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R. W. Higgins, K. C. Mo, and Y. Yao

Abstract

Relationships between the interannual variability of the U.S. summer precipitation regime and the intensification, weakening, or changes in position of the climatological-mean circulation features that organize this regime are examined. The focus is on the atmospheric conditions over the conterminous United States relative to wet and dry monsoons over the southwestern United States. The onset of the monsoon in this region, which typically begins in early July, is determined using an index based on daily observed precipitation for a 32-yr (1963–94) period. Composites of observed precipitation and various fields from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction–National Center for Atmospheric Research Reanalysis for wet and dry monsoons are used to show that the interannual variability of the summer precipitation regime closely mimics the seasonal changes associated with the development of the North American monsoon system.

The warm season precipitation regime is characterized by a continental-scale precipitation pattern consisting of an out-of-phase relationship between the Southwest and the Great Plains/Northern Tier and an in-phase relationship between the Southwest and the East Coast. This pattern is preserved for both wet and dry monsoons, but the Southwest is relatively wetter and the Great Plains are relatively drier during wet monsoons. Wet (dry) monsoons are also associated with a stronger (weaker) upper-tropospheric monsoon anticyclone over the western United States, consistent with changes in the upper-tropospheric divergence, midtropospheric vertical motion, and precipitation patterns. The intensity of the monsoon anticyclone over the western United States appears to be one of the most fundamental controls on summertime precipitation downstream over the Great Plains.

Evidence is presented that the interannual variability of the U.S. warm season precipitation regime is linked to the season-to-reason “memory” of the coupled atmosphere–ocean system over the eastern tropical Pacific. In particular, it is shown that SST anomalies in the eastern Pacific cold tongue and precipitation anomalies in the intertropical convergence zone, present during the winter and spring preceding the monsoon, are linked via an anomalous local Hadley circulation to the warm season precipitation regime over the United States and Mexico. Wet (dry) summer monsoons tend to follow winters characterized by dry (wet) conditions in the Southwest and wet (dry) conditions in the Pacific Northwest. This association is attributed, in part, to the memory imparted to the atmosphere by the accompanying Pacific SST anomalies.

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Jun Yang, Weitao Lu, Ying Ma, and Wen Yao

Abstract

Cloud detection is a basic research for achieving cloud-cover state and other cloud characteristics. Because of the influence of sunlight, the brightness of sky background on the ground-based cloud image is usually nonuniform, which increases the difficulty for cirrus cloud detection, and few detection methods perform well for thin cirrus clouds. This paper presents an effective background estimation method to eliminate the influence of variable illumination conditions and proposes a background subtraction adaptive threshold method (BSAT) to detect cirrus clouds in visible images for the small field of view and mixed clear–cloud scenes. The BSAT algorithm consists of red-to-blue band operation, background subtraction, adaptive threshold selection, and binarization. The experimental results show that the BSAT algorithm is robust for all types of cirrus clouds, and the quantitative evaluation results demonstrate that the BSAT algorithm outperforms the fixed threshold (FT) and adaptive threshold (AT) methods in cirrus cloud detection.

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Yao Ha, Zhong Zhong, Xiuqun Yang, and Yuan Sun

Abstract

This study focuses on statistical analysis of anomalous tropical cyclone (TC) activities and the physical mechanisms behind these anomalies. Different patterns of decaying of the warm sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) over the equatorial central-eastern Pacific are categorized into three types: eastern Pacific warming decaying to La Niña (EPWDL), eastern Pacific warming decaying to a neutral phase (EPWDN), and a central Pacific warming decaying year (CPWD). Differences in TC activity over the western North Pacific (WNP) corresponding to the above three types are discussed, and possible mechanisms are proposed. For EPWDL, TC genesis shows a significant positive (negative) anomaly over the northwestern (southeastern) WNP and more TCs move westward and make landfall over the southern East Asian coast. This is attributed primarily to the combined modulation of La Niña and the warm equatorial east Indian Ocean SSTA. For EPWDN, enhanced TC genesis is observed over the northeastern WNP, and suppressed TC activity is located mainly in the zonal region extending from the Philippine Sea to the eastern WNP, close to 160°E. Most of the TCs formed over the eastern WNP experience early recurvature east of 140°E, then move northeastward; hence, fewer TCs move northwestward to make landfall over the East Asian coast. For CPWD, the enhanced TC activity appears over the western WNP. This is due to the weak anomalous cyclonic circulation over the Philippines, primarily caused by the weaker, more westward-shifting warm SSTA compared to that in the previous warming year over the central Pacific.

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Xiuping Yao, Jiali Ma, Da-Lin Zhang, and Lizhu Yan

Abstract

A 33-yr climatology of shear lines occurring over the Yangtze–Huai River basin (YHSLs) of eastern China during the mei-yu season (i.e., June and July) of 1981–2013 is examined using the daily ERA-Interim reanalysis data and daily rain gauge observations. Results show that (i) nearly 75% of the heavy-rainfall days (i.e., >50 mm day−1) are accompanied by YHSLs, (ii) about 66% of YHSLs can produce heavy rainfall over the Yangtze–Huai River basin, and (iii) YHSL-related heavy rainfall occurs frequently in the south-central basin. The statistical properties of YHSLs are investigated by classifying them into warm, cold, quasi-stationary, and vortex types based on their distinct flow and thermal patterns as well as orientations and movements. Although the warm-type rainfall intensity is the weakest among the four, it has the highest number of heavy-rainfall days, making it the largest contributor (33%) to the total mei-yu rainfall amounts associated with YHSLs. By comparison, the quasi-stationary type has the smallest number of heavy-rainfall days, contributing about 19% to the total rainfall, whereas the vortex type is the more frequent extreme-rain producer (i.e., >100 mm day−1). The four types of YHSLs are closely related to various synoptic-scale low-to-midtropospheric disturbances—such as the southwest vortex, low-level jets, and midlatitude traveling perturbations that interact with mei-yu fronts over the basin and a subtropical high to the south—that provide favorable lifting and the needed moisture supply for heavy-rainfall production. The results have important implications for the operational rainfall forecasts associated with YHSLs through analog pattern recognition.

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Qianzi Yang, Yingying Zhao, Qin Wen, Jie Yao, and Haijun Yang

Abstract

The Bjerknes compensation (BJC) under global warming is studied using a simple box model and a coupled Earth system model. The BJC states the out-of-phase changes in the meridional atmosphere and ocean heat transports. Results suggest that the BJC can occur during the transient period of global warming. During the transient period, the sea ice melting in the high latitudes can cause a significant weakening of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), resulting in a cooling in the North Atlantic. The meridional contrast of sea surface temperature would be enhanced, and this can eventually enhance the Hadley cell and storm-track activities in the Northern Hemisphere. Accompanied by changes in both ocean and atmosphere circulations, the northward ocean heat transport in the Atlantic is decreased while the northward atmosphere heat transport is increased, and the BJC occurs in the Northern Hemisphere. Once the freshwater influx into the North Atlantic Ocean stops, or the ocean even loses freshwater because of strong heating in the high latitudes, the AMOC would recover. Both the atmosphere and ocean heat transports would be enhanced, and they can eventually recover to the state of the control run, leading to the BJC to become invalid. The above processes are clearly demonstrated in the coupled model CO2 experiment. Since it is difficult to separate the freshwater effect from the heating effect in the coupled model, a simple box model is used to understand the BJC mechanism and freshwater’s role under global warming. In a warming climate, the freshwater flux into the ocean can cool the global surface temperature, mitigating the temperature rise. Box model experiments indicate clearly that it is the freshwater flux into the North Atlantic that causes out-of-phase changes in the atmosphere and ocean heat transports, which eventually plays a stabilizing role in global climate change.

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Yao Xu, Hailun He, Jinbao Song, Yijun Hou, and Funing Li

Abstract

Buoy-based observations of surface waves during three typhoons in the South China Sea were used to obtain the wave characteristics. With the local wind speeds kept below 35 m s−1, the surface waves over an area with a radius 5 times that of the area in which the maximum sustained wind was found were mainly dominated by wind-wave components, and the wave energy distribution was consistent with fetch-limited waves. Swells dominated the surface waves at the front of and outside the central typhoon region. Next, the dynamics of the typhoon waves were studied numerically using a state-of-the-art third-generation wave model. Wind forcing errors made a negligible contribution to the surface wave results obtained using hindcasting. Near-realistic wind fields were constructed by correcting the idealized wind vortex using in situ observational data. If the different sets of source terms were further considered for the forcing stage of the typhoon, which was defined as the half inertial period before and after the typhoon arrival time, the best model performance had mean relative biases and root-mean-square errors of −0.7% and 0.76 m, respectively, for the significant wave height, and −3.4% and 1.115 s, respectively, for the peak wave period. Different sets of source terms for wind inputs and whitecapping breaking dissipation were also used and the results compared. Finally, twin numerical experiments were performed to investigate the importance of nonlinear wave–wave interactions on the spectrum formed. There was evidence that nonlinear wave–wave interactions efficiently transfer wave energy from high frequencies to low frequencies and prevent double-peak structures occurring in the frequency-based spectrum.

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Jing Gao, You He, Valerie Masson-Delmotte, and Tandong Yao

Abstract

Although El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) influences the Indian summer monsoon, its impact on moisture transport toward the southern Tibetan Plateau (TP) remains poorly understood. Precipitation stable isotopes are useful indices for climate change in the TP. Classical interpretations of variations of precipitation stable isotopes focus on the local surface air temperature or precipitation amount. However, several of the latest studies suggested they may correlate with large-scale modes of variability, such as ENSO. This paper presents a detailed study of ENSO’s effect on annual variations of the oxygen stable isotopic composition of precipitation (δ 18Op) at Lhasa in the southern TP for up to 10 years. The stable isotopic composition of water vapor from satellite data [Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES)] and simulations from an isotopically enabled atmospheric general circulation model (zoomed LMDZiso) are used to explore the mechanism that leads to variations of δ 18Op at Lhasa. Statistically significant correlations between δ 18Op and ENSO indices [Southern Oscillation index (SOI) and Niño-3.4 sea surface temperature index (Niño-3.4)] are observed. This paper shows that ENSO’s effects on the location and intensity of convection over the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the tropical Indian Ocean, along moisture transport paths toward Lhasa, further impact convection from the northern Tibetan Plateau. The changing of this convection results in lower δ 18Op at Lhasa in 2007, a La Niña year, and higher δ 18Op in 2006, an El Niño year. The study presented here confirms that the regional upstream convection related to ENSO teleconnections plays an important role in variations of δ 18Op at the interannual scale and that the more depleted oxygen stable isotopic composition of vapor (δ 18Oυ) from the northwestern region of India during a La Niña year intensifies the lower δ 18Op at Lhasa in a La Niña year. The study’s results have implications for the interpretation of past variations of archives with precipitation stable isotopes, such as ice cores, tree rings, lake sediments, and speleothems, in this region.

Open access
Haijun Yang, Qin Wen, Jie Yao, and Yuxing Wang

Abstract

Using a coupled Earth climate model, freshwater forcing experiments are performed to study the Bjerknes compensation (BJC) between meridional atmosphere heat transport (AHT) and meridional ocean heat transport (OHT). Freshwater hosing in the North Atlantic weakens the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) and thus reduces the northward OHT in the Atlantic significantly, leading to a cooling (warming) in the surface layer in the Northern (Southern) Hemisphere. This results in an enhanced Hadley cell and northward AHT. Meanwhile, the OHT in the Indo-Pacific is increased in response to the Hadley cell change, partially offsetting the reduced OHT in the Atlantic. Two compensations occur here: compensation between the AHT and the Atlantic OHT, and that between the Indo-Pacific OHT and the Atlantic OHT. The AHT change undercompensates the OHT change by about 60% in the extratropics, while the former overcompensates the latter by about 30% in the tropics due to the Indo-Pacific change. The BJC can be understood from the viewpoint of large-scale circulation change. However, the intrinsic mechanism of BJC is related to the climate feedback of the Earth system. The authors’ coupled model experiments confirm that the occurrence of BJC is an intrinsic requirement of local energy balance, and local climate feedback determines the extent of BJC, consistent with previous theoretical results. Even during the transient period of climate change, the BJC is well established when the ocean heat storage is slowly varying and its change is much weaker than the net local heat flux change at the ocean surface. The BJC can be deduced from the local climate feedback. Under the freshwater forcing, the overcompensation in the tropics is mainly caused by the positive longwave feedback related to clouds, and the undercompensation in the extratropics is due to the negative longwave feedback related to surface temperature change. Different dominant feedbacks determine different BJC scenarios in different regions, which are in essence constrained by local energy balance.

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Qin Wen, Jie Yao, Kristofer Döös, and Haijun Yang

Abstract

The global temperature changes under global warming result from two effects: one is the pure radiative heating effect caused by a change in greenhouse gases, and the other is the freshwater effect related to changes in precipitation, evaporation, and sea ice. The two effects are separated in a coupled climate model through sensitivity experiments in this study. It is indicated that freshwater change has a significant cooling effect that can mitigate the global surface warming by as much as ~30%. Two significant regional cooling centers occur: one in the subpolar Atlantic and one in the Southern Ocean. The subpolar Atlantic cooling, also known as the “warming hole,” is triggered by sea ice melting and the southward cold-water advection from the Arctic Ocean, and is sustained by the weakened Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. The Southern Ocean surface cooling is triggered by sea ice melting along the Antarctic and is maintained by the enhanced northward Ekman flow. In these two regions, the effect of freshwater flux change dominates over that of radiation flux change, controlling the sea surface temperature change in the warming climate. The freshwater flux change also results in the Bjerknes compensation, with the atmosphere heat transport change compensating the ocean heat transport change by about 80% during the transient stage of global warming. In terms of global temperature and Earth’s energy balance, the freshwater change plays a stabilizing role in a warming climate.

Open access
Yao Jin, William B. Rossow, and Don P. Wylie

Abstract

Comparison of individually matched analyses of high-level cloudiness from the High-Resolution Infrared Sounder (HIRS) CO2-slicing analysis and the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) analysis of satellite data for 4 months shows that the former reports about 0.12 more high-level clouds than the latter. Almost all of the difference in high-level cloud amounts occurs as differences of thin cirrus, defined by infrared emissivity ε < 0.5 or τvis < 1.3, consistent with a previous comparison of Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment II and ISCCP. Some of this difference may be caused by the large field of view of the HIRS instrument. Over oceans the differences in cirrus cloud amounts are caused by the higher sensitivity of the HIRS analysis to optically thin clouds, aided by a small high bias of the sea surface temperatures used in the HIRS cloud detection step. Over land the higher detection sensitivity of the HIRS analysis was partially offset by the effect of large low biases in the surface temperatures used in the HIRS cloud detection step, most especially over high mountainous terrains. From these two datasets the authors conclude that about one-third of the earth is covered by high-level clouds (tops above the 440-mb level) and more than two-thirds of these clouds are cirrus, defined as those clouds that have a net radiative heating effect (i.e., infrared ε < 0.84 or τvis < 3.6). About half of all cirrus clouds are optically very thin (ε < 0.5 or τvis < 1.3). Optically thicker (τvis > 3.6) high-level clouds appear to be more frequently associated with each other than with cirrus. Notable concentrations of cirrus in the Tropics mark regions of frequent deep convective activity. However, there are also prominent features associated with the subtropical jet streams. In midlatitudes, cirrus concentrations occur in the oceanic cyclone tracks, but they are even larger over major mountain complexes. Although the quantitative uncertainties of both datasets are large in the polar regions, the agreements and disagreements between them can be explained by the presence of large amounts of cirrus over both polar regions.

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