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Graciela B. Raga, Luis A. Ladino, Darrel Baumgardner, Carolina Ramirez-Romero, Fernanda Córdoba, Harry Alvarez-Ospina, Daniel Rosas, Talib Amador, Javier Miranda, Irma Rosas, Alejandro Jaramillo, Jacqueline Yakobi-Hancock, Jong Sung Kim, Leticia Martínez, Eva Salinas, and Bernardo Figueroa

Abstract

Biomass burning (BB) emissions and African dust (AD) are often associated with poor regional air quality, particularly in the tropics. The Yucatan Peninsula is a fairly pristine site due to predominant trade winds, but occasionally BB and AD plumes severely degrade its air quality. The African Dust And Biomass Burning Over Yucatan (ADABBOY) project (Jan 2017- Aug 2018) was conducted in the Yucatan Peninsula to characterize physical and biological properties of particulate pollution at remote seaside and urban sites. The 18-month long project quantified the large interannual variability in frequency and spatial extent of BB and AD plumes. Remote and urban sites experienced air quality degradation under the influence of these plumes, with up to 200 and 300% increases in coarse particle mass under BB and AD influence, respectively. ADABBOY is the first project to systematically characterize elemental composition of airborne particles as a function of these sources and identify bioaerosol over Yucatan. Bacteria, actinobacteria (both continental and marine) and fungi propagules vary seasonally and interannually and revealed the presence of very different species and genera associated with different sources. A novel contribution of ADABBOY was the determination of the ice-nucleating abilities of particles emitted by different sources within an under-sampled region of the world. BB particles were found to be inefficient ice nucleating particles at temperatures warmer than -20°C, whereas both AD and background marine aerosol activated ice nucleating particles below -10°C.

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Bradley Wade Bishop, Ashley Marie Orehek, and Hannah R. Collier

Abstract

This study’s purpose is to capture the skills of Earth science data managers and librarians through interviews with current job holders. Job analysis interviews were conducted of fourteen participants –six librarians and eight data managers—to assess the types and frequencies of job tasks. Participants identified tasks related to communication, including collaboration, teaching, and project management activities. Data specific tasks included data discovery, processing, and curation, which require an understanding of the data, technology, and information infrastructures to support data use, re-use, and preservation. Most respondents had formal science education and six had a master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences. Most of the knowledge, skills, and abilities for these workers were acquired through on-the-job experience, but future professionals in these careers may benefit from tailored education informed through job analyses.

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Bing Pu and Qinjian Jin

Abstract

High concentrations of dust can affect climate and human health, yet our understanding of extreme dust events is still limited. A record-breaking trans-Atlantic African dust plume occurred during June 14–28, 2020, greatly degrading air quality over large areas of the Caribbean Basin and U.S. Daily PM2.5 concentrations exceeded 50 μg m−3 in several Gulf States, while the air quality index reached unhealthy levels for sensitive groups in more than 11 States. The magnitude and duration of aerosol optical depth over the tropical North Atlantic Ocean were the greatest ever observed during summer over the past 18 years based on satellite retrievals. This extreme trans-Atlantic dust event is associated with both enhanced dust emissions over western North Africa and atmospheric circulation extremes that favor long-range dust transport. An exceptionally strong African easterly jet and associated wave activities export African dust across the Atlantic toward the Caribbean in the middle to lower troposphere, while a westward extension of the North Atlantic subtropical high and a greatly intensified Caribbean low-level jet further transport the descended, shallower dust plume from the Caribbean Basin into the U.S. Over western North Africa, increased dust emissions are associated with strongly enhanced surface winds over dust source regions and reduced vegetation coverage in the western Sahel. While there are large uncertainties associated with assessing future trends in African dust emissions, model-projected atmospheric circulation changes in a warmer future generally favor increased long-range transport of African dust to the Caribbean Basin and the U.S.

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D.J. Mullan, I.D. Barr, R.P. Flood, J.M. Galloway, A.M.W. Newton, and G.T. Swindles

Abstract

Winter roads play a vital role in linking communities and building economies in the northern high latitudes. With these regions warming two to three times faster than the global average, climate change threatens the long-term viability of these important seasonal transport routes. We examine how climate change will impact the world’s busiest heavy-haul winter road – the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road (TCWR) in northern Canada. The FLake freshwater lake model is used to project ice thickness for a lake at the start of the TCWR – first using observational climate data, and second using modelled future climate scenarios corresponding to varying rates of warming ranging from 1.5°C to 4°C above preindustrial temperatures. Our results suggest that 2°C warming could be a tipping point for the viability of the TCWR, requiring at best costly adaptation and at worst alternative forms of transportation. Containing warming to the more ambitious temperature target of 1.5°C pledged at the 2016 Paris Agreement may be the only way to keep the TCWR viable – albeit with a shortened annual operational season relative to present. More widely, we show that higher regional winter warming across much of the rest of Arctic North America threatens the long-term viability of winter roads at a continental scale. This underlines the importance of continued global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions to avoid many long-term and irreversible impacts of climate change.

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Robbie Iacovazzi, Quanhua “Mark” Liu, and Changyong Cao

CAPSULE SUMMARY

2020 Community Meeting on NOAA Satellites: Informing the Future of NOAA Satellite Observations

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Thomas W. N. Haine, Renske Gelderloos, Miguel A. Jimenez-Urias, Ali H. Siddiqui, Gerard Lemson, Dimitri Medvedev, Alex Szalay, Ryan P. Abernathey, Mattia Almansi, and Christopher N. Hill

Abstract

Computational Oceanography is the study of ocean phenomena by numerical simulation, especially dynamical and physical phenomena. Progress in information technology has driven exponential growth in the number of global ocean observations and the fidelity of numerical simulations of the ocean in the past few decades. The growth has been exponentially faster for ocean simulations, however. We argue that this faster growth is shifting the importance of field measurements and numerical simulations for oceanographic research. It is leading to the maturation of Computational Oceanography as a branch of marine science on par with observational oceanography. One implication is that ultra-resolved ocean simulations are only loosely constrained by observations. Another implication is that barriers to analyzing the output of such simulations should be removed. Although some specific limits and challenges exist, many opportunities are identified for the future of Computational Oceanography. Most important is the prospect of hybrid computational and observational approaches to advance understanding of the ocean.

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Tristan S. L’Ecuyer, Brian J. Drouin, James Anheuser, Meredith Grames, David Henderson, Xianglei Huang, Brian H. Kahn, Jennifer E. Kay, Boon H. Lim, Marian Mateling, Aronne Merrelli, Nathaniel B. Miller, Sharmila Padmanabhan, Colten Peterson, Nicole-Jeanne Schlegel, Mary L. White, and Yan Xie

Abstract

The Earth’s climate is strongly influenced by energy deficits at the poles that emit more thermal energy than they receive from the sun. Energy exchanges between the surface and atmosphere influence the local environment while heat transport from lower latitudes drives midlatitude atmospheric and oceanic circulations. In the Arctic, in particular, local energy imbalances induce strong seasonality in surface-atmosphere heat exchanges and an acute sensitivity to forced climate variations. Despite these important local and global influences, the largest contributions to the polar atmospheric and surface energy budgets have not been fully characterized. The spectral variation of far-infrared radiation that makes up 60% of polar thermal emission has never been systematically measured impeding progress toward consensus in predicted rates of Arctic warming, sea ice decline, and ice sheet melt.

Enabled by recent advances in sensor miniaturization and CubeSat technology, the Polar Radiant Energy in the Far InfraRed Experiment (PREFIRE) mission will document, for the first time, the spectral, spatial, and temporal variations of polar far-infrared emission. Selected under NASA’s Earth Ventures Instrument (EVI) program, PREFIRE will utilize new light weight, low-power, ambient temperature detectors capable of measuring at wavelengths up to 50 micrometers to quantify Earth’s far-infrared spectrum. Estimates of spectral surface emissivity, water vapor, cloud properties, and the atmospheric greenhouse effect derived from these measurements offer the potential to advance our understanding of the factors that modulate thermal fluxes in the cold, dry conditions characteristic of the polar regions.

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Cara L. Cuite, Rebecca E. Morss, Julie L. Demuth, and William K. Hallman

Abstract

Both hurricanes and nor’easters can be destructive and deadly. The current study investigates whether, when all other features of a storm warning message are held constant, people perceive the risks posed by nor’easters and hurricanes differently and whether these differences affect their attitudes and decisions about taking protective action. We conducted an online experiment involving 1,700 Americans residing in Northeastern coastal ZIP codes to test the effects of storm type (hurricane vs. nor’easter). Participants were told that their area was under an evacuation order due to either a predicted hurricane or nor’easter. Reported message comprehension and perceived relevance were similar across storm type; however, storm type had small but significant effects on other dependent measures. Those in the hurricane condition were more likely to believe the storm would be severe (p =. 007). They were also more likely to say that it is important to evacuate, that they would evacuate their homes, and that they would recommend to their neighbors that they evacuate (ps <.001). Additional analysis demonstrated that the effect of storm type on evacuation likelihood is mediated, at least in part, by perceived severity. These findings provide evidence that people perceive hurricanes as more severe and more likely to require taking protective action than nor’easters, even when other attributes of the storms remain the same. Forecasters, broadcast meteorologists, and emergency management professionals should consider these small but important differences in perceptions when communicating about these types of storms.

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Mark Weber, Kurt Hondl, Nusrat Yussouf, Youngsun Jung, Derek Stratman, Bryan Putnam, Xuguang Wang, Terry Schuur, Charles Kuster, Yixin Wen, Juanzhen Sun, Jeff Keeler, Zhuming Ying, John Cho, James Kurdzo, Sebastian Torres, Chris Curtis, David Schvartzman, Jami Boettcher, Feng Nai, Henry Thomas, Dusan Zrnić, Igor Ivić, Djordje Mirković, Caleb Fulton, Jorge Salazar, Guifu Zhang, Robert Palmer, Mark Yeary, Kevin Cooley, Michael Istok, and Mark Vincent

Abstract

This article summarizes research and risk reduction that will inform acquisition decisions regarding NOAA’s future national operational weather radar network. A key alternative being evaluated is polarimetric phased-array radar (PAR). Research indicates PAR can plausibly achieve fast, adaptive volumetric scanning, with associated benefits for severe-weather warning performance. We assess these benefits using storm observations and analyses, observing system simulation experiments, and real radar-data assimilation studies. Changes in the number and/or locations of radars in the future network could improve coverage at low altitude. Analysis of benefits that might be so realized indicates the possibility for additional improvement in severe-weather and flash-flood warning performance, with associated reduction in casualties. Simulations are used to evaluate techniques for rapid volumetric scanning and assess data quality characteristics of PAR. Finally, we describe progress in developing methods to compensate for polarimetric variable estimate biases introduced by electronic beam-steering. A research-to-operations (R2O) strategy for the PAR alternative for the WSR-88D replacement network is presented.

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Steven Caluwaerts, Sara Top, Thomas Vergauwen, Guy Wauters, Koen De Ridder, Rafiq Hamdi, Bart Mesuere, Bert Van Schaeybroeck, Hendrik Wouters, and Piet Termonia

Abstract

Today, the vast majority of meteorological data are collected in open, rural environments to comply with the standards set by the World Meteorological Organization. However, these traditional networks lack local information that would be of immense value, for example, for studying urban microclimate, evaluating climate adaptation measures, or improving high-resolution numerical weather predictions. Therefore an urgent need exists for reliable meteorological data in other environments (e.g. cities, lakes, forests) to complement these conventional networks. At present, however, high-accuracy initiatives tend to be limited in space and/or time as a result of the substantial budgetary requirements faced by research teams and operational services. We present a novel approach for addressing the existing observational gaps based on an intense collaboration with high schools. This methodology resulted in the establishment of a region-wide climate monitoring network of 59 accurate weather stations in a wide variety of locations across northern Belgium. The project is also of large societal relevance as it bridges the gap between the youth and atmospheric science. To guarantee a sustainable and mutually valuable collaboration, the schools and their students are involved at all stages, ranging from proposing measurement locations, building the weather stations, and even data analysis. We illustrate how the approach received an overwhelming enthusiasm from high schools and students and resulted in a high-accuracy monitoring network with unique locations offering novel insights.

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