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Mark Weber
,
Dusan Zrnic
,
Pengfei Zhang
, and
Edward Mansell

Abstract

This article describes a concept whereby future operational polarimetric phased array radars (PPAR) routinely monitor ice crystal alignment regions caused by thundercloud electric fields with volume scan updates (∼12 min−1) sufficient to resolve the temporal variation due to lightning and subsequent rapid electric field regeneration in nonsevere thunderstorms. Routine observations of crystal alignment regions may enhance thunderstorm nowcasting through comparison of their temporal and spatial structure with other polarimetric signatures, integration with lightning detection data, and assimilation into convection resolving numerical weather prediction models. If crystal alignment observations indicate strong electrification well in advance of the first lightning strike and likewise reliably indicate the decay of strong electric fields at the end of a storm, this capability may improve warning for lightning-sensitive activities such as airport ramp operations and space launch. Experimental observations of crystal alignment volumes in central Oklahoma severe storms and their relation to those storms’ structures are presented and used to motivate discussion of possible PPAR architectures. In one case—a tornadic supercell—these observations illustrate an important limitation. Even the hypothesized 12 min−1 volume scan update rate would not resolve the temporal variation of the crystal alignment regions in such storms, suggesting that special, adaptive scanning methods may be appropriate for such storms. We describe how future operational phased array radars could support a crystal alignment measurement mode via parallel, time-multiplexed processing and discuss potential impacts on the radar’s primary weather observation mission. We conclude by discussing research needed to better understand technical challenges and operational benefits.

Restricted access
Yoonjin Lee
and
Kyle Hilburn

Abstract

Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) Radar Estimation via Machine Learning to Inform NWP (GREMLIN) is a machine learning model that outputs composite reflectivity using GOES-R Series Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) and Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) input data. GREMLIN is useful for observing severe weather and initializing convection for short-term forecasts, especially over regions without ground-based radars. This study expands the evaluation of GREMLIN’s accuracy against the Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) System to the entire contiguous United States (CONUS) for the entire annual cycle. Regional and temporal variation of validation metrics are examined over CONUS by season, day of year, and time of day. Since GREMLIN was trained with data in spring and summer, root-mean-square difference (RMSD) and bias are lowest in the order of summer, spring, fall, and winter. In summer, diurnal patterns of RMSD follow those of precipitation occurrence. Winter has the highest RMSD because of cold surfaces mistaken as precipitating clouds, but some of these errors can be removed by applying the ABI clear-sky mask product and correcting biases using a lookup table. In GREMLIN, strong echoes are closely related to the existence of lightning and corresponding low brightness temperatures, which result in different error distributions over different regions of CONUS. This leads to negative biases in cold seasons over Washington State, lower 30-dBZ critical success index caused by high misses over the Northeast, and higher false alarms over Florida that are due to higher frequency of lightning.

Open access
Haoyu (Richard) Zhuang
,
Flavio Lehner
, and
Arthur T. DeGaetano

Abstract

Existing precipitation-type algorithms have difficulty discerning the occurrence of freezing rain and ice pellets. These inherent biases are not only problematic in operational forecasting but also complicate the development of model-based precipitation-type climatologies. To address these issues, this paper introduces a novel light gradient-boosting machine (LightGBM)-based machine learning precipitation-type algorithm that utilizes reanalysis and surface observations. By comparing it with the Bourgouin precipitation-type algorithm as a baseline, we demonstrate that our algorithm improves the critical success index (CSI) for all examined precipitation types. Moreover, when compared with the precipitation-type diagnosis in reanalysis, our algorithm exhibits increased F1 scores for snow, freezing rain, and ice pellets. Subsequently, we utilize the algorithm to compute a freezing-rain climatology over the eastern United States. The resulting climatology pattern aligns well with observations; however, a significant mean bias is observed. We interpret this bias to be influenced by both the algorithm itself and assumptions regarding precipitation processes, which include biases associated with freezing drizzle, precipitation occurrence, and regional synoptic weather patterns. To mitigate the overall bias, we propose increasing the precipitation cutoff from 0.04 to 0.25 mm h−1, as it better reflects the precision of precipitation observations. This adjustment yields a substantial reduction in the overall bias. Finally, given the strong performance of LightGBM in predicting mixed precipitation episodes, we anticipate that the algorithm can be effectively utilized in operational settings and for diagnosing precipitation types in climate model outputs.

Significance Statement

Freezing rain can have significant impacts on transportation and infrastructure, making accurate prediction of precipitation types crucial. In this study, we use a machine learning method known as LightGBM to predict precipitation types. We show that the new algorithm performs better than the existing methods for all precipitation types examined. Additionally, we compute a freezing-rain climatology over the eastern United States. Although the resulting climatology pattern corresponds well to observations, the algorithm overpredicts freezing-rain occurrence. We argue that this bias can be substantially reduced by increasing the precipitation cutoff from 0.04 to 0.25 mm h−1. Overall, this work highlights the potential of the LightGBM algorithm for both weather forecasting and diagnosing precipitation types in climate models.

Restricted access
Sudheer R. Bhimireddy
and
David A. R. Kristovich

Abstract

This study evaluates the methods of identifying the height zi of the top of the convective boundary layer (CBL) during winter (December and January) over the Great Lakes and nearby land areas using observations taken by the University of Wyoming King Air research aircraft during the Lake-Induced Convection Experiment (1997/98) and Ontario Winter Lake-effect Systems (2013/14) field campaigns. Since CBLs facilitate vertical mixing near the surface, the most direct measurement of zi is that above which the vertical velocity turbulent fluctuations are weak or absent. Thus, we use zi from the turbulence method as the “reference value” to which zi from other methods, based on bulk Richardson number (Ri b ), liquid water content, and vertical gradients of potential temperature, relative humidity, and water vapor mixing ratio, are compared. The potential temperature gradient method using a threshold value of 0.015 K m−1 for soundings over land and 0.011 K m−1 for soundings over lake provided the estimates of zi that are most consistent with the turbulence method. The Ri b threshold-based method, commonly used in numerical simulation studies, underestimated zi . Analyzing the methods’ performance on the averaging window z avg we recommend using z avg = 20 or 50 m for zi estimations for lake-effect boundary layers. The present dataset consists of both cloudy and cloud-free boundary layers, some having decoupled boundary layers above the inversion top. Because cases of decoupled boundary layers appear to be formed by nearby synoptic storms, we recommend use of the more general term, elevated mixed layers.

Significance Statement

The depth zi of the convective atmospheric boundary layer (CBL) strongly influences precipitation rates during lake-effect snowstorms (LES). However, various zi approximation methods produce significantly different results. This study utilizes extensive concurrently collected observations by project aircraft during two LES field studies [Lake-Induced Convection Experiment (Lake-ICE) and OWLeS] to assess how zi from common estimation methods compare with “reference” zi derived from turbulent fluctuations, a direct measure of CBL mixing. For soundings taken both over land and lake; with cloudy or cloud-free conditions, potential temperature gradient (PTG) methods provided the best agreement with the reference zi . A method commonly employed in numerical simulations performed relatively poorly. Interestingly, the PTG method worked equally well for “coupled” and elevated decoupled CBLs, commonly associated with nearby cyclones.

Open access
Isaiah Kingsberry
and
Jason Naylor

Abstract

This study examines ground-based precipitation observations recorded by a high-density gauge network located within approximately 40 km of the urban center of Louisville, Kentucky. An analysis of April–October events reveals that precipitation is significantly greater on the downwind side of Louisville than on the upwind side, particularly when precipitation systems have a westerly component to their motion. The mean difference between downwind and upwind precipitation across all events is 20%. This value is smaller for widespread precipitation events (i.e., most or all gauges detect precipitation) and is larger for isolated events (i.e., rain detected by one-half of the gauges or fewer). The largest and most significant differences between upwind and downwind precipitation amounts occur in association with moist moderate, moist tropical, and transitional air masses.

Restricted access
Shengjun Liu
,
Wenjie Yan
,
Xinru Liu
,
Yamin Hu
, and
Dangfu Yang

Abstract

The research and application of convolutional neural networks (CNNs) on statistical downscaling have been hampered by the fact that deep learning is highly dependent on sample size and is considered to be a black-box model. Therefore, a CNN model with transfer learning (CNN-TL) is proposed to study the pre-rainy season precipitation of South China. First, an augmented monthly dataset is created by sliding a fixed-length window over the daily circulation field and precipitation data for the entire year. Next, a base CNN network is pretrained on the augmented dataset, and then the network parameters are tuned on the actual monthly dataset from South China. Then, guided backpropagation is conducted to obtain the distribution regions of the key features and explain the net. The coefficient of determination R 2 and root-mean-square error (RMSE) show that the CNN-TL model has higher explanatory power and better fitting performance than the feature extraction–based random forest. In comparison with the base CNN, the transfer learning approach can improve the explanatory power of the model by 10.29% and reduce the average RMSE by 6.82%. In addition, the interpretation results of the model show that the critical regions are primarily South China and its surrounding areas, including the Indochina Peninsula, the Bay of Bengal, and the South China Sea. Furthermore, the ablation experiments and composite analysis illustrate that these regions are very important.

Significance Statement

To mitigate the challenges posed by small sample sizes and the transparency of deep learning in downscaling problems, we propose a convolutional neural network based on sample augmentation and transfer learning to study the monthly precipitation downscaling problem during the preflood period in South China. In comparison with random forests and conventional convolutional neural networks, our model achieves an optimal interpretation rate and stability. In addition, we explore the interpretability of the model using guided backpropagation to find the distribution of key features within the large-scale circulation field, thus increasing the credibility of the model.

Restricted access
Khadija Arjdal
,
Étienne Vignon
,
Fatima Driouech
,
Frédérique Chéruy
,
Salah Er-Raki
,
Adriana Sima
,
Abdelghani Chehbouni
, and
Philippe Drobinski

Abstract

Land surface–atmosphere interactions are a key component of climate modeling. They are particularly critical to understand and anticipate the climate and the water resources over the semiarid and arid North African regions. This study uses in situ observations to assess the ability of the IPSL-CM global climate model to simulate the land–atmosphere interactions over the Moroccan semiarid plains. A specific configuration with a grid refinement over the Haouz Plain, near Marrakech, and nudging outside Morocco has been performed to properly assess the model’s performances. To ensure reliable model–observation comparisons despite the fact that station measurements are not representative of a mesh-size area, we carried out experiments with adapted vegetation properties. Results show that the CMIP6 version of the model’s physics represents the near-surface climate over the Haouz Plain reasonably well. Nonetheless, the simulation exhibits a nocturnal warm bias, and the wind speed is overestimated in tree-covered meshes and underestimated in the wheat-covered region. Further sensitivity experiments reveal that LAI-dependent parameterization of roughness length leads to a strong surface wind drag and to underestimated land surface atmosphere thermal coupling. Setting the roughness heights to the observed values improves the wind speed and, to a lesser extent, the nocturnal temperature. A low bias in latent heat flux and soil moisture coinciding with a pronounced diurnal warm bias at the surface is still present in our simulations. Including a first-order irrigation parameterization yields more realistic simulated evapotranspiration flux and daytime skin surface temperatures. This result raises the importance of accounting for the irrigation process in present and future climate simulations over Moroccan agricultural areas.

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Free access
Harrison Woodson Bowles
and
Sarah E. Strazzo

Abstract

Florida’s summertime precipitation patterns are in part influenced by convergence between the synoptic-scale wind and local sea-breeze fronts that form along the east and west coasts of the peninsula. While the National Weather Service previously defined nine sea-breeze regimes resulting from variations in the synoptic-scale vector wind field near Tampa, Florida, these regimes were developed using a shorter 18-yr period and examined primarily for the purposes of short-term weather prediction. This study employs reanalysis data to develop a full 30-yr climatology of the Florida sea-breeze regime distribution and analyze the composite mean atmospheric conditions associated with each regime. Further, given that 1) the synoptic-scale wind primarily varies as a result of movement in the western ridge of the North Atlantic subtropical high (NASH), and 2) previous studies suggest long-term shifts in the mean position of the NASH western ridge, this study also examines variability and trends in the sea-breeze regime distribution and its relationship to rainy-day frequency over a longer 60-yr period. Results indicate that synoptic-scale flow from the west through southwest, which enhances precipitation probabilities along the eastern half of the peninsula, has increased in frequency, while flow from the east through northeast has decreased in frequency. These changes in the sea-breeze regime distribution may be partially responsible for increases in rainy-day frequency during June–August over northeastern Florida, though results suggest that other factors likely contribute to interannual variability in precipitation across the southern peninsula.

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C. Cammalleri
,
N. McCormick
,
J. Spinoni
, and
J. W. Nielsen-Gammon

Abstract

The standardized precipitation index (SPI) is the most commonly used index for detecting and characterizing meteorological droughts, and it is also extensively used as a proxy variable for soil moisture anomalies (SMA) for the purpose of monitoring agricultural drought in absence of long-term soil moisture observations. However, the potential capability of SPI to warn of the time-lagged soil water deficit—following the well-known “drought cascade” effect—is often overlooked in agricultural drought studies. In this research, a time-lagged correlation analysis is used to evaluate the relationship between the SMA dataset, generated as part of the Global Drought Observatory of the European Union’s Copernicus Emergency Management Service, and a set of SPIs derived from the ERA5 reanalysis produced by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. The possibility to achieve an optimal agreement between SPI and SMA that also preserves the early warning skills of SPI is evaluated. The results suggest that if only the correlation between SPI and SMA is considered, the maximum agreement is usually obtained with a zero lead time (almost 80% of the cases), with SPI-3 representing the best option in about 40% of the grid cells at global scale. By also accounting for the benefits of a positive lead time, short accumulation periods tend to be favored, with SPI-1 being the optimal choice in about one-half of the cases, and 10–20 days of lead time in more than 90% of the grid cells is achieved without any significant reduction in either correlation or skill in drought extreme detection.

Open access