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Christopher A. Davis, David A. Ahijevych, Wei Wang, and William C. Skamarock

Abstract

An evaluation of medium-range forecasts of tropical cyclones (TCs) is performed, covering the eastern North Pacific basin during the period 1 August–3 November 2014. Real-time forecasts from the Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS) and operational forecasts from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Global Forecast System (GFS) are evaluated. A new TC-verification method is introduced that treats TC tracks as objects. The method identifies matching pairs of forecast and observed tracks, missed and false alarm tracks, and derives statistics using a multicategory contingency table methodology. The formalism includes track, intensity, and genesis.

Two configurations of MPAS, a uniform 15-km mesh and a variable-resolution mesh transitioning from 60 km globally to 15 km over the eastern Pacific, are compared with each other and with the operational GFS. The two configurations of MPAS reveal highly similar forecast skill and biases through at least day 7. This result supports the effectiveness of TC prediction using variable resolution.

Both MPAS and the GFS suffer from biases in predictions of genesis at longer time ranges; MPAS produces too many storms whereas the GFS produces too few. MPAS better discriminates hurricanes than does the GFS, but the false alarms in MPAS lower overall forecast skill in the medium range relative to GFS. The biases in MPAS forecasts are traced to errors in the parameterization of shallow convection south of the equator and the resulting erroneous invigoration of the ITCZ over the eastern North Pacific.

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Wei-Chyung Wang, William B. Rossow, Mao-Sung Yao, and Marilyn Wolfson

Abstract

We illustrate the potential complexity of the feedback between global mean cloud amount and global mean surface temperature when variations of the vertical cloud distribution are included by studying the behavior of a one-dimensional radiative–convective model with two types of cloud variation: 1) variable cloud cover with constant optical thickness and 2) variable optical thickness with constant cloud cover. The variable parameter is calculated assuming a correlation between cloud amount and precipitation or the vertical flux convergence of latent heat. Since the vertical latent heat flux is taken to be a fraction of the total heat flux, modeled by convective adjustment, we examine the sensitivity of the results to two different critical lapse rates, a constant 6.5 K km−1 lapse rate and a temperature-dependent, moist adiabatic lapse rate. The effects of the vertical structure of climate perturbations on the nature of the cloud feedback are examined using two cases: a 2% increase in the solar constant and a doubling of the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. The model results show that changes in the vertical cloud distribution and mean cloud optical thickness can be as important to climate variations as are changes in the total cloud cover. Further the variety and complexity of the feedbacks exhibited even by this simple model suggest that proper determination of cloud feedbacks must include the effects of varying vertical distribution.

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Chun-Chieh Wu, Tzu-Hsiung Yen, Ying-Hwa Kuo, and Wei Wang

Abstract

In this study, a series of numerical experiments are performed to examine the ability of a high-resolution mesoscale model to predict the track, intensity change, and detailed mesoscale precipitation distributions associated with Typhoon Herb (1996), which made landfall over Taiwan. The fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5), with a 2.2-km horizontal grid spacing, successfully simulates the mesoscale rainfall distribution associated with Herb, and the predicted maximum 24-h rainfall of 1199 mm accounts for about 70% of the observed amount of 1736 mm at Mount A-Li. It is shown that, with an accurate track simulation, the ability of the model to simulate successfully the observed rainfall is dependent on two factors: the model's horizontal grid spacing and its ability to describe the Taiwan terrain. The existence of the Central Mountain Range has only a minor impact on the storm track, but it plays a key role in substantially increasing the total rainfall amounts over Taiwan. The analysis presented here shows that the model and terrain resolutions play a nearly equivalent role in the heavy precipitation over Mount A-Li. The presence of maximum vertical motion and heating rate in the lower troposphere, above the upslope mountainous region, is a significant feature of forced lifting associated with the interaction of the typhoon's circulation and Taiwan's mountainous terrain. Overall, Typhoon Herb is a case in point to indicate the intimate relation between Taiwan's topography and the rainfall distribution associated with a typhoon at landfall.

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Wei Wang, Jiaping Xu, Yunqiu Gao, Ivan Bogoev, Jian Cui, Lichen Deng, Cheng Hu, Cheng Liu, Shoudong Liu, Jing Shen, Xiaomin Sun, Wei Xiao, Guofu Yuan, and Xuhui Lee

Abstract

Performance evaluation of an integrated eddy covariance (EC) instrument called the IRGASON, with a separated EC for reference, was conducted in a desert riparian Populus euphratica stand in the lower Tarim River basin in northwestern China. The separated EC consisted of an open-path gas analyzer and a sonic anemometer separated by 20 cm. The IRGASON integrates an open-path gas analyzer and a sonic anemometer into the same sensing volume, thus eliminating sensor separation in comparison to the traditional open-path EC setup. Integrating the infrared gas analyzer’s sensing head into the sensing volume of the sonic anemometer had negligible effects on wind speed and friction velocity observations of the IRGASON. Physiologically unreasonable daytime CO2 uptake was observed by both systems during the cold winter season (mean air temperature of −6.7°C), when the trees were dormant without any photosynthetic activities. The mean midday CO2 flux was −1.65 and −1.61 μmol m−2 s−1 for the IRGASON and the separated EC setup, respectively. No evidence was found for sensor self-heating as the cause of the apparent uptake CO2 flux. Instead, the uptake CO2 flux appeared to be an artifact of the spectroscopic effect of the IRGASON’s gas analyzer. After adjusting for this spectroscopic effect using a relationship with the sensible heat flux, the wintertime IRGASON CO2 flux became physiologically reasonable (mean value of −0.04 μmol m−2 s−1).

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Xuhui Lee, Shoudong Liu, Wei Xiao, Wei Wang, Zhiqiu Gao, Chang Cao, Cheng Hu, Zhenghua Hu, Shuanghe Shen, Yongwei Wang, Xuefa Wen, Qitao Xiao, Jiaping Xu, Jinbiao Yang, and Mi Zhang

Lakes are an important component of the climate system. They provide moisture for precipitation, buffer temperature variations, and contribute to regional atmospheric carbon budgets. This article describes an eddy covariance (EC) mesonet on Lake Taihu, a large (area 2400 km2) and shallow (depth 2 m) lake situated in the heavily populated Yangtze River Delta, China. The mesonet consists of five lake sites, representing different biological attributes and wind–wave patterns, and a land site near the lake shore. Common to all the sites are standard EC instruments for measurement of the momentum, sensible heat, water vapor, and CO2 flux. One site is also equipped with laser-based analyzers for precise measurement of the CO2, CH4, and H2O mixing ratios and their isotopic compositions. To the authors' best knowledge, this is the first lake eddy flux mesonet. Early results reveal evidence of biological and pollution controls on the surface–air fluxes of energy, momentum, and greenhouse gases across the lake. The data will be used to address five science questions: 1) Are lake–air parameterizations established for deep lakes applicable to shallow lakes? 2) Why are lake–land breeze circulations less prevalent in the Taihu lake basin than in lake basins in northern latitudes? 3) How do algal blooms alter the lake–atmosphere interactions? 4) Is this eutrophic lake a source or sink of atmospheric CO2? 5) Does the decay of algal and macrophyte biomass contribute significant amounts of CH4 to the atmosphere?

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Xianxin Li, Zhangjun Wang, Libin Du, Xingtao Liu, Xiufen Wang, Chao Chen, Xiangqian Meng, Hui Li, Quanfeng Zhuang, Wei Deng, Xin Pan, and Xinzhao Chu

Abstract

Observations of the atmospheric trace gases are crucial for quality assessment of the human living environment. Multiaxis differential optical absorption spectroscopy (MAX-DOAS) is the most promising candidate to meet the requirements on observations of atmospheric trace gases with high sensitivity, good stability, and a wide range of regional monitoring. The shipborne observations of tropospheric trace gases (NO2, SO2, and O3) over a coastal city, Qingdao, with MAX-DOAS were conducted by a Chinese oceanographic research vessel, XiangYangHong 08 (XYH 08). During the observational campaign, the shipborne MAX-DOAS equipment was used to make anchor measurements for 3 days, and a sailing measurement along Qingdao coast for half an hour. Measurement results are presented for both sailing and anchor point measurements in this paper. Combining geometry characteristic of the monitoring area, it can be concluded from the sailing measurements that the traffic emissions may play an important role in the boundary layer (BL) pollution of a coastal city’s atmosphere. The anchor point measurements showed that the NO2 vertical column density (VCD) mean value of Jiaozhou Bay is about 2.7 times of the value of the Qingdao offshore sea area. Likewise, the tropospheric VCDs of SO2 and O3 have an increase of 30% and 40%, respectively, on 1 September in Jiaozhou Bay, compared to the other 2 days in Qingdao offshore sea area.

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Youlong Xia, David M. Mocko, Shugong Wang, Ming Pan, Sujay V. Kumar, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, Helin Wei, Dagang Wang, and Michael B. Ek

Abstract

Since the second phase of the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS-2) was operationally implemented at NOAA/NCEP as part of the production suite in August 2014, developing the next phase of NLDAS has been a key focus of the NCEP and NASA NLDAS teams. The Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model is one of the four land surface models of the NLDAS system. The current operational NLDAS-2 uses version 4.0.3 (VIC403), the research NLDAS-2 used version 4.0.5 (VIC405), and the NASA Land Information System (LIS)-based NLDAS uses version 4.1.2.l (VIC412). The purpose of this study is to evaluate VIC403 and VIC412 and check if the latter version has better performance for the next phase of NLDAS. Toward this, a comprehensive evaluation was conducted, targeting multiple variables and using multiple metrics to assess the performance of different model versions. The evaluation results show large and significant improvements in VIC412 over the southeastern United States when compared with VIC403 and VIC405. In other regions, there are very limited improvements or even deterioration to some degree. This is partially due to 1) the sparseness of USGS streamflow observations for model parameter calibration and 2) a deterioration of VIC model performance in the Great Plains (GP) region after a model upgrade to a newer version. Overall, the model upgrade enhances model performance and skill scores for most parts of the continental United States; exceptions include the GP and western mountainous regions, as well as the daily soil moisture simulation skill, suggesting that VIC model development is on the right path. Further efforts are needed for scientific understanding of land surface physical processes in the GP, and a recalibration of VIC412 using reasonable reference datasets is recommended.

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Guoxing Chen, Wei-Chyung Wang, Lijun Tao, Huang-Hsiung Hsu, Chia-Ying Tu, and Chao-Tzuen Cheng

Abstract

This study used both observations and global climate model simulations to investigate the characteristics of winter extreme snowfall events along the coast (the Interstate 95 corridor) of the northeast United States where several mega-cities are located. Observational analyses indicate that, during 1980–2015, 110 events occurred when four coastal cities—Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.—had either individually or collectively experienced daily snowfall exceeding the local 95th percentile thresholds. Boston had the most events, with a total of 69, followed by 40, 36, and 30 (moving southward) in the other three cities. The associated circulations at 200 and 850 hPa were categorized via K-means clustering. The resulting three composite circulations are characterized by the strength and location of the jet at 200 hPa and the coupled low pressure system at 850 hPa: a strong jet overlying the cities coupled with an inland trough, a weak and slightly southward shifted jet coupled with a cyclone at the coast, and a weak jet stream situated to the south of the cities coupled with a cyclone over the coastal oceans. Comparative analyses were also conducted using the GFDL High Resolution Atmospheric Model (HiRAM) simulation of the same period. Although the simulated extreme events do not provide one-to-one correspondence with observations, the characteristics nevertheless show consistency notably in total number of occurrences, intraseasonal and multiple-year variations, snow spatial coverage, and the associated circulation patterns. Possible future change in extreme snow events was also explored utilizing the HiRAM RCP8.5 (2075–2100) simulation. The analyses suggest that a warming global climate tends to decrease the extreme snowfall events but increase extreme rainfall events.

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Bradfield Lyon, Michael A. Bell, Michael K. Tippett, Arun Kumar, Martin P. Hoerling, Xiao-Wei Quan, and Hui Wang

Abstract

The inherent persistence characteristics of various drought indicators are quantified to extract predictive information that can improve drought early warning. Predictive skill is evaluated as a function of the seasonal cycle for regions within North America. The study serves to establish a set of baseline probabilities for drought across multiple indicators amenable to direct comparison with drought indicator forecast probabilities obtained when incorporating dynamical climate model forecasts. The emphasis is on the standardized precipitation index (SPI), but the method can easily be applied to any other meteorological drought indicator, and some additional examples are provided. Monte Carlo resampling of observational data generates two sets of synthetic time series of monthly precipitation that include, and exclude, the annual cycle while removing serial correlation. For the case of no seasonality, the autocorrelation (AC) of the SPI (and seasonal precipitation percentiles, moving monthly averages of precipitation) decays linearly with increasing lag. It is shown that seasonality in the variance of accumulated precipitation serves to enhance or diminish the persistence characteristics (AC) of the SPI and related drought indicators, and the seasonal cycle can thereby provide an appreciable source of drought predictability at regional scales. The AC is used to obtain a parametric probability density function of the future state of the SPI that is based solely on its inherent persistence characteristics. In addition, a method is presented for determining the optimal persistence of the SPI for the case of no serial correlation in precipitation (again, the baseline case). The optimized, baseline probabilities are being incorporated into Internet-based tools for the display of current and forecast drought conditions in near–real time.

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Chaing Chen, Wei-Kuo Tao, Pay-Liam Lin, George S. Lai, S-F. Tseng, and Tai-Chi Chen Wang

Abstract

During the period of 21–25 June 1991, a mei-yu front, observed by the post–Taiwan Area Mesoscale Experiment, produced heavy precipitation along the western side of the Central Mountain Range of Taiwan. Several oceanic mesoscale convective systems were also generated in an area extending from Taiwan to Hong Kong. Numerical experiments using the Penn State–NCAR MM5 mesoscale model were used to understand the intensification of the low-level jet (LLJ). These processes include thermal wind adjustment and convective, inertial, and conditional symmetric instabilities.

Three particular circulations are important in the development of the mei-yu front. First, there is a northward branch of the circulation that develops across the upper-level jet and is mainly caused by the thermal wind adjustment as air parcels enter an upper-level jet streak. The upper-level divergence associated with this branch of the circulation triggers convection.

Second, the southward branch of the circulation, with its rising motion in the frontal region and equatorward sinking motion, is driven by frontal vertical deep convection. The return flow of this circulation at low levels can produce an LLJ through geostrophic adjustment. The intensification of the LLJ is sensitive to the presence of convection.

Third, there is a circulation that develops from low to middle levels that has a slantwise rising and sinking motion in the pre- and postfrontal regions, respectively. From an absolute momentum surface analysis, this slantwise circulation is maintained by conditionally symmetric instability located at low levels ahead of the front. The presence of both the LLJ and moisture is an essential ingredient in fostering this conditionally symmetric unstable environment.

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