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Lexi Henny, Chris D. Thorncroft, Huang-Hsiung Hsu, and Lance F. Bosart

Abstract

Taiwan regularly experiences precipitation extremes of hundreds of millimeters per day, especially between May and September. In this study, Taiwan’s extreme rainfall (ER) is analyzed over a 56-yr time period in different seasons and geographic regions, using a recently released, high-resolution gridded rainfall dataset. ER is defined using a seasonally and geographically varying 99th-percentile threshold to better resolve the characteristics of the most intense rainfall seen in different locations and times of year. The resulting monthly ER rates are largest in typhoon season and smallest in fall, winter, and spring. ER is spatially homogeneous in the mei-yu and typhoon seasons and concentrated in northern Taiwan during the rest of the year. A trend analysis revealed a positive trend in island-mean ER for the winter, spring, and typhoon seasons. In winter and spring, these trends are most pronounced in the north. In the mei-yu season, ER has increased most over the southwestern mountain slopes; in typhoon season, ER has increased consistently over much of Taiwan. These changes often exceed 1% yr−1. In many areas, typhoon season accounts for the largest fraction of the observed annual ER trend. TCs produce most of the observed typhoon season ER and ER trend, with nearly half of the typhoon season ER trend being associated with increases in TC frequency and duration around central and northern Taiwan. Certain regional changes in ER characteristics, particularly in areas with low sample size or complex seasonal contributions, merit further investigation in future work.

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Seth P. Howard, Kim E. Klockow-McClain, Alison P. Boehmer, and Kevin M. Simmons

Abstract

Tornadoes cause billions of dollars in damage and over 100 fatalities on average annually. Yet, an indirect cost to these storms is found in lost sales and/or lost productivity from responding to over 2000 warnings per year. This project responds to the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017, H.R. 353, which calls for the use of social and behavioral science to study and improve storm warning systems. Our goal is to provide an analysis of cost avoidance that could accrue from a change to the warning paradigm, particularly to include probabilistic hazard information at storm scales. A survey of nearly 500 firms was conducted in and near the Dallas–Fort Worth metropolitan area asking questions about experience with tornadoes, sources of information for severe weather, expected cost of responding to tornado warnings, and how the firm would respond to either deterministic or probabilistic warnings. We find a dramatic change from deterministic warnings compared to the proposed probabilistic and that a probabilistic information system produces annual cost avoidance in a range of $2.3–$7.6 billion (U.S. dollars) compared to the current deterministic warning paradigm.

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Pei-Ning Feng, Hai Lin, Jacques Derome, and Timothy M. Merlis

Abstract

The prediction skill of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) in boreal winter is assessed in the operational models of the WCRP/WWRP Subseasonal-to-Seasonal (S2S) prediction project. Model performance in representing the contribution of different processes to the NAO forecast skill is evaluated. The S2S models with relatively higher stratospheric vertical resolutions (high-top models) are in general more skillful in predicting the NAO than those models with relatively lower stratospheric resolutions (low-top models). Comparison of skill is made between different groups of forecasts based on initial condition characteristics: phase and amplitude of the NAO, easterly and westerly phases of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO), warm and cold phases of ENSO, and phase and amplitude of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). The forecasts with a strong NAO in the initial condition are more skillful than with a weak NAO. Those with negative NAO tend to have more skillful predictions than positive NAO. Comparisons of NAO skill between forecasts during easterly and westerly QBO and between warm and cold ENSO show no consistent difference for the S2S models. Forecasts with strong initial MJO tend to be more skillful in the NAO prediction than weak MJO. Among the eight phases of MJO in the initial condition, phases 3–4 and phase 7 have better NAO forecast skills compared with the other phases. The results of this study have implications for improving our understanding of sources of predictability of the NAO. The situation dependence of the NAO prediction skill is likely useful in identifying “windows of opportunity” for subseasonal to seasonal predictions.

Open access
Erin B. Munsell, Scott A. Braun, and Fuqing Zhang

Abstract

This study utilizes brightness temperatures (T bs) observed by the infrared longwave window band (channel 14; 11.2 μm) from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-16 (GOES-16) to examine the structure of Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Michael throughout their lifetimes. During the times leading up to their rapid intensifications (RI), two-dimensional inner-core structures are examined to analyze the strength and location of the developing convection. Moderate vertical wind shear in the environments of Harvey and Michael induced a pronounced convective asymmetry prior to RI, followed by a rapid axisymmetrization that occurred essentially in conjunction with RI. The evolutions of the tropical cyclones’ (TCs’) coldest T bs indicate that the inner-core convective activity began to increase in the 12 h prior to RI onset, primarily in 2–4-h substantial “bursts,” while substantial convection dominated essentially the entirety of the region within 100 km of the surface center within 12 h of the onset of intensification. Azimuthally averaged T b evolutions illustrate the development of each TC’s eye and eyewall, the variability of the radial extent of the central dense overcast associated with the diurnal cycle, as well as details of the evolving convective structures throughout intensification. Hovmöller diagrams of data at constant radii reveal areas of cold T bs propagating around the TCs on time scales of 2–3 h. The examination of these features in a deep-layer shear-relative sense reveals that they initiate primarily downshear of the TCs’ surface centers. As RI is reached, these areas of convection are able to propagate into the upshear quadrants, which helps facilitate the onset of more substantial intensification.

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Yujia You, Mingfang Ting, and Suzana J. Camargo

Abstract

The synoptic low pressure systems (LPSs) formed over the downwind side of the Tibetan Plateau explain a substantial portion of summer rainfall extremes along their paths. Recent studies have found that the total extreme rainfall trend over the East Asian landmass, which features the “south flood–north drought” pattern, can be understood to a great extent by the changes in terrestrial LPSs. Yet, the energy sources fueling these storms and the environmental drivers of their long-term trends remain unclear. Utilizing a probabilistic clustering method, three clusters of terrestrial LPS tracks for the period 1979–2018 are identified. Besides the differences in trajectories that distinguish the clusters into northeastward-migrating and quasi-stationary types, prominent intercluster differences are found in the LPS evolution, energetics, and trends. The Lorenz energetics suggest that while condensational heating is indispensable for all three clusters, the migratory type, which has greater intensity and faster development, is more closely tied to baroclinicity. Nonetheless, the summer baroclinicity alone is not enough to sustain these LPSs as these storms dissipate quickly after propagating out of the humid monsoon region and into the drier extratropics. Over time, occurrences of migratory LPSs decrease, and those of quasi-stationary LPSs increase. Using a Poisson model that links the LPS genesis to local environmental conditions, the decreasing occurrence of migratory LPSs is shown to result from the weakened baroclinicity, whereas the increasing occurrence of quasi-stationary LPSs is primarily driven by enhanced relative humidity and reduced steering flow in the mid-to-lower troposphere over East Asia.

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Samuel Smith, Paul W. Staten, and Jian Lu

Abstract

Models disagree on how much the hydrologic cycle could intensify under climate change. These changes are expected to scale with the Clausius–Clapeyron relation but may locally diverge due in part to the uncertain response of the general circulation, causing the hydrologic cycle to inherit this uncertainty. To identify how the circulation contributes, we link circulation changes to changes in the higher moments of the hydrologic cycle using the novel dynamical framework of the local hydrologic cycle, the portion of the hydrologic cycle driven by moist or dry intrusions. We expand this dynamical framework, developing a closed budget that diagnoses thermodynamic, advective, and overturning contributions to future hydrologic cycle changes. In analyzing these changes for the Community Earth System Model Large Ensemble, we show that overturning is the main dynamic contributor to the tropical and subtropical annual response, consistent with a weakening of this circulation. In the extratropics, we show that advective contributions, likely from storm track changes, dominate the response. We achieve a cleaner separation between dynamic and thermodynamic contributions through a semiempirical scaling, which reveals the robustness of the Clausius–Clapeyron scaling for the local hydrologic cycle. This scaling also demonstrates the slowing of the local hydrologic cycle and how changing subtropical dynamics asymmetrically impact wave breaking and suppress meridional moisture transport. We conclude that dynamic changes in the subtropics are predominantly responsible for the annual, dynamic response in the extratropics and thus a significant contributor to uncertainty in future projections.

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Pier Luigi Vidale, Kevin Hodges, Benoit Vannière, Paolo Davini, Malcolm J. Roberts, Kristian Strommen, Antje Weisheimer, Elina Plesca, and Susanna Corti

Abstract

The role of model resolution in simulating geophysical vortices with the characteristics of realistic tropical cyclones (TCs) is well established. The push for increasing resolution continues, with general circulation models (GCMs) starting to use sub-10-km grid spacing. In the same context it has been suggested that the use of stochastic physics (SP) may act as a surrogate for high resolution, providing some of the benefits at a fraction of the cost. Either technique can reduce model uncertainty, and enhance reliability, by providing a more dynamic environment for initial synoptic disturbances to be spawned and to grow into TCs. We present results from a systematic comparison of the role of model resolution and SP in the simulation of TCs, using EC-Earth simulations from project Climate-SPHINX, in large ensemble mode, spanning five different resolutions. All tropical cyclonic systems, including TCs, were tracked explicitly. As in previous studies, the number of simulated TCs increases with the use of higher resolution, but SP further enhances TC frequencies by ~30%, in a strikingly similar way. The use of SP is beneficial for removing systematic climate biases, albeit not consistently so for interannual variability; conversely, the use of SP improves the simulation of the seasonal cycle of TC frequency. An investigation of the mechanisms behind this response indicates that SP generates both higher TC (and TC seed) genesis rates, and more suitable environmental conditions, enabling a more efficient transition of TC seeds into TCs. These results were confirmed by the use of equivalent simulations with the HadGEM3-GC31 GCM.

Open access
Song Yang, Vincent Lao, Richard Bankert, Timothy R. Whitcomb, and Joshua Cossuth

Abstract

An accurate precipitation climatology is presented for tropical depression (TD), tropical storm (TS), and tropical cyclone (TC) occurrences over oceans using recently released, consistent, and high-quality precipitation datasets from all passive microwave sensors covering 1998–2012 along with the Automated Rotational Center Hurricane Eye Retrieval (ARCHER)-based TC center positions. Impacts with respect to the direction of both TC movement and the 200–850-hPa wind shear on the spatial distributions of TC precipitation are analyzed. The TC eyewall contraction process during its intensification is noted by a decrease in the radius of maximum rain rate with an increase in TC intensity. For global TCs, the maximum rain rate with respect to the direction of TC movement is located in the down-motion quadrants for TD, TS, and category-1–3 TCs, and in a concentric pattern for category-4/5 TCs. A consistent maximum TC precipitation with respect to the direction of the 200–850-hPa wind shear is shown in the downshear left quadrant (DSLQ). With respect to direction of TC movement, spatial patterns of TC precipitation vary with basins and show different features for weak and strong storms. The maximum rain rate is always located in DSLQ for all TC categories and basins, except the Southern Hemisphere basin where it is in the downshear right quadrant. This study not only confirms previously published results on TC precipitation distributions relative to vertical wind shear direction, but also provides a detailed distribution for each TC category and TS, while TD storms display an enhanced rainfall rate ahead of the downshear quadrants.

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Yue Sun, Haishan Chen, Siguang Zhu, Jie Zhang, and Jiangfeng Wei

Abstract

Under the background of global warming, the Eurasian warming features evident spatial heterogeneity, and Northeast Asia (NEA) is one of the regions with the most significant summer warming. Based on reanalysis data and the CESM1.2.2 model, we investigated the possible impacts of spring Eurasian snowmelt on recent NEA summer warming and the relevant mechanisms. Results show that increased (decreased) spring snowmelt over eastern Europe to western Siberia (EEWS) is closely linked to NEA summer warming (cooling). Increased spring snowmelt can wet the soil, weakening surface sensible heating to the atmosphere and cooling the atmosphere. The persistent anomalous soil moisture and surface sensible heat induce geopotential height decrease over EEWS and strengthen the eastward-propagating wave train. Furthermore, positive geopotential height anomalies appear in downstream NEA in summer via the adjustment of the atmospheric circulation. Controlled by the anomalous high pressure system, the west part of NEA is affected by the southerly warm advection, while the east is affected by adiabatic warming induced by the dominant descending motion. Meanwhile, decreased cloud and increased incident solar radiation over NEA favor summer land surface warming. Model results suggest that CESM1.2.2 can basically reproduce the positive correlation between NEA summer land surface temperature and EEWS spring snowmelt. With the positive spring snowmelt forcing, the simulated positive soil moisture and negative sensible heat anomalies persist from spring to summer over EEWS. Consequently, negative geopotential height anomalies appear over the snowmelt region while positive anomalies occur around Lake Baikal, resulting in evident NEA land surface warming.

Open access
John C. King, John Turner, Steve Colwell, Hua Lu, Andrew Orr, Tony Phillips, J. Scott Hosking, and Gareth J. Marshall

Abstract

Commencing in 1956, observations made at Halley Research Station in Antarctica provide one of the longest continuous series of near-surface temperature observations from the Antarctic continent. Since few other records of comparable length are available, the Halley record has been used extensively in studies of long-term Antarctic climate variability and change. The record does not, however, come from a single location but is a composite of observations from a sequence of seven stations, all situated on the Brunt Ice Shelf, that range from around 10 to 50 km in distance from the coast. Until now, it has generally been assumed that temperature data from all of these stations could be combined into a single composite record with no adjustment. Here, we examine this assumption of homogeneity. Application of a statistical changepoint algorithm to the composite record detects a sudden cooling associated with the move from Halley IV to Halley V station in 1992. We show that this temperature step is consistent with local temperature gradients measured by a network of automatic weather stations and with those simulated by a high-resolution atmospheric model. These temperature gradients are strongest in the coastal region and result from the onshore advection of maritime air. The detected inhomogeneity could account for the weak cooling trend seen in the uncorrected composite record. In future, studies that make use of the Halley record will need to account for its inhomogeneity.

Open access