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John A. Knox

Abstract

Data on the number and economic status of bachelor’s degree recipients are harder to access for the atmospheric sciences than for other similar fields. The U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard provides a new, comprehensive, and annually updated way to obtain these data. Five years of College Scorecard data are analyzed, revealing that from 2015 to 2019 the number of bachelor’s recipients in the United States was at least 700 annually, with a downward trend of about 13% over the period. Institution-specific data allow for a ranking of undergraduate programs by number of bachelor’s recipients that has been impossible to compile since the demise of the American Meteorological Society (AMS)–University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Curricula publication in the mid-2000s. Early career earnings data for federally aided students from larger programs compiled in the College Scorecard indicate that median first-year annual salaries by the end of the 2010s averaged about $35,000, with an increase to $45,000 by the third year. Median debt at graduation during the same period averaged slightly less than $25,000. In the future, College Scorecard data could be used to provide regular updates on atmospheric sciences students, graduates, and early career professionals at all degree levels. The AMS should partner with the American Institute of Physics’ Statistical Research Center to create and disseminate such reports.

Open access
Bettina Steuri
,
Elisabeth Viktor
,
Juliane El Zohbi
, and
Daniela Jacob

Abstract

In recent years, climate service has emerged as a new field to better connect climate data providers and users of climate change–related information. The aim is to transform climate-related information into customized, user-centered products. This transformation of data is increasingly sought after by decision-makers due to public and regulatory pressure. As one of the first institutions to provide climate services, the Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS) has collected a wide range of different experiences in the field of climate services. Based on this know-how, GERICS has identified three distinct roles—we call them hats—that the institute commonly assumes as a climate service provider: the facilitator, the developer, and the trendsetter. The definition and tasks related to each of these distinct hats is presented alongside examples. The key ingredient for the success of a service product heavily depends on successful user engagement. While wearing any of the three hats and depending on a project’s context as well as the project stage, GERICS makes use of several methods to codevelop services with users. Based on past experiences, four different styles of user engagement, distinguished by the degree of intensity of participation, were established: information, consultation, dialog, and partnership. The connection of the three hats and the four styles of user engagement creates a structure in which climate service providers operate. It may help other climate service providers to reflect upon the general outline of their services and enhance the effectiveness of their engagement with users in transdisciplinary research settings.

Open access
Jason A. Otkin
,
Molly Woloszyn
,
Hailan Wang
,
Mark Svoboda
,
Marina Skumanich
,
Roger Pulwarty
,
Joel Lisonbee
,
Andrew Hoell
,
Mike Hobbins
,
Tonya Haigh
, and
Amanda E. Cravens

Abstract

Flash droughts, characterized by their unusually rapid intensification, have garnered increasing attention within the weather, climate, agriculture, and ecological communities in recent years due to their large environmental and socioeconomic impacts. Because flash droughts intensify quickly, they require different early warning capabilities and management approaches than are typically used for slower-developing “conventional” droughts. In this essay, we describe an integrated research-and-applications agenda that emphasizes the need to reconceptualize our understanding of flash drought within existing drought early warning systems by focusing on opportunities to improve monitoring and prediction. We illustrate the need for engagement among physical scientists, social scientists, operational monitoring and forecast centers, practitioners, and policy-makers to inform how they view, monitor, predict, plan for, and respond to flash drought. We discuss five related topics that together constitute the pillars of a robust flash drought early warning system, including the development of 1) a physically based identification framework, 2) comprehensive drought monitoring capabilities, and 3) improved prediction over various time scales that together 4) aid impact assessments and 5) guide decision-making and policy. We provide specific recommendations to illustrate how this fivefold approach could be used to enhance decision-making capabilities of practitioners, develop new areas of research, and provide guidance to policy-makers attempting to account for flash drought in drought preparedness and response plans.

Full access
Bart Geerts
and
Robert M. Rauber

Abstract

This essay is intended to provide stakeholders and news outlets with a plain-language summary of orographic cloud seeding research, new capabilities, and prospects. Specifically, we address the question of whether a widely practiced type of weather modification, glaciogenic seeding of orographic clouds throughout the cold season, can produce an economically useful increase in precipitation over a catchment-scale area. Our objective is to clarify current scientific understanding of how cloud seeding may affect precipitation, in terms that are more accessible than in the peer-reviewed literature. Public confidence that cloud seeding “works” is generally high in regions with operational seeding, notwithstanding decades of scientific reports indicating that the changes in precipitation are uncertain. Randomized seeding experiments have a solid statistical foundation and focus on the outcome, but, in light of the small seeding signal and the naturally noisy nature of precipitation, they generally require too many cases to be affordable, and therefore are discouraged. A complementary method, physical evaluation, examines changes in cloud and precipitation processes when seeding material is injected and yields insights into the most suitable ambient conditions. Recent physical evaluations have established a robust, well-documented scientific basis for glaciogenic seeding of cold-season orographic clouds to enhance precipitation. The challenge of seeding impact assessment remains, but evidence is provided that, thanks to recent significant progress in observational and computational capabilities, the research community is finally on track to be able to provide stakeholders with guidance on the likely quantitative precipitation impact of cloud seeding in their region. We recommend further process-level evaluations combined with highly resolved, well-constrained numerical simulations of seasonal cloud seeding.

Full access
Mathias W. Rotach
,
Stefano Serafin
,
Helen C. Ward
,
Marco Arpagaus
,
Ioana Colfescu
,
Joan Cuxart
,
Stephan F. J. De Wekker
,
Vanda Grubišic
,
Norbert Kalthoff
,
Thomas Karl
,
Daniel J. Kirshbaum
,
Manuela Lehner
,
Stephen Mobbs
,
Alexandre Paci
,
Elisa Palazzi
,
Adriana Bailey
,
Jürg Schmidli
,
Christoph Wittmann
,
Georg Wohlfahrt
, and
Dino Zardi

Abstract

In this essay, we highlight some challenges the atmospheric community is facing concerning adequate treatment of flows over mountains and their implications for numerical weather prediction (NWP), climate simulations, and impact modeling. With recent increases in computing power (and hence model resolution) numerical models start to face new limitations (such as numerical instability over steep terrain). At the same time there is a growing need for sufficiently reliable NWP model output to drive various impact models (for hydrology, air pollution, agriculture, etc.). The input information for these impact models is largely produced by the boundary layer (BL) parameterizations of NWP models. All known BL parameterizations assume flat and horizontally homogeneous surface conditions, and their performance and interaction with resolved flows is massively understudied over mountains—hence their output may be accidentally acceptable at best. We therefore advocate the systematic investigation of the so-called “mountain boundary layer” (MoBL), introduced to emphasize its many differences to the BL over flat and horizontally homogeneous terrain.

An international consortium of scientists has launched a research program, TEAMx (Multi-Scale Transport and Exchange Processes in the Atmosphere over Mountains–Program and Experiment), to address some of the most pressing scientific challenges. TEAMx is endorsed by World Weather Research Programme (WWRP) and the Global Energy and Water Exchanges (GEWEX) project as a “cross-cutting project.” A program coordination office was established at the University of Innsbruck (Austria). This essay introduces the background to and content of a recently published white paper outlining the key research questions of TEAMx.

Full access
Judy Shamoun-Baranes
,
Silke Bauer
,
Jason W. Chapman
,
Peter Desmet
,
Adriaan M. Dokter
,
Andrew Farnsworth
,
Hans van Gasteren
,
Birgen Haest
,
Jarmo Koistinen
,
Bart Kranstauber
,
Felix Liechti
,
Tom H. E. Mason
,
Cecilia Nilsson
,
Raphael Nussbaumer
,
Baptiste Schmid
,
Nadja Weisshaupt
, and
Hidde Leijnse

Abstract

Weather radar networks have great potential for continuous and long-term monitoring of aerial biodiversity of birds, bats, and insects. Biological data from weather radars can support ecological research, inform conservation policy development and implementation, and increase the public’s interest in natural phenomena such as migration. Weather radars are already used to study animal migration, quantify changes in populations, and reduce aerial conflicts between birds and aircraft. Yet efforts to establish a framework for the broad utilization of operational weather radar for biodiversity monitoring are at risk without suitable data policies and infrastructure in place. In Europe, communities of meteorologists and ecologists have made joint efforts toward sharing and standardizing continent-wide weather radar data. These efforts are now at risk as new meteorological data exchange policies render data useless for biodiversity monitoring. In several other parts of the world, weather radar data are not even available for ecological research. We urge policy makers, funding agencies, and meteorological organizations across the world to recognize the full potential of weather radar data. We propose several actions that would ensure the continued capability of weather radar networks worldwide to act as powerful tools for biodiversity monitoring and research.

Full access
Markus Enenkel
and
Andrew Kruczkiewicz

Abstract

A new generation of climate science translators (CSTs) is currently evolving, both as independent professionals and affiliated with humanitarian agencies. While people in this role represent an opportunity to foster communication and collaboration between climate science, humanitarian decision-support, policy, and decision-making, there are neither clear job profiles nor established criteria for success. Based on an analysis of job opportunities published on one of the largest humanitarian and development aid job portals, we show that the demand for CSTs has been increasing since 2011. Subsequently, we present a characterization of core skills for the next generation of CSTs aiming to establish a space for not only current CSTs to thrive, but also a path for future translators to follow, with milestones and opportunities for recognition.

Full access
Rachel H. White
,
Kai Kornhuber
,
Olivia Martius
, and
Volkmar Wirth

Abstract

A notable number of high-impact weather extremes have occurred in recent years, often associated with persistent, strongly meandering atmospheric circulation patterns known as Rossby waves. Because of the high societal and ecosystem impacts, it is of great interest to be able to accurately project how such extreme events will change with climate change, and to predict these events on seasonal-to-subseasonal (S2S) time scales. There are multiple physical links connecting upper-atmosphere circulation patterns to surface weather extremes, and it is asking a lot of our dynamical models to accurately simulate all of these. Subsequently, our confidence in future projections and S2S forecasts of extreme events connected to Rossby waves remains relatively low. We also lack full fundamental theories for the growth and propagation of Rossby waves on the spatial and temporal scales relevant to extreme events, particularly under strongly nonlinear conditions. By focusing on one of the first links in the chain from upper-atmospheric conditions to surface extremes—the Rossby waveguide—it may be possible to circumvent some model biases in later links. To further our understanding of the nature of waveguides, links to persistent surface weather events and their representation in models, we recommend exploring these links in model hierarchies of increasing complexity, developing fundamental theory, exploiting novel large ensemble datasets, harnessing deep learning, and increased community collaboration. This would help increase understanding and confidence in both S2S predictions of extremes and of projections of the impact of climate change on extreme weather events.

Full access
Jun-Ichi Yano

ABSTRACT

Objectively identifying a phenomenon from observation is often difficult. This essay reflects upon this problem from a philosophical perspective by taking the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) as an example. I argue that it can be considered as a problem of Gestalt. This concept is introduced by closely following Ludwig Wittgenstein’s two philosophical works, Philosophical Investigations (Philosophische Untersuchungen) and Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology(Bemerkungen über die Philosophie der Psychologie). Reflections upon the concept of Gestalt suggest why an objective identification of a phenomenon is so difficult. Importantly, the problem should not be reduced to that of “pattern recognition.” Rather a given phenomenon must be considered as a whole, including a question of a driving mechanism.

Full access
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 ultraresolved 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.

Full access