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Michael P. Dudek, Xin-Zhong Liang, and Wei-Chyung Wang

Abstract

The scale dependence of cloud-radiation interaction associated with the parameterizations for fractional cloudiness and radiation used in a global climate model is studied by examining the averages, for different spatial scales, of detailed structure of cloudiness and radiation simulated from a regional climate model that incorporates these parameterizations. The regional model simulation is conducted over an area about (360 km)2 located on the southern Great Plains for the period 10–17 April 1994 during which both satellite and surface measurements of radiation fluxes and clouds are available from the Intensive Observing Period of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program. The area corresponds approximately to one gridpoint size of a global climate model with horizontal resolution T31.

The regional model simulates well the overall cloud and radiation temporal features when averaged over the entire region. However, specific biases exist in the spatial patterns such as the high clouds, the TOA upwelling solar radiation under cloudy conditions, and the net longwave surface flux under clear conditions at night. The cloud and radiation parameterizations are found to be sensitive to the spatial scale of the computation. The diagnosed total cloudiness shows a strong horizontal resolution dependence that leads to large changes in the surface and TOA radiation budgets. An additional experiment, in which the diagnosed cloud at each level is held constant while the radiation parameterization is recalculated, still produces a substantial sensitivity to spatial scale in the calculated radiation quantities. This is because the nature of the cloud vertical overlapping assumption changes as the horizontal scale of the computation varies.

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Yaru Guo, Yuanlong Li, Fan Wang, and Yuntao Wei

Abstract

Ningaloo Niño—the interannually occurring warming episode in the southeast Indian Ocean (SEIO)—has strong signatures in ocean temperature and circulation and exerts profound impacts on regional climate and marine biosystems. Analysis of observational data and eddy-resolving regional ocean model simulations reveals that the Ningaloo Niño/Niña can also induce pronounced variability in ocean salinity, causing large-scale sea surface salinity (SSS) freshening of 0.15–0.20 psu in the SEIO during its warm phase. Model experiments are performed to understand the underlying processes. This SSS freshening is mutually caused by the increased local precipitation (~68%) and enhanced freshwater transport of the Indonesian Throughflow (ITF; ~28%) during Ningaloo Niño events. The effects of other processes, such as local winds and evaporation, are secondary (~18%). The ITF enhances the southward freshwater advection near the eastern boundary, which is critical in causing the strong freshening (>0.20 psu) near the Western Australian coast. Owing to the strong modulation effect of the ITF, SSS near the coast bears a higher correlation with El Niño–Southern Oscillation (0.57, 0.77, and 0.70 with the Niño-3, Niño-4, and Niño-3.4 indices, respectively) than sea surface temperature (−0.27, −0.42, and −0.35) during 1993–2016. Yet, an idealized model experiment with artificial damping for salinity anomaly indicates that ocean salinity has limited impact on ocean near-surface stratification and thus minimal feedback effect on the warming of Ningaloo Niño.

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Youbing Peng, Caiming Shen, Wei-Chyung Wang, and Ying Xu

Abstract

Studies of the effects of large volcanic eruptions on regional climate so far have focused mostly on temperature responses. Previous studies using proxy data suggested that coherent droughts over eastern China are associated with explosive low-latitude volcanic eruptions. Here, the authors present an investigation of the responses of summer precipitation over eastern China to large volcanic eruptions through analyzing a 1000-yr global climate model simulation driven by natural and anthropogenic forcing. Superposed epoch analyses of 18 cases of large volcanic eruption indicate that summer precipitation over eastern China significantly decreases in the eruption year and the year after. Model simulation suggests that this reduction of summer precipitation over eastern China can be attributed to a weakening of summer monsoon and a decrease of moisture vapor over tropical oceans caused by large volcanic eruptions.

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Xin-Zhong Liang, Arthur N. Samel, and Wei-Chyung Wang

Abstract

China's rainfall interannual predictability is generally believed to depend upon the accurate representation of its annual cycle as well as teleconnections with planetary surface anomalies, including tropical east Pacific sea surface temperature and Eurasian snow and soil moisture. A suite of general circulation model (GCM) simulations is used to ascertain the existence of these relationships. First, a comparison of thirty 1980–88 Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP) GCM simulations shows no clear correspondence between model skill to reproduce observed rainfall annual cycle and interannual variability. Thus, accurate representation of either component does not ensure the realistic simulation of the other. Second, diagnosis of the 1903–94 and 1950–97 National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Climate Model, version 3 (CCM3), ensemble integrations indicates the existence of teleconnections in which spring planetary surface anomalies lead China's summer rainfall variations. These teleconnections, however, are sensitive to initial conditions, which define distinct dynamic regimes during the integration period. In addition, analysis of the NCAR Climate System Model (CSM) 300-yr equilibrium simulation reveals that the teleconnections display decadal variations. These results cast doubt on the traditional physical mechanisms that explain China's rainfall teleconnections and, hence, emphasize the need to incorporate interactions between planetary surface anomalies and specific dynamic regimes.

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Wei Mei, Shang-Ping Xie, Ming Zhao, and Yuqing Wang

Abstract

Forced interannual-to-decadal variability of annual tropical cyclone (TC) track density in the western North Pacific between 1979 and 2008 is studied using TC tracks from observations and simulations by a 25-km-resolution version of the GFDL High-Resolution Atmospheric Model (HiRAM) that is forced by observed sea surface temperatures (SSTs). Two modes dominate the decadal variability: a nearly basinwide mode, and a dipole mode between the subtropics and lower latitudes. The former mode links to variations in TC number and is forced by SST variations over the off-equatorial tropical central North Pacific, whereas the latter might be associated with the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation. The interannual variability is also controlled by two modes: a basinwide mode driven by SST anomalies of opposite signs located in the tropical central Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean, and a southeast–northwest dipole mode connected to the conventional eastern Pacific ENSO. The seasonal evolution of the ENSO effect on TC activity is further explored via a joint empirical orthogonal function analysis using TC track density of consecutive seasons, and the analysis reveals that two types of ENSO are at work. Internal variability in TC track density is then examined using ensemble simulations from both HiRAM and a regional atmospheric model. It exhibits prominent spatial and seasonal patterns, and it is particularly strong in the South China Sea and along the coast of East Asia. This makes an accurate prediction and projection of TC landfall extremely challenging in these regions. In contrast, basin-integrated metrics (e.g., total TC counts and TC days) are more predictable.

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Jiandong Li, Wei-Chyung Wang, Jiangyu Mao, Ziqian Wang, Gang Zeng, and Guoxing Chen

Abstract

Clouds strongly modulate regional radiation balance and their evolution is profoundly influenced by circulations. This study uses 2001–16 satellite and reanalysis data together with regional model simulations to investigate the spring shortwave cloud radiative effect (SWCRE) and the associated circulations over southeastern China (SEC). Strong SWCRE, up to −110 W m−2, persists throughout springtime in this region and its spring mean is the largest among the same latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. SWCRE exhibits pronounced subseasonal variation and is closely associated with persistent regional ascending motion and moisture convergence, which favor large amounts of cloud liquid water and resultant strong SWCRE. Around pentad 12 (late February), SWCRE abruptly increases and afterward remains stable between 22° and 32°N. The thermal and dynamic effects of Tibetan Plateau and westerly jet provide appropriate settings for the maintenance of ascending motion, while water vapor, as cloud water supply, stably comes from the southern flank of the Tibetan Plateau and South China Sea. During pentads 25–36 (early May to late June), SWCRE is further enhanced by the increased water vapor transport caused by the march of East Asian monsoon systems, particularly after the onset of the South China Sea monsoon. After pentad 36, these circulations quickly weaken and the SWCRE decreases accordingly. Individual years with spring strong and weak rainfall are chosen to highlight the importance of the strength of the ascending motion. The simulation broadly reproduced the observed results, although biases exist. Finally, the model biases in SWCRE–circulation associations are discussed.

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Wei-Chyung Wang, Wei Gong, Wen-Shung Kau, Cheng-Ta Chen, Huang-Hsiung Hsu, and Chia-Hsiu Tu

Abstract

Observations indicate that the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) exhibits distinctive characteristics of large cloud amounts with associated heavy and persistent rainfall, although short breaks for clear sky usually occur. Consequently, the effects of cloud–radiation interactions can play an important role in the general circulation of the atmosphere and, thus, the evolution of the EASM. In this note, as a first step toward studying the topic, the 5-yr (January 1985–December 1989) Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) dataset is used to show the spatial and temporal patterns of both shortwave (SW) and longwave (LW) cloud radiative forcing (CRF) at the top of the atmosphere over east China, and to compare the observed features with Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project-II (AMIP-II) simulations with the University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNYA) Community Climate Model 3 (CCM3) and the ECHAM4 general circulation models.

The observations indicate that the net CRF provides a cooling effect to the atmosphere–surface climate system, dominated by the SW CRF cooling (albedo effect) with partial compensation from the LW CRF warming (greenhouse effect). The SW CRF shows a strong seasonal cycle, and its peak magnitude is particularly large, ∼110 W m−2, for south China and the Yangtze–Huai River valley (YHRV) during May and June, while the LW CRF is about 50 W m−2 for the same months with a weak dependence on the latitudes and seasons. These characteristics are in sharp contrast to the Northern Hemispheric zonal means of the same latitude bands and seasons, thus implying a unique role for cloud–radiation interaction in east China. Both model simulations show similar observed characteristics, although biases exist. For example, in May, the ECHAM4 underestimates the SW CRF while the SUNYA CCM3 simulates a significantly larger value, both attributed to the respective biases in the simulated total cloud cover. Model-to-observation comparisons of the association between total cloud cover and SW CRF, and between high cloud cover and LW CRF, are also presented and their differences are discussed. Finally, the SUNYA CCM3 biases in the CRF and its relevance to the model cloud biases are discussed in the context of model cold and dry biases in climate simulations.

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Wei-Chyung Wang, Qing-Yun Zhang, David R. Easterling, and Thomas R. Karl

Abstract

Two aspects of Beijing cloudiness are studied: its relationship to other climate parameters during the period 1951–1990 and the reconstruction of proxy values between 1875 and 1950. For the recent period, cloudiness varies with no apparent trend and is highly correlated with the total number of rain days (r=0.77) and total sunshine duration (r=0.72). Good correlation is also found with maximum surface air temperature, surface relative humidity, and total precipitation. While the correlation between cloudiness and solar radiation was large prior to 1976, the coefficient for the period 1976–1990 is much smaller. This decrease can be attributed to a negative trend in solar radiation, which is consistent with an observed decrease in visibility. Variations in Beijing cloudiness are closely related to those found over most of northern China, while little similarity is found with locations south of 35°N.

The large correlation between annual cloudiness and the total number of rain days between 1951 and 1990 was used in conjunction with the observed rain day record for the period 1875–1950 to construct a proxy cloudiness record for Beijing for the period 1875–1950. Comparisons between proxy cloudiness and available observations of surface air temperature and relative humidity reveal that the relationships are consistent with those found when observed cloudiness is compared with observed temperature and humidity data. On the century time scale, there is no clear trend in percent cloudiness. However, on the decadal time scale, there is a negative trend in cloudiness during the period 1880–1930 followed by a period of relatively constant values between 1940 and 1975.

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Chia-Chi Wang, Wei-Liang Lee, Yu-Luen Chen, and Huang-Hsiung Hsu

Abstract

The double intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) bias in the eastern Pacific in the Community Earth System Model version 1 with Community Atmosphere Model version 5 (CESM1/CAM5) is diagnosed. In CAM5 standalone, the northern ITCZ is associated with inertial instability and the southern ITCZ is thermally forced. After air–sea coupling, the processes on both hemispheres are switched because the spatial pattern of sea surface temperature (SST) is changed.

Biases occur during boreal spring in both CAM5 and the ocean model. In CAM5 alone, weaker-than-observed equatorial easterly in the tropical eastern South Pacific leads to weaker evaporation and an increase in local SST. The shallow meridional circulation overly converges in the same region in the CAM5 standalone simulation, the planetary boundary layer and middle troposphere are too humid, and the large-scale subsidence is too weak at the middle levels. These biases may result from excessive shallow convection behavior in CAM5. The extra moisture would then fuel stronger convection and a higher precipitation rate in the southeastern Pacific.

In the ocean model, the South Equatorial Current is underestimated and the North Equatorial Countercurrent is located too close to the equator, causing a warm SST bias in the southeastern Pacific and a cold bias in the northeastern Pacific. These SST biases feed back to the atmosphere and further influence convection and the surface wind biases in the coupled simulation. When the convection in the tropical northeastern Pacific becomes thermally forced after coupling, the northern ITCZ is diminished due to colder SST, forming the so-called alternating ITCZ bias.

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Fuyao Wang, Yan Yu, Michael Notaro, Jiafu Mao, Xiaoying Shi, and Yaxing Wei

Abstract

This study advances the practicality and stability of the traditional multivariate statistical method, generalized equilibrium feedback assessment (GEFA), for decomposing the key oceanic drivers of regional atmospheric variability, especially when available data records are short. An advanced stepwise GEFA methodology is introduced, in which unimportant forcings within the forcing matrix are eliminated through stepwise selection. Method validation of stepwise GEFA is performed using the CESM, with a focused application to northern and tropical Africa (NTA). First, a statistical assessment of the atmospheric response to each primary oceanic forcing is carried out by applying stepwise GEFA to a fully coupled control run. Then, a dynamical assessment of the atmospheric response to individual oceanic forcings is performed through ensemble experiments by imposing sea surface temperature anomalies over focal ocean basins. Finally, to quantify the reliability of stepwise GEFA, the statistical assessment is evaluated against the dynamical assessment in terms of four metrics: the percentage of grid cells with consistent response sign, the spatial correlation of atmospheric response patterns, the area-averaged seasonal cycle of response magnitude, and consistency in associated mechanisms between assessments. In CESM, tropical modes, namely El Niño–Southern Oscillation and the tropical Indian Ocean Basin, tropical Indian Ocean dipole, and tropical Atlantic Niño modes, are the dominant oceanic controls of NTA climate. In complementary studies, stepwise GEFA is validated in terms of isolating terrestrial forcings on the atmosphere, and observed oceanic and terrestrial drivers of NTA climate are extracted to establish an observational benchmark for subsequent coupled model evaluation and development of process-based weights for regional climate projections.

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