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Nicholas A. Gasperoni
,
Xuguang Wang
,
Keith A. Brewster
, and
Frederick H. Carr

Abstract

Forecast sensitivity to observation (FSO) methods have become increasingly popular over the past two decades, providing the ability to quantify the impacts of various observing systems on forecasts without having to conduct costly data denial experiments. While adjoint- and ensemble-based FSO are employed in many global operational systems, their use for regional convection-allowing data assimilation (DA) and forecast systems have not been fully examined. In this study, ensemble FSO (EFSO) is explored for high-frequency convective-scale DA for a severe weather case study over the Dallas–Fort Worth testbed. This testbed, originally established by the Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) project, aims to improve high-resolution DA systems by assimilating a variety of existing state and regional mesoscale observing systems to fill gaps of conventional observing networks. This study utilizes EFSO to estimate relative impacts of nonconventional surface observations against conventional observations, and further incorporates assimilated radar observations into EFSO. Results show that, when applying advected localization and a neighborhood upscale averaging technique, EFSO estimates remain correlated and skillful with the actual error reduction of all assimilated observations for the duration of 2-h forecasts. The ability for EFSO to verify against other metrics (surface T, u, υ, q) beside energy norms is also demonstrated, emphasizing that EFSO can be used to evaluate impacts of specific parts of the forecast system rather than integrated quantities. Partitioned EFSO revealed that while conventional and radar observations contributed to most of the total energy, nonconventional observations contributed a significant percentage (up to 25%) of the total impact to surface thermodynamic fields.

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Jordan P. Brook
,
Joshua S. Soderholm
,
Alain Protat
,
Hamish McGowan
, and
Robert A. Warren

Abstract

In Australia, hailstorms present considerable public safety and economic risks, where they are considered the most damaging natural hazard in terms of annual insured losses. Despite these impacts, the current climatological distribution of hailfall across the continent is still comparatively poorly understood. This study aims to supplement previous national hail climatologies, such as those based on environmental proxies or satellite radiometer data, with more direct radar-based hail observations. The heterogeneous and incomplete nature of the Australian radar network complicates this task and prompts the introduction of some novel methodological elements. We introduce an empirical correction technique to account for hail reflectivity biases at C band, derived by comparing overlapping C- and S-band observations. Furthermore, we demonstrate how object-based hail swath analysis may be used to produce resolution-invariant hail frequencies, and describe an interpolation method used to create a spatially continuous hail climatology. The maximum estimated size of hail (MESH) parameter is then applied to a mixture of over 50 operational radars in the Australian radar archive, resulting in the first nationwide, radar-based hail climatology. The spatiotemporal distribution of hailstorms is examined, including their physical characteristics, seasonal and diurnal frequency, and regional variations of such properties across the continent.

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Feimin Zhang
,
Kaixuan Bi
,
Sentao Wei
, and
Chenghai Wang

Abstract

This study investigates the influences of initial soil moisture over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) on precipitation simulation, and the respective effects of boundary layer vertical diffusion for heat (Kh ) and vapor (Kq ). Results indicate that the responses of boundary layer vertical diffusion to soil moisture are obvious mainly in the daytime. Wetter land surface corresponds to weaker vertical diffusion, which could strengthen thermal forcing and dynamic lifting in the lower atmosphere, and encourage water vapor saturation near the top of boundary layer to prevent the environmental dry air entrainment/invasion, which would be beneficial to more convection and precipitation. Wetter land surface over the TP could enhance the contrast between the cold in the northwestern TP and the warm in the southeastern TP, which would be conducive to the southeastward propagation of precipitation. The simulation of heat and moisture in the boundary layer could be improved by perturbing the relative intensity of Kh and Kq . From the perspective of heat and moisture, Kh affects atmospheric stability, while Kq affects moisture and its vertical transport in the boundary layer. The Kh and Kq have competitive effects on precipitation intensity by influencing the relative importance of moisture and atmospheric stability conditions in the boundary layer. Adjusting the relative intensity of Kh and Kq would deactivate the competitive effects. Stronger Kh but weaker Kq would alleviate the overestimated precipitation by inhibiting vertical transport of moisture to the top of boundary layer and attenuating convective instability in the boundary layer.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to better understand the effects of boundary layer vertical heat and moisture diffusion in the response of precipitation to soil moisture. This is important because boundary layer vertical diffusion is a crucial factor influencing the relation between soil moisture and precipitation. Our results reveal the competitive effects of boundary layer vertical diffusion for heat and vapor on the simulation of precipitation. These results point a potential way toward better understanding the response of precipitation to soil moisture.

Open access
Grant LaChat
,
Kevin A. Bowley
, and
Melissa Gervais

Abstract

Rossby wave breaking (RWB) can be manifested by the irreversible overturning of isentropes on constant potential vorticity (PV) surfaces. Traditionally, the type of breaking is categorized as anticyclonic (AWB) or cyclonic (CWB) and can be identified using the orientation of streamers of high potential temperature (θ) and low θ air on a PV surface. However, an examination of the differences in RWB structure and their associated tropospheric impacts within these types remains unexplored. In this study, AWB and CWB are identified from overturning isentropes on the dynamic tropopause (DT), defined as the 2 potential vorticity unit (PVU; 1 PVU = 10−6 K kg−1 m2 s−1) surface, in the ERA5 dataset during December, January, and February 1979–2019. Self-organizing maps (SOM), a machine learning method, is used to cluster the identified RWB events into archetypal patterns, or “flavors,” for each type. AWB and CWB flavors capture variations in the θ minima/maxima of each streamer and the localized meridional θ gradient (∇θ) flanking the streamers. Variations in the magnitude and position of ∇θ between flavors correspond to a diversity of jet structures leading to differences in vertical motion patterns and troposphere-deep circulations. A subset of flavors of AWB (CWB) events are associated with the development of strong surface high (low) pressure systems and the generation of extreme poleward moisture transport. For CWB, many events occurred in similar geographical regions, but the precipitation and moisture patterns were vastly different between flavors. Our findings suggest that the location, type, and severity of the tropospheric impacts from RWB are strongly dictated by RWB flavor.

Significance Statement

Large-scale atmospheric waves ∼15 km above Earth’s surface are responsible for the daily weather patterns that we experience. These waves can undergo wave breaking, a process that is analogous to ocean waves breaking along the seashore. Wave breaking events have been linked to extreme weather impacts at the surface including cold and heat waves, strong low pressure systems, and extreme precipitation events. Machine learning is used to identify and analyze different flavors, or patterns, of wave breaking events that result in differing surface weather impacts. Some flavors are able to generate notable channels of moisture that result in extreme high precipitation events. This is a crucial insight as forecasting of extreme weather events could be improved from this work.

Open access
Ian C. Cornejo
,
Angela K. Rowe
,
Kristen L. Rasmussen
, and
Jennifer C. DeHart

Abstract

Taiwan regularly receives extreme rainfall due to seasonal mei-yu fronts that are modified by Taiwan’s complex topography. One such case occurred between 1 and 3 June 2017 when a mei-yu front contributed to flooding and landslides from over 600 mm of rainfall in 12 h near the Taipei basin, and over 1500 mm of rainfall in 2 days near the Central Mountain Range (CMR). This mei-yu event is simulated using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model with halved terrain as a sensitivity test to investigate the orographic mechanisms that modify the intensity, duration, and location of extreme rainfall. The reduction in WRF terrain height produced a decrease in rainfall duration and accumulation in northern Taiwan and a decrease in rainfall duration, intensity, and accumulation over the CMR. The reductions in northern Taiwan are linked to a weaker orographic barrier jet resulting from a lowered terrain height. The reductions in rainfall intensity and duration over the CMR are partially explained by a lack of orographic enhancements to mei-yu frontal convergence near the terrain. A prominent feature missing with the reduced terrain is a redirection of postfrontal westerly winds attributed to orographic deformation, i.e., the redirection of flow due to upstream topography. Orographically deforming winds converge with prefrontal flow to maintain the mei-yu front. In both regions, the decrease in mei-yu front propagation speed is linked to increased rainfall duration. These orographic features will be further explored using observations captured during the 2022 Prediction of Rainfall Extremes Campaign in the Pacific (PRECIP) field campaign.

Significance Statement

This study examines the impact of terrain on rainfall intensity, duration, and location. A mei-yu front, an East Asian weather front known for producing heavy, long-lasting rainfall, was simulated for an extreme rain event in Taiwan with mountain heights halved as a sensitivity test. Reducing terrain decreased rainfall duration in northern and central Taiwan. Decreases in rainfall duration for both regions is attributed to increased mei-yu front propagation speed. This increase in northern Taiwan is attributed to a weakened barrier jet, a low-level jet induced by flow blocked by the steep mountains of Taiwan. A unique finding of this work is a change in winds north of the front controlling movement of the front near the mountains in central Taiwan.

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Udai Shimada
,
Paul D. Reasor
,
Robert F. Rogers
,
Michael S. Fischer
,
Frank D. Marks
,
Jonathan A. Zawislak
, and
Jun A. Zhang

Abstract

While recent observational studies of intensifying (IN) versus steady-state (SS) hurricanes have noted several differences in their axisymmetric and asymmetric structures, there remain gaps in the characterization of these differences in a fully three-dimensional framework. To address these limitations, this study investigates differences in the shear-relative asymmetric structure between IN and SS hurricanes using airborne Doppler radar data from a dataset covering an extended period of time. Statistics from individual cases show that IN cases are characterized by peak wavenumber-1 ascent concentrated in the upshear-left (USL) quadrant at ∼12-km height, consistent with previous studies. Moderate updrafts (2–6 m s−1) occur more frequently in the downshear eyewall for IN cases than for SS cases, likely leading to a higher frequency of moderate to strong updrafts USL above 9-km height. Composites of IN cases show that low-level outflow from the eye region associated with maximum wavenumber-1 vorticity inside the radius of maximum wind (RMW) in the downshear-left quadrant converges with low-level inflow outside the RMW, forming a stronger local secondary circulation in the downshear eyewall than SS cases. The vigorous eyewall convection of IN cases produces a net vertical mass flux increasing with height up to ∼5 km and then is almost constant up to 10 km, whereas the net vertical mass flux of SS cases decreases with height above 4 km. Strong USL upper-level ascent provides greater potential for the vertical development of the hurricane vortex, which is argued to be favorable for continued intensification in shear environments.

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Monika Feldmann
,
Richard Rotunno
,
Urs Germann
, and
Alexis Berne

Abstract

This study investigates the effects of lakes in mountainous terrain on the evolution of supercell thunderstorms. With a newly developed radar-based, mesocyclone-detection algorithm, a recent study has characterized the occurrence and evolution of supercell thunderstorms in the Swiss Alpine region. That study highlights the influence of orography on both storm intensity and occurrence frequency. To disentangle the different influential factors, an idealized modeling framework is established here using the mesoscale model CM1. The modeling scenarios are based on a high-CAPE environment with unidirectional shear, where a warm bubble serves to initiate the convection. Mimicking the environment of the southern Prealps in central Europe, scenarios with a high mountain ridge, valleys, and lakes are explored. The effect on the supercells of the slopes, high-altitude terrain, and moisture sources emphasizes the highly localized nature of terrain effects, leading to a heterogeneous intensity life cycle with transitory enhancement and weakening of the supercell. The dynamic and thermodynamic impact of mountain valleys with lakes increases the range of atmospheric conditions that supports supercellular development through horizontal vorticity production, increased storm relative helicity, and higher moisture content. This influence results in a systematic location dependence of the frequency, intensity, and lifetime of supercells, as also found in observations.

Open access
Ye Liu
,
Brian Gaudet
,
Raghavendra Krishnamurthy
,
Sheng-Lun Tai
,
Larry K. Berg
,
Nicola Bodini
,
Alex Rybchuk
, and
Andrew Kumler

Abstract

An accurate wind resource dataset is required for assessing the potential energy yield of floating offshore wind farms that are expected along the California outer continental shelf. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has developed and disseminated an updated wind resource dataset offshore of California, using the Weather Research and Forecasting Model, referred to as the CA20 dataset. As compared to buoy lidar measurements that have become available recently, the CA20 dataset showed significant positive biases for 100-m wind speeds along Northern California wind energy lease areas. To investigate the meteorological drivers for the model errors, we first consider two 1-yr simulations run with two different planetary boundary layer (PBL) parameterizations: the Mellor–Yamada–Nakanishi–Niino (MYNN) PBL scheme (the chosen configuration in the CA20 dataset) and the Yonsei University PBL scheme (which significantly reduces the bias in modeled winds). By comparing the 1-yr simulations to the concurrent lidar buoy observations, we find that errors are larger with the MYNN PBL scheme in warm seasons. We then dive deeper into the analysis by running simulations for short-term (3-day) case studies to evaluate the sensitivity of initial/boundary condition forcings on model results. By analyzing the short-term simulations, we find that during synoptic-scale northerly flows driven by the North Pacific high and inland thermal low, a coastal warm bias in the MYNN simulation is mainly responsible for the modeled wind speed bias by altering the boundary layer thermodynamics. The results of our analysis will help guide the creation of an updated version of the CA20 dataset.

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Derek R. Stratman
,
Nusrat Yussouf
,
Christopher A. Kerr
,
Brian C. Matilla
,
John R. Lawson
, and
Yaping Wang

Abstract

The success of the National Severe Storms Laboratory’s (NSSL) experimental Warn-on-Forecast System (WoFS) to provide useful probabilistic guidance of severe and hazardous weather is mostly due to the frequent assimilation of observations, especially radar observations. Phased-array radar (PAR) technology, which is a potential candidate to replace the current U.S. operational radar network, would allow for even more rapid assimilation of radar observations by providing full-volumetric scans of the atmosphere every ∼1 min. Based on previous studies, more frequent PAR data assimilation can lead to improved forecasts, but it can also lead to ensemble underdispersion and suboptimal observation assimilation. The use of stochastic and perturbed parameter methods to increase ensemble spread is a potential solution to this problem. In this study, four stochastic and perturbed parameter methods are assessed using a 1-km-scale version of the WoFS and include the stochastic kinetic energy backscatter (SKEB) scheme, the physically based stochastic perturbation (PSP) scheme, a fixed perturbed parameters (FPP) method, and a novel surface-model scheme blending (SMSB) method. Using NSSL PAR observations from the 9 May 2016 tornado outbreak, experiments are conducted to assess the impact of the methods individually, in different combinations, and with different cycling intervals. The results from these experiments reveal the potential benefits of stochastic and perturbed parameter methods for future versions of the WoFS. Stochastic and perturbed parameter methods can lead to more skillful forecasts during periods of storm development. Moreover, a combination of multiple methods can result in more skillful forecasts than using a single method.

Significance Statement

Phased-array radar technology allows for more frequent assimilation of radar observations into ensemble forecast systems like the experimental Warn-on-Forecast System. However, more frequent radar data assimilation can eventually cause issues for prediction systems due to the lack of ensemble spread. Thus, the purpose of this study is to explore the use of four stochastic and perturbed parameter methods in a next-generation Warn-on-Forecast System to generate ensemble spread and help prevent the issues from frequent radar data assimilation. Results from this study indicate the stochastic and perturbed parameter methods can improve forecasts of storms, especially during storm development.

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Mario Hrastinski
,
Ján Mašek
, and
Ana Šljivić

Abstract

In this paper, we present the implementation and evaluate the impact of the new roughness length configuration in the ALARO canonical model configuration of the ALADIN system at the edge of the orographic gravity wave drag gray zone. As an essential input for turbulence parameterization, the roughness length affects the near-surface turbulent fluxes and the screen-level interpolation of meteorological parameters. We utilize GMTED2010 and ECOCLIMAP-II databases to derive orographic and vegetation components of the effective roughness length and introduce tuning parameters enabling us to optimize predicted near-surface turbulent momentum fluxes and 10-m wind speed. Based on sensitivity tests, we (i) prove the necessity of tuning the roughness length fields, (ii) considerably reduce the RMSE of near-surface turbulent momentum fluxes (6%–7%) and 10-m wind speed for different groups of stations (3%–10%), and (iii) identify the tree height as the most influential input parameter in our computational domain. The RMSE decomposition indicates that the improvement of 10-m wind speed mostly comes from a decrease in the random error and bias of the mean. The variability is slightly underestimated, thus reducing the model accuracy for wind speeds above the 95th percentile but at an acceptable level. We explain that roughness length tuning also compensates for the missing roughness sublayer correction in our system. Finally, we show that, although the impact of the orographic gravity wave drag scheme at a horizontal mesh size of 1.8 km is generally small, it is still beneficial for capturing some finer features observed in atmospheric soundings.

Significance Statement

Aiming to improve the 10-m wind speed forecast without sacrificing the accuracy of turbulent momentum fluxes in the kilometric resolution numerical weather prediction model, we derived new roughness length fields from high-resolution physiography databases. Therein, we proved the importance of tuning the input orography and vegetation fields and, depending on the time of day and year, reduced the root-mean-square error of 10-m wind speed by 3%–10%. Further, we demonstrated that orographic gravity wave drag parameterization is still needed to predict finer details seen in wind profiles from atmospheric soundings. Finally, we discussed the related simplifications in our model and their implications and proposed steps toward a more consistent and complete treatment of the near-surface turbulence.

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