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Donghai Wu, Shilong Piao, Yongwen Liu, Philippe Ciais, and Yitong Yao

Abstract

Earth system models (ESMs) from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) were diagnosed as having large discrepancies in their land carbon turnover times, which partly explains the differences in the future projections of terrestrial carbon storage from the models. Carvalhais et al. focused on evaluation of model-based ecosystem carbon turnover times τ eco in relation with climate factors. In this study, τ eco from models was analyzed separately for biomass and soil carbon pools, and its spatial dependency upon temperature and precipitation was evaluated using observational datasets. The results showed that 8 of 14 models slightly underestimated global biomass carbon turnover times τ veg (modeled median of 8 yr vs observed 11 yr), and 11 models grossly underestimated the soil carbon turnover time τ soil (modeled median of 16 yr vs observed 26 yr). The underestimation of global carbon turnover times in ESMs was mainly due to values for τ veg and τ soil being too low in the high northern latitudes and arid and semiarid regions. In addition, the models did not capture the observed spatial climate sensitivity of carbon turnover time in these regions. Modeled τ veg and τ soil values were generally weakly correlated with climate variables, implying that differences between carbon cycle models primarily originated from structural differences rather than from differences in atmospheric climate models (i.e., related to temperature and precipitation). This study indicates that most models do not reproduce the underlying processes driving regional τ veg and τ soil, highlighting the need for improving the model parameterization and adding key processes such as biotic disturbances and permafrost–carbon climate responses.

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Meilin Zhu, Tandong Yao, Wei Yang, Baiqing Xu, and Xiaojun Wang

Abstract

Accurate evaluations of incoming longwave radiation (L in) parameterization have practical implications for glacier and river runoff changes in high-mountain regions of the Tibetan Plateau (TP). To identify potential means of accurately predicting spatiotemporal variations in L in, 13 clear-sky parameterizations combined with 10 cloud corrections for all-sky atmospheric emissivity were evaluated at five sites in high-mountain regions of the TP through temporal and spatial parameter transfer tests. Most locally calibrated parameterizations for clear-sky and all-sky conditions performed well when applied to the calibration site. The best parameterization at five sites is Dilley and O’Brien’s A model combined with Sicart et al.’s A for cloud-correction-incorporated relative humidity. The performance of parameter transferability in time is better than that in space for the same all-sky parameterizations. The performance of parameter transferability in space presents spatial discrepancies. In addition, all all-sky parameterizations show a decrease in performance with increasing altitude regardless of whether the parameters of all-sky parameterizations were recalibrated by local conditions or transferred from other study sites. This may be attributable to the difference between screen-level air temperature and the effective atmospheric boundary layer temperature and to different cloud-base heights. Nevertheless, such worse performance at higher altitudes is likely to change because of terrain, underlying surfaces, and wind systems, among other factors. The study also describes possible spatial characteristics of L in and its driving factors by reviewing the few studies about L in for the mountain regions of the TP.

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Min Min, Lu Zhang, Peng Zhang, and Zhigang Yao

Abstract

The plane-parallel atmosphere as an underlying assumption in physics is appropriately used in the rigorous numerical simulation of the atmospheric radiative transfer model (RTM) with incident solar light. The solar irradiance is a constant with the plane-parallel assumption, which is attributed to the small difference in the distance between any point on Earth’s surface to the sun. However, at night, atmospheric RTMs use the moon as a unique incident light source in the sky. The Earth–moon distance is approximately 1/400 of the Earth–sun distance. Thus, the varying Earth–moon distance on Earth’s surface can influence the top of atmosphere (TOA) lunar irradiance for the plane-parallel atmosphere assumption. In this investigation, we observe that the maximum biases in Earth–moon distance and day/night band lunar irradiance at the TOA are ±1.7% and ±3.3%, respectively, with the plane-parallel assumption. According to our calculations, this bias effect on the Earth–moon distance and lunar irradiance shows a noticeable spatiotemporal variation on a global scale that can impact the computational accuracy of an RTM at night. In addition, we also developed a fast and portable correction algorithm for the Earth–moon distance within a maximum bias of 18 km or ±0.05%, because of the relatively low computational efficiency and the large storage space necessary for the standard ephemeris computational software. This novel correction algorithm can be easily used or integrated into the atmospheric RTM at night.

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Lung-Yao Chang, Kevin K. W. Cheung, and Cheng-Shang Lee

Abstract

A total of 40 out of 531 tropical cyclones that formed in the western North Pacific during 1986–2005 have accompanied trade wind surges located 5°–15° latitude to the north of the pretropical cyclone disturbance centers. Composite and empirical orthogonal function analyses indicate that the trade wind surges are related to a midlatitude eastward-moving high pressure system often found during the East Asian winter monsoon. Therefore, these trade wind surge tropical cyclones tend to occur in late season (with one-third of them in December), and at lower latitudes (7° latitude lower than the climatological average formation position).

The evolution of mesoscale features during formation of trade wind surge tropical cyclones is examined. Various satellite datasets show similar mesoscale patterns during their formations. A few convective lines form by convergence between the trade wind surges and the strengthening cyclonic circulation associated with incipient vortex within the 24 h before formation. Some mesoscale convective systems are embedded in the convective line with lifetimes of about 5 h, and these are illustrated through case studies. Formations usually occur when the trade winds start to decrease in magnitude and a short period after the major episodes of convection in the convective lines and mesoscale convective systems. The relationships between the temporal variability of synoptic-scale trade wind surges, the mesoscale features, and associated tropical cyclone formations are discussed.

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Zhanyu Yao, Wanbiao Li, Yuanjing Zhu, Bolin Zhao, and Yong Chen

Abstract

The Tibetan Plateau is a unique location for studying the global climate and China's severe weather. The precipitation on the Tibetan Plateau can be studied conveniently with the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI). It is shown that the TMI brightness temperature at 85 GHz in the vertical polarization (TB85V) is negatively correlated to the surface rain rate, but a very low value of TB85V does not correspond to very intense surface rain rates on the Tibetan Plateau, a result that is different from what is observed in other areas of the world. For surface precipitation retrieval on the Tibetan Plateau from TMI, the effect from snow cover on precipitation retrieval is removed before analysis of precipitation. Using the dynamic cluster K-mean method, five categories of surface types and rain areas are identified on the Tibetan Plateau: dry soil, wet soil, water area, stratiform rain area, and convective rain area. The precipitation areas are screened by classification before the precipitation retrieval. Two datasets of rain-free areas and precipitation areas are formed after surface classification. Based on the dataset of rain-free areas, the value of TB85V can be simulated well by TB10V, TB19V, and TB21V when it is not raining. By means of the dataset of precipitation areas, it is revealed that the scattering index over land (SIL) is positively correlated and the polarization-corrected brightness temperature at 85 GHz (PCT85) is negatively correlated with the surface rain rate. With SIL, PCT85, and their combinations as retrieval algorithms, three precipitation retrieval formulas are proposed in which the SIL algorithm is most suitable for small rain retrieval, the PCT85 algorithm is most suitable for moderate rain retrieval, and the combined SIL and PCT85 algorithm is most suitable for relatively large rain retrieval on the Tibetan Plateau. By means of two thresholds, 265 and 245 K, for TB85V, the combination of the three formulas is applied to precipitation retrieval on the Tibetan Plateau during the Tibetan Plateau Experiment Intensive Observing Period of 1998, resulting in acceptable and encouraging surface rain-rate retrievals. Intercomparison among the TMI algorithms and the 17 Special Sensor Microwave Imager algorithms from the second Precipitation Intercomparison Project demonstrates that the comprehensive application of the TMI algorithms has good precision and error index and is suitable for precipitation retrieval on the Tibetan Plateau.

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Haijun Yang, Xingchen Shen, Jie Yao, and Qin Wen

Abstract

As the most extensive highland in the world, the Tibetan Plateau (TP) plays an important role in shaping the global climate. Quantifying the effect of the TP on global climate is the first step for a full understanding of the TP’s standing on planet Earth. Through coupled model sensitivity experiments, we draw a panorama of the TP’s global impact in this paper. Our model results show that the absence of the TP would result in a 4°C colder and 10% drier climate in the Northern Hemisphere (NH). The TP has a striking remote effect on the North Atlantic. Removing the TP would enhance the westerlies in the mid- to high latitudes of the NH and weaken the easterlies over the tropical Pacific. More moisture would be relocated from the tropical Pacific to the North Atlantic, shutting down the Atlantic thermohaline circulation, which would eventually result in more than 15°C colder and 20% drier climate over the North Atlantic. Our model results suggest that the presence of the TP may have contributed greatly to the hospitable modern climate in the NH, by promoting the establishment of the thermohaline circulation in the Atlantic, and therefore enhancing the northward ocean heat transport and atmosphere moisture transport across the equator.

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Yao Ha, Zhong Zhong, Yimin Zhu, and Yijia Hu

Abstract

The contribution of barotropic energy conversion to tropical cyclone (TC) activity over the western North Pacific (WNP) during warm and cold phases of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is investigated by separating TC vortices from reanalysis data and using a linearized eddy kinetic energy tendency equation. By comparing the characteristics of TC disturbances with synoptic-scale disturbances, it is found that the modulation of ENSO on the WNP TC intensity is presented more objectively by using TC kinetic energy (EKETC) than eddy kinetic energy (EKE). Barotropic energy conversion (KmKe) into TC disturbances (KmKeTC) is an effective indicator in detecting the barotropic energy source of low-level cyclone genesis and maintenance during the ENSO cycle. However, its dynamical processes play different roles. Shear in large-scale zonal wind and convergence in large-scale meridional wind provide direct barotropic energy source for TC genesis, but make effects in different regions of the WNP. In contrast, convergence in large-scale zonal and shear in large-scale meridional wind exert little influence on TC genesis during ENSO.

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Ruibo Lei, Zhijun Li, Yanfeng Cheng, Xin Wang, and Yao Chen

Abstract

High-precision ice thickness observations are required to gain a better understanding of ocean–ice–atmosphere interactions and to validate numerical sea ice models. A new apparatus for monitoring sea ice and snow thickness has been developed, based on the magnetostrictive-delay-line (MDL) principle for positioning sensors. This system is suited for monitoring fixed measurement sites on undeformed ice. The apparatus presented herein has been tested on landfast ice near Zhongshan Station, East Antarctica, for about 6 months during the austral autumn and winter of 2006; valid data records from the deployment are available for more than 90% of the deployment’s duration. The apparatus’s precision has been estimated to be ±0.002 m for the deployment. Therefore, it is possible that this apparatus may become a standard for sea ice/snow thickness monitoring.

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R. W. Higgins, Y. Yao, and X. L. Wang

Abstract

Key features of the U.S. summer precipitation regime are examined within the context of the evolving North American monsoon system. The focus is on the antecedent and subsequent atmospheric conditions over the conterminous United States relative to the onset of monsoon precipitation over the southwestern United States, which typically begins in early July. The onset of the monsoon in this region is determined using a precipitation index, based on daily observed precipitation for a 31-yr (1963–94) period. Lagged composites of the observed precipitation and various fields from the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis for the period 1979–94 provide a comprehensive picture of atmospheric conditions during the evolution of the U.S. warm season precipitation regime.

The summer precipitation regime is characterized by an out-of-phase relationship between precipitation over the Southwest and the Great Plains–northern tier and an in-phase relationship between precipitation over the Southwest and the East Coast. Changes in the upper-tropospheric wind and divergence fields (mean vertical motion) are broadly consistent with the evolution of this precipitation pattern. Enhanced upper-tropospheric divergence in the vicinity and south of the upper-tropospheric monsoon high coincides with enhanced upper-tropospheric easterlies and Mexican monsoon rainfall after onset. Over the Great Plains and along the northern tier, the middle- and upper-tropospheric flow is more convergent and rainfall diminishes after onset to the north and east of the monsoon high. The frequency of occurrence of the Great Plains low-level jet (LLJ) and southerly moisture transport change little during the evolution. However, LLJ-related precipitation is controlled by changes in the large-scale flow related to the North American monsoon system. There is increased upper-tropospheric divergence and precipitation after onset in the vicinity of an “induced” trough over the eastern United States. The pattern of evaporation minus precipitation from the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis shows broad consistency with the divergence of the vertically integrated flux of water vapor during the monsoon, although the resolution in the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis is inadequate to yield quantitatively accurate regional estimates of these fields. In agreement with earlier studies, the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis indicates that most of the moisture below 850 hPa over the desert Southwest comes from the northern Gulf of California, while most of the moisture at and above 850 hPa arrives from over the Gulf of Mexico.

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Shangfeng Chen, Renguang Wu, Wen Chen, and Shuailei Yao

Abstract

The present study reveals a marked enhancement in the relationship between Eurasian winter and spring atmospheric interannual variability since the early 1990s. Specifically, the dominant mode of winter Eurasian 500-hPa geopotential height anomalies, with same-sign anomalies over southern Europe and East Asia and opposite-sign anomalies over north-central Eurasia, is largely maintained to the following spring after the early 1990s, but not before the early 1990s. The maintenance of the dominant atmospheric circulation anomaly pattern after the early 1990s is associated with a triple sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly pattern in the North Atlantic that is sustained from winter to the subsequent spring. This triple SST anomaly pattern triggers an atmospheric wave train over the North Atlantic through Eurasia during winter through spring. Atmospheric model experiments verify the role of the triple SST anomaly in maintaining the Eurasian atmospheric circulation anomalies. By contrast, before the early 1990s, marked SST anomalies related to the winter dominant mode only occur in the tropical North Atlantic during winter and they disappear during the following spring. The triple SST anomaly pattern after the early 1990s forms in response to a meridional atmospheric dipole over the North Atlantic induced by a La Niña–like cooling over tropical Pacific, and its maintenance into the following spring may be via a positive air–sea interaction process over the North Atlantic. Results of this analysis suggest a potential source for the seasonal prediction of the Eurasian spring climate.

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