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Qiaohong Sun, Francis Zwiers, Xuebin Zhang, and Guilong Li

Abstract

Long-term changes in extreme daily and subdaily precipitation simulated by climate models are often compared with corresponding temperature changes to estimate the sensitivity of extreme precipitation to warming. Such “trend scaling” rates are difficult to estimate from observations, however, because of limited data availability and high background variability. Intra-annual temperature scaling (here called binning scaling), which relates extreme precipitation to temperature at or near the time of occurrence, has been suggested as a possible substitute for trend scaling. We use a large ensemble simulation of the Canadian regional climate model (CanRCM4) to assess this possibility, considering both daily near-surface air temperature and daily dewpoint temperature as scaling variables. We find that binning curves that are based on precipitation data for the whole year generally look like the composite of binning curves for winter and summer, with the lower temperature portion similar to winter and the higher temperature portion similar to summer, indicating that binning curves reflect seasonal changes in the relationship between temperature and extreme precipitation. The magnitude and spatial pattern of binning and trend scaling rates are also quantitatively different, with little spatial correlation between them, regardless of precipitation duration or choice of temperature variable. The evidence therefore suggests that binning scaling with temperature is not a reliable predictor for future changes in precipitation extremes in the climate simulated by CanRCM4. Nevertheless, external forcing does have a discernable influence on binning curves, which are seen to shift upward and to the right in some regions, consistent with a general increase in extreme precipitation.

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Wenxue Tong, Gang Li, Juanzhen Sun, Xiaowen Tang, and Ying Zhang

Abstract

This study examines two strategies for improving the analysis of an hourly update three-dimensional variational data assimilation (3DVAR) system and the subsequent quantitative precipitation forecast (QPF). The first strategy is to assimilate synoptic and radar observations in different steps. This strategy aims to extract both large-scale and convective-scale information from observations typically representing different scales. The second strategy is to add a divergence constraint to the momentum variables in the 3DVAR system. This technique aims at improving the dynamic balance and suppressing noise introduced during the assimilation process. A detailed analysis on how the new techniques impact convective-scale QPF was conducted using a severe storm case over Colorado and Kansas during 8 and 9 August 2008. First, it is demonstrated that, without the new strategies, the QPF initialized with an hourly update analysis performs worse than its 3-hourly counterpart. The implementation of the two-step assimilation and divergence constraint in the hourly update system results in improved QPF throughout most of the 12-h forecast period. The diagnoses of the analysis fields show that the two-step assimilation is able to preserve key convective-scale as well as large-scale structures that are consistent with the development of the real weather system. The divergence constraint is effective in improving the balance between the momentum control variables in the analysis, which leads to less spurious convection and improved QPF scores. The improvements of the new techniques were further verified by eight convective cases in 2014 and shown to be statistically significant.

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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, mid-tropospheric 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 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 the south-more-north-less rainfall change over East Asia.

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Zhe Li, Dawen Yang, Yang Hong, Jian Zhang, and Youcun Qi

Abstract

Understanding spatiotemporal rainfall patterns in mountainous areas is of great importance for prevention of natural disasters such as flash floods and landslides. There is little knowledge about rainfall variability over historically underobserved complex terrains, however, and especially about the variations of hourly rainfall. In this study, the spatiotemporal variations of hourly rainfall in the Three Gorges region (TGR) of China are investigated with gauge and newly available radar data. The spatial pattern of hourly rainfall has been examined by a number of statistics, and they all show that the rainfall variations are time-scale and location dependent. In general, the northern TGR receives more-intense and longer-duration rainfall than do other parts of the TGR, and short-duration storms could occur in most of the TGR. For temporal variations, the summer diurnal cycle shifts from a morning peak in the west to a late-afternoon peak in the east while a mixed pattern of two peaks exists in the middle. In statistical terms, empirical model–based estimation indicates that the correlation scale of hourly rainfall is about 40 km. Further investigation shows that the correlation distance varies with season, from 30 km in the warm season to 60 km in the cold season. In addition, summer rainstorms extracted from radar rainfall data are characterized by short duration (6–8 h) and highly localized patterns (5–17 and 13–36 km in the minor and major directions, respectively). Overall, this research provides quantitative information about the rainfall regime in the TGR and shows that the combination of gauge and radar data is useful for characterizing the spatiotemporal pattern of storm rainfall over complex terrain.

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Lei Zhang, Weiqing Han, Yuanlong Li, and Eric D. Maloney

Abstract

Air–sea coupling processes over the north Indian Ocean associated with the Indian summer monsoon intraseasonal oscillation (MISO) are investigated. Observations show that MISO convection anomalies affect underlying sea surface temperature (SST) through changes in surface shortwave radiation and surface latent heat flux. In turn, SST anomalies may also affect the MISO precipitation tendency (dP/dt). In particular, warm (cold) SST anomalies can contribute to increasing (decreasing) precipitation rate through enhanced (suppressed) surface convergence associated with boundary layer pressure gradients. These air–sea interaction processes are manifest in a quadrature relation between MISO precipitation and SST anomalies. A local air–sea coupling model (LACM) is formulated based on these observed physical processes. The period of the LACM is proportional to the square root of seasonal mixed layer depth H, assuming other physical parameters remain unchanged. Hence, LACM predicts a relatively short (long) MISO period over the north Indian Ocean during the May–June monsoon developing (July–August monsoon mature) phase when H is shallow (deep). This result is consistent with observed MISO characteristics. A 30-day-period oscillating external forcing is also added to the LACM, representing intraseasonal oscillations propagating from the equatorial Indian Ocean to the north Indian Ocean. It is found that resonance will occur when H is close to 25 m, which significantly enhances the MISO amplitude. This process may contribute to the higher MISO amplitude during the monsoon developing phase compared to the mature phase, which is associated with the seasonal cycle of H.

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Wei Zhang, Bing Fu, Melinda S. Peng, and Tim Li

Abstract

This study investigates the classification of developing and nondeveloping tropical disturbances in the western North Pacific (WNP) through the C4.5 algorithm. A decision tree is built based on this algorithm and can be used as a tool to predict future tropical cyclone (TC) genesis events. The results show that the maximum 800-hPa relative vorticity, SST, precipitation rate, divergence averaged between 1000- and 500-hPa levels, and 300-hPa air temperature anomaly are the five most important variables for separating the developing and nondeveloping tropical disturbances. This algorithm also unravels the thresholds of the five variables (i.e., 4.2 × 10−5 s−1 for maximum 800-hPa relative vorticity, 28.2°C for SST, 0.1 mm h−1 for precipitation rate, −0.7 × 10−6 s−1 for vertically averaged convergence, and 0.5°C for 300-hPa air temperature anomaly). Six rules are derived from the decision tree. The classification accuracy of this decision tree is 81.7% for the 2004–10 cases. The hindcast accuracy for the 2011–13 dataset is 84.6%.

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Weihua Yuan, Rucong Yu, Haoming Chen, Jian Li, and Minghua Zhang

Abstract

Subseasonal characteristics of the diurnal variation of the summer monsoon rainfall over central eastern China (25°–40°N, 110°–120°E) are analyzed using hourly station rain gauge data. Results show that the rainfall in the monsoon rain belt is dominated by the long-duration rainfall events (≥7 h) with early-morning peaks. The long-duration rainfall events and early-morning diurnal peaks experience subseasonal movement that is similar to that of the monsoon rain belt. When the monsoon rainfall is separated into the active and break periods, the long-duration early-morning precipitation dominates the active period, which is in sharp contrast to the short-duration (≤6 h) rainfall with leading late-afternoon diurnal peaks during the break period. The combination of different diurnal features of monsoon rainfall in the active and break monsoon periods also explains the less coherent diurnal phases of summer mean rainfall over central eastern China. The cause of the early-morning peak of rainfall during the active monsoon period is discussed.

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Xinrong Wu, Wei Li, Guijun Han, Shaoqing Zhang, and Xidong Wang

Abstract

While fixed covariance localization can greatly increase the reliability of the background error covariance in filtering by suppressing the long-distance spurious correlations evaluated by a finite ensemble, it may degrade the assimilation quality in an ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) as a result of restricted longwave information. Tuning an optimal cutoff distance is usually very expensive and time consuming, especially for a general circulation model (GCM). Here the authors present an approach to compensate the demerit in fixed localization. At each analysis step, after the standard EnKF is done, a multiple-scale analysis technique is used to extract longwave information from the observational residual (referred to the EnKF ensemble mean). Within a biased twin-experiment framework consisting of a global barotropical spectral model and an idealized observing system, the performance of the new method is examined. Compared to a standard EnKF, the hybrid method is superior when an overly small/large cutoff distance is used, and it has less dependence on cutoff distance. The new scheme is also able to improve short-term weather forecasts, especially when an overly large cutoff distance is used. Sensitivity studies show that caution should be taken when the new scheme is applied to a dense observing system with an overly small cutoff distance in filtering. In addition, the new scheme has a nearly equivalent computational cost to the standard EnKF; thus, it is particularly suitable for GCM applications.

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Xuejun Zhang, Qiuhong Tang, Xingcai Liu, Guoyong Leng, and Zhe Li

Abstract

In this paper, an experimental soil moisture drought monitoring and seasonal forecasting framework based on the Variable Infiltration Capacity model (VIC) over southwestern China (SW) is presented. Satellite precipitation data are used to force VIC for a near-real-time estimate of land surface hydrologic conditions. Initialized with satellite-aided monitoring (MONIT), the climate model (CFSv2)-based forecast (MONIT+CFSv2) and ensemble streamflow prediction (ESP)-based forecast (MONIT+ESP) are both performed. One dry season drought and one wet season drought are employed to test the ability of this framework in terms of real-time tracking and predicting the evolution of soil moisture (SM) drought, respectively. The results show that the skillful CFSv2 climate forecasts (CFs) are only found at the first month. The satellite-aided monitoring is able to provide a reasonable estimate of forecast initial conditions (ICs) in real-time mode. In the presented cases, MONIT+CFSv2 forecast exhibits comparable performance against the observation-based estimates for the first month, whereas the predictive skill largely drops beyond 1 month. Compared to MONIT+ESP, MONIT+CFSv2 ensembles give more skillful SM drought forecast during the dry season, as indicated by a smaller ensemble range, while the added value of MONIT+CFSv2 is marginal during the wet season. A quantitative attribution analysis of SM forecast uncertainty demonstrates that SM forecast skill is mostly controlled by ICs at the first month and that uncertainties in CFs have the largest contribution to SM forecast errors at longer lead times. This study highlights a value of this framework in generating near-real-time ICs and providing a reliable SM drought prediction with 1 month ahead, which may greatly benefit drought diagnosis, assessment, and early warning.

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Lei Zhang, Weiqing Han, Yuanlong Li, and Toshiaki Shinoda

Abstract

Generation and development mechanisms of the Ningaloo Niño are investigated using ocean and atmospheric general circulation model experiments. Consistent with previous studies, northerly wind anomalies off the West Australian coast are critical in generating warm sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies of the Ningaloo Niño, which induce SST warming through reduced turbulent heat loss toward the atmosphere (by decreasing surface wind speed), enhanced Leeuwin Current heat transport, and weakened coastal upwelling. Our results further reveal that northerly wind anomalies suppress the cold dry air transport from the Southern Ocean to the Ningaloo Niño region, which also contributes to the reduced turbulent heat loss. A positive cloud–radiation feedback is also found to play a role. Low stratiform cloud is reduced by the underlying warm SSTAs and the weakened air subsidence, which further enhances the SST warming by increasing downward solar radiation. The enhanced Indonesian Throughflow also contributes to the Ningaloo Niño, but only when La Niña co-occurs. Further analysis show that northerly wind anomalies along the West Australian coast can be generated by both remote forcing from the Pacific Ocean (i.e., La Niña) and internal processes of the Indian Ocean, such as the positive Indian Ocean dipole (IOD). Approximately 40% of the Ningaloo Niño events during 1950–2010 co-occurred with La Niña, and 30% co-occurred with positive IOD. There are also ~30% of the events independent of La Niña and positive IOD, suggesting the importance of other processes in triggering the Ningaloo Niño.

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