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D.J. Mullan, I.D. Barr, R.P. Flood, J.M. Galloway, A.M.W. Newton, and G.T. Swindles

Abstract

Winter roads play a vital role in linking communities and building economies in the northern high latitudes. With these regions warming two to three times faster than the global average, climate change threatens the long-term viability of these important seasonal transport routes. We examine how climate change will impact the world’s busiest heavy-haul winter road – the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road (TCWR) in northern Canada. The FLake freshwater lake model is used to project ice thickness for a lake at the start of the TCWR – first using observational climate data, and second using modelled future climate scenarios corresponding to varying rates of warming ranging from 1.5°C to 4°C above preindustrial temperatures. Our results suggest that 2°C warming could be a tipping point for the viability of the TCWR, requiring at best costly adaptation and at worst alternative forms of transportation. Containing warming to the more ambitious temperature target of 1.5°C pledged at the 2016 Paris Agreement may be the only way to keep the TCWR viable – albeit with a shortened annual operational season relative to present. More widely, we show that higher regional winter warming across much of the rest of Arctic North America threatens the long-term viability of winter roads at a continental scale. This underlines the importance of continued global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions to avoid many long-term and irreversible impacts of climate change.

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Thomas W. N. Haine, Renske Gelderloos, Miguel A. Jimenez-Urias, Ali H. Siddiqui, Gerard Lemson, Dimitri Medvedev, Alex Szalay, Ryan P. Abernathey, Mattia Almansi, and Christopher N. Hill

Abstract

Computational Oceanography is the study of ocean phenomena by numerical simulation, especially dynamical and physical phenomena. Progress in information technology has driven exponential growth in the number of global ocean observations and the fidelity of numerical simulations of the ocean in the past few decades. The growth has been exponentially faster for ocean simulations, however. We argue that this faster growth is shifting the importance of field measurements and numerical simulations for oceanographic research. It is leading to the maturation of Computational Oceanography as a branch of marine science on par with observational oceanography. One implication is that ultra-resolved ocean simulations are only loosely constrained by observations. Another implication is that barriers to analyzing the output of such simulations should be removed. Although some specific limits and challenges exist, many opportunities are identified for the future of Computational Oceanography. Most important is the prospect of hybrid computational and observational approaches to advance understanding of the ocean.

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Tristan S. L’Ecuyer, Brian J. Drouin, James Anheuser, Meredith Grames, David 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

The 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 light weight, low-power, ambient temperature detectors capable of measuring at wavelengths up to 50 micrometers 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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Malte F. Stuecker, Christina Karamperidou, Alison D. Nugent, Giuseppe Torri, Sloan Coats, and Steven Businger
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Alexandra K. Anderson-Frey and Harold Brooks

Abstract

In any discussion of forecast evaluation, it is tempting to fall back on statements reflecting unverified assumptions: “this tornado warning had lower skill because the underlying meteorology reflected a complicated or atypical scenario,” or “that forecast performed worse than we would have expected given the straightforward setup.” These statements of what is and is not a reasonable expectation for warning skill are particularly relevant as the meteorological community’s focus has begun to emphasize non-classic storm environments (e.g., tornadoes spawned by quasi-linear convective systems). In this paper, we build a proof-of-concept methodology to quantify the effect of the near-storm environment on tornado warning skill, and we then test these methods on a 15-yr dataset composed of tens of thousands of tornado events and warnings over the contiguous United States. Our findings include that significant tornadoes rated (E)F2+ have a higher probability of detection (POD) than expected based on their near-storm environments, that nocturnal tornadoes have both worse POD and false alarm ratio (FAR) than even their marginal near-storm environments would suggest, and that tornadoes occurring during the summer months also show worse POD and FAR than their environment-based expectation. Quantifying these shifts in performance in an environmental skill score framework allows us to target the situations in which the greatest improvements may be possible, in terms of forecaster training and/or conceptual models. This work also highlights the essential question that should always be asked in the context of forecast verification: what, exactly, is the baseline standard to which we are comparing forecast performance?

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Gabriele Messori, Emanuele Bevacqua, Rodrigo Caballero, Dim Coumou, Paolo De Luca, Davide Faranda, Kai Kornhuber, Olivia Martius, Flavio Pons, Colin Raymond, Kunhui Ye, Pascal Yiou, and Jakob Zscheischler
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Joseph E. Trujillo-Falcón, Orlando Bermúdez, Krizia Negrón-Hernández, John Lipski, Elizabeth Leitman, and Kodi Berry

Abstract

According to recent Census data, the Hispanic or Latino population represents nearly 1 in 5 Americans today, where 71.1% of these individuals speak Spanish at home. Despite increased efforts among the weather enterprise, establishing effective risk communication strategies for Spanish-speaking populations has been an uphill battle. No frameworks exist for translating weather information into the Spanish language, nor are there collective solutions that address this problem within the weather world. The objective of this article is threefold. First, the current translation issue in Spanish is highlighted. Through research conducted at the NOAA/NWS Storm Prediction Center, situations are revealed where regional varieties of Spanish contributed to inconsistent risk messaging across the bilingual weather community. Second, existing resources are featured so that interested readers are aware of ongoing efforts to translate weather information into Spanish. Organizations within the weather service, like the NWS Multimedia Assistance in Spanish Team and the NWS Spanish Outreach Team, are highlighted for their pioneer work on Spanish weather communication. Last, a framework for translation standardization in the atmospheric sciences is introduced, along with future initiatives that are being sought by NWS and AMS to enhance Spanish hazardous weather communication.

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Peyman Abbaszadeh, Hamid Moradkhani, Keyhan Gavahi, Sujay Kumar, Christopher Hain, Xiwu Zhan, Qingyun Duan, Christa Peters-Lidard, and Sepehr Karimiziarani
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Jennifer Collins, Amy Polen, Killian McSweeney, Delián Colón-Burgos, and Isabelle Jernigan

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic increases the complexity of planning for hurricanes as social distancing is in direct conflict with human mobility and congregation. COVID-19 presents not only urgent challenges for this hurricane season due to the likeliness of continued or heightened COVID-19 threat, but also challenges with the next hurricane season with additional waves of the pandemic. There is severe urgency to understand the impact of COVID-19 risk perceptions and the extent people are willing to risk their lives by sheltering in place rather than evacuating during severe hurricanes. In June 2020, a survey (in both English and Spanish) of 40 questions was disseminated through regional planning councils, emergency management, and the media to Florida residents. A total of 7,072 people responded from over 50 counties. Most data obtained were ordinal or categorical in nature, encouraging usage of nonparametric analysis and chi-square tests. Almost half the respondents view themselves as vulnerable to COVID-19 due to preexisting health conditions, and 74.3% of individuals viewed the risk of being in a shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic as more dangerous than enduring hurricane hazards. Additionally, there was a significant number of individuals who would choose to not utilize a public shelter during COVID-19 when they would have previously. Officials can use the results of this study regarding how household evacuation plans change with social distancing to better inform strategies of shelter preparedness and COVID-19 risk mitigation to minimize risk to those in harm’s way of storm surge and other hurricane effects during a mandatory evacuation order.

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Dawn Kopacz, Lindsay C. Maudlin, Wendilyn J. Flynn, Zachary J. Handlos, Adam Hirsch, and Swarndeep Gill

Abstract

Increasing participation in education research and encouraging the use of evidence-based practices in the classroom has been identified as a Grand Challenge in the Geosciences. As a first step in addressing this Grand Challenge, a survey was developed and disseminated to a broad range of atmospheric science professionals to collect data about 1) the number of community members involved in atmospheric science education research (ASER); 2) whether ASER is valued within the community, and if so, to what extent; 3) potential barriers to involvement in ASER; and 4) the resources necessary to encourage involvement in ASER. Survey results revealed that while many in the atmospheric science community highly value education research, barriers to greater involvement include a perceived lack of value and a lack of visibility of ASER. Recommendations are made for addressing these barriers.

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