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Catherine M. Naud, Jeyavinoth Jeyaratnam, James F. Booth, Ming Zhao, and Andrew Gettelman

ABSTRACT

Using a high-spatial- and high-temporal-resolution precipitation dataset, Integrated Multi-satellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG), extratropical cyclone precipitation is evaluated in two reanalyses and two climate models. Based on cyclone-centered composites, all four models overestimate precipitation in the western subsiding and dry side of the cyclones, and underestimate the precipitation in the eastern ascending and moist side. By decomposing the composites into frequency of occurrence and intensity (mean precipitation rate when precipitating), the analysis reveals a tendency for all four models to overestimate frequency and underestimate intensity, with the former issue dominating in the western half and the latter in the eastern half of the cyclones. Differences in frequency are strongly dependent on cyclone environmental moisture, while the differences in intensity are strongly impacted by the strength of ascent within the cyclone. There are some uncertainties associated with the observations: IMERG might underreport frozen precipitation and possibly exaggerate rates in vigorously ascending regions. Nevertheless, the analysis suggests that all models produce extratropical cyclone precipitation too often and too lightly. These biases have consequences when evaluating the changes in precipitation characteristics with changes in cyclone properties: the models disagree on the magnitude of the change in precipitation intensity with a change in environmental moisture and in precipitation frequency with a change in cyclone strength. This complicates accurate predictions of precipitation changes in a changing climate.

Free access
James F. Booth, Young-Oh Kwon, Stanley Ko, R. Justin Small, and Rym Msadek

Abstract

To improve the understanding of storm tracks and western boundary current (WBC) interactions, surface storm tracks in 12 CMIP5 models are examined against ERA-Interim. All models capture an equatorward displacement toward the WBCs in the locations of the surface storm tracks’ maxima relative to those at 850 hPa. An estimated storm-track metric is developed to analyze the location of the surface storm track. It shows that the equatorward shift is influenced by both the lower-tropospheric instability and the baroclinicity. Basin-scale spatial correlations between models and ERA-Interim for the storm tracks, near-surface stability, SST gradient, and baroclinicity are calculated to test the ability of the GCMs’ match reanalysis. An intermodel comparison of the spatial correlations suggests that differences (relative to ERA-Interim) in the position of the storm track aloft have the strongest influence on differences in the surface storm-track position. However, in the North Atlantic, biases in the surface storm track north of the Gulf Stream are related to biases in the SST. An analysis of the strength of the storm tracks shows that most models generate a weaker storm track at the surface than 850 hPa, consistent with observations, although some outliers are found. A linear relationship exists among the models between storm-track amplitudes at 500 and 850 hPa, but not between 850 hPa and the surface. In total, the work reveals a dual role in forcing the surface storm track from aloft and from the ocean surface in CMIP5 models, with the atmosphere having the larger relative influence.

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Katherine L. Towey, James F. Booth, Allan Frei, and Mark R. Sinclair

Abstract

The top 100 basin-scale 1-day precipitation, multiday precipitation, and 1-day streamflow events from 1950 to 2012 are examined for the Ashokan reservoir, a key water source for New York City. Through a cyclone association algorithm, extratropical cyclones (ETCs) are found to be associated with the majority of the top 100 precipitation and streamflow events. Tropical cyclones (TCs) generate the second-most top 100 one-day and multiday precipitation events, with more than two-thirds of these TCs having undergone extratropical transition. Furthermore, TCs that pass over the region are approximately 7 and 4 times more likely to generate a top 100 one-day precipitation and one-day streamflow event, respectively, than ETCs. Lagrangian cyclone track analysis shows cool season ETCs take a more meridional path compared to warm season ETCs. A composite analysis shows that for the top 100 one-day precipitation events, ETCs have relatively less moisture but stronger upper-level support than TCs. Due in part to TCs, heavy precipitation events occur more often in the warm season, whereas high streamflow events occur mainly in the cool season. Despite this difference, approximately 43% of the top 100 events, which represent many of the very strongest events, overlap for all three metrics. While high temperature and specific humidity anomalies accompany all top 100 events, the magnitude of the anomalies is greatest for isolated streamflow events. This analysis provides a reference to forecasters and water managers regarding the relative and synoptic-scale behavior of different storm types for isolated and concurrent precipitation and streamflow events.

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James F. Booth, Harald E. Rieder, Dong Eun Lee, and Yochanan Kushnir

Abstract

This study analyzes the association between wintertime high-wind events (HWEs) in the northeastern United States and extratropical cyclones. Sustained wind maxima in the daily summary data from the National Climatic Data Center’s integrated surface database are analyzed for 1979–2012. For each station, a generalized Pareto distribution is fit to the upper tail of the daily maximum wind speed data, and probabilistic return levels at 1, 3, and 5 yr are derived. Wind events meeting the return-level criteria are termed HWEs. The HWEs occurring on the same day are grouped into simultaneous wind exceedance dates, termed multistation events. In a separate analysis, extratropical cyclones are tracked using ERA-Interim. The multistation events are associated with the extratropical cyclone tracks on the basis of cyclone proximity on the day of the event. The multistation wind events are found to be most often associated with cyclones traveling from southwest to northeast, originating west of the Appalachian Mountains. To quantify the relative frequency of the strong-wind-associated cyclones, the full set of northeastern cyclone tracks is separated on the basis of path, using a crosshairs algorithm designed for this region. The tracks separate into an evenly distributed set of four pathways approaching the northeastern United States: from due west, from the southwest, and from the southeast and storms starting off the coast north of the Carolinas. Using the frequency of the tracks in each of the pathways, it is shown that the storms associated with multistation wind events are most likely to approach the northeastern United States from the southwest.

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Catherine M. Naud, James F. Booth, Jeyavinoth Jeyaratnam, Leo J. Donner, Charles J. Seman, Ming Zhao, Huan Guo, and Yi Ming

Abstract

The clouds in Southern Hemisphere extratropical cyclones generated by the GFDL climate model are analyzed against MODIS, CloudSat, and CALIPSO cloud and precipitation observations. Two model versions are used: one is a developmental version of “AM4,” a model GFDL that will utilize for CMIP6, and the other is the same model with a different parameterization of moist convection. Both model versions predict a realistic top-of-atmosphere cloud cover in the southern oceans, within 5% of the observations. However, an examination of cloud cover transects in extratropical cyclones reveals a tendency in the models to overestimate high-level clouds (by differing amounts) and underestimate cloud cover at low levels (again by differing amounts), especially in the post–cold frontal (PCF) region, when compared with observations. In focusing only on the models, it is seen that their differences in high and midlevel clouds are consistent with their differences in convective activity and relative humidity (RH), but the same is not true for the PCF region. In this region, RH is higher in the model with less cloud fraction. These seemingly contradictory cloud and RH differences can be explained by differences in the cloud-parameterization tuning parameters that ensure radiative balance. In the PCF region, the model cloud differences are smaller than either of the model biases with respect to observations, suggesting that other physics changes are needed to address the bias. The process-oriented analysis used to assess these model differences will soon be automated and shared.

Full access
Eric D. Maloney, Andrew Gettelman, Yi Ming, J. David Neelin, Daniel Barrie, Annarita Mariotti, C.-C. Chen, Danielle R. B. Coleman, Yi-Hung Kuo, Bohar Singh, H. Annamalai, Alexis Berg, James F. Booth, Suzana J. Camargo, Aiguo Dai, Alex Gonzalez, Jan Hafner, Xianan Jiang, Xianwen Jing, Daehyun Kim, Arun Kumar, Yumin Moon, Catherine M. Naud, Adam H. Sobel, Kentaroh Suzuki, Fuchang Wang, Junhong Wang, Allison A. Wing, Xiaobiao Xu, and Ming Zhao

Abstract

Realistic climate and weather prediction models are necessary to produce confidence in projections of future climate over many decades and predictions for days to seasons. These models must be physically justified and validated for multiple weather and climate processes. A key opportunity to accelerate model improvement is greater incorporation of process-oriented diagnostics (PODs) into standard packages that can be applied during the model development process, allowing the application of diagnostics to be repeatable across multiple model versions and used as a benchmark for model improvement. A POD characterizes a specific physical process or emergent behavior that is related to the ability to simulate an observed phenomenon. This paper describes the outcomes of activities by the Model Diagnostics Task Force (MDTF) under the NOAA Climate Program Office (CPO) Modeling, Analysis, Predictions and Projections (MAPP) program to promote development of PODs and their application to climate and weather prediction models. MDTF and modeling center perspectives on the need for expanded process-oriented diagnosis of models are presented. Multiple PODs developed by the MDTF are summarized, and an open-source software framework developed by the MDTF to aid application of PODs to centers’ model development is presented in the context of other relevant community activities. The paper closes by discussing paths forward for the MDTF effort and for community process-oriented diagnosis.

Open access