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Catherine A. Smith
,
Gilbert P. Compo
, and
Don K. Hooper

While atmospheric reanalysis datasets are widely used in climate science, many technical issues hinder comparing them to each other and to observations. The reanalysis fields are stored in diverse file architectures, data formats, and resolutions. Their metadata, such as variable name and units, can also differ. Individual users have to download the fields, convert them to a common format, store them locally, change variable names, regrid if needed, and convert units. Even if a dataset can be read via the Open-Source Project for a Network Data Access Protocol (commonly known as OPeNDAP) or a similar protocol, most of this work is still needed. All of these tasks take time, effort, and money. Our group at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado and affiliated colleagues at the NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Division have expertise both in making reanalysis datasets available and in creating web-based climate analysis tools that have been widely used throughout the meteorological community. To overcome some of the obstacles in reanalysis intercomparison, we have created a set of web-based Reanalysis Intercomparison Tools (WRIT) at www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/data/writ/. WRIT allows users to easily plot and compare reanalysis datasets, and to test hypotheses. For standard pressure-level and surface variables there are tools to plot trajectories, monthly mean maps and vertical cross sections, and monthly mean time series. Some observational datasets are also included. Users can refine date, statistics, and plotting options. WRIT also facilitates the mission of the Reanalyses.org website as a convenient toolkit for studying the reanalysis datasets.

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Jeffrey S. Whitaker
,
Gilbert P. Compo
,
Xue Wei
, and
Thomas M. Hamill

Abstract

Studies using idealized ensemble data assimilation systems have shown that flow-dependent background-error covariances are most beneficial when the observing network is sparse. The computational cost of recently proposed ensemble data assimilation algorithms is directly proportional to the number of observations being assimilated. Therefore, ensemble-based data assimilation should both be more computationally feasible and provide the greatest benefit over current operational schemes in situations when observations are sparse. Reanalysis before the radiosonde era (pre-1931) is just such a situation.

The feasibility of reanalysis before radiosondes using an ensemble square root filter (EnSRF) is examined. Real surface pressure observations for 2001 are used, subsampled to resemble the density of observations we estimate to be available for 1915. Analysis errors are defined relative to a three-dimensional variational data assimilation (3DVAR) analysis using several orders of magnitude more observations, both at the surface and aloft. We find that the EnSRF is computationally tractable and considerably more accurate than other candidate analysis schemes that use static background-error covariance estimates. We conclude that a Northern Hemisphere reanalysis of the middle and lower troposphere during the first half of the twentieth century is feasible using only surface pressure observations. Expected Northern Hemisphere analysis errors at 500 hPa for the 1915 observation network are similar to current 2.5-day forecast errors.

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Prashant D. Sardeshmukh
,
Jih-Wang Aaron Wang
,
Gilbert P. Compo
, and
Cécile Penland

Abstract

It is well known that randomly perturbing an atmospheric model’s diabatic tendencies can increase its probabilistic forecast skill, mainly by increasing the spread of ensemble forecasts and making it more consistent with the errors of ensemble-mean forecasts. Less obvious and less well established is that such perturbations can also reduce the errors of the ensemble-mean forecasts and improve the model’s mean climate, variability, and sensitivity to forcing. A clear reduction in ensemble-mean forecast errors is demonstrated here in large ensembles of 15-day forecasts made with NOAA’s Global Forecast System model. The nearly ubiquitous reduction around the globe, obtained throughout the forecast range, is interpreted as arising in effect from a modification of the model’s deterministic evolution operator by a stochastic noise-induced drift. The effect is general in systems with state-dependent noise, and occurs even if the noise is not white. In the atmospheric context considered here, the effect is suggested to arise largely from noise-induced reductions of mechanical and thermal damping by chaotic boundary layer and cloud-radiative processes, which also tend to increase model sensitivity to forcing. The results presented here are consistent with many previous studies performed with models ranging from simple stochastically forced models to comprehensive global weather and climate models. They suggest that the diabatic interactions in most current global atmospheric models may not be sufficiently chaotic and this deficiency could be partly remedied by specifying additional stochastic terms. Using some empirical guidance in such specifications may be unavoidable, given the generally intractable complexity of the diabatic interactions.

Open access
Marco Rohrer
,
Stefan Brönnimann
,
Olivia Martius
,
Christoph C. Raible
,
Martin Wild
, and
Gilbert P. Compo

Abstract

Atmospheric circulation types, blockings, and cyclones are central features of the extratropical flow and key to understanding the climate system. This study intercompares the representation of these features in 10 reanalyses and in an ensemble of 30 climate model simulations between 1980 and 2005. Both modern, full-input reanalyses and century-long, surface-input reanalyses are examined. Modern full-input reanalyses agree well on key statistics of blockings, cyclones, and circulation types. However, the intensity and depth of cyclones vary among them. Reanalyses with higher horizontal resolution show higher cyclone center densities and more intense cyclones. For blockings, no strict relationship is found between frequency or intensity and horizontal resolution. Full-input reanalyses contain more intense blocking, compared to surface-input reanalyses. Circulation-type classifications over central Europe show that both versions of the Twentieth Century Reanalysis dataset contain more easterlies and fewer westerlies than any other reanalysis, owing to their high pressure bias over northeast Europe. The temporal correlation of annual circulation types over central Europe and blocking frequencies over the North Atlantic–European domain between reanalyses is high (around 0.8). The ensemble simulations capture the main characteristics of midlatitudinal atmospheric circulation. Circulation types of westerlies to northerlies over central Europe are overrepresented. There are too few blockings in the higher latitudes and an excess of cyclones in the midlatitudes. Other characteristics, such as blocking amplitude and cyclone intensity, are realistically represented, making the ensemble simulations a rich dataset to assess changes in climate variability.

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Matthew Newman
,
Andrew T. Wittenberg
,
Linyin Cheng
,
Gilbert P. Compo
, and
Catherine A. Smith
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Rob Allan
,
Philip Brohan
,
Gilbert P. Compo
,
Roger Stone
,
Juerg Luterbacher
, and
Stefan Brönnimann

No abstract available.

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Johannes Loschnigg
,
Gerald A. Meehl
,
Peter J. Webster
,
Julie M. Arblaster
, and
Gilbert P. Compo

Abstract

The interaction of the Indian Ocean dynamics and the tropospheric biennial oscillation (TBO) is analyzed in the 300-yr control run of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Climate System Model (CSM). Sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies and equatorial ocean dynamics in the Indian Ocean are associated with the TBO and interannual variability of Asian–Australian monsoons in observations. The air–sea interactions involved in these processes in the coupled ocean–atmosphere model are analyzed, so as to diagnose the causes of the SST anomalies and their role in the development of a biennial cycle in the Indian–Pacific Ocean region.

By using singular value decomposition (SVD) analysis, it is found that the model reproduces the dominant mechanisms that are involved in the development of the TBO's influence on the south Asian monsoon: large-scale forcing from the tropical Pacific and regional forcing associated with both the meridional temperature gradient between the Asian continent and the Indian Ocean, as well as Indian Ocean SST anomalies. Using cumulative anomaly pattern correlation, the strength of each of these processes in affecting the interannual variability of both Asian and Australian monsoon rainfall is assessed.

In analyzing the role of the Indian Ocean dynamics in the TBO, it is found that the Indian Ocean zonal mode (IOZM) is an inherent feature of the Asian summer monsoon and the TBO. The IOZM is thus a part of the biennial nature of the Indian–Pacific Ocean region. The coupled ocean–atmosphere dynamics and cross-equatorial heat transport contribute to the interannual variability and biennial nature of the ENSO–monsoon system, by affecting the heat content of the Indian Ocean and resulting SST anomalies over multiple seasons, which is a key factor in the TBO.

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Kelly Mahoney
,
Chesley McColl
,
Douglas M. Hultstrand
,
William D. Kappel
,
Bill McCormick
, and
Gilbert P. Compo

Abstract

Accurate estimation of the potential “upper limit” for extreme precipitation is critical for dam safety and water resources management, as dam failures pose significant risks to life and property. Methods used to estimate the theoretical upper limit of precipitation are often outdated and in need of updating. The rarity of extreme events means that old storms with limited observational data are often used to define the upper bound of precipitation. Observations of many important old storms are limited in spatial and temporal coverage, and sometimes of dubious quality. This reduces confidence in flood hazard assessments used in dam safety evaluations and leads to unknown or uncertain societal risk. This paper describes a method for generating and applying ensembles of high-resolution, state-of-the-art numerical model simulations of historical past extreme precipitation events to meet contemporary stakeholder needs. The method was designed as part of a research-to-application-focused partnership project to update state dam safety rules in Colorado and New Mexico. The results demonstrated multiple stakeholder and user benefits that were applied directly into storm analyses utilized for extreme rainfall estimation, and diagnostics were developed and ultimately used to update Colorado state dam safety rules, officially passed in January 2020. We discuss how what started as a prototype research foray to meet a specific user need may ultimately inform wider adoption of numerical simulations for water resources risk assessment, and how the historical event downscaling method performed offers near-term, implementable improvements to current dam safety flood risk estimates that can better serve society today.

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Philip J. Klotzbach
,
Carl J. Schreck III
,
Gilbert P. Compo
,
Steven G. Bowen
,
Ethan J. Gibney
,
Eric C. J. Oliver
, and
Michael M. Bell
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Philip J. Klotzbach
,
Carl J. Schreck III
,
Gilbert P. Compo
,
Steven G. Bowen
,
Ethan J. Gibney
,
Eric C. J. Oliver
, and
Michael M. Bell

Abstract

The 1933 Atlantic hurricane season was extremely active, with 20 named storms and 11 hurricanes including 6 major (category 3+; 1-min maximum sustained winds ≥96 kt) hurricanes occurring. The 1933 hurricane season also generated the most accumulated cyclone energy (an integrated metric that accounts for frequency, intensity, and duration) of any Atlantic hurricane season on record. A total of 8 hurricanes tracked through the Caribbean in 1933—the most on record. In addition, two category 3 hurricanes made landfall in the United States just 23 h apart: the Treasure Coast hurricane in southeast Florida followed by the Cuba–Brownsville hurricane in south Texas. This manuscript examines large-scale atmospheric and oceanic conditions that likely led to such an active hurricane season. Extremely weak vertical wind shear was prevalent over both the Caribbean and the tropical Atlantic throughout the peak months of the hurricane season, likely in part due to a weak-to-moderate La Niña event. These favorable dynamic conditions, combined with above-normal tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures, created a very conducive environment for hurricane formation and intensification. The Madden–Julian oscillation was relatively active during the summer and fall of 1933, providing subseasonal conditions that were quite favorable for tropical cyclogenesis during mid- to late August and late September to early October. The current early June and August statistical models used by Colorado State University would have predicted a very active 1933 hurricane season. A better understanding of these extremely active historical Atlantic hurricane seasons may aid in anticipation of future hyperactive seasons.

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