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Yunfeng Cao
,
Shunlin Liang
,
Xiaona Chen
, and
Tao He

Abstract

The decreasing surface albedo caused by continuously retreating sea ice over Arctic plays a critical role in Arctic warming amplification. However, the quantification of the change in radiative forcing at top of atmosphere (TOA) introduced by the decreasing sea ice albedo and its feedback to the climate remain uncertain. In this study, based on the satellite-retrieved long-term surface albedo product CLARA-A1 (Cloud, Albedo, and Radiation dataset, AVHRR-based, version 1) and the radiative kernel method, an estimated 0.20 ± 0.05 W m−2 sea ice radiative forcing (SIRF) has decreased in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) owing to the loss of sea ice from 1982 to 2009, yielding a sea ice albedo feedback (SIAF) of 0.25 W m−2 K−1 for the NH and 0.19 W m−2 K−1 for the entire globe. These results are lower than the estimate from another method directly using the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) broadband planetary albedo. Further data analysis indicates that kernel method is likely to underestimate the change in all-sky SIRF because all-sky radiative kernels mask too much of the effect of sea ice albedo on the variation of cloudy albedo. By applying an adjustment with CERES-based estimate, the change in all-sky SIRF over the NH was corrected to 0.33 ± 0.09 W m−2, corresponding to a SIAF of 0.43 W m−2 K−1 for NH and 0.31 W m−2 K−1 for the entire globe. It is also determined that relative to satellite surface albedo product, two popular reanalysis products, ERA-Interim and MERRA, severely underestimate the changes in NH SIRF in melt season (May–August) from 1982 to 2009 and the sea ice albedo feedback to warming climate.

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Jiwang Ma
,
X. San Liang
, and
Dake Chen

Abstract

The multiscale interaction and its role in the maintenance and propagation of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) has been investigated using the newly developed multiscale window transform (MWT), the theory of canonical transfer, and the MWT-based multiscale energetics analysis (here particularly for this study, dry energetics analysis). The field variables are reconstructed/filtered with MWT onto three scale windows, namely a high-frequency window, intraseasonal window, and low-frequency window. Compositing the intraseasonal fields with respect to the real-time multivariate MJO (RMM) index unambiguously shows that the zonal extents of the easterlies and westerlies of MJO vary with the RMM phases, among which phases 4 and 2 are representative. In the former phase, the MJO has easterlies and westerlies within the same extent, while in the latter their extents are quite different. In phase 4, besides the previously discovered mechanisms such as pressure work and buoyancy conversion, the MJO is also energized by the canonical kinetic energy (KE) transfer from the low-frequency window to the intraseasonal window (signifying barotropic instability) on the west of its convection. But on the eastern side, MJO loses KE to the low-frequency window. The KE transport also functions like an energy sink. In phase 2, the MJO variabilities can be divided into an eastern part and a western part. The former is essentially the same as that in phase 4; for the latter, barotropic instability dominates. On the available potential energy (APE) budget, baroclinic instability and intraseasonal APE transport help produce and maintain the temperature anomalies. In contrast to previous energetics studies, our findings highlight the essential role played by multiscale interactions.

Restricted access
Sijia Zhang
,
Zhaoming Liang
,
Donghai Wang
, and
Guixing Chen

Abstract

A local long-lived convective system developed at midnight over inland South China, producing record-breaking rainfall in Guangzhou on 7 May 2017. This study examines the physical processes responsible for nocturnal convection initiation (CI) and growth. Observational analyses show that the CI occurs in the warm sector under weakly forced synoptic conditions at 500 hPa, while moderate but nocturnally enhanced low-level southeasterlies with a mesoscale moist tongue at 925 hPa intrude inland from the northern South China Sea. Convection-permitting model results show that mesoscale low-level convergence and increased moisture at the leading edge of the southeasterlies are favorable for CI dynamically and thermodynamically. Local ascent and potential instability are further enhanced by orographic lifting and warm moist air from the urban surface, respectively, which trigger convection in northern Guangzhou. The mesoscale moist tongue of southeasterly flows then meets convectively generated outflows, thereby maintaining strong updrafts and continuously triggering back-building convective cells in eastern Guangzhou. Sensitivity tests are conducted to estimate the relative roles of ambient southeasterly moist tongue and urban thermal effects. The southeasterly moist tongue provides moisture that is crucial for CI, while warm moist air from the urban surface is lifted at the leading edge of the southeasterlies and locally facilitates convection. Therefore, the mesoscale processes of lifting and moistening due to nocturnal southeasterlies and their strong interaction with the local factors (orographic lifting, urban heating, and cold-pool-related ascent) provide the sustained lifting and instability crucial for triggering the local long-lived convective systems. The multiscale processes shed light on the understanding of the nocturnal warm-sector heavy rainfall inland.

Open access
Liang Chen
,
Paul A. Dirmeyer
,
Ahmed Tawfik
, and
David M. Lawrence

Abstract

The land surface state can be an important factor in the triggering of precipitation, whose depiction in Earth system models (ESMs) crucially relies on the representation of convective initiation. However, the sensitivity of land-cover change–precipitation feedbacks to different parameterized triggering criteria in ESMs has not been examined. In this study, a new triggering mechanism based on the heated condensation framework (HCF) is implemented in the Community Earth System Model (CESM). A set of land-cover change experiments with different convective triggering conditions are performed to evaluate the influence of convective triggering on land–atmosphere coupling strength and the response of summer afternoon precipitation to land-cover change over North America. Compared with the default parameterization, which depends on a CAPE threshold, the HCF trigger shows an improvement in the diurnal timing of summer precipitation but larger dry biases over much of the study area. With the HCF trigger, CESM exhibits weakened coupling strength between soil moisture and surface turbulent fluxes over the Great Plains. The surface temperature deficit, as an additional triggering criterion in HCF, is not significantly coupled with surface fluxes over the central Great Plains despite strong latent heat–CAPE coupling. In contrast to the CAPE-trigger simulations, which indicate increased precipitation over the Great Plains after agricultural expansion, the HCF-trigger simulations show significantly increased afternoon precipitation only over the northern plains, which is mainly associated with more frequent deep convection. The discrepancies suggest caveats when investigating the impacts of land-cover change on precipitation, because the magnitude and spatial patterns of precipitation change can be greatly affected by the treatment of convection in ESMs.

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Liang Wu
,
Hongjie Zhang
,
Jau-Ming Chen
, and
Tao Feng

Abstract

The present study investigates the impact of various central Pacific (CP) and eastern Pacific (EP) warming on tropical cyclones (TCs) over the western North Pacific (WNP) for the period 1948–2015 based on observational and reanalysis data. Four distinctly different forms of tropical Pacific warming are identified to examine different impacts of locations and intensity of tropical Pacific warming on the WNP TCs. It is shown that WNP TC activity related to ENSO shows stronger sensitivity to the intensity of CP SST warming. The locations of TC genesis in an extreme EP El Niño featuring concurrent strong CP and EP warming (CEPW) display a notable southeastward shift that is generally similar to the CP El Niño featuring CP warming alone (CPW). These influences are clearly different from the effects of moderate EP El Niño associated with EP warming alone (EPW). The above influences of Pacific warming on TCs possibly occur via atmospheric circulation variability. Anomalous convection associated with CP SST warming drives anomalous low-level westerlies away from the equator as a result of a Gill-type Rossby wave response, leading to an enhanced broad-zone, eastward-extending monsoon trough (MT). An anomalous Walker circulation in response to EP SST warming drives an increase in anomalous equatorial westerlies over the WNP, leading to a narrow-zone, slightly equatorward shift of the eastward-extending MT. These changes in the MT coincide with a shift in large-scale environments and synoptic-scale perturbations, which favor TC genesis and development. In addition, during weaker EP SST warming (WEPW) with similar intensity to CPW, local SST forcing exhibits primary control on WNP TCs and atmospheric circulation.

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Weijing Chen
,
Chunlin Huang
,
Zong-Liang Yang
, and
Ying Zhang

Abstract

Data assimilation provides a practical way to improve the accuracy of soil moisture simulation by integrating a land surface model and satellite data. This study establishes a multisource remote sensing data assimilation framework by incorporating a simultaneous state and parameter estimation method to acquire an accurate estimation of the soil moisture over the Tibetan Plateau. The brightness temperature of the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) is directly assimilated into the coupled system of the Common Land Model (CoLM) and a microwave radiative transfer model (RTM) to improve the soil moisture simulation. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) land surface temperature product and the Beijing Normal University (BNU) leaf area index product are employed to not only improve the estimation of temperature and vegetation variables from the CoLM, but they also provide more accurate background information for the RTM during the brightness temperature assimilation. In situ measurements from the Naqu network are used to evaluate the results. The model simulation showed an obvious underestimation of soil moisture and overestimation of soil temperature, which was alleviated by the assimilation experiments, particularly in the shallow soil layers. The estimated parameters also showed advantages in the soil moisture simulation when compared with the default parameters. The assimilation experiment presents promising results in the combination of model and multisource remote sensing data for estimating soil moisture over the complex mountainous region in Tibet.

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Trent W. Ford
,
Liang Chen
, and
Justin T. Schoof

Abstract

Monthly to seasonal precipitation extremes, both flood and drought, are important components of regional climates worldwide, and are the subjects of numerous investigations. However, variability in and transition between precipitation extremes, and associated impacts are the subject of far fewer studies. Recent such events in the Midwest region of the United States, such as the 2011–12 flood to drought transition in the upper Mississippi River basin and the flood to drought transition experienced in parts of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois in 2019, have sparked concerns of increased variability and rapid transitions between precipitation extremes and compounded economic and environmental impacts. In response to these concerns, this study focuses on characterizing variability and change in Midwest precipitation extremes and transitions between extremes over the last 70 years. Overall we find that the Midwest as a region has gotten wetter over the last seven decades, and that in general the annual maximum and median wetness, defined using the standardized precipitation index (SPI), have increased at a larger magnitude than the annual minimum. We find large areas of the southern Midwest have experienced a significant increase in the annual SPI range and associated magnitude of transition between annual maximum and minimum SPI. We additionally find wet to dry transitions between extremes have largely increased in speed (i.e., less time between extremes), while long-term changes in transition frequency are more regional within the Midwest.

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Hung-Chi Kuo
,
R. T. Williams
,
Jen-Her Chen
, and
Yi-Liang Chen

Abstract

The impact of the island topographic β effect on hurricane-like vortex tracks is studied. Both f plane and spherical geometry without a mean flow are considered. The simulations used in this study indicate the existence of a track mode in which vortices are trapped by the topography and follow a clockwise island-circulating path. The trapping of a hurricane-like vortex can be interpreted in terms of the influence of the island topographic β effect on the vortex track. Experiments on the f plane indicate that the drift speed along the clockwise path is proportional to the square root of β e v max. The applicability of the square root law on the f plane is dependent on the degree to which the local β e effect is felt by the vortex. The experiments on the sphere also demonstrate that the speed along the clockwise path is larger for a vortex with a larger maximum wind v max. The occurrence of hurricane-like vortex trapping, however, is not sensitive to the value of v max. When there is no background flow, the vortex will drift to the northwest in the presence of the planetary vorticity gradient. The β drift speed acts to keep the vortex from being trapped. The insensitivity of the vortex trapping to v max on the sphere appears to be due to the possible cancellation of stronger planetary β and topographic β effects. The experiments suggest that the topographic scale must be comparable to (if not larger than) the vortex radius of maximum wind for the trapping to occur. Nonlinear effects are important in that they hold the vortex together and keep it moving without strong dispersion in the island-circulating path. This vortex coherency can be explained with the β Rossby number dynamics. The global shallow-water model calculations used in this study indicate that the vortex trapping increases with peak height, topographic length scale, and latitude (larger topographic β effect). In general, the trapping and clockwise circulating path in the presence of a planetary vorticity gradient will occur if the scale of the topography is greater than the vortex radius of maximum wind and if the planetary β parameter is less than the topographic β parameter.

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Weiyi Sun
,
Bin Wang
,
Jian Liu
,
Deliang Chen
,
Chaochao Gao
,
Liang Ning
, and
Lin Chen

Abstract

The impact of northern high-latitude volcanic (NHV) eruptions on El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is investigated based on ensemble simulations with the Community Earth System Model. The seasonality of the atmospheric circulation influences the NHV aerosol dispersion, causing stronger (weaker) Northern Hemisphere cooling after the January and April (July and October) eruptions. ENSO’s response is found to be more dependent on NHV eruption seasons than that on tropical eruption seasons. The January eruption causes an El Niño in an eruption year [year (0) hereafter] while an El Niño occurs in year (1) after the October eruption. No significant El Niño occurs after the April (July) eruption. A diagnostic analysis reveals that these El Niños’ developments are attributed to the positive zonal, meridional advective, and thermocline feedbacks, triggered by the western Pacific westerly anomalies. The anomalous North Pacific cyclone (NPC) and Asian monsoon are key systems to excite anomalous westerlies, which are caused by the NHV-induced midlatitude cooling and Eurasian continent–North Pacific thermal contrast. After the January eruption, the anomalous NPC develops in early summer and connects with a weakened Asian summer monsoon, which excites anomalous westerlies over the Indo-western Pacific, activating the Bjerknes feedback. For the October eruption, the anomalous NPC and enhanced East Asian winter monsoon bring cold air to the Maritime Continent and warm the subtropical central North Pacific through surface heat flux exchange, exciting the westerly anomalies. These results suggest that the strong dependence on the seasonal timing of NHV should be a critical element of data–model comparisons.

Open access
Yang Yang
,
X. San Liang
,
Bo Qiu
, and
Shuiming Chen

Abstract

Previous studies have found that the decadal variability of eddy kinetic energy (EKE) in the upstream Kuroshio Extension is negatively correlated with the jet strength, which seems counterintuitive at first glance because linear stability analysis usually suggests that a stronger jet would favor baroclinic instability and thus lead to stronger eddy activities. Using a time-varying energetics diagnostic methodology, namely, the localized multiscale energy and vorticity analysis (MS-EVA), and the MS-EVA-based nonlinear instability theory, this study investigates the physical mechanism responsible for such variations with the state estimate from the Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean (ECCO), Phase II. For the first time, it is found that the decadal modulation of EKE is mainly controlled by the barotropic instability of the background flow. During the high-EKE state, violent meanderings efficiently induce strong barotropic energy transfer from mean kinetic energy (MKE) to EKE despite the rather weak jet strength. The reverse is true in the low-EKE state. Although the enhanced meander in the high-EKE state also transfers a significant portion of energy from mean available potential energy (MAPE) to eddy available potential energy (EAPE) through baroclinic instability, the EAPE is not efficiently converted to EKE as the two processes are not well correlated at low frequencies revealed in the time-varying energetics. The decadal modulation of barotropic instability is found to be in pace with the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation but with a time lag of approximately 2 years.

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