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Guoxing Chen, Wei-Chyung Wang, Chao-Tzuen Cheng, and Huang-Hsiung Hsu


Winter extreme snowstorm events along the coast of the northeast United States have significant impacts on social and economic activities, and their potential changes under global warming are of great concern. Here, we adopted the pseudo–global warming approach to investigate the responses of 93 events identified in our previous observational analysis. The study was conducted by contrasting two sets of WRF simulations for each event: the first set driven by the ERA-Interim reanalysis and the second set by that data superimposed with mean-climate changes simulated from HiRAM historical (1980–2004) and future (2075–99; RCP8.5) runs. Results reveal that the warming together with increased moisture tends to decrease the snowfall along the coast but increase the rainfall throughout the region. For example, the number of events having daily snow water equivalent larger than 10 mm day−1 at Boston, Massachusetts; New York City, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Washington, D.C., is decreased by 47%, 46%, 30%, and 33%, respectively. The compensating changes in snowfall and rainfall lead to a total-precipitation increase in the three more-southern cities but a decrease in Boston. In addition, the southwestward shift of regional precipitation distribution is coherent with the enhancement (reduction) of upward vertical motion in the south (north) and the movement of cyclone centers (westward in 58% of events and southward in 72%). Finally, perhaps more adversely, because of the northward retreat of the 0°C line and the expansion of the near-freezing zone, the number of events with mixed rain and snow and freezing precipitation in the north (especially the inland area) is increased.

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Wei Zhao, Shangfeng Chen, Hengde Zhang, Jikang Wang, Wen Chen, Renguang Wu, Wanqiu Xing, Zhibiao Wang, Peng Hu, Jinling Piao, and Tianjiao Ma


The Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei (BTH) region has encountered increasingly severe and frequent haze pollution during recent decades. This study reveals that El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has distinctive impacts on interannual variations of haze pollution over BTH in early and late winters. The impact of ENSO on the haze pollution over the BTH is strong in early winter, but weak in late winter. In early winter, ENSO-related sea surface temperature anomalies generate double-cell Walker circulation anomalies, with upward motion anomalies over the tropical central-eastern Pacific and tropical Indian Ocean, and downward motion anomalies over the tropical western Pacific. The ascending motion and enhanced atmospheric heating anomalies over the tropical Indian Ocean trigger atmospheric teleconnection propagating from the north Indian Ocean to East Asia, and result in the generation of an anticyclonic anomaly over Northeast Asia. The associated southerly anomalies to the west side lead to more serious haze pollution via reducing surface wind speed and increasing low-level humidity and the thermal inversion. The strong contribution of the Indian Ocean heating anomalies to the formation of the anticyclonic anomaly over Northeast Asia in early winter can be confirmed by atmospheric model numerical experiments. In late winter, vertical motion and precipitation anomalies are weak over the tropical Indian Ocean related to ENSO. As such, ENSO cannot induce a clear anticyclonic anomaly over Northeast Asia via atmospheric teleconnection, and thus has a weak impact on the haze pollution over BTH. Further analysis shows that stronger ENSO-induced atmospheric heating anomalies over the tropical Indian Ocean in early winter are partially due to higher mean SST and precipitation there.

Significance Statement

There exist large discrepancies regarding the contribution of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events to the wintertime haze pollution over North China. Several studies have indicated that ENSO has a weak impact on the haze pollution over North China. However, some studies have argued that ENSO events can exert impacts on the occurrence of haze pollution over North China. In this study, we present evidence to demonstrate that ENSO has distinctive impacts on interannual variations of the haze pollution over the Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei (BTH) region in North China in early and late winters. Specifically, ENSO has a strong impact on the haze pollution over BTH in early winter, whereas the impact of ENSO on the haze pollution over BTH is fairly weak in late winter. Results of this study could reconcile the discrepancy of previous studies about the impact of ENSO on the haze pollution over North China.

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Guoxing Chen, Wei-Chyung Wang, Lijun Tao, Huang-Hsiung Hsu, Chia-Ying Tu, and Chao-Tzuen Cheng


This study used both observations and global climate model simulations to investigate the characteristics of winter extreme snowfall events along the coast (the Interstate 95 corridor) of the northeast United States where several mega-cities are located. Observational analyses indicate that, during 1980–2015, 110 events occurred when four coastal cities—Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.—had either individually or collectively experienced daily snowfall exceeding the local 95th percentile thresholds. Boston had the most events, with a total of 69, followed by 40, 36, and 30 (moving southward) in the other three cities. The associated circulations at 200 and 850 hPa were categorized via K-means clustering. The resulting three composite circulations are characterized by the strength and location of the jet at 200 hPa and the coupled low pressure system at 850 hPa: a strong jet overlying the cities coupled with an inland trough, a weak and slightly southward shifted jet coupled with a cyclone at the coast, and a weak jet stream situated to the south of the cities coupled with a cyclone over the coastal oceans. Comparative analyses were also conducted using the GFDL High Resolution Atmospheric Model (HiRAM) simulation of the same period. Although the simulated extreme events do not provide one-to-one correspondence with observations, the characteristics nevertheless show consistency notably in total number of occurrences, intraseasonal and multiple-year variations, snow spatial coverage, and the associated circulation patterns. Possible future change in extreme snow events was also explored utilizing the HiRAM RCP8.5 (2075–2100) simulation. The analyses suggest that a warming global climate tends to decrease the extreme snowfall events but increase extreme rainfall events.

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