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Benjamin I. Cook
,
Weston Anderson
,
Kimberly Slinski
,
Shraddhanand Shukla
, and
Amy McNally

Abstract

The state of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is critical for seasonal climate forecasts, but recent events diverged substantially from expectations in many regions, including sub-Saharan Africa where seasonal forecasts are critical tools for addressing food security. Here, we evaluate 39 years (1982–2020) of data on hydroclimate, leaf area index, and maize yields to investigate the strength of ENSO teleconnections in southern and East Africa. Teleconnections to precipitation, soil moisture, and leaf area index are generally stronger during ENSO phases that cause drought conditions (El Niño in southern Africa and La Niña in East Africa), with seasonality that aligns well with the maize growing seasons. Within maize growing areas, however, ENSO teleconnections to hydroclimate and vegetation are generally weaker compared to the broader geographic regions, especially in East Africa. There is also little evidence that the magnitude of the ENSO event affects the hydroclimate or vegetation response in these maize regions. Maize yields in Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, and Zimbabwe all correlate significantly with hydroclimate and leaf area index, with South Africa and Zimbabwe showing the strongest and most consistent yield responses to ENSO events. Our results highlight the chain of causality from El Niño and La Niña forcing of regional anomalies in hydroclimate to vegetation health and maize yields in southern and East Africa. The large spread across individual ENSO events, however, underscores the limitations of this climate mode for seasonal climate prediction in the region, and the importance of finding additional sources of skill for improving climate and yield forecasts.

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Madeleine Pascolini-Campbell
and
John T. Reager

Abstract

Extreme hydrological events (including droughts and floods) produce severe social and economic impacts. Monitoring hydrological processes from remote sensing is necessary to improve understanding and preparedness for these events, with current missions focusing on a range of hydrological variables (i.e., SWOT, SMAP, and GRACE). This study uses output from three state-of-the-art land surface assimilation models and an event clustering algorithm to identify the characteristic spatial and temporal scales of large-scale extreme dry and wet events in the contiguous United States for three major hydrological processes: precipitation, runoff, and soil moisture. We also examine the sensitivity of extreme event characteristics to model resolution and assess intermodel differences. We find that models generally agree in terms of the mean characteristics of events: precipitation dry events are of shorter duration in comparison with soil moisture and runoff events, and more intense events tend to be smaller in area. We also find that mean spatial and temporal characteristics are highly dependent on model resolution—important in the context of detecting and monitoring these events. Results from this study can be used to inform land surface model development, extreme hydrology event detection, and sampling requirements of upcoming remote sensing missions in hydrology.

Significance Statement

Understanding the fundamental characteristics of dry and wet extreme events (droughts and floods) is of importance for improving our preparedness and response to events, as well as for designing satellite observing systems that can adequately monitor them. Here we use output from land surface models to determine the average size and duration of large-scale extreme events for the contiguous United States using fine temporal data. We find that events that are most extreme—the most severe floods and droughts—tend to be shorter in duration and smaller in size. We also present an assessment of how three commonly used land surface models detect extreme hydrological events, which is important for assessments based on models. These findings are important for understanding the proportion of events that may be not adequately resolved by current hydrology remote sensing missions.

Open access
Yalan Song
,
Wen-Ping Tsai
,
Jonah Gluck
,
Alan Rhoades
,
Colin Zarzycki
,
Rachel McCrary
,
Kathryn Lawson
, and
Chaopeng Shen

Abstract

Accurate prediction of snow water equivalent (SWE) can be valuable for water resource managers. Recently, deep learning methods such as long short-term memory (LSTM) have exhibited high accuracy in simulating hydrologic variables and can integrate lagged observations to improve prediction, but their benefits were not clear for SWE simulations. Here we tested an LSTM network with data integration (DI) for SWE in the western United States to integrate 30-day-lagged or 7-day-lagged observations of either SWE or satellite-observed snow cover fraction (SCF) to improve future predictions. SCF proved beneficial only for shallow-snow sites during snowmelt, while lagged SWE integration significantly improved prediction accuracy for both shallow- and deep-snow sites. The median Nash–Sutcliffe model efficiency coefficient (NSE) in temporal testing improved from 0.92 to 0.97 with 30-day-lagged SWE integration, and root-mean-square error (RMSE) and the difference between estimated and observed peak SWE values d max were reduced by 41% and 57%, respectively. DI effectively mitigated accumulated model and forcing errors that would otherwise be persistent. Moreover, by applying DI to different observations (30-day-lagged, 7-day-lagged), we revealed the spatial distribution of errors with different persistent lengths. For example, integrating 30-day-lagged SWE was ineffective for ephemeral snow sites in the southwestern United States, but significantly reduced monthly-scale biases for regions with stable seasonal snowpack such as high-elevation sites in California. These biases are likely attributable to large interannual variability in snowfall or site-specific snow redistribution patterns that can accumulate to impactful levels over time for nonephemeral sites. These results set up benchmark levels and provide guidance for future model improvement strategies.

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Joseph W. Lockwood
,
Thomas Loridan
,
Ning Lin
,
Michael Oppenheimer
, and
Nic Hannah

Abstract

Extreme rainfall found in tropical cyclones (TCs) is a risk for human life and property in many low- to midlatitude regions. Probabilistic modeling of TC rainfall in risk assessment and forecasting can be computationally expensive, and existing models are largely unable to model key rainfall asymmetries such as rainbands and extratropical transition. Here, a machine learning–based framework is developed to model overwater TC rainfall for the North Atlantic basin. First, a catalog of high-resolution TC precipitation simulations for 26 historical events is assembled for the North Atlantic basin using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. The simulated spatial distribution of rainfall for these historical events are then decomposed via principal component analysis (PCA), and quantile regression forest (QRF) models are trained to predict the conditional distributions of the first five principal component (PC) weights. Conditional distributions of rain-rate levels are estimated separately using historical satellite data and a QRF model. With these models, probabilistic predictions of rainfall maps can be made given a set of storm characteristics and local environmental conditions. The model is able to capture storm total rainfall compared to satellite observations with a correlation coefficient of 0.96 and r 2 value of 0.93. Additionally, the model shows good accuracy in modeling hourly total rainfall compared to satellite observations. Rain-rate maps predicted by the model are also compared to historical satellite observations and to the WRF simulations during cross validation, and the spatial distribution of estimates captures rainfall variability consistent with TC rainbands, wavenumber asymmetries, and possibly extratropical transition.

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H. A. Titley
,
H. L. Cloke
,
E. M. Stephens
,
F. Pappenberger
, and
E. Zsoter

Abstract

Fluvial flooding is a major cause of death and damages from tropical cyclones (TCs), so it is important to understand the predictability of river flooding in TC cases, and the potential of global ensemble flood forecast systems to inform warning and preparedness activities. This paper demonstrates a methodology using ensemble forecasts to follow predictability and uncertainty through the forecast chain in the Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS) to explore the connections between the skill of the TC track, intensity, precipitation, and river discharge forecasts. Using the case of Hurricane Iota, which brought severe flooding to Central America in November 2020, we assess the performance of each ensemble member at each stage of the forecast, along with the overall spread and change between forecast runs, and analyze the connections between each forecast component. Strong relationships are found between track, precipitation, and river discharge skill. Changes in TC intensity skill only result in significant improvements in discharge skill in river catchments close to the landfall location that are impacted by the heavy rains around the eyewall. The rainfall from the wider storm circulation is crucial to flood impacts in most of the affected river basins, with a stronger relationship with the post-landfall track error rather than the precise landfall location. We recommend the wider application of this technique in TC cases to investigate how this cascade of predictability varies with different forecast and geographical contexts in order to help inform flood early warning in TCs.

Significance Statement

This study demonstrates a methodology to analyze the cascade of predictability and uncertainty through the various stages of the tropical cyclone (TC) flood forecasting chain, illustrating how it can provide useful information to modelers interested in optimizing flood forecast skill, and to those who prepare and communicate flood forecasts with stakeholders and end-users in TC cases. The results highlight the importance of improving verification of ensemble TC precipitation forecasts, and of focusing on more than just the category of the storm and landfall location when forecasting and communicating flood impacts in TC cases.

Open access
Tianqing Lan
and
Xiaodong Yan

Abstract

Droughts are becoming more frequent and severe in southwest China, with Yunnan being the most affected region. Most of the current studies on droughts in Yunnan are limited to individual cases and lack a common determination of the causes of historical drought events. In this study, we analyzed drought characteristics and causes over the last 60 years (1961–2020) in Yunnan Province in two seasons: dry and rainy. There was a clear trend of aridity in Yunnan Province in terms of both temporal and spatial changes, and there was a long-term drought period in approximately 2010; in particular, the frequency of drought in the dry season significantly increased. Due to its unique geographical location, precipitation in Yunnan Province is influenced by various factors, and the main influencing factors differed in different periods. SST variation is the most important factor affecting Yunnan drought. Precipitation in Yunnan Province is affected by the warm pool of the Indian Ocean throughout the year, and thermal anomalies in different locations of the Pacific Ocean have different effects on Yunnan Province and often overlap with the effects of SST anomalies in the Indian Ocean.

Significance Statement

In this study, we analyzed drought characteristics and causes over the last 60 years (1961–2020) in Yunnan Province in two seasons: dry and rainy. The causes of historical drought events in Yunnan Province in terms of common characteristics were determined, and SST variation was the most influential factor, with the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean having the greatest influence. Increased temperature may be a more important cause of dry season drought in Yunnan Province, while drought in the rainy season is mainly due to reduced water vapor transport. These results point the way toward better understanding of the occurrence of drought in Yunnan Province.

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Eunkyo Seo
,
Paul A. Dirmeyer
,
Michael Barlage
,
Heiln Wei
, and
Michael Ek

Abstract

This study investigates the performance of the latter NCEP Unified Forecast System (UFS) Coupled Model prototype simulations (P5–P8) during boreal summer 2011–17 in regard to coupled land–atmosphere processes and their effect on model bias. Major land physics updates were implemented during the course of model development. Namely, the Noah land surface model was replaced with Noah-MP and the global vegetation dataset was updated starting with P7. These changes occurred along with many other UFS improvements. This study investigates UFS’s ability to simulate observed surface conditions in 35-day predictions based on the fidelity of model land surface processes. Several land surface states and fluxes are evaluated against flux tower observations across the globe, and segmented coupling processes are also diagnosed using process-based multivariate metrics. Near-surface meteorological variables generally improve, especially surface air temperature, and the land–atmosphere coupling metrics better represent the observed covariance between surface soil moisture and surface fluxes of moisture and radiation. Moreover, this study finds that temperature biases over the contiguous United States are connected to the model’s ability to simulate the different balances of coupled processes between water-limited and energy-limited regions. Sensitivity to land initial conditions is also implicated as a source of forecast error. Above all, this study presents a blueprint for the validation of coupled land–atmosphere behavior in forecast models, which is a crucial model development task to assure forecast fidelity from day one through subseasonal time scales.

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W. J. Rudisill
,
A. N. Flores
,
H. P. Marshall
,
E. Siirila-Woodburn
,
D. R. Feldman
,
A. M. Rhoades
,
Z. Xu
, and
A. Morales

Abstract

Cloud microphysical processes are an important facet of atmospheric modeling, as they can control the initiation and rates of snowfall. Thus, parameterizations of these processes have important implications for modeling seasonal snow accumulation. We conduct experiments with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF V4.3.3) Model using three different microphysics parameterizations, including a sophisticated new scheme (ISHMAEL). Simulations are conducted for two cold seasons (2018 and 2019) centered on the Colorado Rockies’ ∼750-km2 East River watershed. Precipitation efficiencies are quantified using a drying-ratio mass budget approach and point evaluations are performed against three NRCS SNOTEL stations. Precipitation and meteorological outputs from each are used to force a land surface model (Noah-MP) so that peak snow accumulation can be compared against airborne snow lidar products. We find that microphysical parameterization choice alone has a modest impact on total precipitation on the order of ±3% watershed-wide, and as high as 15% for certain regions, similar to other studies comparing the same parameterizations. Precipitation biases evaluated against SNOTEL are 15% ± 13%. WRF Noah-MP configurations produced snow water equivalents with good correlations with airborne lidar products at a 1-km spatial resolution: Pearson’s r values of 0.9, RMSEs between 8 and 17 cm, and percent biases of 3%–15%. Noah-MP with precipitation from the PRISM geostatistical precipitation product leads to a peak SWE underestimation of 32% in both years examined, and a weaker spatial correlation than the WRF configurations. We fall short of identifying a clearly superior microphysical parameterization but conclude that snow lidar is a valuable nontraditional indicator of model performance.

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Daniel C. Watters
,
Patrick N. Gatlin
,
David T. Bolvin
,
George J. Huffman
,
Robert Joyce
,
Pierre Kirstetter
,
Eric J. Nelkin
,
Sarah Ringerud
,
Jackson Tan
,
Jianxin Wang
, and
David Wolff

Abstract

NASA’s multisatellite precipitation product from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, the Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) product, is validated over tropical and high-latitude oceans from June 2014 to August 2021. This oceanic study uses the GPM Validation Network’s island-based radars to assess IMERG when the GPM Core Observatory’s Microwave Imager (GMI) observes precipitation at these sites (i.e., IMERG-GMI). Error tracing from the Level 3 (gridded) IMERG V06B product back through to the input Level 2 (satellite footprint) Goddard Profiling Algorithm GMI V05 climate (GPROF-CLIM) product quantifies the errors separately associated with each step in the gridding and calibration of the estimates from GPROF-CLIM to IMERG-GMI. Mean relative bias results indicate that IMERG-GMI V06B overestimates Alaskan high-latitude oceanic precipitation by +147% and tropical oceanic precipitation by +12% with respect to surface radars. GPROF-CLIM V05 overestimates Alaskan oceanic precipitation by +15%, showing that the IMERG algorithm’s calibration adjustments to the input GPROF-CLIM precipitation estimates increase the mean relative bias in this region. In contrast, IMERG adjustments are minimal over tropical waters with GPROF-CLIM overestimating oceanic precipitation by +14%. This study discovered that the IMERG V06B gridding process incorrectly geolocated GPROF-CLIM V05 precipitation estimates by 0.1° eastward in the latitude band 75°N–75°S, which has been rectified in the IMERG V07 algorithm. Correcting for the geolocation error in IMERG-GMI V06B improved oceanic statistics, with improvements greater in tropical waters than Alaskan waters. This error tracing approach enables a high-precision diagnosis of how different IMERG algorithm steps contribute to and mitigate errors, demonstrating the importance of collaboration between evaluation studies and algorithm developers.

Significance Statement

Evaluation of IMERG’s oceanic performance is very limited to date. This study uses the GPM Validation Network to conduct the first extensive assessment of IMERG V06B at its native resolution over both high-latitude and tropical oceans, and traces errors in IMERG-GMI back through to the input GPROF-CLIM GMI product. IMERG-GMI overestimates tropical oceanic precipitation (+12%) and strongly overestimates Alaskan oceanic precipitation (+147%) with respect to the island-based radars studied. IMERG’s GMI estimates are assessed as these should be the optimal estimates within the multisatellite product due to the GMI’s status as calibrator of the GPM passive microwave constellation.

Open access
Lu Li
,
Yongjiu Dai
,
Zhongwang Wei
,
Wei Shangguan
,
Yonggen Zhang
,
Nan Wei
, and
Qingliang Li

Abstract

Accurate prediction of hydrological variables (HVs) is critical for understanding hydrological processes. Deep learning (DL) models have shown excellent forecasting abilities for different HVs. However, most DL models typically predicted HVs independently, without satisfying the principle of water balance. This missed the interactions between different HVs in the hydrological system and the underlying physical rules. In this study, we developed a DL model based on multitask learning and hybrid physically constrained schemes to simultaneously forecast soil moisture, evapotranspiration, and runoff. The models were trained using ERA5-Land data, which have water budget closure. We thoroughly assessed the advantages of the multitask framework and the proposed constrained schemes. Results showed that multitask models with different loss-weighted strategies produced comparable or better performance compared to the single-task model. The multitask model with a scaling factor of 5 achieved the best among all multitask models and performed better than the single-task model over 70.5% of grids. In addition, the hybrid constrained scheme took advantage of both soft and hard constrained models, providing physically consistent predictions with better model performance. The hybrid constrained models performed the best among different constrained models in terms of both general and extreme performance. Moreover, the hybrid model was affected the least as the training data were artificially reduced, and provided better spatiotemporal extrapolation ability under different artificial prediction challenges. These findings suggest that the hybrid model provides better performance compared to previously reported constrained models when facing limited training data and extrapolation challenges.

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