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Robert Lund, Xiaolan L. Wang, Qi Qi Lu, Jaxk Reeves, Colin Gallagher, and Yang Feng

Abstract

Undocumented changepoints (inhomogeneities) are ubiquitous features of climatic time series. Level shifts in time series caused by changepoints confound many inference problems and are very important data features. Tests for undocumented changepoints from models that have independent and identically distributed errors are by now well understood. However, most climate series exhibit serial autocorrelation. Monthly, daily, or hourly series may also have periodic mean structures. This article develops a test for undocumented changepoints for periodic and autocorrelated time series. Classical changepoint tests based on sums of squared errors are modified to take into account series autocorrelations and periodicities. The methods are applied in the analyses of two climate series.

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Jing Sun, Kun Yang, Weidong Guo, Yan Wang, Jie He, and Hui Lu

Abstract

The Inner Tibetan Plateau (ITP; also called the Qiangtang Plateau) appears to have experienced an overall wetting in summer (June, July, and August) since the mid-1990s, which has caused the rapid expansion of thousands of lakes. In this study, changes in atmospheric circulations associated with the wetting process are analyzed for 1979–2018. These analyses show that the wetting is associated with simultaneously weakened westerlies over the Tibetan Plateau (TP). The latter is further significantly correlated with the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) on interdecadal time scales. The AMO has been in a positive phase (warm anomaly of the North Atlantic Ocean sea surface) since the mid-1990s, which has led to both a northward shift and weakening of the subtropical westerly jet stream at 200 hPa near the TP through a wave train of cyclonic and anticyclonic anomalies over Eurasia. These anomalies are characterized by an anomalous anticyclone to the east of the ITP and an anomalous cyclone to the west of the ITP. The former weakens the westerly winds, trapping water vapor over the ITP while the latter facilitates water vapor intruding from the Arabian Sea into the ITP. Accordingly, summer precipitation over the ITP has increased since the mid-1990s.

Open access
Ning Lu, Kevin E. Trenberth, Jun Qin, Kun Yang, and Ling Yao

Abstract

Long-term trends in precipitable water (PW) are an important component of climate change assessments for the Tibetan Plateau (TP). PW products from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) are able to provide good spatial coverage of PW over the TP but limited in time coverage, while the meteorological stations in the TP can estimate long-term PW but unevenly distributed. To detect the decadal trend in PW over the TP, Bayesian inference theory is used to construct long-term and spatially continuous PW data for the TP based on the station and MODIS observations. The prior information on the monthly-mean PW from MODIS and the 63 stations over the TP for 2000–06 is used to get the posterior probability knowledge that is utilized to build a Bayesian estimation model. This model is then operated to estimate continuous monthly-mean PW for 1970–2011 and its performance is evaluated using the monthly MODIS PW anomalies (2007–11) and annual GPS PW anomalies (1995–2011), with RMSEs below 0.65 mm, to demonstrate that the model estimation can reproduce the PW variability over the TP in both space and time. Annual PW series show a significant increasing trend of 0.19 mm decade−1 for the TP during the 42 years. The most significant PW increase of 0.47 mm decade−1 occurs for 1986–99 and an insignificant decrease occurs for 2000–11. From the comparison of the PW data from JRA-55, ERA-40, ERA-Interim, MERRA, NCEP-2, and ISCCP, it is found that none of them are able to show the actual long-term trends and variability in PW for the TP as the Bayesian estimation.

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Samson Hagos, L. Ruby Leung, Qing Yang, Chun Zhao, and Jian Lu

Abstract

This study examines the sensitivity of atmospheric river (AR) frequency simulated by a global model with different grid resolutions and dynamical cores. Analysis is performed on aquaplanet simulations using version 4 of the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM4) at 240-, 120-, 60-, and 30-km model resolutions, each with the Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS) and High-Order Methods Modeling Environment (HOMME) dynamical cores. The frequency of AR events decreases with model resolution and the HOMME dynamical core produces more AR events than MPAS. Comparing the frequencies determined using absolute and percentile thresholds of large-scale conditions used to define an AR, model sensitivity is found to be related to the overall sensitivity of subtropical westerlies, atmospheric precipitable water content and profile, and to a lesser extent extratropical Rossby wave activity to model resolution and dynamical core. Real-world simulations using MPAS at 120- and 30-km grid resolutions also exhibit a decrease of AR frequency with increasing resolution over the southern east Pacific, but the difference is smaller over the northern east Pacific. This interhemispheric difference is related to the enhancement of convection in the tropics with increased resolution. This anomalous convection sets off Rossby wave patterns that weaken the subtropical westerlies over the southern east Pacific but has relatively little effect on those over the northern east Pacific. In comparison to the NCEP-2 reanalysis, MPAS real-world simulations are found to underestimate AR frequencies at both resolutions likely because of their climatologically drier subtropics and poleward-shifted jets. This study highlights the important links between model climatology of large-scale conditions and extremes.

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Jian Lu, Koichi Sakaguchi, Qing Yang, L. Ruby Leung, Gang Chen, Chun Zhao, Erik Swenson, and Zhangshuan J. Hou

Abstract

Building on the recent advent of the concept of finite-amplitude wave activity, a contour-following diagnostics for column water vapor (CWV) is developed and applied to a pair of aquaplanet model simulations to understand and quantify the higher moments in the global hydrological cycle. The Lagrangian nature of the diagnostics leads to a more tractable formalism for the transient, zonally asymmetric component of the hydrological cycle, with a strong linear relation emerging between the wave activity and the wave component of precipitation minus evaporation (). The dry-versus-wet disparity in the transient hydrological cycle is measured by , and it is found to increase at a super-Clausius–Clapeyron rate at the poleward side of the mean storm track in response to a uniform sea surface temperature (SST) warming and the meridional structure of the increase can be largely attributed to the change of the meridional stirring scale of the midlatitude Rossby waves. Further scaling for indicates that the rate of the wavy hydrological cycle, measured by the ratio of to the CWV wave activity, is subdued almost everywhere in the extratropics, implying an overall weakening of the transient circulation. Extending the CWV wave activity analysis to the transient moist regions helps reveal some unique characteristics of atmospheric rivers in terms of transport function, minimum precipitation efficiency, and maximum hydrological cycle rate, as well as an overall weakening of the hydrological cycle rate in the atmospheric river regions under SST warming.

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Yiquan Jiang, Xiu-Qun Yang, Xiaohong Liu, Yun Qian, Kai Zhang, Minghuai Wang, Fang Li, Yong Wang, and Zheng Lu

Abstract

Aerosols emitted from wildfires could significantly affect global climate through perturbing global radiation balance. In this study, the Community Earth System Model with prescribed daily fire aerosol emissions is used to investigate fire aerosols’ impacts on global climate with emphasis on the role of climate feedbacks. The total global fire aerosol radiative effect (RE) is estimated to be −0.78 ± 0.29 W m−2, which is mostly from shortwave RE due to aerosol–cloud interactions (REaci; −0.70 ± 0.20 W m−2). The associated global annual-mean surface air temperature (SAT) change ∆T is −0.64 ± 0.16 K with the largest reduction in the Arctic regions where the shortwave REaci is strong. Associated with the cooling, the Arctic sea ice is increased, which acts to reamplify the Arctic cooling through a positive ice-albedo feedback. The fast response (irrelevant to ∆T) tends to decrease surface latent heat flux into atmosphere in the tropics to balance strong atmospheric fire black carbon absorption, which reduces the precipitation in the tropical land regions (southern Africa and South America). The climate feedback processes (associated with ∆T) lead to a significant surface latent heat flux reduction over global ocean areas, which could explain most (~80%) of the global precipitation reduction. The precipitation significantly decreases in deep tropical regions (5°N) but increases in the Southern Hemisphere tropical ocean, which is associated with the southward shift of the intertropical convergence zone and the weakening of Southern Hemisphere Hadley cell. Such changes could partly compensate the interhemispheric temperature asymmetry induced by boreal forest fire aerosol indirect effects, through intensifying the cross-equator atmospheric heat transport.

Open access
Yan Wang, Kun Yang, Zhengyang Pan, Jun Qin, Deliang Chen, Changgui Lin, Yingying Chen, Lazhu, Wenjun Tang, Menglei Han, Ning Lu, and Hui Wu

Abstract

The southern Tibetan Plateau (STP) is the region in which water vapor passes from South Asia into the Tibetan Plateau (TP). The accuracy of precipitable water vapor (PWV) modeling for this region depends strongly on the quality of the available estimates of water vapor advection and the parameterization of land evaporation models. While climate simulation is frequently improved by assimilating relevant satellite and reanalysis products, this requires an understanding of the accuracy of these products. In this study, PWV data from MODIS infrared and near-infrared measurements, AIRS Level-2 and Level-3, MERRA, ERA-Interim, JRA-55, and NCEP final reanalysis (NCEP-Final) are evaluated against ground-based GPS measurements at nine stations over the STP, which covers the summer monsoon season from 2007 to 2013. The MODIS infrared product is shown to underestimate water vapor levels by more than 20% (1.84 mm), while the MODIS near-infrared product overestimates them by over 40% (3.52 mm). The AIRS PWV product appears to be most useful for constructing high-resolution and high-quality PWV datasets over the TP; particularly the AIRS Level-2 product has a relatively low bias (0.48 mm) and RMSE (1.83 mm) and correlates strongly with the GPS measurements (R = 0.90). The four reanalysis datasets exhibit similar performance in terms of their correlation coefficients (R = 0.87–0.90), bias (0.72–1.49 mm), and RMSE (2.19–2.35 mm). The key finding is that all the reanalyses have positive biases along the PWV seasonal cycle, which is linked to the well-known wet bias over the TP of current climate models.

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Koichi Sakaguchi, L. Ruby Leung, Chun Zhao, Qing Yang, Jian Lu, Samson Hagos, Sara A. Rauscher, Li Dong, Todd D. Ringler, and Peter H. Lauritzen

Abstract

This study presents a diagnosis of a multiresolution approach using the Model for Prediction Across Scales–Atmosphere (MPAS-A) for simulating regional climate. Four Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP) experiments were conducted for 1999–2009. In the first two experiments, MPAS-A was configured using global quasi-uniform grids at 120- and 30-km grid spacing. In the other two experiments, MPAS-A was configured using variable-resolution (VR) mesh with local refinement at 30 km over North America and South America and embedded in a quasi-uniform domain at 120 km elsewhere. Precipitation and related fields in the four simulations are examined to determine how well the VRs reproduce the features simulated by the globally high-resolution model in the refined domain. In previous analyses of idealized aquaplanet simulations, characteristics of the global high-resolution simulation in moist processes developed only near the boundary of the refined region. In contrast, AMIP simulations with VR grids can reproduce high-resolution characteristics across the refined domain, particularly in South America. This finding indicates the importance of finely resolved lower boundary forcings such as topography and surface heterogeneity for regional climate and demonstrates the ability of the MPAS-A VR to replicate the large-scale moisture transport as simulated in the quasi-uniform high-resolution model. Upscale effects from the high-resolution regions on a large-scale circulation outside the refined domain are observed, but the effects are mainly limited to northeastern Asia during the warm season. Together, the results support the multiresolution approach as a computationally efficient and physically consistent method for modeling regional climate.

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Shasha Shang, Gaofeng Zhu, Jianhui Wei, Yan Li, Kun Zhang, Ruolin Li, Joël Arnault, Zhenyu Zhang, Patrick Laux, Qianya Yang, Ningpeng Dong, Lu Gao, and Harald Kunstmann

Abstract

Precipitation in the Three-River Headwater (TRH) region has undergone significant changes as a result of global warming, which can affect water resources in downstream regions of Asia. However, the underlying mechanisms of the precipitation variability during the cold season (October to April), are still not fully understood. In this study, the daily China gridded precipitation product of CN05.1 as well as the NCEP-NCAR reanalysis are used to investigate the characteristics of the cold season precipitation variability over the TRH region and associated atmospheric mechanisms. The cold season precipitation shows an increasing trend (5.5 mm decade-1) from 1961 to 2014, with a dry-to-wet shift in around the late 1980s. The results indicate that the increased precipitation is associated with the enhanced easterly anomalies over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) and enhanced southeasterly water vapor transport. The enhanced Walker circulations, caused by the gradients of sea surface temperature between the equatorial central-eastern Pacific and Indo-western Pacific in tropical oceans, resulted in strengthened easterly anomalies over the TP and the westward expansion of the anticyclone in the western North Pacific. Meanwhile, the changed Walker circulation is accompanied by a strengthened local Hadley circulation which leads to enhanced meridional water vapor transport from tropical oceans and the South China Sea toward the TRH region. Furthermore, the strengthened East Asia Subtropical Westerly jet may contribute to the enhanced divergence at upper level and anomalous ascending motion above the TRH region leading to more precipitation.

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Mitchell Bushuk, Michael Winton, F. Alexander Haumann, Thomas Delworth, Feiyu Lu, Yongfei Zhang, Liwei Jia, Liping Zhang, William Cooke, Matthew Harrison, Bill Hurlin, Nathaniel C. Johnson, Sarah B. Kapnick, Colleen McHugh, Hiroyuki Murakami, Anthony Rosati, Kai-Chih Tseng, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Xiaosong Yang, and Fanrong Zeng

Abstract

Compared to the Arctic, seasonal predictions of Antarctic sea ice have received relatively little attention. In this work, we utilize three coupled dynamical prediction systems developed at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory to assess the seasonal prediction skill and predictability of Antarctic sea ice. These systems, based on the FLOR, SPEAR_LO, and SPEAR_MED dynamical models, differ in their coupled model components, initialization techniques, atmospheric resolution, and model biases. Using suites of retrospective initialized seasonal predictions spanning 1992–2018, we investigate the role of these factors in determining Antarctic sea ice prediction skill and examine the mechanisms of regional sea ice predictability. We find that each system is capable of skillfully predicting regional Antarctic sea ice extent (SIE) with skill that exceeds a persistence forecast. Winter SIE is skillfully predicted 11 months in advance in the Weddell, Amundsen/Bellingshausen, Indian, and west Pacific sectors, whereas winter skill is notably lower in the Ross sector. Zonally advected upper-ocean heat content anomalies are found to provide the crucial source of prediction skill for the winter sea ice edge position. The recently developed SPEAR systems are more skillful than FLOR for summer sea ice predictions, owing to improvements in sea ice concentration and sea ice thickness initialization. Summer Weddell SIE is skillfully predicted up to 9 months in advance in SPEAR_MED, due to the persistence and drift of initialized sea ice thickness anomalies from the previous winter. Overall, these results suggest a promising potential for providing operational Antarctic sea ice predictions on seasonal time scales.

Open access