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Minghua Zheng
,
Ryan Torn
,
Luca Delle Monache
,
James Doyle
,
Fred Martin Ralph
,
Vijay Tallapragada
,
Christopher Davis
,
Daniel Steinhoff
,
Xingren Wu
,
Anna Wilson
,
Caroline Papadopoulos
, and
Patrick Mulrooney

Abstract

During a 6-day intensive observing period in January 2021, Atmospheric River Reconnaissance (AR Recon) aircraft sampled a series of atmospheric rivers (ARs) over the northeastern Pacific that caused heavy precipitation over coastal California and the Sierra Nevada. Using these observations, data denial experiments were conducted with a regional modeling and data assimilation system to explore the impacts of research flight frequency and spatial resolution of dropsondes on model analyses and forecasts. Results indicate that dropsondes significantly improve the representation of ARs in the model analyses and positively impact the forecast skill of ARs and quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPF), particularly for lead times > 1 day. Both reduced mission frequency and reduced dropsonde horizontal resolution degrade forecast skill. On the other hand, experiments that assimilated only G-IV data and experiments that assimilated both G-IV and C-130 data show better forecast skill than experiments that only assimilated C-130 data, suggesting that the additional information provided by G-IV data is necessary for improving forecast skill. Although this is a case study, the 6-day period studied encompassed multiple AR events that are representative of typical AR behavior. Therefore, the results indicate that future operational AR Recon missions incorporate daily mission or back-to-back flights, maintain current dropsonde spacing, support high-resolution data transfer capacity on the C-130s, and utilize G-IV aircraft in addition to C-130s.

Restricted access
Linfan Zhou
,
Lili Lei
,
Jeffrey S. Whitaker
, and
Zhe-Min Tan

Abstract

Hyperspectral infrared (IR) satellites can provide high-resolution vertical profiles of the atmospheric state, which significantly contributes to the forecast skill of numerical weather prediction, especially for regions with sparse observations. One challenge in assimilating the hyperspectral radiances is how to effectively extract the observation information, due to the interchannel correlations and correlated observation errors. An adaptive channel selection method is proposed, which is implemented within the data assimilation scheme and selects the radiance observation with the maximum reduction of variance in observation space. Compared to the commonly used channel selection method based on the maximum entropy reduction (ER), the adaptive method can provide flow-dependent and time-varying channel selections. The performance of the adaptive selection method is evaluated by assimilating only the synthetic Fengyun-4A (FY-4A) GIIRS IR radiances in an observing system simulation experiment (OSSE), with model resolutions from 7.5 to 1.5 km and then 300 m. For both clear-sky and all-sky conditions, the adaptive method generally produces smaller RMS errors of state variables than the ER-based method given similar amounts of assimilated radiances, especially with fine model resolutions. Moreover, the adaptive method has minimum RMS errors smaller than or approaching those with all channels assimilated. For the intensity of the tropical cyclone, the adaptive method also produces smaller errors of the minimum dry air mass and maximal wind speed at different levels, compared to the ER-based selection method.

Significance Statement

Assimilating satellite radiances has been essential for numerical weather prediction. Hyperspectral infrared satellites provide high-resolution vertical profiles for the atmospheric state and can further improve the numerical weather prediction. Due to limited computational resources, and correlated observations and associated errors, efficient and effective ways to assimilate the hyperspectral radiances are needed. An adaptive channel selection method that is incorporated with data assimilation is proposed. The adaptive channel selection can effectively extract the information from hyperspectral radiances under both clear- and all-sky conditions, with increased model resolutions from kilometers to subkilometers.

Restricted access
Wei-Ting Fang
,
Pao-Liang Chang
, and
Ming-Jen Yang

Abstract

Intensification of Typhoon Chanthu (2021) along the eastern coast of Taiwan was accompanied by pronounced asymmetry in eyewall convection dominated by wavenumber-1 features, as observed by a dense radar network in Taiwan. The maximum wind speed at 3-km altitude, retrieved from radar observations, exhibited a rapid increase of approximately 18 m s−1 within an 11-h period during the intensification stage, followed by a significant decrease of approximately 19 m s−1 within 8 h during the weakening stage. Namely, Chanthu underwent both rapid intensification (RI) and rapid weakening (RW) within the 24-h analyzed period, posing challenges for intensity forecasts. During the intensifying stages, the region of maximum eyewall convection asymmetry underwent a sudden cyclonic rotation from the eastern to the northern semicircle immediately after the initiation of terrain-induced boundary inflow from the south of the typhoon, as observed by surface station data. This abrupt rotation of eyewall asymmetry exhibited better agreement with radar-derived vertical wind shear (VWS) than that derived from global reanalysis data. This finding suggests that the meso-β-scale VWS is more representative for tropical cyclones than meso-α-scale VWS when the terrain-induced forcing predominates in the environmental conditions. Further examination of the radar-derived VWS indicated that the VWS profile pattern provided a more favorable environment for typhoon intensification. In summary, Chanthu’s RI was influenced by the three factors: 1) terrain-induced boundary inflow from the south of the typhoon, observed by surface station data; 2) low-level flow pointing toward the upshear-left direction; and 3) weak upper-level VWS.

Significance Statement

Tropical cyclone intensity change has been an important issue for both real-time operation and research, but the influence of terrain on intensity change has not been fully understood. Typhoon Chanthu (2021) underwent a significant intensity change near the complex terrain of Taiwan that was observed by a dense radar network. This study analyzes 24 h of radar and weather station data to investigate Chanthu’s evolution. The analyses indicate that the complex terrain affected the low-level flow near the TC. Such a change in flow pattern provided additional boundary inflow and a relatively favorable vertical wind shear pattern for TC intensification.

Open access
Fang-Ching Chien
and
Yen-Chao Chiu

Abstract

This paper investigates the impact of the environmental conditions during the first half of the 2020 mei-yu season (Y20) and the southwest vortex (SWV), as well as their interaction, on heavy precipitation in southern Taiwan during late May 2020, based on a quantitative approach through ensemble simulations. The control experiment successfully replicates observed heavy precipitation in southern and central Taiwan and reveals a positive spatial correlation between precipitation occurrence probabilities and mean accumulated precipitation, emphasizing continuous rainfall accumulation over intermittent extreme events. Comparative analyses with sensitivity experiments elucidate that the Y20, featuring an extended western North Pacific subtropical high, intensify pressure gradients and southwesterly flow near Taiwan, favoring precipitation in windward regions but hindering it in the east. The SWV creates a moist and vortical environment near Taiwan, amplifying moisture supply and westerly winds, promoting precipitation in southern Taiwan, and enhancing frontal activity. The interaction between the SWV and the Y20, though limited in its impact on providing favorable wind and moisture conditions for precipitation southwest of Taiwan, significantly contributes to precipitation in southern Taiwan. The reason is that although the SWV primarily enhances moisture and the Y20 predominantly boost southwesterly flow, creating favorable conditions for rainfall, substantial precipitation occurs only when both factors converge in a nonlinear interaction. The interaction increases frontal activity over the Taiwan Strait and influences the movement and strength of the SWV, enhancing southwesterly flow and moisture flux in southwestern Taiwan.

Restricted access
Amanda Richter
and
Timothy J. Lang

Abstract

NASA’s Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS) field campaign gathered data using “satellite-simulating” (albeit with higher-resolution data than satellites currently provide) and in situ aircraft to study snowstorms, with an emphasis on banding. This study used three IMPACTS microwave instruments—two passive and one active—chosen for their sensitivity to precipitation microphysics. The 10–37-GHz passive frequencies were well suited for detecting light precipitation and differentiating rain intensities over water. The 85–183-GHz frequencies were more sensitive to cloud ice, with higher cloud tops manifesting as lower brightness temperatures, but this did not necessarily correspond well to near-surface precipitation. Over land, retrieving precipitation information from radiometer data is more difficult, requiring increased reliance on radar to assess storm structure. A dual-frequency ratio (DFR) derived from the radar’s Ku- and Ka-band frequencies provided greater insight into storm microphysics than reflectivity alone. Areas likely to contain mixed-phase precipitation (often the melting layer/bright band) generally had the highest DFR, and high-altitude regions likely to contain ice usually had the lowest DFR. The DFR of rain columns increased toward the ground, and snowbands appeared as high-DFR anomalies.

Significance Statement

Winter precipitation was studied using three airborne microwave sensors. Two were passive radiometers covering a broad range of frequencies, while the other was a two-frequency radar. The radiometers did a good job of characterizing the horizontal structure of winter storms when they were over water, but struggled to provide detailed information about winter storms when they were over land. The radar was able to provide vertically resolved details of storm structure over land or water, but only provided information at nadir, so horizontal structure was less well described. The combined use of all three instruments compensated for individual deficiencies, and was very effective at characterizing overall winter storm structure.

Open access
Lian Liu
and
Yaoming Ma

Abstract

The snow albedo is a vital component of land–atmosphere coupling models. It plays a critical role in regulating land surface energy exchange by controlling incoming solar radiation absorbed by the land surface and influencing the timing and rate of snowmelt. Accurate snow albedo simulation is essential to obtain surface energy balance and snow-cover estimates. Here, the simulation of albedo and snow cover using the Weather Research and Forecasting Model and an improved snow albedo scheme is verified against satellite-retrieved products during and immediately following eight snowfall events over the Tibetan Plateau. The improved model successfully characterizes the spatial pattern and inverted U-shaped temporal pattern of albedo over the entire Tibetan Plateau. This is attributed to the local optimization of snow-age parameters and explicit consideration of snow depth in the improved scheme. Compared with the previous model, the model proposed herein greatly decreases the overestimated albedo (by 0.13–0.27), yielding a bias range of ±0.08, mean relative bias decrease of 70%, and significant increase in the spatial correlation coefficient of 0.03–0.39 (mean: 0.13). The significant improvements of albedo estimates appear in deep snow-covered regions, largely attributed to parameter optimization related to snow albedo decay, while less improvements appear over the shallow snow-covered regions. Accurate reproduction of the spatiotemporal variation in albedo alleviated snow-cover overestimation by small amounts. For snow-cover estimates, the improved model consistently decreases the false-alarm rate by 0.03, and increases the overall accuracy and equitable threat score by 0.04 and 0.03, respectively. Moreover, the improved scheme shows an equivalent improvement of albedo estimates at both 1- and 5-km grid spacing over the eastern Tibetan Plateau; this is also true for snow-cover estimates.

Significance Statement

Snow albedo schemes in widely used numerical weather prediction models show notable shortcomings in complex mountainous regions, hindering accurate surface energy balance and snow-cover prediction. The purpose of this study is to better understand the role of snow albedo on snow-cover estimates and reveal the application potential of an improved snow albedo scheme across the Tibetan Plateau. This is important because snow albedo influences the timing and rate of snowmelt, and in turn snow-cover estimates, through regulating the surface energy budget. Our results highlight the strong application potential of our improved scheme in reducing snow simulation errors, confirm the importance of snow depth on snow albedo, and provide a new perspective for improving the accuracy of snow forecast over the topographically high Tibetan Plateau.

Restricted access
Nina Horat
and
Sebastian Lerch

Abstract

Subseasonal weather forecasts are becoming increasingly important for a range of socioeconomic activities. However, the predictive ability of physical weather models is very limited on these time scales. We propose four postprocessing methods based on convolutional neural networks to improve subseasonal forecasts by correcting systematic errors of numerical weather prediction models. Our postprocessing models operate directly on spatial input fields and are therefore able to retain spatial relationships and to generate spatially homogeneous predictions. They produce global probabilistic tercile forecasts for biweekly aggregates of temperature and precipitation for weeks 3–4 and 5–6. In a case study based on a public forecasting challenge organized by the World Meteorological Organization, our postprocessing models outperform the bias-corrected forecasts from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), and achieve improvements over climatological forecasts for all considered variables and lead times. We compare several model architectures and training modes and demonstrate that all approaches lead to skillful and well-calibrated probabilistic forecasts. The good calibration of the postprocessed forecasts emphasizes that our postprocessing models reliably quantify the forecast uncertainty based on deterministic input information in the form of ECMWF ensemble mean forecast fields only.

Open access
Ryosuke Okugawa
,
Kazuaki Yasunaga
,
Atsushi Hamada
, and
Satoru Yokoi

Abstract

Large amounts of tropical precipitation have been observed as significantly concentrated over the western coast of Sumatra Island. In the present study, we used a cloud-resolving model to perform 14-day numerical simulations and reproduce the distinctive precipitation distributions over western Sumatra Island and adjacent areas. The control experiment, in which the warmer sea surface temperature (SST) near the coast was incorporated and the terminal velocity and effective radius of ice clouds were parameterized to be temperature dependent, adequately reproduced the precipitation concentration as well as the diurnal cycles of precipitation. We then used the column-integrated frozen moist static energy budget equation, which is virtually equivalent to the column-integrated moisture budget equation under the weak temperature gradient assumption, to formulate sensitivity experiments focusing on the effects of coastal SST and upper-level ice clouds. Analysis of the time-averaged fields revealed that the column-integrated moisture and precipitation in the coast were significantly reduced when a cooler coastal SST or larger ice cloud particle size was assumed. Based on the comparison of the sensitivity experiments and in situ observations, we speculate that ice clouds, which are exported from inland convection that is strictly regulated by solar radiation, promote the accumulation of moisture in the coastal region by mitigating radiative cooling. Together with the moisture and heat supplied by the warm ocean surface, they contribute to the large amounts of precipitation here.

Open access
Azusa Takeishi
and
Chien Wang

Abstract

Raindrop formation processes in warm clouds mainly consist of condensation and collision–coalescence of small cloud droplets. Once raindrops form, they can continue growing through collection of cloud droplets and self-collection. In this study, we develop novel emulators to represent raindrop formation as a function of various physical or background environmental conditions by using a sophisticated aerosol–cloud model containing 300 droplet size bins and machine learning methods. The emulators are then implemented in two microphysics schemes in the Weather Research and Forecasting Model and tested in two idealized cases. The simulations of shallow convection with the emulators show a clear enhancement of raindrop formation compared to the original simulations, regardless of the scheme in which they were embedded. On the other hand, the simulations of deep convection show a more complex response to the implementation of the emulators, in terms of the changes in the amount of rainfall, due to the larger number of microphysical processes involved in the cloud system (i.e., ice-phase processes). Our results suggest the potential of emulators to replace the conventional parameterizations, which may allow us to improve the representation of physical processes at an affordable computational expense.

Significance Statement

Formation of raindrops marks a critical stage in cloud evolution. Accurate representations of raindrop formation processes require detailed calculations of cloud droplet growth processes. These calculations are often not affordable in weather and climate models as they are computationally expensive due to their complex dependence on cloud droplet size distributions and dynamical conditions. As a result, simplified parameterizations are more frequently used. In our study we trained machine learning models to learn raindrop formation rates from detailed calculations of cloud droplet evolutions in 1000 parcel-model simulations. The implementation of the developed models or the emulators in a weather forecasting model shows a change in the total rainfall and cloud characteristics, indicating the potential improvement of cloud representations in models if these emulators replace the conventional parameterizations.

Open access
Clayton R. S. Sasaki
,
Angela K. Rowe
,
Lynn A. McMurdie
,
Adam C. Varble
, and
Zhixiao Zhang

Abstract

This study documents the spatial and temporal distribution of the South American low-level jet (SALLJ) and quantifies its impact on the convective environment using a 6.5-month convection-permitting simulation during the Remote Sensing of Electrification, Lightning, And Mesoscale/Microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations and Clouds, Aerosols, and Complex Terrain Interactions (RELAMPAGO-CACTI) campaigns. Overall, the simulation reproduces the observed SALLJ characteristics in central Argentina near the Sierras de Córdoba (SDC), a focal point for terrain-focused upscale growth. SALLJs most frequently occur in the summer with maxima to the northwest and east of the SDC and minima over the higher terrain. The shallower SALLJs (<1750 m) have a strong overnight skew, while the elevated jets are more equally spread throughout the day. SALLJ periods often have higher amounts of low-level moisture and instability compared to non-SALLJ periods, with these impacts increasing over time when the SALLJ is present and decreasing afterward. The SALLJ may enhance low-level wind shear magnitudes (particularly when accounting for the jet height); however, enhancement is somewhat limited due to the presence of speed shear in most situations. SALLJ periods are associated with low-level directional shear favorable for organized convection and an orientation of cloud-layer wind shear parallel to the terrain, which could favor upscale growth. A case study is shown in which the SALLJ influenced both the magnitude and direction of wind shear concurrent with convective upscale growth near the SDC. This study highlights the complex relationship between the SALLJ and its impacts during periods of widespread convection.

Significance Statement

Areas of enhanced low-level winds, or low-level jets, likely promote favorable conditions for upscale growth, the processes by which storms grow larger. Central Argentina is an ideal place to study the influence of low-level jets on upscale growth as storms often stay connected to the Sierras de Córdoba Mountain range, growing over a relatively small area. This study uses model data to describe the distribution and impact of the South American low-level jet on the storm environment. The South American low-level jet is frequently found near the Sierras de Córdoba, and moisture and convective instability increase when it is present. However, the jet’s impact on other conditions important for upscale growth, such as vertical wind shear, is not as straightforward.

Open access