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Lee-Lueng Fu, Tong Lee, W. Timothy Liu, and Ronald Kwok

Abstract

The development of the technologies of remote sensing of the ocean was initiated in the 1970s, while the ideas of observing the ocean from space were conceived in the late 1960s. The first global view from space revealed the expanse and complexity of the state of the ocean that had perplexed and inspired oceanographers ever since. This paper presents a glimpse of the vast progress made from ocean remote sensing in the past 50 years that has a profound impact on the ways we study the ocean in relation to weather and climate. The new view from space in conjunction with the deployment of an unprecedented amount of in situ observations of the ocean has led to a revolution in physical oceanography. The highlights of the achievement include the description and understanding of the global ocean circulation, the air–sea fluxes driving the coupled ocean–atmosphere system that is most prominently illustrated in the tropical oceans. The polar oceans are most sensitive to climate change with significant consequences, but owing to remoteness they were not accessible until the space age. Fundamental discoveries have been made on the evolution of the state of sea ice as well as the circulation of the ice-covered ocean. Many surprises emerged from the extraordinary accuracy and expanse of the space observations. Notable examples include the determination of the global mean sea level rise as well as the role of the deep ocean in tidal mixing and dissipation.

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Harold E. Brooks, Charles A. Doswell III, Xiaoling Zhang, A. M. Alexander Chernokulsky, Eigo Tochimoto, Barry Hanstrum, Ernani de Lima Nascimento, David M. L. Sills, Bogdan Antonescu, and Brad Barrett

Abstracts

The history of severe thunderstorm research and forecasting over the past century has been a remarkable story involving interactions between technological development of observational and modeling capabilities, research into physical processes, and the forecasting of phenomena with the goal of reducing loss of life and property. Perhaps more so than any other field of meteorology, the relationship between researchers and forecasters has been particularly close in the severe thunderstorm domain, with both groups depending on improved observational capabilities.

The advances that have been made have depended on observing systems that did not exist 100 years ago, particularly radar and upper-air systems. They have allowed scientists to observe storm behavior and structure and the environmental setting in which storms occur. This has led to improved understanding of processes, which in turn has allowed forecasters to use those same observational systems to improve forecasts. Because of the relatively rare and small-scale nature of many severe thunderstorm events, severe thunderstorm researchers have developed mobile instrumentation capabilities that have allowed them to collect high-quality observations in the vicinity of storms.

Since much of the world is subject to severe thunderstorm hazards, research has taken place around the world, with the local emphasis dependent on what threats are perceived in that area, subject to the availability of resources to study the threat. Frequently, the topics of interest depend upon a single event, or a small number of events, of a particular kind that aroused public or economic interests in that area. International cooperation has been an important contributor to collecting and disseminating knowledge.

As the AMS turns 100, the range of research relating to severe thunderstorms is expanding. The time scale of forecasting or projecting is increasing, with work going on to study forecasts on the seasonal to subseasonal time scales, as well as addressing how climate change may influence severe thunderstorms. With its roots in studying weather that impacts the public, severe thunderstorm research now includes significant work from the social science community, some as standalone research and some in active collaborative efforts with physical scientists.

In addition, the traditional emphases of the field continue to grow. Improved radar and numerical modeling capabilities allow meteorologists to see and model details that were unobservable and not understood a half century ago. The long tradition of collecting observations in the field has led to improved quality and quantity of observations, as well as the capability to collect them in locations that were previously inaccessible. Much of that work has been driven by the gaps in understanding identified by theoretical and operational practice.

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Greg M. McFarquhar and Robert M. Rauber
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David M. Schultz, Lance F. Bosart, Brian A. Colle, Huw C. Davies, Christopher Dearden, Daniel Keyser, Olivia Martius, Paul J. Roebber, W. James Steenburgh, Hans Volkert, and Andrew C. Winters

Abstract

The year 1919 was important in meteorology, not only because it was the year that the American Meteorological Society was founded, but also for two other reasons. One of the foundational papers in extratropical cyclone structure by Jakob Bjerknes was published in 1919, leading to what is now known as the Norwegian cyclone model. Also that year, a series of meetings was held that led to the formation of organizations that promoted the international collaboration and scientific exchange required for extratropical cyclone research, which by necessity involves spatial scales spanning national borders. This chapter describes the history of scientific inquiry into the structure, evolution, and dynamics of extratropical cyclones, their constituent fronts, and their attendant jet streams and storm tracks. We refer to these phenomena collectively as the centerpiece of meteorology because of their central role in fostering meteorological research during this century. This extremely productive period in extratropical cyclone research has been possible because of 1) the need to address practical challenges of poor forecasts that had large socioeconomic consequences, 2) the intermingling of theory, observations, and diagnosis (including dynamical modeling) to provide improved physical understanding and conceptual models, and 3) strong international cooperation. Conceptual frameworks for cyclones arise from a desire to classify and understand cyclones; they include the Norwegian cyclone model and its sister the Shapiro–Keyser cyclone model. The challenge of understanding the dynamics of cyclones led to such theoretical frameworks as quasigeostrophy, baroclinic instability, semigeostrophy, and frontogenesis. The challenge of predicting explosive extratropical cyclones in particular led to new theoretical developments such as potential-vorticity thinking and downstream development. Deeper appreciation of the limits of predictability has resulted from an evolution from determinism to chaos. Last, observational insights led to detailed cyclone and frontal structure, storm tracks, and rainbands.

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Jenni L. Evans
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Greg M. McFarquhar and Robert M. Rauber
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S. A. Ackerman, S. Platnick, P. K. Bhartia, B. Duncan, T. L’Ecuyer, A. Heidinger, G. Skofronick-Jackson, N. Loeb, T. Schmit, and N. Smith

Abstract

Satellite meteorology is a relatively new branch of the atmospheric sciences. The field emerged in the late 1950s during the Cold War and built on the advances in rocketry after World War II. In less than 70 years, satellite observations have transformed the way scientists observe and study Earth. This paper discusses some of the key advances in our understanding of the energy and water cycles, weather forecasting, and atmospheric composition enabled by satellite observations. While progress truly has been an international achievement, in accord with a monograph observing the centennial of the American Meteorological Society, as well as limited space, the emphasis of this chapter is on the U.S. satellite effort.

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Maria Carmen Lemos, Hallie Eakin, Lisa Dilling, and Jessica Worl

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Few currently deny that extreme weather and climate change are among the most pressing problems of our times. There is also general agreement that humans are intrinsically part of the problem and of the solution. For the past hundred years, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) has supported weather and climate science, but only recently has it included the social sciences. In this chapter we review a few trends in the social science of climatic impact currently informing understanding of human interactions with weather, hazards, and climate change, including the science of science use, vulnerability and adaptation, and climatic change, health, and security. We argue that the social sciences have been steadily growing within AMS journals and have made an impact on the field (especially after the launching of a specific journal focusing on impact—Weather, Climate, and Society) but still have much room to grow within AMS to represent the many areas of social studies of weather and climate in the literature. One grand challenge that remains is to increase the usability and use of AMS-produced knowledge to inform decision-making in mitigating and responding to climatic change.

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David A. Randall, Cecilia M. Bitz, Gokhan Danabasoglu, A. Scott Denning, Peter R. Gent, Andrew Gettelman, Stephen M. Griffies, Peter Lynch, Hugh Morrison, Robert Pincus, and John Thuburn

Abstract

Today’s global Earth system models began as simple regional models of tropospheric weather systems. Over the past century, the physical realism of the models has steadily increased, while the scope of the models has broadened to include the global troposphere and stratosphere, the ocean, the vegetated land surface, and terrestrial ice sheets. This chapter gives an approximately chronological account of the many and profound conceptual and technological advances that made today’s models possible. For brevity, we omit any discussion of the roles of chemistry and biogeochemistry, and terrestrial ice sheets.

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Sue Ellen Haupt, Steven Hanna, Mark Askelson, Marshall Shepherd, Mariana A. Fragomeni, Neil Debbage, and Bradford Johnson

Abstract

The human population on Earth has increased by a factor of 4.6 in the last 100 years and has become more centered in urban environments. This expansion and migration pattern has resulted in stresses on the environment. Meteorological applications have helped to understand and mitigate those stresses. This chapter describes several applications that enable the population to interact with the environment in more sustainable ways. The first topic treated is urbanization itself and the types of stresses exerted by population growth and its attendant growth in urban landscapes—buildings and pavement—and how they modify airflow and create a local climate. We describe environmental impacts of these changes and implications for the future. The growing population uses increasing amounts of energy. Traditional sources of energy have taxed the environment, but the increase in renewable energy has used the atmosphere and hydrosphere as its fuel. Utilizing these variable renewable resources requires meteorological information to operate electric systems efficiently and economically while providing reliable power and minimizing environmental impacts. The growing human population also pollutes the environment. Thus, understanding and modeling the transport and dispersion of atmospheric contaminants are important steps toward regulating the pollution and mitigating impacts. This chapter describes how weather information can help to make surface transportation more safe and efficient. It is explained how these applications naturally require transdisciplinary collaboration to address these challenges caused by the expanding population.

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