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Daria Kluver, Tom Mote, Daniel Leathers, Gina R. Henderson, Weihan Chan, and David A. Robinson

Abstract

This study details the creation of a gridded snowfall dataset for North America, with focus on the quality of the interpolated product. Daily snowfall amounts from National Weather Service Cooperative Observer Program stations and Meteorological Service of Canada surface stations are interpolated to 1° by 1° grids from 1900 to 2009 and examined for data record length and quality. The interpolation is validated spatially and temporally through the use of stratified sampling and k-fold cross-validation analyses. Interpolation errors average around 0.5 cm and range from less than 0.01 to greater than 2.5 cm. For most locations, this is within the measurement sensitivity. Grid cells with large variations in elevation experience higher errors and should be used with caution. A new gridded snowfall climatology is presented based on in situ observations that capture seasonal and interannual variability in monthly snowfall over most of the North American land area from 1949 to 2009. The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network is used as an independent set of point data that is compared to the gridded product. Errors are mainly in the form of the gridded data underestimating snowfall compared to the point data. The spatial extent, temporal length, and resolution of the dataset are unprecedented with regard to observational snowfall products and will present new opportunities for examining snowfall across North America.

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Y. Kushnir, W. A. Robinson, I. Bladé, N. M. J. Hall, S. Peng, and R. Sutton

Abstract

The advances in our understanding of extratropical atmosphere–ocean interaction over the past decade and a half are examined, focusing on the atmospheric response to sea surface temperature anomalies. The main goal of the paper is to assess what was learned from general circulation model (GCM) experiments over the recent two decades or so. Observational evidence regarding the nature of the interaction and dynamical theory of atmospheric anomalies forced by surface thermal anomalies is reviewed. Three types of GCM experiments used to address this problem are then examined: models with fixed climatological conditions and idealized, stationary SST anomalies; models with seasonally evolving climatology forced with realistic, time-varying SST anomalies; and models coupled to an interactive ocean. From representative recent studies, it is argued that the extratropical atmosphere does respond to changes in underlying SST although the response is small compared to internal (unforced) variability. Two types of interactions govern the response. One is an eddy-mediated process, in which a baroclinic response to thermal forcing induces and combines with changes in the position or strength of the storm tracks. This process can lead to an equivalent barotropic response that feeds back positively on the ocean mixed layer temperature. The other is a linear, thermodynamic interaction in which an equivalent-barotropic low-frequency atmospheric anomaly forces a change in SST and then experiences reduced surface thermal damping due to the SST adjustment. Both processes contribute to an increase in variance and persistence of low-frequency atmospheric anomalies and, in fact, may act together in the natural system.

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Jay Lawrimore, Thomas R. Karl, Mike Squires, David A. Robinson, and Kenneth E. Kunkel

Abstract

The 100 most severe snowstorms within each of six climate regions east of the Rocky Mountains were analyzed to understand how the frequency of severe snowstorms is associated with seasonal averages of other variables that may be more readily predicted and projected. In particular, temperature, precipitation, and El Niño/La Niña anomalies from 1901 to 2013 were studied. In the southern United States, anomalously cold seasonal temperatures were found to be more closely linked to severe snowstorm development than in the northern United States. The conditional probability of occurrence of one or more severe snowstorms in seasons that are colder than average is 80% or greater in regions of the southern United States, which was found to be statistically significant, while it is as low as 35% when seasonal temperatures are warmer than average. This compares with unconditional probabilities of 55%–60%. For seasons that are wetter (drier) than average, severe snowstorm frequency is significantly greater (less) in the Northern Plains region. An analysis of the seasonal timing of severe snowstorm occurrence found they are not occurring as late in the season in recent decades in the warmest climate regions when compared to the previous 75 years. Since 1977, the median date of occurrence in the last half of the cold season is six or more days earlier in the Southeast, South, and Ohio Valley regions than earlier in the twentieth century. ENSO conditions also were found to have a strong influence on the occurrence of the top 100 snowstorms in the Northeast and Southeast regions.

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Michael F. Squires, Jay H. Lawrimore, Richard R. Heim Jr., David A. Robinson, Mathieu R. Gerbush, and Thomas W. Estilow

This paper describes a new snowfall index that quantifies the impact of snowstorms within six climate regions in the United States. The regional snowfall index (RSI) is based on the spatial extent of snowfall accumulation, the amount of snowfall, and the juxtaposition of these elements with population. Including population information provides a measure of the societal susceptibility for each region. The RSI is an evolution of the Northeast snowfall impact scale (NESIS), which NOAA's National Climatic Data Center began producing operationally in 2006. While NESIS was developed for storms that had a major impact in the Northeast, it includes all snowfall during the lifetime of a storm across the United States and as such can be thought of as a quasi-national index that is calibrated to Northeast snowstorms. By contrast, the RSI is a regional index calibrated to specific regions using only the snow that falls within that region. This paper describes the methodology used to compute the RSI, which requires region-specific parameters and thresholds, and its application within six climate regions in the eastern two-thirds of the nation. The process used to select the region-specific parameters and thresholds is explained. The new index has been calculated for over 580 snowstorms that occurred between 1900 and 2013 providing a century-scale historical perspective for these snowstorms. The RSI is computed for category 1 or greater storms in near–real time, usually a day after the storm has ended.

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Kenneth E. Kunkel, Michael A. Palecki, Kenneth G. Hubbard, David A. Robinson, Kelly T. Redmond, and David R. Easterling

Abstract

There is an increasing interest in examining long-term trends in measures of snow climatology. An examination of the U.S. daily snowfall records for 1900–2004 revealed numerous apparent inconsistencies. For example, long-term snowfall trends among neighboring lake-effect stations differ greatly from insignificant to +100% century−1. Internal inconsistencies in the snow records, such as a lack of upward trends in maximum seasonal snow depth at stations with large upward trends in snowfall, point to inhomogeneities. Nationwide, the frequency of daily observations with a 10:1 snowfall-to-liquid-equivalent ratio declined from 30% in the 1930s to a current value of around 10%, a change that is clearly due to observational practice. There then must be biases in cold-season liquid-equivalent precipitation, or snowfall, or both. An empirical adjustment of snow-event, liquid-equivalent precipitation indicates that the potential biases can be statistically significant.

Examples from this study show that there are nonclimatic issues that complicate the identification of and significantly change the trends in snow variables. Thus, great care should be taken in interpretation of time series of snow-related variables from the Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) network. Furthermore, full documentation of optional practices should be required of network observers so that future users of these data can properly account for such practices.

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Robert J. Trapp, Karen A. Kosiba, James N. Marquis, Matthew R. Kumjian, Stephen W. Nesbitt, Joshua Wurman, Paola Salio, Maxwell A. Grover, Paul Robinson, and Deanna A. Hence

Abstract

On 10 November 2018, during the RELAMPAGO field campaign in Argentina, South America, a thunderstorm with supercell characteristics was observed by an array of mobile observing instruments, including three Doppler on Wheels radars. In contrast to the archetypal supercell described in the Glossary of Meteorology, the updraft rotation in this storm was rather short lived (~25 min), causing some initial doubt as to whether this indeed was a supercell. However, retrieved 3D winds from dual-Doppler radar scans were used to document a high spatial correspondence between midlevel vertical velocity and vertical vorticity in this storm, thus providing evidence to support the supercell categorization. Additional data collected within the RELAMPAGO domain revealed other storms with this behavior, which appears to be attributable in part to effects of the local terrain. Specifically, the IOP4 supercell and other short-duration supercell cases presented had storm motions that were nearly perpendicular to the long axis of the Sierras de Córdoba Mountains; a long-duration supercell case, on the other hand, had a storm motion nearly parallel to these mountains. Sounding observations as well as model simulations indicate that a mountain-perpendicular storm motion results in a relatively short storm residence time within the narrow zone of terrain-enhanced vertical wind shear. Such a motion and short residence time would limit the upward tilting, by the left-moving supercell updraft, of the storm-relative, antistreamwise horizontal vorticity associated with anabatic flow near complex terrain.

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R. S. Lieberman, W. A. Robinson, S. J. Franke, R. A. Vincent, J. R. Isler, D. C. Fritts, A. H. Manson, C. E. Meek, G. J. Fraser, A. Fahrutdinova, W. Hocking, T. Thayaparan, J. MacDougall, K. Igarashi, T. Nakamura, and T. Tsuda

Abstract

High Resolution Doppler Imager (HRDI) measurements of daytime and nighttime winds at 95 km are used to deduce seasonally averaged Eulerian mean meridional winds during six solstice periods. These estimates are compared with seasonally averaged radar meridional winds and with results from dynamical and empirical wind models. HRDI mean meridional winds are directed from the summer pole toward the winter pole over much of the globe. Peak equatorward winds of about 15 m s−1 are usually observed in the summer hemisphere near 30°. A local minimum in the equatorward winds is often observed poleward of this latitude, with winds approaching zero or reversing direction. A similar structure is seen in contemporaneous radar winds. This behavior differs from residual meridional wind patterns predicted by models. The discrepancies may be related to gravity wave paramaterizations or a consequence of planetary wave influences.

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Jay H. Lawrimore, Michael S. Halpert, Gerald D. Bell, Matthew J. Menne, Bradfield Lyon, Russell C. Schnell, Karin L. Gleason, David R. Easterling, Wasila Thiaw, William J. Wrightand, Richard R. Heim Jr., David A. Robinson, and Lisa Alexander

The global climate in 2000 was again influenced by the long-running Pacific cold episode (La Niña) that began in mid-1998. Consistent with past cold episodes, enhanced convection occurred across the climatologically convective regions of Indonesia and the western equatorial Pacific, while convection was suppressed in the central Pacific. The La Niña was also associated with a well-defined African easterly jet located north of its climatological mean position and low vertical wind shear in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean, both of which contributed to an active North Atlantic hurricane season. Precipitation patterns influenced by typical La Niña conditions included 1) above-average rainfall in southeastern Africa, 2) unusually heavy rainfall in northern and central regions of Australia, 3) enhanced precipitation in the tropical Indian Ocean and western tropical Pacific, 4) little rainfall in the central tropical Pacific, 5) below-normal precipitation over equatorial east Africa, and 6) drier-than-normal conditions along the Gulf coast of the United States.

Although no hurricanes made landfall in the United States in 2000, another active North Atlantic hurricane season featured 14 named storms, 8 of which became hurricanes, with 3 growing to major hurricane strength. All of the named storms over the North Atlantic formed during the August–October period with the first hurricane of the season, Hurricane Alberto, notable as the third-longest-lived tropical system since reliable records began in 1945. The primary human loss during the 2000 season occurred in Central America, where Hurricane Gordon killed 19 in Guatemala, and Hurricane Keith killed 19 in Belize and caused $200 million dollars of damage.

Other regional events included 1) record warm January–October temperatures followed by record cold November–December temperatures in the United States, 2) extreme drought and widespread wildfires in the southern and western Unites States, 3) continued long-term drought in the Hawaiian Islands throughout the year with record 24-h rainfall totals in November, 4) deadly storms and flooding in western Europe in October, 5) a summer heat wave and drought in southern Europe, 6) monsoon flooding in parts of Southeast Asia and India, 7) extreme winter conditions in Mongolia, 8) extreme long-term drought in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, and 9) severe flooding in southern Africa.

Global mean temperatures remained much above average in 2000. The average land and ocean temperature was 0.39°C above the 1880–1999 long-term mean, continuing a trend to warmer-than-average temperatures that made the 1990s the warmest decade on record. While the persistence of La Niña conditions in 2000 was associated with somewhat cooler temperatures in the Tropics, temperatures in the extratropics remained near record levels. Land surface temperatures in the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere were notably warmer than normal, with annually averaged anomalies greater than 2°C in parts of Alaska, Canada, Asia, and northern Europe.

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N. R. P. Harris, L. J. Carpenter, J. D. Lee, G. Vaughan, M. T. Filus, R. L. Jones, B. OuYang, J. A. Pyle, A. D. Robinson, S. J. Andrews, A. C. Lewis, J. Minaeian, A. Vaughan, J. R. Dorsey, M. W. Gallagher, M. Le Breton, R. Newton, C. J. Percival, H. M. A. Ricketts, S. J.-B. Bauguitte, G. J. Nott, A. Wellpott, M. J. Ashfold, J. Flemming, R. Butler, P. I. Palmer, P. H. Kaye, C. Stopford, C. Chemel, H. Boesch, N. Humpage, A. Vick, A. R. MacKenzie, R. Hyde, P. Angelov, E. Meneguz, and A. J. Manning

Abstract

The main field activities of the Coordinated Airborne Studies in the Tropics (CAST) campaign took place in the west Pacific during January–February 2014. The field campaign was based in Guam (13.5°N, 144.8°E), using the U.K. Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) BAe-146 atmospheric research aircraft, and was coordinated with the Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment (ATTREX) project with an unmanned Global Hawk and the Convective Transport of Active Species in the Tropics (CONTRAST) campaign with a Gulfstream V aircraft. Together, the three aircraft were able to make detailed measurements of atmospheric structure and composition from the ocean surface to 20 km. These measurements are providing new information about the processes influencing halogen and ozone levels in the tropical west Pacific, as well as the importance of trace-gas transport in convection for the upper troposphere and stratosphere. The FAAM aircraft made a total of 25 flights in the region between 1°S and 14°N and 130° and 155°E. It was used to sample at altitudes below 8 km, with much of the time spent in the marine boundary layer. It measured a range of chemical species and sampled extensively within the region of main inflow into the strong west Pacific convection. The CAST team also made ground-based measurements of a number of species (including daily ozonesondes) at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program site on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (2.1°S, 147.4°E). This article presents an overview of the CAST project, focusing on the design and operation of the west Pacific experiment. It additionally discusses some new developments in CAST, including flights of new instruments on board the Global Hawk in February–March 2015.

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C. Donlon, I. Robinson, K. S. Casey, J. Vazquez-Cuervo, E. Armstrong, O. Arino, C. Gentemann, D. May, P. LeBorgne, J. Piollé, I. Barton, H. Beggs, D. J. S. Poulter, C. J. Merchant, A. Bingham, S. Heinz, A. Harris, G. Wick, B. Emery, P. Minnett, R. Evans, D. Llewellyn-Jones, C. Mutlow, R. W. Reynolds, H. Kawamura, and N. Rayner

A new generation of integrated sea surface temperature (SST) data products are being provided by the Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment (GODAE) High-Resolution SST Pilot Project (GHRSST-PP). These combine in near-real time various SST data products from several different satellite sensors and in situ observations and maintain the fine spatial and temporal resolution needed by SST inputs to operational models. The practical realization of such an approach is complicated by the characteristic differences that exist between measurements of SST obtained from subsurface in-water sensors, and satellite microwave and satellite infrared radiometer systems. Furthermore, diurnal variability of SST within a 24-h period, manifested as both warm-layer and cool-skin deviations, introduces additional uncertainty for direct intercomparison between data sources and the implementation of data-merging strategies. The GHRSST-PP has developed and now operates an internationally distributed system that provides operational feeds of regional and global coverage high-resolution SST data products (better than 10 km and ~6 h). A suite of online satellite SST diagnostic systems are also available within the project. All GHRSST-PP products have a standard format, include uncertainty estimates for each measurement, and are served to the international user community free of charge through a variety of data transport mechanisms and access points. They are being used for a number of operational applications. The approach will also be extended back to 1981 by a dedicated reanalysis project. This paper provides a summary overview of the GHRSST-PP structure, activities, and data products. For a complete discussion, and access to data products and services see the information online at www.ghrsst-pp.org.

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