Browse

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 382 items for :

  • Earth Interactions x
  • Refine by Access: All Content x
Clear All
Maria Zubkova, Louis Giglio, Michael L. Humber, Joanne V. Hall, and Evan Ellicott

Abstract

It has been 10 years since the start of the Syrian uprisings. While relative stability is improving overall, a new disaster, wildfires, impacted an already food-insecure population by burning through key production areas, damaging crops, soil, and livestock and causing air quality to deteriorate. As observed with remotely sensed data, fire affected 4.8% of Syria in 2019, as compared with the average 0.2%, and most fires were observed within agricultural land in the northeast. Abnormal amounts of rainfall during the 2019 growing season and, consequently, high soil moisture explained about 62% of the drastic increase in the burned area extent. In contrast, in 2020, fires continued despite the average amount of rainfall. Extremely high temperature could partially explain a 10-fold increase in the extent of burned area in 2020 but only within forested regions in the northwest. We argue that the abrupt changes in Syria’s fire activity were driven by the complex interactions among conflict, migration, land use, and climate. On one side, the ongoing conflict leads to a drastic increase in the number of accidental and deliberate fires and reduced capacity for fire response. On the other side, years of insecurity, widespread displacement, and economic instability left no choice for locals other than exploiting fires to remove natural vegetation for expanding farming, logging, and charcoal trading. The loss of agricultural production and natural vegetation to fire can have serious implications for food security, soil property, biodiversity, and ecosystem services, which can further exacerbate the already unstable economy and make ongoing violence even more intense.

Full access
Mark R. Jury and América R. Gaviria Pabón

Abstract

Satellite and reanalysis products are used to study the atmospheric environment, aerosols, and trace gases in smoke plumes over South America in the period 2000–18. Climatic conditions and fire density maps provide context to link biomass burning across the southern Amazon region (5°–15°S, 50°–70°W) to thick near-surface plumes of trace gases and fine aerosols. Intraseasonal weather patterns that underpin greater fire emissions in the dry season (July–October) are exacerbated by high pressure over a cool eastern Pacific Ocean, for example in September 2007. Smoke-plume dispersion simulated with HYSPLIT reveals a slowing of westward transport between sources in eastern Brazil and the Andes Mountains. During cases of thick smoke plumes over southern Amazon, an upper ridge and sinking motions confine trace gases and fine aerosols below 4 km. Long-term warming, which tends to coincide with the zone of biomass burning, is +0.03°C yr−1 in the air and +0.1°C yr−1 at the land surface. Our study suggests that weather conditions promoting fire emissions also tend to limit dispersion.

Full access
M. C. A. Torbenson, D. W. Stahle, I. M. Howard, D. J. Burnette, D. Griffin, J. Villanueva-Díaz, and B. I. Cook

Abstract

Season-to-season persistence of soil moisture drought varies across North America. Such interseasonal autocorrelation can have modest skill in forecasting future conditions several months in advance. Because robust instrumental observations of precipitation span less than 100 years, the temporal stability of the relationship between seasonal moisture anomalies is uncertain. The North American Seasonal Precipitation Atlas (NASPA) is a gridded network of separately reconstructed cool-season (December–April) and warm-season (May–July) precipitation series and offers new insights on the intra-annual changes in drought for up to 2000 years. Here, the NASPA precipitation reconstructions are rescaled to represent the long-term soil moisture balance during the cool season and 3-month-long atmospheric moisture during the warm season. These rescaled seasonal reconstructions are then used to quantify the frequency, magnitude, and spatial extent of cool-season drought that was relieved or reversed during the following summer months. The adjusted seasonal reconstructions reproduce the general patterns of large-scale drought amelioration and termination in the instrumental record during the twentieth century and are used to estimate relief and reversals for the most skillfully reconstructed past 500 years. Subcontinental-to-continental-scale reversals of cool-season drought in the following warm season have been rare, but the reconstructions display periods prior to the instrumental data of increased reversal probabilities for the mid-Atlantic region and the U.S. Southwest. Drought relief at the continental scale may arise in part from macroscale ocean–atmosphere processes, whereas the smaller-scale regional reversals may reflect land surface feedbacks and stochastic variability.

Full access
Michael Peterson and Geoffrey Stano

Abstract

Lightning megaflashes extending over >100-km distances have been observed by the Geostationary Lightning Mappers (GLMs) on NOAA’s R-series Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES). The hazards posed by megaflashes are unclear, however, because of limitations in the GLM data. We address these by reprocessing GOES-16 GLM measurements from 1 January 2018 to 15 January 2020 and integrating them with Earth Networks Global Lightning Network (ENGLN) observations. ENGLN verified 194 880 GLM megaflashes as natural lightning. Of these, 127 479 flashes occurred following the October 2018 GLM software update that standardized GLM timing. Reprocessed GLM/ENGLN lightning maps from these postupdate cases provide a comprehensive view of how individual megaflashes evolve. This megaflash dataset is used to generate statistics that describe their hazards. The average megaflash produces 5–7 cloud-to-ground (CG) strokes that are spread across 40%–50% of the flash extent. As flash extent increases beyond 100 km, megaflashes become concentrated in key hot-spot regions in North and South America while the number of CG and intracloud events per flash and the overall peak current increase. CGs in the larger megaflashes occur over 80% of the flash extent measured by GLM, and the majority contain regions where the megaflash is the only lightning activity in the preceding hour. These statistics demonstrate that there is no safe location below an electrified cloud that is producing megaflashes, and current lightning safety guidance is not always sufficient to mitigate megaflash hazards.

Full access
Gerald V. Frost, Uma S. Bhatt, Matthew J. Macander, Amy S. Hendricks, and M. Torre Jorgenson

Abstract

Alaska’s Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta (YKD) is among the Arctic’s warmest, most biologically productive regions, but regional decline of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) has been a striking feature of spaceborne Advanced High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) observations since 1982. This contrast with “greening” prevalent elsewhere in the low Arctic raises questions concerning climatic and biophysical drivers of tundra productivity along maritime–continental gradients. We compared NDVI time series from AVHRR, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), and Landsat for 2000–19 and identified trend drivers with reference to sea ice and climate datasets, ecosystem and disturbance mapping, field measurements of vegetation, and knowledge exchange with YKD elders. All time series showed increasing maximum NDVI; however, whereas MODIS and Landsat trends were very similar, AVHRR-observed trends were weaker and had dissimilar spatial patterns. The AVHRR and MODIS records for time-integrated NDVI were dramatically different; AVHRR indicated weak declines, whereas MODIS indicated strong increases throughout the YKD. Disagreement largely arose from observations during shoulder seasons, when there is partial snow cover and very high cloud frequency. Nonetheless, both records shared strong correlations with spring sea ice extent and summer warmth. Multiple lines of evidence indicate that, despite frequent disturbances and high interannual variability in spring sea ice and summer warmth, tundra productivity is increasing on the YKD. Although climatic drivers of tundra productivity were similar to more continental parts of the Arctic, our intercomparison highlights sources of uncertainty in maritime areas like the YKD that currently, or soon will, challenge historical concepts of “what is Arctic.”

Full access
Paolina Bongioannini Cerlini, Lorenzo Silvestri, Silvia Meniconi, and Bruno Brunone

Abstract

This paper concerns the simulation of the water table elevation in shallow unconfined aquifers where infiltration is assumed as the main mechanism of recharge. The main aim is to provide a reliable tool for groundwater management that satisfies water supply managers. Such a tool is a candidate as a physically based alternative to the use of empirical methods or general circulation models. It is based on the use of two widely available sets of data: the water table elevation measurements and soil moisture time series. In fact, the former are usually provided by government agencies on public websites whereas the latter are included in the atmospheric global datasets (reanalysis). It is notable that data from reanalysis are accessible to any citizen and organization around the world on an open-access basis (e.g., Copernicus). In the proposed method, the measured water table elevations are correlated quantitatively with the water fluxes toward the aquifer evaluated using the soil moisture data from ERA5 reanalysis (provided by ECMWF) within a Richards equation–based approach. The analysis is executed using data from the Umbria region (Italy) on both a daily and monthly scale. In fact, these are the time intervals of interest for a proper management of groundwater resources. The proposed relationships include both a logarithmic and linear term and point out the possible different regimes of the shallow aquifers with regard to the recharge due to infiltration. These different mechanisms reflect in the different role played by the water fluxes toward the aquifer in terms of water table elevation changes according to the considered time scale.

Full access
Yalalt Nyamgerel, Sang-Bum Hong, Yeongcheol Han, Songyi Kim, Jeonghoon Lee, and Soon Do Hur

Abstract

Polar snow pits or ice cores preserve valuable information derived from the atmosphere on past climate and environment changes. A 1.57-m snow-pit record from the coastal site (Styx Glacier) in eastern Antarctica covering the period from January 2011 to January 2015 was discussed and compared with meteorological variables. The dominant contribution of the deposition of sea-salt aerosols due to the proximity of the site to the ocean and processes of sea ice formation was revealed in the ionic concentrations. Consistent seasonal peaks in δ 18O, δD, MSA, nssSO42, and NO3 indicate the strong enhancement of their source during warm periods, whereas the sea-salt ions (Na+, K+, Mg2+, Ca2+, Cl, and totSO42) exhibit a distinct distribution. Monthly mean δ 18O positively correlates with the air temperature record from an automatic weather station (AWS) located in the main wind direction. Despite the shortness of the record, we suspect that the slight depletion of the isotopic composition and lowering of the snow accumulation could be related to the cooler air temperature with the decrease of open sea area. Consistency with previous studies and the positive correlation of sea-salt ions in the snow pit indicate the relatively good preservation of snow layers with noticeable climate and environmental signals [e.g., changes in sea ice extent (SIE) or sea surface temperature]. We report a new snow-pit record, which would be comparative and supportive to understand similar signals preserved in deeper ice cores in this location.

Full access
Jason Naylor and Aaron D. Kennedy

Abstract

This study analyzes the frequency of strong, isolated convective cells in the vicinity of Louisville, Kentucky. Data from the Severe Weather Data Inventory are used to compare the frequency of convective activity over Louisville with the observed frequency at nearby rural locations from 2003 to 2019. The results show that Louisville experiences significantly more isolated convective activity than do the rural locations. The difference in convective activity between Louisville and the rural locations is strongest during summer, with peak differences occurring between May and August. Relative to the rural locations, Louisville experiences more isolated convective activity in the afternoon and early evening but less activity after midnight and into the early morning. Isolated convective events over Louisville are most likely during quiescent synoptic conditions, whereas rural events are more likely during active synoptic patterns. To determine whether these differences can be attributed primarily to urban effects, two additional cities are shown for comparison—Nashville, Tennessee, and Cincinnati, Ohio. Both Nashville and Cincinnati experience more isolated convective activity than all five of their nearby rural comparison areas, but the results for both are statistically significant at four of the five rural locations. In addition, the analysis of Cincinnati includes a sixth comparison site that overlaps the urbanized area of Columbus, Ohio. For that location, differences in convective activity are not statistically significant.

Full access
Ansar Khan, Samiran Khorat, Rupali Khatun, Quang-Van Doan, U. S. Nair, and Dev Niyogi

Abstract

India responded to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic through a three-phase nationwide lockdown: 25 March–14 April, 15 April–3 May, and 4–17 May 2020. We utilized this unique opportunity to assess the impact of restrictions on the air quality of Indian cities. We conducted comprehensive statistical assessments for the air quality index (AQI) and criteria pollutant concentrations for 91 cities during the lockdown phases relative to the preceding seven days (prelockdown phase of 18–24 March 2020) and to corresponding values from the same days of the year in 2019. Both comparisons show statistically significant countrywide mean decrease in AQI (33%), PM2.5 (36%), PM10 (40%), NO2 (58%), O3 (5%), SO2 (25%), NH3 (28%), and CO (60%). These reductions represent a background or the lower bound of air quality burden of industrial and transportation sectors. The northern region was most impacted by the first two phases of the lockdown, whereas the southern region was most affected in the last phase. The northeastern region was least affected, followed by the eastern region, which also showed an increase in O3 during the lockdown. Analysis of satellite-retrieved aerosol optical depth (AOD) shows that effects of restrictions on particulate pollution were variable—locally confined in some areas or having a broader impact in other regions. Anomalous behavior over the eastern region suggests a differing role of regional societal response or meteorological conditions. The study results have policy implications because they provide the observational background values for the industrial and transportation sector’s contribution to urban pollution.

Full access
A. S. Alhumaima and S. M. Abdullaev

Abstract

The primary aim of this work is to study the response of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) of landscapes in the lower Tigris basin to current global and regional climate variability presented, respectively, by the global circulation indices and monthly temperatures and precipitation extracted from five observational/reanalysis datasets. The second task is to find the dataset that best reflects the regional vegetation and climate conditions. Comparison of the Köppen–Trewartha bioclimatic landscapes with the positions of botanical districts, land-cover types, and streamflow estimates led to the conclusion that only two datasets correctly describe regional climatic zones. Therefore, searching for the NDVI response to regional climate variability requires the use of normalized analogs of temperatures and precipitations, as well as the Spearman rank correlation. We found that March/April NDVI, as proxies of the maximum biological productivity of the regional landscapes, are strongly correlated with October–March precipitation derived from three datasets and January–March temperatures derived from one dataset. We discovered the significant impact of autumn–winter El Niño–Southern Oscillation and winter Indian Oceanic dipole states on regional weather (e.g., all five recent severe droughts occurred during strong La Niña events). However, the strength of this impact on the vegetation was clearly linked to the zonal landscape type. By selecting pairs of the temperature/precipitation time series that best correlated with NDVI at a given landscape, we have built a synthetic climate dataset. The landscape approach presented in this work can be used to validate the viability of any dataset when assessing the impacts of climate change and variability on weather-dependent components of Earth’s surface.

Full access