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Linda Bogerd
,
Chris Kidd
,
Christian Kummerow
,
Hidde Leijnse
,
Aart Overeem
,
Veljko Petkovic
,
Kirien Whan
, and
Remko Uijlenhoet

Abstract

Spaceborne microwave radiometers represent an important component of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission due to their frequent sampling of rain systems. Microwave radiometers measure microwave radiation (brightness temperatures Tb), which can be converted into precipitation estimates with appropriate assumptions. However, detecting shallow precipitation systems using spaceborne radiometers is challenging, especially over land, as their weak signals are hard to differentiate from those associated with dry conditions. This study uses a random forest (RF) model to classify microwave radiometer observations as dry, shallow, or nonshallow over the Netherlands—a region with varying surface conditions and frequent occurrence of shallow precipitation. The RF model is trained on five years of data (2016–20) and tested with two independent years (2015 and 2021). The observations are classified using ground-based weather radar echo top heights. Various RF models are assessed, such as using only GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) Tb values as input features or including spatially aligned ERA5 2-m temperature and freezing level reanalysis and/or Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) observations. Independent of the input features, the model performs best in summer and worst in winter. The model classifies observations from high-frequency channels (≥85 GHz) with lower Tb values as nonshallow, higher values as dry, and those in between as shallow. Misclassified footprints exhibit radiometric characteristics corresponding to their assigned class. Case studies reveal dry observations misclassified as shallow are associated with lower Tb values, likely resulting from the presence of ice particles in nonprecipitating clouds. Shallow footprints misclassified as dry are likely related to the absence of ice particles.

Significance Statement

Published research concerning rainfall retrieval algorithms from microwave radiometers is often focused on the accuracy of these algorithms. While shallow precipitation over land is often characterized as problematic in these studies, little progress has been made with these systems. In particular, precipitation formed by shallow clouds, where shallow refers to the clouds being close to Earth’s surface, is often missed. This study is focused on detecting shallow precipitation and its physical characteristics to further improve its detection from spaceborne sensors. As such, it contributes to understanding which shallow precipitation scenes are challenging to detect from microwave radiometers, suggesting possible ways for algorithm improvement.

Open access
Huancui Hu
,
L. Ruby Leung
,
Zhe Feng
, and
James Marquis

Abstract

Moisture recycling, the contribution of local evapotranspiration (ET) to precipitation, has been studied using bulk models assuming a well-mixed atmosphere. The latter is inconsistent with a climatologically stratified atmosphere that slants across latitudes. Reconciling the two views requires an understanding of overturning associated with different weather systems. In this study, we aim to better understand moisture recycling associated with mesoscale convective systems (MCSs). Using a convection-permitting WRF simulation equipped with water vapor tracers (WRF-WVT), we tag moisture from terrestrial ET in the U.S. Southern Great Plains during May 2015, when more than 20 MCS events occurred and produced significant precipitation and flooding. Water budget analysis reveals that approximately 76% of terrestrial ET is advected away from the region while the remaining 24% of terrestrial ET is “pumped” upward within the region, accounting for 12% of precipitation. Moisture recycling peaks during early night hours (1800–2400 LT) due to the mixing of the daytime accumulated ET by active convection. By focusing on five “diurnally driven” MCSs with less large-scale circulation influence than other MCSs during the same period, we find an upright pumping of terrestrial ET at the MCS initiation and development stages, which diverges into two branches during the MCS mature and decaying stages. One branch in the upper level advects the ET-sourced moisture downstream, while the other branch in the mid-to-upper level contributes to the trailing precipitation upstream. Overall, our analysis depicts a pumping mechanism associated with MCSs that mixes local ET vertically, highlighting its specific contributions to enhancing convective precipitation processes.

Restricted access
Anju Vijayan Nair
,
Sungwook Wi
,
Rijan Bhakta Kayastha
,
Colin Gleason
,
Ishrat Dollan
,
Viviana Maggioni
, and
Efthymios I. Nikolopoulos

Abstract

Hydrologic assessment of climate change impacts on complex terrains and data-sparse regions like High Mountain Asia is a major challenge. Combining hydrological models with satellite and reanalysis data for evaluating changes in hydrological variables is often the only available approach. However, uncertainties associated with the forcing dataset, coupled with model parameter uncertainties, can have significant impacts on hydrologic simulations. This work aims to understand and quantify how the uncertainty in precipitation and its interaction with the model uncertainty affect streamflow estimation in glacierized catchments. Simulations for four precipitation datasets [Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG), Climate Hazards Group Infrared Precipitation with Station (CHIRPS), ERA5-Land, and Asian Precipitation–Highly Resolved Observational Data Integration Toward Evaluation (APHRODITE)] and two glacio-hydrological models [Glacio-Hydrological Degree-Day Model (GDM) and Hydrological Model for Distributed Systems (HYMOD_DS)] are evaluated for the Marsyangdi and Budhigandaki River basins in Nepal. Temperature sensitivity of streamflow simulations is also investigated. Relative to APHRODITE, which compared well with ground stations, ERA5-Land overestimates the catchment average precipitation for both basins by more than 70%; IMERG and CHIRPS overestimate by ∼20%. Precipitation uncertainty propagation to streamflow exhibits strong dependencies to model structure and streamflow components (snowmelt, ice melt, and rainfall-runoff), but overall uncertainty dampens through precipitation-to-streamflow transformation. Temperature exerts a significant additional source of uncertainty in hydrologic simulations of such environments. GDM was found to be more sensitive to temperature variations, with >50% increase in total flow for 20% increase in actual temperature, emphasizing that models that rely on lapse rates for the spatial distribution of temperature have much higher sensitivity. Results from this study provide critical insight into the challenges of utilizing satellite and reanalysis products for simulating streamflow in glacierized catchments.

Significance Statement

This work investigates the uncertainty of streamflow simulations due to climate forcing and model parameter/structure uncertainty and quantifies the relative importance of each source of uncertainty and its impact on simulating different streamflow components in glacierized catchments of High Mountain Asia. Results highlight that in high mountain regions, temperature uncertainty exerts a major control on hydrologic simulations and models that do not adequately represent the spatial variability of temperature are more sensitive to bias in the forcing data. These findings provide guidance on important aspects to be considered when modeling glacio-hydrological response of catchments in such areas and are thus expected to impact both research and operation practice related to hydrologic modeling of glacierized catchments.

Open access
Joseph Sedlar
,
Tilden Meyers
,
Christopher J. Cox
, and
Bianca Adler

Abstract

Measurements of atmospheric structure and surface energy budgets distributed along a high-altitude mountain watershed environment near Crested Butte, Colorado, from two separate, but coordinated, field campaigns, Surface Atmosphere Integrated field Laboratory (SAIL) and Study of Precipitation, the Lower Atmosphere, and Surface for Hydrometeorology (SPLASH), are analyzed. This study identifies similarities and differences in how clouds influence the radiative budget over one snow-free summer season (2022) and two snow-covered seasons (2021/22; 2022/23) for this alpine location. A relationship between lower-tropospheric stability stratification and longwave radiative flux from the presence or absence of clouds is identified. When low clouds persisted, often with signatures of supercooled liquid in winter, the lower troposphere experienced weaker stability, while radiatively clear skies that are less likely to be influenced by liquid droplets were associated with appreciably stronger lower-tropospheric stratification. Corresponding surface turbulent heat fluxes partitioned differently based upon the cloud–stability stratification regime derived from early morning radiosounding profiles. Combined with the differences in the radiative budget largely resulting from dramatic seasonal differences in surface albedo, the lower atmosphere stratification, surface energy budget, and near-surface thermodynamics are shown to be modified by the effective longwave radiative forcing of clouds. The diurnal evolution of thermodynamics and surface energy components varied depending on the early morning stratification state. Thus, the importance of quiescent versus synoptically active large-scale meteorology is hypothesized as a critical forcing for cloud properties and associated surface energy budget variations. The physical relationships between clouds, radiation, and stratification can provide a useful suite of metrics for process understanding and to evaluate numerical models in such an undersampled, highly complex terrain environment.

Open access
Olivier Champagne
,
Olga Zolina
,
Jean-Pierre Dedieu
,
Mareile Wolff
, and
Hans-Werner Jacobi

Abstract

The Svalbard archipelago, in the Atlantic–Arctic region, has been affected by a strong increase in precipitation in the last decades, with major potential impacts for the cryosphere, biogeochemical cycles, and the ecosystems. Ny-Ålesund (79°N), in the northwest part of Svalbard, hosts invaluable meteorological records widely used by many researchers. Among the observed parameters, the amount of precipitation is subject to large biases, mainly due to the well-known precipitation gauges undercatch during windy conditions. The purpose of this study is to investigate if the observed trend of precipitation in Ny-Ålesund in the 1975–2022 period was real and how it was impacted by the gauge undercatch. We applied several correction factors developed in the last decades, based on local wind speed and temperature. We forced these corrections with 12-hourly precipitation data from the Ny-Ålesund weather station. Taking the period 1975–2022, the trend of precipitation increased from 3.8 mm yr−1 in the observations to 4.5 mm yr−1 (±0.2) after the corrections, mainly due to enhanced snowfall in November–January months. Taking the most recent 40-yr period (1983–2022), the amount of precipitation still increased by 3.8 mm yr−1 in the observations, but only by 2.6 mm yr−1 (±0.5) after the corrections. The recent observed trend of precipitation stays large due to an increase of wet snowfall and rainfall that are measured more efficiently by the precipitation gauge. This result shows the need of applying correction factors when using precipitation gauge data, especially in regions exhibiting large interannual changes of weather conditions.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to investigate if the observed trend of precipitation in Ny-Ålesund in the 1975–2022 period was real and how it was impacted by the gauge undercatch. The results show that the observed trend of precipitation was overestimated when calculated in the most recent 40-yr period (1983–2022). This overestimation was large due to an increase with time of wet snowfall and rainfall that were measured more efficiently by the precipitation gauge. This result shows the need of applying corrections factors when using precipitation gauge data, especially in regions exhibiting large interannual changes of weather conditions.

Restricted access
Clément Guilloteau
and
Efi Foufoula-Georgiou

Abstract

Observations of clouds and precipitation in the microwave domain from the active dual-frequency precipitation radar (DPR) and the passive Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Microwave Imager (GMI) onboard the GPM Core Observatory satellite are used in synergy with cloud tracking information derived from infrared imagery from the GOES-13 and Meteosat-7 geostationary satellites for analysis of the life cycle of precipitating cloud systems, in terms of temporal evolution of their macrophysical characteristics, in several oceanic and continental regions of the tropics. The life cycle of each one of the several hundred thousand cloud systems tracked during the 2-yr (2015–16) analysis period is divided into five equal-duration stages between initiation and dissipation. The average cloud size, precipitation intensity, precipitation top height, and convective and stratiform precipitating fractions are documented at each stage of the life cycle for different cloud categories (based upon lifetime duration). The average life cycle dynamics is found remarkably homogeneous across the different regions and is consistent with previous studies: systems peak in size around midlife; precipitation intensity and convective fraction tend to decrease continuously from the initiation stage to the dissipation. Over the three continental regions, Amazonia (AMZ), central Africa (CAF), and Sahel (SAH), at the early stages of clouds’ life cycle, precipitation estimates from the passive GMI instrument are systematically found to be 15%–40% lower than active radar estimates. By highlighting stage-dependent biases in state-of-the-art passive microwave precipitation estimates over land, we demonstrate the potential usefulness of cloud tracking information for improving retrievals and suggest new directions for the synergistic use of geostationary and low-Earth-orbiting satellite observations.

Restricted access
Savannah K. Jorgensen
and
John W. Nielsen-Gammon

Abstract

This study estimates extreme rainfall trends across the Gulf Coast and southeastern coast of the United States while applying methods for extending the temporal record and aggregating across spatial trend variations. Nonstationary generalized extreme value (GEV) models are applied to historical annual daily maximum precipitation data (1890–2019) while using CMIP5 global mean surface temperature (GMST) as the covariate. County composites and multicounty regions are used for local data record extension and pooling. Unlike most previous studies, return periods as long as 100 years are analyzed. The local trend estimates themselves are found to be too noisy to be reliable as estimates of climate-driven trends. However, application of a Gaussian process model to the spatial distribution of observed trends yields overall trend detection at the 95% significance level. The overall historical increase due to nonstationarity across the study region, with associated 95% confidence intervals, is 9% (3%, 15%) for the 2-yr return period and 16% (4%, 26%) for the 100-yr return period. A trend is also detectable in the Gulf Coast subregion, but not in the smaller southeast subregion. Recent weather events and nonstationarity have caused the official return value estimates for parts of North and South Carolina to be much lower than the return values estimated here.

Significance Statement

Protection of people and infrastructure from flooding relies on accurate estimates of potential extreme rainfall intensity. Some official estimates of extreme rainfall near the Gulf Coast and southeastern coast of the United States are over 20 years old. We show that, across this region, there is a clear trend in daily rainfall so extreme that it only has a 1% chance of happening in any given year (the so-called 100-yr rainfall). This trend means that many existing estimates of extreme rainfall are too low, both now and in the future, so flooding risks based on those estimates would be underestimated as well.

Open access
J. R. Levey
and
A. Sankarasubramanian

Abstract

Precipitation forecasts, particularly at subseasonal-to-seasonal (S2S) time scale, are essential for informed and proactive water resource management. Although S2S precipitation forecasts have been evaluated, no systematic decomposition of the skill, Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE) coefficient, has been analyzed toward understanding the forecast accuracy. We decompose the NSE of S2S precipitation forecast into its three components—correlation, conditional bias, and unconditional bias—by four seasons, three lead times (1–12, 1–22, and 1–32 days), and three models, European Centre of Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s (NCEP) Climate Forecast System (CFS) model, and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), over the conterminous United States (CONUS). Application of a dry threshold, removal of grid cells with seasonal climatological precipitation means below 0.01 in. per day, is important as the NSE and correlations are lower across all seasons after masking areas with low precipitation values. Further, a west-to-east gradient in S2S forecast skill exists, and forecast skill was better during the winter months and for areas closer to the coast. Overall, ECMWF’s model performance was stronger than both ECCC and NCEP CFS’s performance, mainly for the forecasts issued during the fall and winter months. However, ECCC and NCEP CFS performed better for the forecast issued during the spring months and for areas further from the coast. Postprocessing using simple model output statistics could reduce both unconditional and conditional biases to zero, thereby offering better skill for regimes with high correlation. Our decomposition results show that efforts should focus on improving model parameterization and initialization schemes for climate regimes with low correlation.

Restricted access
Yanjuan Wu
,
Ivan D. Haigh
,
Chao Gao
,
Luke J. Jenkins
,
Joshua Green
,
Robert Jane
,
Yu Xu
,
Hengzhi Hu
, and
Naicheng Wu

Abstract

In coastal regions, compound flooding, driven by multiple flood hazard sources, can cause greater damage than when the flood drivers occur in isolation. This study focuses on compound flooding from extreme precipitation and storm surge in China’s Qiantang Estuary. We quantify the potential of compound flooding by measuring bivariate joint statistical dependence and joint return period (JRP). We find a significant positive dependence between the two flood drivers considered, as indicated by Kendall’s rank correlation coefficients. Compound events occur frequently, with an average of 2.65 events per year from 1979 to 2018, highlighting the significant concern of compound flooding for this estuary. Using a copula model, we demonstrate that considering the dependence between the two flood drivers shortens the JRP of compound flooding compared to the JRP assuming total independence. For a 1-in-10-yr precipitation event and 1-in-10-yr storm surge event, the JRP is 1 in 100 years when assuming total independence. However, it decreases to 1 in 32.44 years when considering their dependence. Ignoring the dependence between flood drivers can lead to an increase in the JRP of compound events, resulting in an underestimation of the overall flood risk. Our analysis reveals a strong link between the weather patterns creating compound events and extreme storm surge only events with tropical cyclone activity. Additionally, the extreme precipitation only events were found to be connected with the frontal system of the East Asian summer monsoon. This study highlights the importance of considering the dependence between multiple flood drivers associated with certain types of the same weather systems when assessing the flood risk in coastal regions.

Restricted access
G. Cristina Recalde-Coronel
,
Benjamin Zaitchik
,
William K. Pan
,
Yifan Zhou
, and
Hamada Badr

Abstract

Hydrological predictions at subseasonal-to-seasonal (S2S) time scales can support improved decision-making in climate-dependent sectors like agriculture and hydropower. Here, we present an S2S hydrological forecasting system (S2S-HFS) for western tropical South America (WTSA). The system uses the global NASA Goddard Earth Observing System S2S meteorological forecast system (GEOS-S2S) in combination with the generalized analog regression downscaling algorithm and the NASA Land Information System (LIS). In this implementation study, we evaluate system performance for 3-month hydrological forecasts for the austral autumn season (March–May) using ensemble hindcasts for 2002–17. Results indicate that the S2S-HFS generally offers skill in predictions of monthly precipitation up to 1-month lead, evapotranspiration up to 2 months lead, and soil moisture content up to 3 months lead. Ecoregions with better hindcast performance are located either in the coastal lowlands or in the Amazon lowland forest. We perform dedicated analysis to understand how two important teleconnections affecting the region are represented in the S2S-HFS: El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Antarctic Oscillation (AAO). We find that forecast skill for all variables at 1-month lead is enhanced during the positive phase of ENSO and the negative phase of AAO. Overall, this study indicates that there is meaningful skill in the S2S-HFS for many ecoregions in WTSA, particularly for long memory variables such as soil moisture. The skill of the precipitation forecast, however, decays rapidly after forecast initialization, a phenomenon that is consistent with S2S meteorological forecasts over much of the world.

Open access