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Philip J. Klotzbach
,
Jhordanne J. Jones
,
Kimberly M. Wood
,
Michael M. Bell
,
Eric S. Blake
,
Steven G. Bowen
,
Louis-Philippe Caron
,
Daniel R. Chavas
,
Jennifer M. Collins
,
Ethan J. Gibney
,
Carl J. Schreck III
, and
Ryan E. Truchelut

Abstract

The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season was above normal, producing 20 named storms, 7 hurricanes, 3 major hurricanes and seasonal Accumulated Cyclone Energy that exceeded the 1991–2020 average. Hurricane Idalia was the most damaging hurricane of the year, making landfall as a Category 3 hurricane in Florida, resulting in eight direct fatalities and $3.6 billion USD in damage.

The above-normal 2023 hurricane season occurred during a strong El Niño event. El Niño events tend to be associated with increased vertical wind shear across the Caribbean and tropical Atlantic, yet vertical wind shear during the peak hurricane season months of August–October was well below normal. The primary driver of the above-normal season was likely record warm tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SSTs), which effectively counteracted some of the canonical impacts of El Niño. The extremely warm tropical Atlantic and Caribbean were associated with weaker-than-normal trade winds driven by an anomalously weak subtropical ridge, resulting in a positive wind-evaporation-SST feedback.

We tested atmospheric circulation sensitivity to SSTs in both the tropical and subtropical Pacific and the Atlantic using the atmospheric component of the Community Earth System Model version 2.3. We found that the extremely warm Atlantic was the primary driver of the reduced vertical wind shear relative to other moderate/strong El Niño events. The concentrated warmth in the eastern tropical Pacific in August–October may have contributed to increased levels of vertical wind shear than if the warming had been more evenly spread across the eastern and central tropical Pacific.

Open access
Elena Orlova
,
Haokun Liu
,
Raphael Rossellini
,
Benjamin A. Cash
, and
Rebecca Willett

Abstract

Producing high-quality forecasts of key climate variables, such as temperature and precipitation, on subseasonal time scales has long been a gap in operational forecasting. This study explores an application of machine learning (ML) models as post-processing tools for subseasonal forecasting. Lagged numerical ensemble forecasts (i.e., an ensemble where the members have different initialization dates) and observational data, including relative humidity, pressure at sea level, and geopotential height, are incorporated into various ML methods to predict monthly average precipitation and two-meter temperature two weeks in advance for the continental United States. For regression, quantile regression, and tercile classification tasks, we consider using linear models, random forests, convolutional neural networks, and stacked models (a multi-model approach based on the prediction of the individual ML models). Unlike previous ML approaches that often use ensemble mean alone, we leverage information embedded in the ensemble forecasts to enhance prediction accuracy. Additionally, we investigate extreme event predictions that are crucial for planning and mitigation efforts. Considering ensemble members as a collection of spatial forecasts, we explore different approaches to using spatial information. Trade-offs between different approaches may be mitigated with model stacking. Our proposed models outperform standard baselines such as climatological forecasts and ensemble means. In addition, we investigate feature importance, trade-offs between using the full ensemble or only the ensemble mean, and different modes of accounting for spatial variability.

Open access
Shun-ich I. Watanabe
and
Junshi Ito

Abstract

This study evaluates a parameterization scheme for subgrid-scale (SGS) fluxes based on the scale-similarity assumption and employing a large-eddy simulation of an idealized backbuilding convective system. In this parameterization, the SGS fluxes are decomposed into the “Leonard term” which depends only on the resolved scale components, the “Reynolds term” which depends only on the SGS components, and the “cross term” which corresponds to the interaction between the resolved scale and SGS components. Assuming a linear relationship between the Leonard term and the Reynolds and cross terms, SGS fluxes are expressed as the product of an empirical coefficient and the Leonard term. The Leonard term reasonably represents the SGS flux derived by a smooth filter operation, including the counter-gradient vertical SGS transport of potential temperature, which cannot be represented by a traditional eddy-diffusivity model. The dependence of the empirical coefficient on filter width is also evaluated. This dependence is related mainly to the Reynolds term, the magnitude of which varies widely with filter width. The estimation based on the spectral decomposition of the Reynolds term explains the obtained dependence of the empirical coefficient for the vertical flux on filter width. In contrast, the variation of the empirical coefficient with filter width is not required to obtain the horizontal flux. For the parameterization of SGS fluxes in kilometer-scale models that use finite difference or volume methods, the Leonard term is expressed by the horizontal gradient of variables on a discrete grid. The Leonard term on a discrete grid also accurately represents the amplitude and spatial pattern of the SGS flux.

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John M. Peters

Abstract

The rapidly increasing resolution of global atmospheric reanalysis and climate model datasets necessitates finding methods for computing convective available potential energy (CAPE) both efficiently and accurately. To this end, this article compares two common methods for computing CAPE which conserve either energy or entropy. Inaccuracies in these computations arise from both physical and numerical errors. For instance, computing CAPE with entropy conserved results in physical errors from non-equilibrium phase transitions but minimizes numerical errors because solutions are analytic at each height. In contrast, computing CAPE with energy conserved avoids these physical errors, but accumulates numerical errors that are grid-resolution dependent because the numerical integration of a differential equation is required. Analysis of CAPE computed with large databases of soundings from the tropical Amazon and midlatitude storm environments shows that physical errors from the entropy method are typically 1-3 % as large as CAPE, which is comparable to the numerical errors from conserving energy with grid spacing of 25 m and 250 m using explicit first-order and second-order integration schemes respectively. Errors in entropy-based CAPE calculations are also insensitive to vertical grid spacing, in contrast with energy-based calculations whose error strongly scales with the grid spacing. It is shown that entropy-based methods are advantageous when intercomparing datasets with differing vertical resolution because they produce accurate and reasonably fast results that are insensitive to grid resolution. Whereas a second-order energy-based method is advantageous when analyzing data with a consistent vertical resolution because of its superior computational efficiency.

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Michael A. Spall

Abstract

The existence of multiple equilibria (ice-covered and ice-free states) is explored using a set of coupled, nondimensional equations that describe the heat and salt balances in basins, such as the Arctic Ocean, that are subject to atmospheric forcing and two distinct water mass sources. Six nondimensional numbers describe the influences of: atmospheric cooling; evaporation minus precipitation; solar radiation; atmospheric temperature, diapycnal mixing, and the temperature contrast between the two water masses. It is shown that multiple equilibria resulting from the dependence of albedo on ice cover exists over a wide range of parameter space, especially so in the weak mixing limit. Multiple equilibria can also occur if diapycnal mixing increases to O(10−4 m2 s−1) or larger under ice-free conditions due to enhanced upward mixing of warm, salty water from below. Sensitivities to various forcing parameter are discussed.

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Jorge Baño-Medina
,
Maialen Iturbide
,
Jesús Fernández
, and
José Manuel Gutiérrez

Abstract

Regional climate models (RCMs) are essential tools for simulating and studying regional climate variability and change. However, their high computational cost limits the production of comprehensive ensembles of regional climate projections covering multiple scenarios and driving Global Climate Models (GCMs) across regions. RCM emulators based on deep learning models have recently been introduced as a cost-effective and promising alternative that requires only short RCM simulations to train the models. Therefore, evaluating their transferability to different periods, scenarios, and GCMs becomes a pivotal and complex task in which the inherent biases of both GCMs and RCMs play a significant role. Here we focus on this problem by considering the two different emulation approaches introduced in the literature as perfect and imperfect, that we here refer to as Perfect Prognosis (PP) and Model Output Statistics (MOS), respectively, following the well-established downscaling terminology. In addition to standard evaluation techniques, we expand the analysis with methods from the field of eXplainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI), to assess the physical consistency of the empirical links learnt by the models. We find that both approaches are able to emulate certain climatological properties of RCMs for different periods and scenarios (soft transferability), but the consistency of the emulation functions differ between approaches. Whereas PP learns robust and physically meaningful patterns, MOS results are GCM-dependent and lack physical consistency in some cases. Both approaches face problems when transferring the emulation function to other GCMs (hard transferability), due to the existence of GCM-dependent biases. This limits their applicability to build RCM ensembles. We conclude by giving prospects for future applications.

Open access
Neil J. Fraser
,
Alan D. Fox
,
Stuart A. Cunningham
,
Willi Rath
,
Franziska U. Schwarzkopf
, and
Arne Biastoch

Abstract

The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (MOC) is traditionally monitored in terms of zonally-integrated transport either in depth space or density space. While this view has the advantage of simplicity, it obscures the rich and complex three-dimensional structure, so that the exact physics of the downwelling and upwelling branch remains poorly understood. The near-equivalence of the depth- and density-space MOC in the subtropics suggests that vertical and diapycnal volumes transports are intimately coupled, whereas the divergence of these two metrics at higher latitudes indicates that any such coupling is neither instantaneous nor local. Previous work has characterised the surface buoyancy forcing and mixing processes which drive diapycnal volume transport. Here, we develop a new analytical decomposition of vertical volume transport based on the vorticity budget. We show that most terms can be estimated from observations, and provide additional insights from a high-resolution numerical simulation of the North Atlantic. Our analysis highlights the roles (1) of relative vorticity advection for the sinking of overflow water at the northern subpolar North Atlantic boundaries and (2) the geostrophic β-effect for the sinking of dense waters in the inter-gyre region. These results provide insights into the coupling between density- and depth-space overturning circulations.

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David H. Bromwich
,
Irina V. Gorodetskaya
,
Scott Carpentier
,
Simon Alexander
,
Eric Bazile
,
Victoria J. Heinrich
,
Francois Massonnet
,
Jordan G. Powers
,
Jorge F. Carrasco
,
Arthur Cayette
,
Taejin Choi
,
Anastasia Chyhareva
,
Steven R. Colwell
,
Jason M. Cordeira
,
Raul R. Cordero
,
Alexis Doerenbecher
,
Claudio Durán-Alarcón
,
W. John R. French
,
Sergi Gonzalez-Herrero
,
Adrien Guyot
,
Thomas Haiden
,
Naohika Hirasawa
,
Paola Rodriguez Imazio
,
Brian Kawzenuk
,
Svitlana Krakovska
,
Matthew A. Lazzara
,
Mariana Fontolan Litell
,
Kevin W. Manning
,
Kimberley Norris
,
Sang-Jong Park
,
F. Martin Ralph
,
Penny M. Rowe
,
Qizhen Sun
,
Vito Vitale
,
Jonathan D. Wille
,
Zhenhai Zhang
, and
Xun Zou

Abstract

The Year of Polar Prediction in the Southern Hemisphere (YOPP-SH) held seven Targeted Observing Periods (TOPs) during the 2022 austral winter to enhance atmospheric predictability over the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. The TOPs of 5-10 days duration each featured the release of additional radiosonde balloons, more than doubling the routine sounding program at the 24 participating stations run by 14 nations, together with process-oriented observations at selected sites. These extra sounding data are evaluated for their impact on forecast skill via data denial experiments with the goal of refining the observing system to improve numerical weather prediction for winter conditions. Extensive observations focusing on clouds and precipitation primarily during atmospheric river (AR) events are being applied to refine model microphysical parameterizations for the ubiquitous mixed phase clouds that frequently impact coastal Antarctica. Process studies are being facilitated by high time resolution series of observations and forecast model output via the YOPP Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (YOPPsiteMIIP). Parallel investigations are broadening the scope and impact of the YOPP-SH winter TOPs. Studies of the Antarctic tourist industry’s use of weather services show the scope for much greater awareness of the availability of forecast products and the skill they exhibit. The SIPN South analysis of predictions of the sea ice growth period reveals that the forecast skill is superior to the sea ice retreat phase.

Open access
Patrick C. Burke
,
Joshua Barnwell
,
Matthew Reagan
,
Mark A. Rose
,
Thomas J. Galarneau Jr.
,
Richard Otto
, and
Andrew Orrison

Abstract

On the morning of 21 August 2021, extreme rainfall spurred a flood wave on Trace Creek that ravaged Waverly, Tennessee, causing 19 fatalities. Peak 24-h rainfall of 526 mm was recorded just upstream at McEwen, setting the Tennessee 24-h state rainfall record.

A Slight Risk of excessive rainfall and a Flash Flood Watch were issued 16 and 8 hours, respectively, before rain began; however, predicting meso-beta scale extreme rainfall remains an elusive skill for models and humans alike. Operational convection allowing models suggested pockets of heavy rain, but also displayed 1) peak values generally less than half of those observed, 2) widely ranging solutions, and 3) erroneous similarly heavy rain elsewhere. Future use of storm-scale ensembles which use rapid data assimilation promises to help forecasters anticipate extrema that may only be predictable at shorter time scales. This work will examine compelling forecasts from a retrospective run of the experimental Warn-on-Forecast System (WoFS). The authors, who include National Weather Service forecasters who worked the event, discuss how WoFS and its probabilistic framework could influence services during low-predictability, high-impact flash floods.

Open access
Tingting Zhu
and
Jin-Yi Yu

Abstract

Utilizing a 2200-yr CESM1 preindustrial simulation, this study examines the influence of property distinctions between single-year (SY) and multiyear (MY) La Niñas on their respective impacts on winter surface air temperatures across mid–high-latitude continents in the model, focusing on specific teleconnection mechanisms. Distinct impacts were identified in four continent sectors: North America, Europe, Western Siberia (W-Siberia), and Eastern Siberia (E-Siberia). The typical impacts of simulated SY La Niña events are featured with anomalous warming over Europe and W&E-Siberia and anomalous cooling over North America. Simulated MY La Niña events reduce the typical anomalous cooling over North America and the typical anomalous warming over W&E-Siberia but intensify the typical anomalous warming over Europe. The distinct impacts of simulated MY La Niñas are more prominent during their first winter than during the second winter, except over W-Siberia, where the distinct impact is more pronounced during the second winter. These overall distinct impacts in the CESM1 simulation can be attributed to the varying sensitivities of these continent sectors to the differences between MY and SY La Niñas in their intensity, location, and induced sea surface temperature anomalies in the Atlantic Ocean. These property differences were linked to the distinct climate impacts through the Pacific North America, North Atlantic Oscillation, Indian Ocean–induced wave train, and tropical North Atlantic–induced wave train mechanisms. The modeling results are then validated against observations from 1900 to 2022 to identify disparities in the CESM1 simulation.

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