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Samuel P. Lillo
,
David B. Parsons
, and
Malaquias Peña

Abstract

A major winter storm took place over Mexico during 7 to 11 March 2016, impacting 28 states and leaving four million families without power. Extensive agricultural damage and livestock deaths were also reported with widespread snow across central and northern Mexico. North of the border, this system resulted in record-breaking flooding and severe weather in Texas and Louisiana. The event was due to a trough that deepened and cut off over central Mexico with 500-hPa heights that were nine standard deviations below normal, well beyond previous records! Motivated by the societal impacts of this event, this study investigates factors that contributed to the extreme trough and influenced its predictability in forecast models. A strong El Niño provided the antecedent conditions, with enhanced tropical convection over the central Pacific, a strengthened subtropical anticyclone, and poleward Rossby wave dispersion. However, unlike past strong El Niños, the North Pacific preceding this event was characterized by significant synoptic-scale Rossby wave activity on the midlatitude jet stream including multiple wave packets tracking around the globe during February and March. The interaction of one of these packets with the subtropical anticyclone aloft resulted in a large anticyclonic wave break over the east Pacific, leading to the amplification of the downstream trough over Mexico. The ability of numerical weather prediction to capture this extreme trough is directly related to the predictability of the Rossby wave packet. These results are also discussed within the context of the relationship between El Niño, Rossby wave activity, and extreme events in western North America.

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Tian-You Yu
,
David Parsons
,
Eiichi Nakakita
,
Toshitaka Tsuda
, and
Hirohiko Ishikawa
Full access
Kevin E. Trenberth
,
Aiguo Dai
,
Roy M. Rasmussen
, and
David B. Parsons

From a societal, weather, and climate perspective, precipitation intensity, duration, frequency, and phase are as much of concern as total amounts, as these factors determine the disposition of precipitation once it hits the ground and how much runs off. At the extremes of precipitation incidence are the events that give rise to floods and droughts, whose changes in occurrence and severity have an enormous impact on the environment and society. Hence, advancing understanding and the ability to model and predict the character of precipitation is vital but requires new approaches to examining data and models. Various mechanisms, storms and so forth, exist to bring about precipitation. Because the rate of precipitation, conditional on when it falls, greatly exceeds the rate of replenishment of moisture by surface evaporation, most precipitation comes from moisture already in the atmosphere at the time the storm begins, and transport of moisture by the storm-scale circulation into the storm is vital. Hence, the intensity of precipitation depends on available moisture, especially for heavy events. As climate warms, the amount of moisture in the atmosphere, which is governed by the Clausius–Clapeyron equation, is expected to rise much faster than the total precipitation amount, which is governed by the surface heat budget through evaporation. This implies that the main changes to be experienced are in the character of precipitation: increases in intensity must be offset by decreases in duration or frequency of events. The timing, duration, and intensity of precipitation can be systematically explored via the diurnal cycle, whose correct simulation in models remains an unsolved challenge of vital importance in global climate change. Typical problems include the premature initiation of convection, and precipitation events that are too light and too frequent. These challenges in observations, modeling, and understanding precipitation changes are being taken up in the NCAR “Water Cycle Across Scales” initiative, which will exploit the diurnal cycle as a test bed for a hierarchy of models to promote improvements in models.

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Alexey Pankine
,
Zhanqing Li
,
David Parsons
,
Michael Purucker
,
Elliot Weinstock
,
Warren Wiscombe
, and
Kerry Nock

Advanced, robust, yet inexpensive observational platforms and networks of platforms will make revolutionary Earth science observations possible in the next 30 years. One new platform concept that is needed is a long-duration stratospheric balloon flying in a near-space environment and capable of remaining aloft for a year carrying a half ton of payload. We dub these platforms StratoSats for stratospheric satellites because they usually orbit the Earth in the stratosphere with an orbit period of 10–20 days. StratoSats can complement space satellites or play a completely independent role in Earth observation. Constellations of these platforms could steer themselves to desired locations and perform coordinated in situ and remote sensing observations of the Earth and its atmosphere. In principle, such constellations could easily surpass the capabilities of a single satellite for far less cost. NASA has defined stratospheric science measurement requirements and platform capabilities for several Earth science disciplines, including atmospheric chemistry, Earth radiation budget, geomagnetism, and weather. StratoSats can satisfy these measurement requirements and platform capabilities. Key enabling technologies for StratoSats include very long-life, sealed super-pressure balloons and techniques for balloon guidance. These key technologies are relatively mature, having achieved successful prototype and model tests in relevant environments, although a final push in engineering development is needed with a focus on meeting Earth science platform needs.

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Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
,
Tian-You Yu
,
Robert Palmer
,
David Parsons
,
Hirohiko Ishikawa
, and
Jessica M. Erlingis
Full access

Bore-ing into Nocturnal Convection

Kevin R. Haghi
,
Bart Geerts
,
Hristo G. Chipilski
,
Aaron Johnson
,
Samuel Degelia
,
David Imy
,
David B. Parsons
,
Rebecca D. Adams-Selin
,
David D. Turner
, and
Xuguang Wang

Abstract

There has been a recent wave of attention given to atmospheric bores in order to understand how they evolve and initiate and maintain convection during the night. This surge is attributable to data collected during the 2015 Plains Elevated Convection at Night (PECAN) field campaign. A salient aspect of the PECAN project is its focus on using multiple observational platforms to better understand convective outflow boundaries that intrude into the stable boundary layer and induce the development of atmospheric bores. The intent of this article is threefold: 1) to educate the reader on current and future foci of bore research, 2) to present how PECAN observations will facilitate aforementioned research, and 3) to stimulate multidisciplinary collaborative efforts across other closely related fields in an effort to push the limitations of prediction of nocturnal convection.

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David Parsons
,
Walter Dabberdt
,
Harold Cole
,
Terrence Hock
,
Charles Martin
,
Anne-Leslie Barrett
,
Erik Miller
,
Michael Spowart
,
Michael Howard
,
Warner Ecklund
,
David Carters
,
Kenneth Gage
, and
John Wilson

An Integrated Sounding System (ISS) that combines state-of-the-art remote and in situ sensors into a single transportable facility has been developed jointly by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Aeronomy Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA/AL). The instrumentation for each ISS includes a 915-MHz wind profiler, a Radio Acoustic Sounding System (RASS), an Omega-based NAVAID sounding system, and an enhanced surface meteorological station. The general philosophy behind the ISS is that the integration of various measurement systems overcomes each system's respective limitations while taking advantage of its positive attributes. The individual observing systems within the ISS provide high-level data products to a central workstation that manages and integrates these measurements. The ISS software package performs a wide range of functions: real-time data acquisition, database support, and graphical displays; data archival and communications; and operational and posttime analysis. The first deployment of the ISS consists of six sites in the western tropical Pacific—four land-based deployments and two ship-based deployments. The sites serve the Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Response Experiment (COARE) of the Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere (TOGA) program and TOGA's enhanced atmospheric monitoring effort. Examples of ISS data taken during this deployment are shown in order to demonstrate the capabilities of this new sounding system and to demonstrate the performance of these in situ and remote sensing instruments in a moist tropical environment. In particular, a strong convective outflow with a pronounced impact of the atmospheric boundary layer and heat fluxes from the ocean surface was examined with a shipboard ISS. If these strong outflows commonly occur, they may prove to be an important component of the surface energy budget of the western tropical Pacific.

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Tammy M. Weckwerth
,
David B. Parsons
,
Steven E. Koch
,
James A. Moore
,
Margaret A. LeMone
,
Belay B. Demoz
,
Cyrille Flamant
,
Bart Geerts
,
Junhong Wang
, and
Wayne F. Feltz

The International H2O Project (IHOP_2002) is one of the largest North American meteorological field experiments in history. From 13 May to 25 June 2002, over 250 researchers and technical staff from the United States, Germany, France, and Canada converged on the Southern Great Plains to measure water vapor and other atmospheric variables. The principal objective of IHOP_2002 is to obtain an improved characterization of the time-varying three-dimensional water vapor field and evaluate its utility in improving the understanding and prediction of convective processes. The motivation for this objective is the combination of extremely low forecast skill for warm-season rainfall and the relatively large loss of life and property from flash floods and other warm-season weather hazards. Many prior studies on convective storm forecasting have shown that water vapor is a key atmospheric variable that is insufficiently measured. Toward this goal, IHOP_2002 brought together many of the existing operational and new state-of-the-art research water vapor sensors and numerical models.

The IHOP_2002 experiment comprised numerous unique aspects. These included several instruments fielded for the first time (e.g., reference radiosonde); numerous upgraded instruments (e.g., Wyoming Cloud Radar); the first ever horizontal-pointing water vapor differential absorption lidar (DIAL; i.e., Leandre II on the Naval Research Laboratory P-3), which required the first onboard aircraft avoidance radar; several unique combinations of sensors (e.g., multiple profiling instruments at one field site and the German water vapor DIAL and NOAA/Environmental Technology Laboratory Doppler lidar on board the German Falcon aircraft); and many logistical challenges. This article presents a summary of the motivation, goals, and experimental design of the project, illustrates some preliminary data collected, and includes discussion on some potential operational and research implications of the experiment.

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Philippe Bougeault
,
Zoltan Toth
,
Craig Bishop
,
Barbara Brown
,
David Burridge
,
De Hui Chen
,
Beth Ebert
,
Manuel Fuentes
,
Thomas M. Hamill
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Ken Mylne
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Jean Nicolau
,
Tiziana Paccagnella
,
Young-Youn Park
,
David Parsons
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Baudouin Raoult
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Doug Schuster
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Pedro Silva Dias
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Richard Swinbank
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Yoshiaki Takeuchi
,
Warren Tennant
,
Laurence Wilson
, and
Steve Worley

Ensemble forecasting is increasingly accepted as a powerful tool to improve early warnings for high-impact weather. Recently, ensembles combining forecasts from different systems have attracted a considerable level of interest. The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment (THORPEX) Interactive Grand Globa l Ensemble (TIGGE) project, a prominent contribution to THORPEX, has been initiated to enable advanced research and demonstration of the multimodel ensemble concept and to pave the way toward operational implementation of such a system at the international level. The objectives of TIGGE are 1) to facilitate closer cooperation between the academic and operational meteorological communities by expanding the availability of operational products for research, and 2) to facilitate exploring the concept and benefits of multimodel probabilistic weather forecasts, with a particular focus on high-impact weather prediction. Ten operational weather forecasting centers producing daily global ensemble forecasts to 1–2 weeks ahead have agreed to deliver in near–real time a selection of forecast data to the TIGGE data archives at the China Meteorological Agency, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The volume of data accumulated daily is 245 GB (1.6 million global fields). This is offered to the scientific community as a new resource for research and education. The TIGGE data policy is to make each forecast accessible via the Internet 48 h after it was initially issued by each originating center. Quicker access can also be granted for field experiments or projects of particular interest to the World Weather Research Programme and THORPEX. A few examples of initial results based on TIGGE data are discussed in this paper, and the case is made for additional research in several directions.

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Melvyn Shapiro
,
Jagadish Shukla
,
Gilbert Brunet
,
Carlos Nobre
,
Michel Béland
,
Randall Dole
,
Kevin Trenberth
,
Richard Anthes
,
Ghassem Asrar
,
Leonard Barrie
,
Philippe Bougeault
,
Guy Brasseur
,
David Burridge
,
Antonio Busalacchi
,
Jim Caughey
,
Deliang Chen
,
John Church
,
Takeshi Enomoto
,
Brian Hoskins
,
Øystein Hov
,
Arlene Laing
,
Hervé Le Treut
,
Jochem Marotzke
,
Gordon McBean
,
Gerald Meehl
,
Martin Miller
,
Brian Mills
,
John Mitchell
,
Mitchell Moncrieff
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Tetsuo Nakazawa
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Haraldur Olafsson
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Tim Palmer
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David Parsons
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David Rogers
,
Adrian Simmons
,
Alberto Troccoli
,
Zoltan Toth
,
Louis Uccellini
,
Christopher Velden
, and
John M. Wallace

The necessity and benefits for establishing the international Earth-system Prediction Initiative (EPI) are discussed by scientists associated with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) World Weather Research Programme (WWRP), World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), International Geosphere–Biosphere Programme (IGBP), Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), and natural-hazards and socioeconomic communities. The proposed initiative will provide research and services to accelerate advances in weather, climate, and Earth system prediction and the use of this information by global societies. It will build upon the WMO, the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) and the International Council for Science (ICSU) to coordinate the effort across the weather, climate, Earth system, natural-hazards, and socioeconomic disciplines. It will require (i) advanced high-performance computing facilities, supporting a worldwide network of research and operational modeling centers, and early warning systems; (ii) science, technology, and education projects to enhance knowledge, awareness, and utilization of weather, climate, environmental, and socioeconomic information; (iii) investments in maintaining existing and developing new observational capabilities; and (iv) infrastructure to transition achievements into operational products and services.

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