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Jerald Brotzge, Junhong (June) Wang, Nathan Bain, Scott Miller, and Crystal Perno

Abstract

Camera technology has evolved rapidly over the last decade; photo quality continues to improve while cameras are getting smaller, more rugged, and cheaper. One outcome of this technological progress is that cameras can now be deployed remotely at low cost wherever solar power and wireless communication are available. While numerous camera networks are deployed nationwide to survey traffic conditions and monitor local security, the adoption of cameras as a weather observing tool is relatively new. The New York State Mesonet (NYSM) is a network of 126 weather stations deployed across the state of New York, collecting, archiving, and disseminating a suite of atmospheric and soil variables every 5 min. One unique feature of the NYSM is that every station is equipped with a camera. Still images are collected every 5 min coincident with the standard environmental data during daylight hours, and hourly during the overnight hours. Since installation of the first station in 2015, the camera network has proven to be an essential element of information gathering, a critical data source for the forecast and emergency management communities, and a unique teaching resource of pictorial and visualized learning for kindergarten through high school (K–12) education. More specifically, the camera network supports 1) weather operations, 2) commercial applications, 3) data quality control, 4) site metadata, 5) site security, and 6) research and 7) educational opportunities. This article will review the many benefits, some challenges, and the future functional applications of cameras as part of an observation network. A strong case is made for making cameras an essential component of every weather station.

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Jianshun Wang, Qiang Zhang, Liang Zhang, Ying Wang, Ping Yue, Yanbin Hu, and Peilong Ye

Abstract

As impacted by climate change and further global warming, drought turns out to be the most frequent meteorological extreme event worldwide, which severely affects agriculture, ecosystem, water management, and even human survival. In this study, the global pattern and development trends and directions on drought monitoring were presented based on Web of Science database by conducting a bibliometric analysis from 1983 to 2020. The following conclusions were drawn. 1) The United States and China were found as the most productive and influential nations, accounting for 24.63% and 14.30% in publication outputs and taking up 5,023 and 2,040 in local citations, respectively. 2) Chinese Academy of Science was reported as the core institution with 5.73% publication outputs and 829 local citations. 3) Remote Sensing of Environment and Remote Sensing were found as the most influential journals and the most productive journals with 1,045 local citations and 210 publication outputs, respectively. 4) Agricultural drought profoundly affecting food security was found as the most concerning drought type in the world. The drought monitoring research mainly focus on the research and development of drought index, the response of terrestrial ecosystems to drought, and the trends and dynamics of drought in context of climate change. This study explored key findings, contradictions, and limitations of drought monitoring studies were summarized and explored. In addition, the development trend and research direction of drought monitoring research in the future were also explored.

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Katia Lamer, Edward P. Luke, Brian Walsh Jr., Steven Andrade, Zackary Mages, Zeen Zhu, Erin Leghart, Bernat P. Treserras, Ann Emrick, Pavlos Kollias, Andrew Vogelmann, and Martin Schoonen

Abstract

The Brookhaven National Laboratory Center for Multiscale Applied Sensing (CMAS) aims to address environmental equity needs in the context of a changing climate. As a first step toward this goal, the center developed a one-of-a-kind observatory tailored to the study of highly heterogeneous urban environments. This article describes the features of the mobile observatory that enable its rapid deployment either on or off the power grid, as well as its instrument payload. Beyond its unique design, the observatory optimizes data collection within the obstacle-laden urban environment using a new smart sampling paradigm. This setup facilitated the collection of previously poorly documented environmental properties, including wind profiles throughout the atmospheric column. The mobile observatory captured unique observations during its first few intensive observation periods. Vertical air motion and infrared temperature measurements collected along the faces of the supertall One Vanderbilt skyscraper in Manhattan, NY, reveal how solar and anthropogenic heating affect wind flow and thus the venting of heat, pollution, and contaminants in urban street canyons. Also, air temperature measurements collected during travel along a 150-km transect between Upton and Manhattan, NY, offer a high-resolution view of the urban heat island and reveal that temperature disparities also exist within the city across different neighborhoods. Ultimately, the datasets collected by CMAS are poised to help guide equitable urban planning by highlighting existing disparities and characterizing the impact of urban features on the urban microclimate with the goal of improving human comfort.

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Chunxue Yang, Chiara Cagnazzo, Vincenzo Artale, Bruno Buongiorno Nardelli, Carlo Buontempo, Jacopo Busatto, Luca Caporaso, Claudia Cesarini, Irene Cionni, John Coll, Bas Crezee, Paolo Cristofanelli, Vincenzo de Toma, Yassmin Hesham Essa, Veronika Eyring, Federico Fierli, Luke Grant, Birgit Hassler, Martin Hirschi, Philippe Huybrechts, Eva Le Merle, Francesca Elisa Leonelli, Xia Lin, Fabio Madonna, Evan Mason, François Massonnet, Marta Marcos, Salvatore Marullo, Benjamin Müller, Andre Obregon, Emanuele Organelli, Artur Palacz, Ananda Pascual, Andrea Pisano, Davide Putero, Arun Rana, Antonio Sánchez-Román, Sonia I. Seneviratne, Federico Serva, Andrea Storto, Wim Thiery, Peter Throne, Lander Van Tricht, Yoni Verhaegen, Gianluca Volpe, and Rosalia Santoleri

Abstract

If climate services are to lead to effective use of climate information in decision-making to enable the transition to a climate-smart, climate-ready world, then the question of trust in the products and services is of paramount importance. The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) has been actively grappling with how to build such trust: provision of demonstrably independent assessments of the quality of products, which was deemed an important element in such trust-building processes. C3S provides access to essential climate variables (ECVs) from multiple sources to a broad set of users ranging from scientists to private companies and decision-makers. Here we outline the approach ­undertaken to coherently assess the quality of a suite of observation- and reanalysis-based ECV products covering the atmosphere, ocean, land, and cryosphere. The assessment is based on four pillars: basic data checks, maturity of the datasets, fitness for purpose (scientific use cases and climate studies), and guidance to users. It is undertaken independently by scientific experts and presented alongside the datasets in a fully traceable, replicable, and transparent manner. The methodology deployed is detailed, and example assessments are given. These independent scientific quality assessments are intended to guide users to ensure they use tools and datasets that are fit for purpose to answer their specific needs rather than simply use the first product they alight on. This is the first such effort to develop and apply an assessment framework consistently to all ECVs. Lessons learned and future perspectives are outlined to potentially improve future assessment activities and thus climate services.

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Michael J. McPhaden and Christina Karamperidou

Abstract

In July 1929, Dr Friedrich Ritter and Dore Strauch left their spouses and the turmoil of post-World War I Germany for the remote, uninhabited, and rugged volcanic island of Floreana in the Galapagos archipelago. Their dream was to live self-sufficiently in an idyllic tropical setting unspoiled by civilization. Wealthy yachters stopping at Floreana in the early 1930s reported on the couple’s pioneering enterprise to the outside world. The news created a sensation that subsequently attracted other settlers, including a mysterious Viennese faux baroness who quickly sowed discord on the island. Not all the participants in this drama survived though. A prolonged drought gripped the island from 1933 to 1935 leading to food shortages that ultimately claimed the life of Dr. Ritter, a vegetarian who unwittingly ate tainted chicken out of desperation. The bizarre intrigues and struggles to endure on Floreana were chronicled in Dore Strauch’s 1936 memoir “Satan Came to Eden” and a 2013 Hollywood documentary based on it. A story that has not been told is how an extended period of cold La Niña conditions in 1933-35 led to the drought that caused the food shortages. We use an atmospheric reanalysis and other data sources to describe these cold conditions and how they affected the human drama that unfolded on Floreana Island. The protracted La Niña impacted other parts of the globe and in particular was a major influence on development of the 1930s Dust Bowl in the southern plains of the United States.

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L. Magnusson, D. Ackerley, Y. Bouteloup, J.-H. Chen, J. Doyle, P. Earnshaw, Y. C. Kwon, M. Köhler, S. T. K Lang, Y.-J. Lim, M. Matsueda, T. Matsunobu, R. McTaggart-Cowan, A. Reinecke, M. Yamaguchi, and L. Zhou

Abstract

In the Different Models, Same Initial Conditions (DIMOSIC) project, forecasts from different global medium-range forecast models have been created based on the same initial conditions. The dataset consists of 10-day deterministic forecasts from seven models and includes 122 forecast dates spanning one calendar year. All forecasts are initialized from the same ECMWF operational analyses to minimize the differences due to initialization. The models are run at or near their respective operational resolutions to explore similarities and differences between operational global forecast models. The main aims of this study are 1) to evaluate the forecast skill and how it depends on model formulation, 2) to assess systematic differences and errors at short lead times, 3) to compare multimodel ensemble spread to model uncertainty schemes, and 4) to identify models that generate similar solutions. Our results show that all models in this study are capable of producing high-quality forecasts given a high-quality analysis. But at the same time, we find a large variety in model biases, both in terms of temperature errors and precipitation. We are able to identify models whose forecasts are more similar to each other than they are to those of other systems, due to the use of similar model physics packages. However, in terms of multimodel ensemble spread, our results also demonstrate that forecast sensitivities to different model formulations still are substantial. We therefore believe that the diversity in model design that stems from parallel development efforts at global modeling centers around the world remains valuable for future progress in the numerical weather prediction community.

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David M. Hondula, Samuel Meltzer, Robert C. Balling Jr., and Paul Iñiguez

Abstract

Public heat alerts are important risk communication tools, but there has been no systematic analysis of how frequently they are issued or how patterns in alert frequency relate to regional climatology or heat–health impacts. We compiled and analyzed all excessive heat warnings and heat advisories (collectively, heat alerts) issued by the U.S. National Weather Service for 2010–19. Heat alert frequency was correlated to climatological indicators derived from reanalysis data aggregated to Weather Forecast Office (WFO) polygons and to estimates of heat-attributable mortality for 134 metropolitan areas. The type of heat alerts used and the frequency with which they were issued were highly variable. Across 77% of the country, heat advisories were the primary product issued. The median location experienced 2.3 heat alert days per year. Regions with the highest frequency (approaching 25 heat alert days per year) included the southern Midwest and Great Plains, as well as the desert Southwest. The 95th-percentile daily maximum heat index was the climatological indicator most strongly correlated with heat alert frequency across all WFOs (r = 0.71). Locations that issued heat alerts more frequently than would be expected based on climatology were primarily located along the Pacific coast; those that issued heat alerts less frequently than expected were in southern Texas and southern Florida, the latter of which includes multiple cities with high rates of heat-attributable mortality. Our results suggest that the public may be receiving mixed signals about the severity of the heat hazard, with some hotter locations particularly underserved by heat risk messaging.

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Kirsten L. Findell, Rowan Sutton, Nico Caltabiano, Anca Brookshaw, Patrick Heimbach, Masahide Kimoto, Scott Osprey, Doug Smith, James S. Risbey, Zhuo Wang, Lijing Cheng, Leandro Diaz, Markus G. Donat, Michael Ek, June-Yi Lee, Shoshiro Minobe, Matilde Rusticucci, Frederic Vitart, and Lin Wang

Abstract

The World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) envisions a world “that uses sound, relevant, and timely climate science to ensure a more resilient present and sustainable future for humankind.” This bold vision requires the climate science community to provide actionable scientific information that meets the evolving needs of societies all over the world. To realize its vision, WCRP has created five Lighthouse Activities to generate international commitment and support to tackle some of the most pressing challenges in climate science today.

The overarching goal of the Lighthouse Activity on Explaining and Predicting Earth System Change is to develop an integrated capability to understand, attribute, and predict annual to decadal changes in the Earth system, including capabilities for early warning of potential high impact changes and events. This article provides an overview of both the scientific challenges that must be addressed, and the research and other activities required to achieve this goal. The work is organized in three thematic areas: (i) monitoring and modeling Earth system change; (ii) integrated attribution, prediction and projection; and (iii) assessment of current and future hazards. Also discussed are the benefits that the new capability will deliver. These include improved capabilities for early warning of impactful changes in the Earth system, more reliable assessments of meteorological hazard risks, and quantitative attribution statements to support the Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update and State of the Climate reports issued by the World Meteorological Organization.

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John McCarthy, Robert Serafin, James Wilson, James Evans, Cathy Kessinger, and William P. Mahoney III

Abstract

Microburst wind shear has caused or contributed to a significant number of aviation accidents. Since 1943, wind-shear accidents have been responsible for more than 1,400 fatalities worldwide, including over 400 deaths in the United States between 1973 and 1985. In this paper, we describe one of the more successful and societally impactful research-to-operations (R2O) programs in atmospheric science history. The remarkable R2O journey included the discovery of microburst wind shear in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the scientific efforts to understand this phenomenon and its impact on aircraft operations, the development of a wind-shear training program for pilots, and the rapid development, testing, and implementation of wind-shear detection systems that successfully saved lives and property. The article includes a chronological description of the wind-shear research and development program, key milestones toward implementation, and the research-to-operations best practices employed for successful technology transfer.

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Sally L. Lavender, Tim Cowan, Matthew Hawcroft, Matthew C. Wheeler, Chelsea Jarvis, David Cobon, Hanh Nguyen, Debra Hudson, S. Sharmila, Andrew G. Marshall, Catherine de Burgh-Day, Sean Milton, Alison Stirling, Oscar Alves, and Harry H. Hendon

Abstract

Since 2017, the Northern Australia Climate Program (NACP) has assisted the pastoral grazing industry to better manage drought risk and climate variability. The NACP funding is sourced from the beef cattle industry, government, and academia, representing the program’s broad range of aims and target beneficiaries. The program funds scientists in the United Kingdom and Australia, in addition to extension advisers called ‘Climate Mates’ across a region that supports 15 million head of cattle. Many Climate Mates are employed in the cattle sector and have existing relationships in their communities and capacity to meaningfully engage with the program’s intended beneficiaries – red meat producers. The NACP is a prime example of a successful end-to-end program, integrating climate model improvements (Research) with tailored forecast products (Development), through to direct stakeholder engagement (Extension), on-ground application of technologies (Adoption) and improvement in industry and community resilience (Impact). The climate information needs of stakeholders also feed back to the Research and Development components, ensuring the scientific research directly addresses end-user requirements. For any scientific research program, ensuring that research output has measurable real-world impact represents a key challenge. This is more difficult in cases where the scientific research is several steps away from the customer’s needs. This paper gives an overview of the NACP and research highlights, discussing how the end-to-end framework could be adapted and applied in other regions and industries. It seeks to provide a roadmap for other groups to follow to produce more targeted research with identifiable real-world benefits.

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