accuracy (PA). According to experiments from 2000 to 2021, it was found that the 1-step and first-order Markov models had the best accuracy in predicting droughts up to 4 weeks ahead. The PA steadily dropped with increasing step size, and the average accuracy at monthly scale was 88%. In terms of seasonal variability, summer (July–August) had the lowest PA while winter had the highest (January–February). In comparison with the western region, the PA in the eastern United States is 25% higher. Moreover, the length of the training set had an obvious impact on the PA of the model. The PA in 1-step prediction was 87% and 78% under 20- and 5-yr training sets, respectively. The results of the study showed that Markov models predicted categorical drought with high accuracy in the short term and showed different performances on time and space scales. Proper use of Markov models would help disaster managers and policy makers to put mitigation policies and measures into practice.

Restricted access
Riku Shimizu
,
Shoichi Shige
,
Toshio Iguchi
,
Cheng-Ku Yu
, and
Lin-Wen Cheng

Abstract

The Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR), which consists of a Ku-band precipitation radar (KuPR) and a Ka-band precipitation radar (KaPR) on board the GPM Core Observatory, cannot observe precipitation at low altitudes near the ground contaminated by surface clutter. This near-surface region is called the blind zone. DPR estimates the clutter-free bottom (CFB), which is the lowest altitude not included in the blind zone, and estimates precipitation at altitudes higher than the CFB. High CFBs, which are common over mountainous areas, represent obstacles to detection of shallow precipitation and estimation of low-level enhanced precipitation. We compared KuPR data with rain gauge data from Da-Tun Mountain of northern Taiwan acquired from March 2014 to February 2020. A total of 12 cases were identified in which the KuPR missed some rainfall with intensity of >10 mm h−1 that was observed by rain gauges. Comparison of KuPR profile and ground-based radar profile revealed that shallow precipitation in the KuPR blind zone was missed because the CFB was estimated to be higher than the lower bound of the range free from surface echoes. In the original operational algorithm, CFB was estimated using only the received power data of the KuPR. In this study, the CFB was identified by the sharp increase in the difference between the received powers of the KuPR and the KaPR at altitude affected by surface clutter. By lowering the CFB, the KuPR succeeded in detection and estimation of shallow precipitation.

Significance Statement

The Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) on board the GPM Core Observatory cannot capture precipitation in the low-altitude region near the ground contaminated by surface clutter. This region is called the blind zone. The DPR estimates the clutter-free bottom (CFB), which is the lower bound of the range free from surface echoes, and uses data higher than CFB. DPR consists of a Ku-band precipitation radar (KuPR) and a Ka-band precipitation radar (KaPR). KuPR missed some shallow precipitation more than 10 mm h−1 in the blind zone over Da-Tun Mountain of northern Taiwan because of misjudged CFB estimation. Using both the KuPR and the KaPR, we improved the CFB estimation algorithm, which lowered the CFB, narrowed the blind zone, and improved the capability to detect shallow precipitation.

Open access