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Xinxin Xie
,
Xiao Xiao
,
Jieying He
,
Pablo Saavedra Garfias
,
Tiejian Li
,
Xiaoyu Yu
,
Songyan Gu
, and
Yang Guo

Abstract

This study investigates precipitation observed by a set of collocated ground-based instruments in Zhuhai, a coastal city located at the southern tip of the Pearl River Delta of Guangdong Province in South China. Seven months of ground-based observations from a tipping-bucket rain gauge (RG), two laser disdrometers (PARSIVEL and Present Weather Sensor 100 (PWS)], and a vertically pointing Doppler Micro Rain Radar-2 (MRR), spanning from December 2021 to July 2022, are statistically evaluated to provide a reliable reference for China’s spaceborne precipitation measurement mission. Rainfall measurement discrepancies are found between the instruments though the collocated deployment mitigates uncertainties originating from spatial/temporal variabilities of precipitation. The RG underestimates hourly rain amounts at the observation site, opposite to previous studies, leading to a percent bias (Pbias) of 18.2% of hourly rain amounts when compared to the PARSIVEL. With the same measurement principle, the hourly accumulated rain between the two laser disdrometers has a Pbias of 15.3%. Discrepancies between MRR and disdrometers are assumed to be due to different temporal/spatial resolution, instrument sensitivities, and observation geometry, with a Pbias of mass-weighted mean diameter and normalized intercept parameter of gamma size distribution less than 9%. The vertical profiles of drop size distribution (DSD) derived from the MRR are further examined during extreme rainfalls in the East Asian monsoon season (May, June, and July). Attributed to the abundant moisture which favors the growth of raindrops, coalescence is identified as the predominant effective process, and the raindrop mass-weighted mean diameter increases by 33.7% when falling from 2000 to 600 m during the extreme precipitation event in May.

Significance Statement

The performance and reliability of ground-based observations during precipitation scenarios are evaluated over the coastal area of South China, in preparation for China’s spaceborne precipitation measurement mission. A comparison study, which is carried out to assess the accuracy of rainfall and drop size distribution (DSD), demonstrates that the observation results are relatively reliable though discrepancies between the instruments still exist, while the accompanying microphysical process during extreme precipitation can be quantified with profiling capabilities at the observatory. An accurate and reliable rainfall characterization over the coastal region in South China can contribute to the validation of satellite rainfall products and provide further insights into the microphysical parameterization schemes during extreme precipitation.

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Yuting Yang
,
Xiaopeng Cui
,
Ying Li
,
Lijun Huang
, and
Jia Tian

Abstract

The northeast cold vortex (NECV) is an essential system in the northeast region (NER) of China. Understanding the moisture source and associated transport characteristics of NECV rainstorms is the key to the knowledge of its mechanisms. In this study, we focus on two NECV rainstorm centers during the warm season (May–September) from 2008 to 2013. The Flexible Particle (FLEXPART) model and quantitative contribution analysis method are applied to reveal the moisture sources and their quantitative contribution. The results demonstrate that for the northern NECV rainstorm center (R1), Northeast Asia (35.66%) and east-central China and its coastal regions (29.14%) make prominent moisture contributions, followed by R1 (11.37%), whereas east-central China and its coastal regions (45.16%), the southern NECV rainstorm center itself (R2, 17.90%), and the northwest Pacific (10.24%) principally contribute to R2. Moisture uptake in Northeast Asia differs between R1 and R2, which could serve as one of the vital indicators to judge where the NECV rainstorm falls in NER. Moisture from the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the South China Sea suffers massive en route loss, although these sources’ contribution and uptake are positively correlated with the intensity and scale of NECV rainstorms in the two centers. There exists intermonth and geographical variability in NECV rainstorms when the main moisture source region contributes the most. Regulated by the atmospheric circulation and the East Asian summer monsoon, the particle trajectories and source contributions of NECV rainstorms vary from month to month. Sources’ contribution also turns out to be diverse in the overall warm season.

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Abby Hutson
,
Ayumi Fujisaki-Manome
, and
Brent Lofgren

Abstract

The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model is used to dynamically downscale ERA-Interim global reanalysis data to test its performance as a regional climate model (RCM) for the Great Lakes region (GLR). Four cumulus parameterizations and three spectral nudging techniques applied to moisture are evaluated based on 2-m temperature and precipitation accumulation in the Great Lakes drainage basin (GLDB). Results are compared to a control simulation without spectral nudging, and additional analysis is presented showing the contribution of each nudged variable to temperature, moisture, and precipitation. All but one of the RCM test simulations have a dry precipitation bias in the warm months, and the only simulation with a wet bias also has the least precipitation error. It is found that the inclusion of spectral nudging of temperature dramatically improves a cold-season cold bias, and while the nudging of moisture improves simulated annual and diurnal temperature ranges, its impact on precipitation is complicated.

Significance Statement

Global climate models are vital to understanding our changing climate. While many include a coarse representation of the Great Lakes, they lack the resolution to represent effects like lake effect precipitation, lake breeze, and surface air temperature modification. Therefore, using a regional climate model to downscale global data is imperative to correctly simulate the land–lake–atmosphere feedbacks that contribute to regional climate. Modeling precipitation is particularly important because it plays a direct role in the Great Lakes’ water cycle. The purpose of this study is to identify the configuration of the Weather Research and Forecasting Model that best simulates precipitation and temperature in the Great Lakes region by testing cumulus parameterizations and methods of nudging the regional model toward the global model.

Open access
Manon von Kaenel
and
Steven A. Margulis

Abstract

Quantifying spatio-temporal variability in snow water resources is a challenge especially relevant in regions that rely on snowmelt for water supply. Model accuracy is often limited by uncertainties in meteorological forcings and/or suboptimal physics representation. In this study, we evaluate the performance and sensitivity of Noah-MP snow simulations from ten model configurations across 199 sites in the Western US. Nine experiments are constrained by observed meteorology to test snow-related physics options, and the tenth tests an alternative source of meteorological forcings. We find that the base case, which aligns with the National Water Model configuration and uses observations-based forcings, overestimates observed accumulated SWE at 90% of stations by a median of 9.6%. The model performs better in the accumulation season at colder, drier sites and in the melt season at wetter, warmer sites. Accumulation metrics are sensitive to model configuration in two experiments, and melt metrics in six. Alterations to model physics cause changes to median accumulation metrics from −13% to 2.3% with the greatest change due to precipitation partitioning; and to melt metrics from −10% to 3% with the greatest change due to surface resistance configuration. The experiment with alternative forcings causes even greater and wider-ranging changes (medians ranging −29% to 6%). Not all stations share the same best-performing model configuration. At most stations, the base case is outperformed by four alternative physics options which also significantly impact snow simulation. This research provides insights into the performance and sensitivity of snow predictions across site conditions and model configurations.

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Eric P. James
and
Russ S. Schumacher

Abstract

Flash flooding remains a challenging prediction problem, which is exacerbated by the lack of a universally accepted definition of the phenomenon. In this article, we extend prior analysis to examine the correspondence of various combinations of quantitative precipitation estimates (QPE) and precipitation thresholds to observed occurrences of flash floods, additionally considering short-term quantitative precipitation forecasts from a convection-allowing model.

Consistent with previous studies, there is large variability between QPE datasets in the frequency of “heavy” precipitation events. There is also large regional variability in the best thresholds for correspondence with reported flash floods. In general, Flash Flood Guidance (FFG) exceedances provide the best correspondence with observed flash floods, although the best correspondence is often found for exceedances of ratios of FFG above or below unity. In the interior western US, NOAA Atlas 14 derived recurrence interval thresholds (for the southwestern US) and static thresholds (for the northern and central Rockies) provide better correspondence.

Six-hour QPE provides better correspondence with observed flash floods than 1-h QPE in all regions except the west coast and southwestern US. Exceedances of precipitation thresholds in forecasts from the operational High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) generally do not correspond with observed flash flood events as well as QPE datasets, but they outperform QPE datasets in some regions of complex terrain and sparse observational coverage such as the southwestern US. These results can provide context for forecasters seeking to identify potential flash flood events based on QPE or forecast-based exceedances of precipitation thresholds.

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Jessica R. P. Sutton
,
Dalia Kirschbaum
,
Thomas Stanley
, and
Elijah Orland

Abstract

Accurately detecting and estimating precipitation at near–real time (NRT) is of utmost importance for the early detection and monitoring of hydrometeorological hazards. The precipitation product, Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG), provides NRT 0.1° and 30-min precipitation estimates across the globe with only a 4-h latency. This study was an evaluation of the GPM IMERG version 6 level-3 early run 30-min precipitation product for precipitation events from 2014 through 2020. The purpose of this research was to identify when, where, and why GPM IMERG misidentified and failed to detect precipitation events in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah in the United States. Precipitation events were identified based on 15-min precipitation from gauges and 30-min precipitation from the IMERG multisatellite constellation. False-positive and false-negative precipitation events were identified and analyzed to determine their characteristics. Precipitation events identified by gauges had longer duration and had higher cumulative precipitation than those identified by GPM IMERG. GPM IMERG had many false event detections during the summer months, suggesting possible virga event detection, which is when precipitation falls from a cloud but evaporates before it reaches the ground. The frequency and timing of the merged passive microwave (PMW) product and forward propagation were responsible for IMERG overestimating cumulative precipitation during some precipitation events and underestimating others. This work can inform experts that are using the GPM IMERG NRT product to be mindful of situations where GPM IMERG–estimated precipitation events may not fully resolve the hydrometeorological conditions driving these hazards.

Significance Statement

Accurately estimating rainfall to detect and monitor a precipitation event at near–real time is of utmost importance for hydrometeorological hazards. We used a state-of-the-art rainfall estimation product called GPM IMERG that uses infrared and passive microwave measurements collected from a constellation of satellites to produce near-real-time rainfall estimates every 30 min worldwide. The purpose of our research was to identify when, where, and why GPM IMERG falsely detected and missed precipitation events. Our results suggest that the frequency and timing of passive microwave precipitation with forward propagation were responsible for IMERG missing events, overestimating total rainfall during some precipitation events, and underestimating total rainfall in other precipitation events. Our future work will further investigate precipitation events using the GPM IMERG version 7 near-real-time product.

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Kyle Lesinger
,
Di Tian
, and
Hailan Wang

Abstract

Flash droughts are rapidly developing subseasonal climate extreme events that are manifested as suddenly decreased soil moisture, driven by increased evaporative demand and/or sustained precipitation deficits. Over each climate region in the contiguous United States (CONUS), we evaluated the forecast skill of weekly root-zone soil moisture (RZSM), evaporative demand (ET o ), and relevant flash drought (FD) indices derived from two dynamic models [Goddard Earth Observing System model V2p1 (GEOS-V2p1) and Global Ensemble Forecast System version 12 (GEFSv12)] in the Subseasonal Experiment (SubX) project between years 2000 and 2019 against three reference datasets: Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications version 2 (MERRA-2), North American Land Data Assimilation System, phase 2 (NLDAS-2), and GEFSv12 reanalysis. The ET o and its forcing variables at lead week 1 have moderate-to-high anomaly correlation coefficient (ACC) skill (∼0.70–0.95) except downwelling shortwave radiation, and by weeks 3–4, predictability was low for all forcing variables (ACC < 0.5). RZSM (0–100 cm) for model GEFSv12 showed high skill at lead week 1 (∼0.7–0.85 ACC) in the High Plains, West, Midwest, and South CONUS regions when evaluated against GEFSv12 reanalysis but lower skill against MERRA-2 and NLDAS-2 and ACC skill are still close to 0.5 for lead weeks 3–4, better than ET o forecasts. GEFSv12 analysis has not been evaluated against in situ observations and has substantial RZSM anomaly differences when compared to NLDAS-2, and our analysis identified GEFSv12 reforecast prediction limit, which can maximally achieve ACC ∼0.6 for RZSM forecasts between lead weeks 3 and 4. Analysis of major FD events reveals that GEFSv12 reforecast inconsistently captured the correct location of atmospheric and RZSM anomalies contributing to FD onset, suggesting the needs for improving the dynamic models’ assimilation and initialization procedures to improve subseasonal FD predictability.

Significance Statement

Flash droughts are rapidly developing climate extremes which reduce soil moisture through enhanced evaporative demand and precipitation deficits, and these events can have large impacts on the ecosystem and crop health. We evaluated the subseasonal forecast skill of soil moisture and evaporative demand against three reanalysis datasets and found that evaporative demand skill was similar between forecasts and reanalyses while soil moisture skill is dependent on the reference dataset. Skill of evaporative demand decreases rapidly after week 1, while soil moisture skill declines more slowly after week 1. Case studies for the 2012, 2017, and 2019 United States flash droughts identified that forecasts could capture rapid decreases in soil moisture in some regions but not consistently, implying that long-lead forecasts still need improvements before being used in early warning systems. Improvements in flash drought predictability at longer lead times will require less biased initial conditions, better model parameterizations, and improved representations of large-scale teleconnections.

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Free access
Filipe Aires
and
Victor Pellet

Abstract

A multitude of Earth Observation (EO) products are available for monitoring the terrestrial water cycle. These EO datasets have resulted in a multiplicity of datasets for the same geophysical variable. Furthermore, inconsistencies between the water components prevent the water budget closure. A MAP (Maximum A Posteriori) estimator has been used in the past to optimally combine EO datasets. This framework has many advantages, but it can only be utilized when all four water components are available (precipitation P, evapotranspiration E, total water storage change dS, and river discharge R) and solely at the basin-scale. By combining physical expertise with the statistical inference of Neural Networks (NN), we designed a custom deep learning scheme to optimize EO data. This hybrid approach benefits from the optimization capabilities of NNs to estimate the parameters of interconnected physical modules. The NN is trained using basin-scale data (from MAP results) over 38 basins to obtain optimized EOs globally. The NN integration offers several enhancements compared to MAP: independent calibration/mixing models are obtained with imbalance reduction, optimization at the pixel level, and environmental variables can be used to extrapolate results to unmonitored regions. The NN integration enables combining EO estimates of individual water components (P, E, dS, R) in a hydrologically coherent manner, resulting in a significant decrease of the water budget imbalance at global scale. Mean imbalance errors can be significant on raw EOs, but they become negligible when EOs are integrated. The STD of the imbalance is around 26 mm/month for raw EOs, they decrease to 21 when combined, and 19 when mixed.

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Mya J. Sears
,
Alison D. Nugent
, and
Yinphan Tsang

Abstract

The northeasterly facing, windward side of the Island of Kaua‘i (part of the State of Hawai‘i, USA) is prone to heavy rainfall events due to its topographical features and geographical location. Persistent northeasterly trade winds, coupled with steep changes in elevation, create an ideal environment for orographic precipitation. In addition, due to Kaua‘i’s 22°N latitude, the island often experiences midlatitude weather features such as Kona lows, upper-level lows, and cold fronts that frequently result in high rainfall and river discharge conditions. This work uses data from river gauges in Halele‘a to understand the seasonality and impacts of the main atmospheric disturbances on two rivers in the region. The seasonality study showed that the majority of extreme flooding events occurred during the cool season and were predominantly caused by cold fronts and upper-level troughs. The historical analysis used atmospheric disturbance cases to determine that Kona lows were likely to cause high streamflow in both studied Halele‘a rivers, and upper-level lows had an approximately equal probability of causing high streamflow or not. The findings that come from this project can provide context to atmospheric disturbances in Halele‘a and help community members to identify and anticipate the types of events that may contribute to flooding.

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