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Evan S. Bentley, Richard L. Thompson, Barry R. Bowers, Justin G. Gibbs, and Steven E. Nelson

Abstract

Previous work has considered tornado occurrence with respect to radar data, both WSR-88D and mobile research radars, and a few studies have examined techniques to potentially improve tornado warning performance. To date, though, there has been little work focusing on systematic, large-sample evaluation of National Weather Service (NWS) tornado warnings with respect to radar-observable quantities and the near-storm environment. In this work, three full years (2016–18) of NWS tornado warnings across the contiguous United States were examined, in conjunction with supporting data in the few minutes preceding warning issuance, or tornado formation in the case of missed events. The investigation herein examines WSR-88D and Storm Prediction Center (SPC) mesoanalysis data associated with these tornado warnings with comparisons made to the current Warning Decision Training Division (WDTD) guidance. Combining low-level rotational velocity and the significant tornado parameter (STP), as used in prior work, shows promise as a means to estimate tornado warning performance, as well as relative changes in performance as criteria thresholds vary. For example, low-level rotational velocity peaking in excess of 30 kt (15 m s−1), in a near-storm environment, which is not prohibitive for tornadoes (STP > 0), results in an increased probability of detection and reduced false alarms compared to observed NWS tornado warning metrics. Tornado warning false alarms can also be reduced through limiting warnings with weak (<30 kt), broad (>1 n mi; 1 n mi = 1.852 km) circulations in a poor (STP = 0) environment, careful elimination of velocity data artifacts like sidelobe contamination, and through greater scrutiny of human-based tornado reports in otherwise questionable scenarios.

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Pengfei Shi, Jiangyuan Zeng, Kun-Shan Chen, Hongliang Ma, Haiyun Bi, and Chenyang Cui

Abstract

The Tibetan Plateau (TP), known as the “Third Pole,” is a climate-sensitive and ecology-fragile region. In this study, the spatiotemporal trends of soil moisture (SM) and vegetation were analyzed using satellite-based ESA CCI SM and MODIS LAI data, respectively, in the growing season during the last 20 years (2000–19) over the TP covering diverse climate zones. The climatic drivers (precipitation and air temperature) of SM and LAI variations were fully investigated by using both ERA5 reanalysis and observation-based gridded data. The results reveal the TP is generally wetting and significantly greening in the last 20 years. The SM with significant increasing trend accounts for 21.80% (fraction of grid cells) of the TP, and is about twice of the SM with significant decreasing trend (10.19%), while more than half of the TP (58.21%) exhibits significant increasing trend of LAI. Though the responses of SM and LAI to climatic factors are spatially heterogeneous, precipitation is the dominant driver of SM variation with 48.36% (ERA5) and 32.51% (observation-based) precipitation data showing the strongest significant positive partial correlation with SM. Temperature rise largely explains the vegetation greening, though precipitation also plays an important role in vegetation growth in arid and semiarid zones. The combined trend of SM and LAI indicates the TP is mainly composed of wetting and greening areas, followed by drying and greening regions. The change rate of SM is negative at low altitudes and becomes positive as altitude increases, while the LAI value and its change rate decrease as altitude increases.

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Emily Bercos-Hickey, Christina M. Patricola, and William A. Gallus Jr

Abstract

The impact of climate change on severe storms and tornadoes remains uncertain, largely owing to inconsistencies in observational data and limitations of climate models. We performed ensembles of convection-permitting climate model simulations to examine how three tornadic storms would change if similar events were to occur in pre-industrial and future climates. The choice of events includes winter, nocturnal, and spring tornadic storms to provide insight into how the timing and seasonality of storms may affect their response to climate change. Updraft helicity (UH), convective available potential energy (CAPE), storm-relative helicity (SRH), and convective inhibition (CIN) were used to determine the favorability for the three tornadic storm events in the different climate states. We found that from the pre-industrial period to the present, the potential for tornadic storms decreased for the winter event and increased for the nocturnal and spring events. With future climate change, the potential for tornadic storms increased for the winter and nocturnal events in association with increased CAPE, and decreased for the spring event despite greater CAPE.

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A. C. Sousa, L. A. Candido, and P. Satyamurty

Abstract

Mesoscale convective cloud clusters develop and organize in the form of squall lines along the coastal Amazon in the afternoon hours and propagate inland during the evening hours. The frequency, location, organization into lines, and movement of the convective systems are determined by analyzing the “precipitation features” obtained from the TRMM satellite for the period 1998–2014. The convective clusters and their alignments into Amazon coastal squall lines are more frequent from December to July, and they mostly stay within 170 km of the coastline. Their development and movement in the afternoon and evening hours of about 14 m s−1 are helped by the sea breeze. Negative phase of Atlantic dipole and La Niña combined increase the frequency of convective clusters over the coastal Amazon. Composite environmental conditions of 13 large Amazon coastal squall-line cases in April show that conditional instability increases from 0900 to 1200 LT and the wind profiles show a jet-like structure at low levels of the atmosphere. The differences in the vertical profiles of temperature and humidity between the large-squall-line composites and no-squall-line composites are weak. However, appreciable increase in the mean value of CAPE from 0900 to 1500 LT is found in the large-squall-line composite. The mean mixing ratio of the mixed layer at 0900 LT in La Niña situations is significantly larger in the large-squall-line composite. Thus, CAPE and mixed-layer mixing ratio are considered to be promising indicators of the convective activity over the coastal belt of the Amazon basin.

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Coltin Grasmick, Bart Geerts, Xia Chu, Jeffrey R. French, and Robert M. Rauber

Abstract

Kelvin–Helmholtz (KH) waves are a frequent source of turbulence in stratiform precipitation systems over mountainous terrain. KH waves introduce large eddies into otherwise laminar flow, with updrafts and downdrafts generating small-scale turbulence. When they occur in cloud, such dynamics influence microphysical processes that impact precipitation growth and fallout. Part I of this paper used dual-Doppler, 2D wind and reflectivity measurements from an airborne cloud radar to demonstrate the occurrence of KH waves in stratiform orographic precipitation systems and identified four mechanisms for triggering KH waves. In Part II, we use similar observations to explore the effects of KH wave updrafts and turbulence on cloud microphysics. Measurements within KH wave updrafts reveal the production of liquid water in otherwise ice-dominated clouds, which can contribute to snow generation or enhancement via depositional and accretional growth. Fallstreaks beneath KH waves contain higher ice water content, composed of larger and more numerous ice particles, suggesting that KH waves and associated turbulence may also increase ice nucleation. A large-eddy simulation (LES), designed to model the microphysical response to the KH wave eddies in mixed-phase cloud, shows that depositional and accretional growth can be enhanced in KH waves, resulting in more precipitation when compared to a baseline simulation. While sublimation and evaporation occur in KH downdrafts, persistent supersaturation with respect to ice allows for a net increase in ice mass. These modeling results and observations suggest that KH waves embedded in mixed-phase stratiform clouds may increase precipitation, although the quantitative impact remains uncertain.

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Ryosuke Shibuya, Yukari Takayabu, and Hirotaka Kamahori

Abstract

This study examines disastrous historical precipitation cases that generate extreme precipitation simultaneously over a wide area in Japan (as in July 2018), defined as widespread extreme precipitation events. A statistically significant large-scale environment conducive for widespread extreme precipitation events over western Japan is investigated based on composite analysis. During a widespread precipitation event, a zonally elongated positive anomaly of the column-integrated water vapor extends from East China to western Japan. In the lower troposphere, a dipole of a geopotential height anomaly exists with positive and negative values at the east and west of the precipitation area, respectively. It is found that the negative geopotential anomaly is enhanced over East China at 2 days before the event and moves toward the precipitating area mainly due to the potential vorticity (PV) production term by diabatic heating, analogous to a diabatic Rossby wave. The temporal evolution of the dynamical forced vertical velocity is well in phase with that the PV production term, suggesting the importance of the coupling between the dynamical forced motion and diabatic heating. This result provides a physical understanding of the reason why both the background moisture and the baroclinicity are essential in the composited atmospheric fields and another view to the importance of the feedback parameter between the dynamical motion and diabatic heating.

Open access
Qiaoling Ren, Xingwen Jiang, Yang Zhang, Zhenning Li, and Song Yang

Abstract

It is known that the Tibetan Plateau (TP) can weaken the transient eddies (TEs) transported along the westerly jet stream. This study investigates the effects of the persistently suppressed TEs by the TP on the East Asian summer monsoon and the associated mechanisms using the NCAR Community Earth System Model. A nudging method is used to modify the suppression of the TEs without changing the steady dynamic and thermodynamic effects of the TP. The suppressed TEs by the TP weaken the East Asian westerly jet stream through the weakened poleward TE vorticity flux. On the one hand, the weakened jet stream leads to less (more) rainfall in northern (southern) East Asia by inducing anomalous moisture convergence, midtropospheric warm advection, and upper-level divergence, particularly in early summer when the eastward propagation of TE suppression by the TP is strong. On the other hand, the precipitation anomalies can shift the East Asian westerly jet stream southward and promote the moisture convergence in southern East Asia through latent heat release. Therefore, the persistent suppression of the TEs leads to a southward shift of the East Asian rain belt by a convective feedback, as it was previously found that the steady thermodynamic and dynamic forcings of the TP favored a northward shift of the rain belt. This study suggests that the anomalously weak TEs can lead to a rainfall change (more in the south, less in the north) over East Asia.

Open access
Xiaoyang Li, Ryuichi Kawamura, Atsuko Sugimoto, and Kei Yoshimura

Abstract

Moisture sources and their corresponding temperature and humidity are important for explosive extratropical cyclones’ development regarding latent heating. To clarify the water origins and moisture transport processes within an explosive cyclone, we simulated an explosive cyclone migrating poleward across the Sea of Japan on 30 November 2014, by using an isotopic regional spectral model. In the cyclone’s center area, a replacement of water origins occurred during the cyclone’s development. During the early stage, the warm conveyor belt (WCB) transported large amounts of moisture from the East China Sea and Kuroshio into the cyclone’s inner region. While in the deepening stage, the cold conveyor belt (CCB) and dry intrusion (DI) conveyed more moisture from the northwest Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan, respectively. Compared with the contribution of local moisture, that of remote moisture was dominant in the cyclone’s center area. Regarding the water origins of condensation within the frontal system in the deepening stage, the northwest Pacific Ocean vapor, principally transported by the CCB, contributed 35.5% of the condensation in the western warm front. The East China Sea and Kuroshio moisture, conveyed by the WCB, accounted for 32.4% of the condensation in the cold and eastern warm fronts. In addition, condensation from the Sea of Japan, which was mainly triggered by the DI and induced by the topography, occurred on the west coast of the mainland of Japan and near the cyclone center. The spatial distribution of the isotopic composition in condensation and water vapor also supports the water-origin results.

Open access
Yagmur Derin, Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter, and Jonathan J. Gourley

Abstract

As a fundamental water flux, quantitative understanding of precipitation is important to understand and manage water systems under a changing climate, especially in transition regions such as the coastal interface between land and ocean. This work aims to assess the uncertainty in precipitation detection over the land–coast–ocean continuum in the Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG) V06B product. It is examined over three coastal regions of the United States—the West Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and the East Coast, all of which are characterized by different topographies and precipitation climatologies. Detection capabilities are contrasted over different surfaces (land, coast, and ocean). A novel and integrated approach traces the IMERG detection performance back to its components (passive microwave, infrared, and morphing-based estimates). The analysis is performed by using high-resolution, high-quality Ground Validation Multi-Radar/Multi-Sensor (GV-MRMS) rainfall estimates as ground reference. The best detection performances are reported with PMW estimates (hit rates in the range [25%–39%]), followed by morphing ([20%–34%]), morphing+IR ([17%–27%]) and IR ([11%–16%]) estimates. Precipitation formation mechanisms play an important role, especially in the West Coast where orographic processes challenge detection. Further, precipitation typology is shown to be a strong driver of IMERG detection. Over the ocean, IMERG detection is generally better but suffers from false alarms ([10%–53%]). Overall, IMERG displays nonhomogeneous precipitation detection capabilities tracing back to its components. Results point toward a similar behavior across various land–coast–ocean continuum regions of the CONUS, which suggests that results can be potentially transferred to other coastal regions of the world.

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Matthew R. Kumjian, Kelly Lombardo, and Scott Loeffler

Abstract

Hailstorms pose a significant socioeconomic risk, necessitating detailed assessments of how the hail threat changes throughout their lifetimes. Hail production involves the favorable juxtaposition of ingredients, but how storm evolution affects these ingredients is unknown, limiting understanding of how hail production evolves. Unfortunately, neither surface hail reports nor radar-based swath estimates have adequate resolution or details needed to assess evolving hail production. Instead, we use a novel approach of coupling a detailed hail trajectory model to idealized convective storm simulations to better understand storm evolution’s influence on hail production. Hail production varies substantially throughout storms’ mature phases: maximum sizes vary by a factor of 2 and the concentration of severe hail by more than fivefold during 45–60-min periods. This variability arises from changes in updraft properties, which come from (i) changes in low-level convergence and (ii) internal storm dynamics, including anticyclonic vortex shedding/storm splitting, and the response of the updraft’s airflow and supercooled liquid water content to these events. Hodograph shape strongly affects such behaviors. Straighter hodographs lead to more prolific hail production through wider updrafts and weaker mesocyclones and a periodicity in hail size metrics associated with anticyclonic vortex shedding and/or storm splitting. In contrast, a curved hodograph (favorable for tornadoes) led to a storm with a stronger but more compact updraft, which occasionally produced giant (10-cm) hail but that was a less-prolific severe hail producer overall. Unless storms are adequately sampled throughout their life cycles, snapshots from ground reports will insufficiently resolve the true nature of hail production.

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