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Yuwei Wang and Yi Huang

Abstract

An atmospheric global climate model (GCM) and its associated single-column model are used to study the tropical upper-tropospheric warming and elucidate how different processes drive this warming. In this modeling framework, on average the direct radiative process accounts for 13% of the total warming. The radiation increases the atmospheric lapse rate and triggers more convection, which further produces 74% of the total warming. The remaining 13% is attributable to the circulation adjustment. The relative importance of these processes differs in different regions. In the deep tropics, the radiative–convective adjustment produces the most significant warming and accounts for almost 100% of the total warming. In the subtropics, the radiative–convective adjustment accounts for 73% of the total warming and the circulation adjustment plays a more important role than in the deep tropics, especially at the levels above 200 hPa. When the lateral boundary conditions (i.e., the temperature and water vapor advections) are held fixed in single-column simulations, the tropospheric relative humidity significantly increases in the radiative–convective adjustment in response to the surface warming. This result, in contrast to the relative humidity conservation behavior in the GCM, highlights the importance of circulation adjustment in maintaining the constant relative humidity. The tropical upper-tropospheric warming in both the full GCM and the single-column simulations is found to be less strong than the warming predicted by reference moist adiabats. This evidences that the sub-moist-adiabatic warming occurs even without the dilution effect of the large-scale circulation adjustment.

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Douglas E. Miller, Zhuo Wang, Bo Li, Daniel S. Harnos, and Trent Ford

Abstract

Skillful subseasonal prediction of extreme heat and precipitation greatly benefits multiple sectors, including water management, public health, and agriculture, in mitigating the impact of extreme events. A statistical model is developed to predict the weekly frequency of extreme warm days and 14-day standardized precipitation index (SPI) during boreal summer in the United States. We use a leading principal component of U.S. soil moisture and an index based on the North Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) as predictors. The model outperforms the NCEP Climate Forecast System, version 2 (CFSv2), at weeks 3–4 in the eastern United States. It is found that the North Pacific SST anomalies persist for several weeks and are associated with a persistent wave train pattern, which leads to increased occurrences of blocking and extreme temperature over the eastern United States. Extreme dry soil moisture conditions persist into week 4 and are associated with an increase in sensible heat flux and a decrease in latent heat flux, which may help to maintain the overlying anticyclone. The clear-sky conditions associated with blocking anticyclones further decrease soil moisture and increase the frequency of extreme warm days. This skillful statistical model has the potential to aid in irrigation scheduling, crop planning, and reservoir operation and to provide mitigation of impacts from extreme heat events.

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Yuan Sun, Zhong Zhong, Tim Li, Lan Yi, and Yixuan Shen

Abstract

Understanding the impact of climate change on tropical cyclones (TCs) has become a hot topic. The slowdown of TC translation speed contributes greatly to the locally accumulated TC damage. While the recent observational evidence shows that TC translation speed has decreased globally by 10% since the mid-twentieth century, the robustness of the trend is questioned by other studies as effects of changes in observational capability can strongly affect the global trend. Moreover, none of the published studies considered the dependence of TC slowdown on TC intensity. This is the caveat of these analyses as the effect of TC slowdown is closely related to TC intensity. Here, we investigate the relationship between TC translation speed trend and TC intensity, and reveal possible reasons for the trend. We show that the global slowing trend without weak TC moments (≤17 m s−1) is about double of that with weak TC moments in a recent study. This is because the slowing trend is dominated by the trend of the strong TCs. Stronger (weaker) TCs tend to be controlled more by upper-level (lower-level) steering flow, and the calculated trend of upper-level steering flow is much larger than that of lower-level steering flow. This may be an important reason for the large difference between the slowing trend without weak TC moments and that with weak TC moments. Furthermore, the changes of TC tracks (including interbasin trend and latitudinal shift), which are partly attributed to data inhomogeneity, make a much larger contribution to the slowing trend, compared with the weakening of tropical circulation, which is related to anthropogenic warming.

Open access
Kelley M. Murphy, Eric C. Bruning, Christopher J. Schultz, and Jennifer K. Vanos

Abstract

A lightning risk assessment for application to human safety was created and applied in 10 west Texas locations from 2 May 2016 to 30 September 2016. The method combined spatial lightning mapping data, probabilistic risk calculation adapted from the International Electrotechnical Commission Standard 62305-2, and weighted average interpolation to produce risk magnitudes that were compared with tolerability thresholds to issue lightning warnings. These warnings were compared with warnings created for the same dataset using a more standard lightning safety approach that was based on National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) total lightning within 5 n mi (1 n mi = 1.852 km) of each location. Four variations of the calculation as well as different units of risk were tested to find the optimal configuration to calculate risk to an isolated human outdoors. The best-performing risk configuration using risk (10 min)−1 or larger produced the most comparable results to the standard method, such as number of failures, average warning duration, and total time under warnings. This risk configuration produced fewer failures than the standard method but longer total time under warnings and higher false alarm ratios. Median lead times associated with the risk configuration were longer than the standard method for all units considered, whereas median down times were shorter for risk (10 min)−1 and risk (15 min)−1. Overall, the risk method provides a baseline framework to quantify the changing lightning hazard on the storm scale and could be a useful tool to aid in lightning decision support scenarios.

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Haijin Cao, Baylor Fox-Kemper, and Zhiyou Jing

Abstract

The submesoscale energy budget is complex and remains understood only in region-by-region analyses. Based on a series of nested numerical simulations, this study investigated the submesoscale energy budget and flux in the upper ocean of the Kuroshio Extension, including some innovations for examining submesoscale energy budgets in general. The highest-resolution simulation on a ~500-m grid resolves a variety of submesoscale instabilities allowing an energetic analysis in the submesoscale range. The frequency–wavenumber spectra of vertical vorticity variance (i.e., enstrophy) and horizontal divergence variance were used to identify the scales of submesoscale flows as distinct from those of inertia–gravity waves but dominating horizontal divergence variance. Next, the energy transfers between the background scales and the submesoscale were examined. The submesoscale kinetic and potential energy (SMKE and SMPE) were mainly contained in the mixed layer and energized through both barotropic (shear production) and baroclinic (buoyancy production) routes. Averaged over the upper 50 m of ROMS2, the baroclinic transfers amounted to approximately 75% of the sources for the SMKE (3.42 × 10−9 W kg−1) versus the remaining 25% (1.12 × 10−9 W kg−1) via barotropic downscale KE transfers. The KE field was greatly strengthened by energy sources through the boundary—this flux is larger than the mesoscale-to-submesoscale transfers in this region. Spectral energy production, importantly, reveals upscale KE transfers at larger submesoscales and downscale KE transfers at smaller submesoscales (i.e., a transition from inverse to forward KE cascade). This study seeks to extend our understanding of the energy cycle to the submesoscale and highlight the forward KE cascade induced by upper-ocean submesoscale activities in the research domain.

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Boqi Liu and Congwen Zhu

Abstract

The onset of the South China Sea summer monsoon (SCSSM) has traditionally been ascribed to El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on an interannual time scale, but the two do not correspond in some years. The present study applies harmonic analysis on the meridional temperature gradient (MTG) in the mid–upper troposphere over the South China Sea (SCS) and decomposes the onset process to be a slow-varying seasonal cycle and transient subseasonal component. The ENSO-related air temperature anomaly in the southern SCS provides seasonal predictability of SCSSM onset by a stable and robust relationship between ENSO and MTG seasonal cycle. However, in the northern SCS, the MTG is regulated by an intraseasonal oscillation (ISO) of extratropical air temperature with a significant 10–30-day period. This ISO originates over the western Tibetan Plateau (TP) and then propagates eastward and gets enhanced by anomalous diabatic heating due to spring rainfall anomaly over South China as a result of subseasonal thermal forcing of TP. When the ISO arrives to the north of the SCS, it directly changes the tropospheric temperature to modulate the MTG. Meanwhile, the upper-level circulation associated with the ISO alters the meridional potential vorticity advection and pumping effect, followed by the anomalous low-level westerly wind and monsoon convection over the SCS. The SCSSM onset is evidently disrupted from its seasonal cycle when this ISO is more active. Since the independence of its intensity from ENSO, this extratropical ISO over TP and South China provides additional subseasonal predictability of the onset dates of the SCSSM.

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Radan Huth and Martin Dubrovský

Abstract

Studies detecting trends in climate elements typically concentrate on their local significance, ignoring the question of whether the significant local trends may or may not have occurred as a result of chance. This paper fills this gap by examining several approaches to detecting statistical significance of trends defined on a grid (i.e., on a regional scale). To this end, we introduce a novel simple procedure of significance testing that is based on counting signs of local trends (sign test), and we compare it with five other approaches to testing collective significance of trends: counting, extended Mann–Kendall, Walker, false detection rate (FDR), and regression tests. Synthetic data are used to construct null distributions of trend statistics, to determine critical values of the tests, and to assess the performance of tests in terms of type-II error. For lower values of spatial and temporal autocorrelations, the sign test and extended Mann–Kendall test perform slightly better than the counting test; these three tests outperform the Walker, FDR, and regression tests by a wide margin. For high autocorrelations, which is a more realistic case, all tests become similar in their performance, with the exception of the regression test, which performs somewhat worse. Some tests cannot be used under specific conditions because of their construction: the Walker and FDR tests for high temporal autocorrelations, and the sign test under high spatial autocorrelations.

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Yishuai Jin and Zhengyu Liu

Abstract

In this paper, we investigate the potential factors that control the relationship between the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) persistence barriers (PBs) in sea surface temperature (SST) and ocean heat content (OHC) and apply them to explain observational ENSO PBs. With the addition of seasonal growth rate in SST in the neutral recharge oscillator (NRO) model, approximate analytical solutions of autocorrelation functions for SST and OHC suggest strictly that the timing of PB for OHC leads that of SST by half a year and the strengths of the two PBs are the same. The numerical solutions of the NRO model also show a similar relationship. The role of ENSO growth rate with regard to PBs in SST and OHC is then identified in the damped and unstable ENSO regime. Therefore, it is suggested that for the observational ENSO, the seasonally varying ENSO growth rate in SST controls PBs in SST and OHC simultaneously.

Open access
Momme C. Hell, Bruce D. Cornuelle, Sarah T. Gille, and Nicholas J. Lutsko

Abstract

Southern Ocean (SO) surface winds are essential for ventilating the upper ocean by bringing heat and CO2 to the ocean interior. The relationships between mixed layer ventilation, the southern annular mode (SAM), and the storm tracks remain unclear because processes can be governed by short-term wind events as well as long-term means. In this study, observed time-varying 5-day probability density functions (PDFs) of ERA5 surface winds and stresses over the SO are used in a singular value decomposition to derive a linearly independent set of empirical basis functions. The first modes of wind (72% of the total wind variance) and stress (74% of the total stress variance) are highly correlated with a standard SAM index (r = 0.82) and reflect the SAM’s role in driving cyclone intensity and, in turn, extreme westerly winds. The joint PDFs of zonal and meridional wind show that southerly and less westerly winds associated with strong mixed layer ventilation are more frequent during short and distinct negative SAM phases. The probability of these short-term events might be related to midlatitude atmospheric circulation. The second mode describes seasonal changes in the wind variance (16% of the total variance) that are uncorrelated with the first mode. The analysis produces similar results when repeated using 5-day PDFs from a suite of scatterometer products. Differences between wind product PDFs resemble the first mode of the PDFs. Together, these results show a strong correlation between surface stress PDFs and the leading modes of atmospheric variability, suggesting that empirical modes can serve as a novel pathway for understanding differences and variability of surface stress PDFs.

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Yajie Li, Amanda Lee Hughes, and Peter D. Howe

Abstract

Message diffusion and message persuasion are two important aspects of success for official risk messages about hazards. Message diffusion enables more people to receive lifesaving messages, and message persuasion motivates them to take protective actions. This study helps to identify win–win message strategies by investigating how an underexamined factor, message content that is theoretically important to message persuasion, influences message diffusion for official risk messages about heat hazards on Twitter. Using multilevel negative binomial regression models, the respective and cumulative effects of four persuasive message factors—hazard intensity, health risk susceptibility, health impact, and response instruction—on retweet counts were analyzed using a dataset of heat-related tweets issued by U.S. National Weather Service accounts. Two subsets of heat-related tweets were also analyzed: 1) heat warning tweets about current or anticipated extreme heat events and 2) tweets about nonextreme heat events. This study found that heat-related tweets that mentioned more types of persuasive message factors were retweeted more frequently, and so were two subtypes of heat-related tweets. Mentions of hazard intensity also consistently predicted increased retweet counts. Mentions of health impacts positively influenced message diffusion for heat-related tweets and tweets about nonextreme heat events. Mentions of health risk susceptibility and response instructions positively predicted retweet counts for tweets about nonextreme heat events and tweets about official extreme heat warnings, respectively. In the context of natural hazards, this research informs practitioners with evidence-based message strategies to increase message diffusion on social media. Such strategies also have the potential to improve message persuasion.

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