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Haijun Yang and Lu Wang

Abstract

The tropical oceanic response to the extratropical thermal forcing is quantitatively estimated in a coupled climate model. This work focuses on comparison of the responses between the tropical Atlantic and Pacific. Under the same extratropical forcing, the tropical sea surface temperature responses are comparable. However, the responses in the tropical subsurface in the two oceans are distinct. The tropical subsurface response in the Atlantic can be twice of that in the Pacific. The maximum subsurface temperature change in the tropical Pacific occurs in the eastern lower thermocline, while that in the tropical Atlantic occurs in the west and well below the lower thermocline. The different responses in the tropical Atlantic and Pacific are closely related to the different changes in the meridional overturning circulations. The Pacific shallow overturning circulation, or the subtropical cell, tends to slow down (speed up) in response to the extratropical warming (cooling) forcing. The changes in the upwelling in the eastern equatorial Pacific as well as the shallow subduction from the extratropical southern Pacific along the eastern boundary are accountable for the eastern Pacific temperature change. The Atlantic overturning circulation consists of the shallow subtropical cell and the deep thermohaline circulation. A weakened thermohaline circulation will result in a strengthened northern subtropical cell, in which the change in the lower branch, or the low-latitude North Brazil Current, can cause strong response below the western tropical thermocline. Here the coastal Kelvin wave along the western boundary on the intermediate isopycnal level also plays an important role in the equatorward conveying of the climate anomalies in the mid-to-high-latitude Atlantic, particularly during the initial stage of the extratropical forcing.

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Weiwei Lu, Huimin Lei, Wencong Yang, Jingjing Yang, and Dawen Yang

Abstract

Increasing evidence indicates that changes have occurred in heavy precipitation associated with tropical cyclone (TC) and local monsoon (non-TC) systems in the southeastern coastal region of China over recent decades. This leads to the following questions: what are the differences between TC and non-TC flooding, and how do TC and non-TC flooding events change over time? We applied an identification procedure for TC and non-TC floods by linking flooding to rainfall. This method identified TC and non-TC rainfall–flood events by the TC rainfall ratio (percentage of TC rainfall to total rainfall for rainfall–flood events). Our results indicated that 1) the TC rainfall–flood events presented a faster runoff generation process associated with larger flood peaks and rainfall intensities but smaller rainfall volumes, compared to that of non-TC rainfall–flood events, and 2) the magnitude of TC floods exhibited a decreasing trend, similar to the trend in the amount and frequency of TC extreme precipitation. However, the frequency of TC floods did not present obvious changes. In addition, non-TC floods decreased in magnitude and frequency while non-TC extreme precipitation showed an increase. Our results identified significantly different characteristics between TC and non-TC flood events, thus emphasizing the importance of considering different mechanisms of floods to explore the physical drivers of runoff response. Also, our results indicated that significant decreases occurred in the magnitude, but not the frequency, of floods induced by TC from the western North Pacific, which is the most active ocean basin for TC activity, and thus can provide useful information for future studies on the global pattern of TC-induced flooding.

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Qingyong Li, Weitao Lu, and Jun Yang

Abstract

Cloud detection is the precondition for deriving other information (e.g., cloud cover) in ground-based sky imager applications. This paper puts forward an effective cloud detection approach, the Hybrid Thresholding Algorithm (HYTA) that fully exploits the benefits of the combination of fixed and adaptive thresholding methods. First, HYTA transforms an input color cloud image into a normalized blue/red channel ratio image that can keep a distinct contrast, even with noise and outliers. Then, HYTA identifies the ratio image as either unimodal or bimodal according to its standard deviation, and the unimodal and bimodal images are handled by fixed and minimum cross entropy (MCE) thresholding algorithms, respectively. The experimental results demonstrate that HYTA shows an accuracy of 88.53%, which is far higher than those of either fixed or MCE thresholding alone. Moreover, HYTA is also verified to outperform other state-of-the-art cloud detection approaches.

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Yang Gao, Jian Lu, and L. Ruby Leung

Abstract

This study investigates the North Atlantic atmospheric rivers (ARs) making landfall over western Europe in the present and future climate from the multimodel ensemble of phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Overall, CMIP5 captures the seasonal and spatial variations of historical landfalling AR days, with the large intermodel variability strongly correlated with the intermodel spread of historical near-surface westerly jet position. Under representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5), AR frequency is projected to increase significantly by the end of this century, with 127%–275% increase at peak AR frequency regions (45°–55°N). While thermodynamics plays a dominant role in the future increase of ARs, wind changes associated with the midlatitude jet shifts also significantly contribute to AR changes, resulting in dipole change patterns in all seasons. In the North Atlantic, the model-projected jet shifts are strongly correlated with the simulated historical jet position. As models exhibit predominantly equatorward biases in the historical jet position, the large poleward jet shifts reduce AR days south of the historical mean jet position through the dynamical connections between the jet positions and AR days. Using the observed historical jet position as an emergent constraint, dynamical effects further increase future AR days over the equatorward flank above the increases from thermodynamical effects. Compared to the present, both total and extreme precipitation induced by ARs in the future contribute more to the seasonal mean and extreme precipitation, primarily because of the increase in AR frequency. While AR precipitation intensity generally increases more relative to the increase in integrated vapor transport, AR extreme precipitation intensity increases much less.

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Er Lu, Jiawei Hao, and Kexin Yang

Abstract

The temporal–spatial variations of the static stability of dry air and the relative importance of their influencing quantities are explored. Derivation shows that while it links to the vertical difference of temperature, static stability also relates to the temperature itself. The static stability is expressed as a nonlinear function of temperature and the vertical difference of temperature. The relative importance of the two influencing quantities is assessed with linear regression. Tests show that the linear fitting method is robust. The results of the dominance rely on the data examined, which include an interannual variation, a seasonal variation, and a spatial variation that consists of the grid points over the globe. It is revealed that in the lower troposphere, while the temporal variations of static stability are dominated by the vertical difference of temperature, the temperature itself may also have considerable influence, especially over the high latitudes of the two hemispheres. In the stratosphere, temperature tends to have more contributions. Over the Antarctic, temperature dominates the seasonal and interannual variations of the static stability. The spatial variation of the static stability of July is influenced by both temperature and its vertical difference before 1980, but after that it is dominated by temperature.

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Xiaosong Yang, Timothy DelSole, and Hua-Lu Pan

Abstract

This paper examines the extent to which an empirical correction method can improve forecasts of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) operational Global Forecast System. The empirical correction is based on adding a forcing term to the prognostic equations equal to the negative of the climatological tendency errors. The tendency errors are estimated by a least squares method using 6-, 12-, 18-, and 24-h forecast errors. Tests on independent verification data show that the empirical correction significantly reduces temperature biases nearly everywhere at all lead times up to at least 5 days but does not significantly reduce biases in forecast winds and humidity. Decomposing mean-square error into bias and random components reveals that the reduction in total mean-square error arises solely from reduction in bias. Interestingly, the empirical correction increases the random error slightly, but this increase is argued to be an artifact of the change in variance in the forecasts. The empirical correction also is found to reduce the bias more than traditional “after the fact” corrections. The latter result might be a consequence of the very different sample sizes available for estimation, but this difference in sample size is unavoidable in operational situations in which limited calibration data are available for a given forecast model.

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Yang Zhou, Keith R. Thompson, and Youyu Lu

Abstract

A regression-based modeling approach is described for mapping the dependence of atmospheric state variables such as surface air temperature (SAT) on the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). For the special case of a linear model the dependence can be described by two maps corresponding to the amplitude and lag of the mean atmospheric response with respect to the MJO. In this sense the method leads to a more parsimonious description than traditional compositing, which usually results in eight maps, one for each MJO phase. Another advantage of the amplitude and phase maps is that they clearly identify propagating signals, and also regions where the response is strongly amplified or attenuated. A straightforward extension of the linear model is proposed to allow the amplitude and phase of the response to vary with the amplitude of the MJO or indices that define the background state of the atmosphere–ocean system. Application of the approach to global SAT for boreal winter clearly shows the propagation of MJO-related signals in both the tropics and extratropics and an enhanced response over eastern North America and Alaska (further enhanced during La Niña years). The SAT response over Alaska and eastern North America is caused mainly by horizontal advection related to variations in shore-normal surface winds that, in turn, can be traced (via signals in the 500-hPa geopotential height) back to MJO-related disturbances in the tropics.

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Yang Lu, Jianzhi Dong, and Susan C. Steele-Dunne

Abstract

The spatial heterogeneity and temporal variation of soil moisture and surface heat fluxes are key to many geophysical and environmental studies. It has been demonstrated that they can be mapped by assimilating soil thermal and wetness information into surface energy balance models. The aim of this work is to determine whether enhancing the spatial resolution or temporal sampling frequency of soil moisture data could improve soil moisture or surface heat flux estimates. Two experiments are conducted in an area mainly covered by grassland, and land surface temperature (LST) observations from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) mission are assimilated together with either an enhanced L-band passive soil moisture product (9 km, 2–3 days) from the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission or a merged product (36 km, quasi-daily) from the SMAP and the Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission. The results suggest that the availability of soil moisture observations is increased by 41% after merging data from the SMAP and the SMOS missions. A comparison with results from a previous study that assimilated a coarser SMAP soil moisture product (36 km, 2–3 days) suggests that enhancing the temporal sampling frequency of soil moisture observations leads to improved soil moisture estimates at both the surface and root zone, and the largest improvement is seen in the bias metric (0.008 and 0.007 m3 m−3 on average at the surface and root zone, respectively). Enhancing the spatial resolution, however, does not significantly improve soil moisture estimates, particularly at the surface. Surface heat flux estimates from assimilating soil moisture data of different spatial or temporal resolutions are very similar.

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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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Kaiqiang Deng, Song Yang, Mingfang Ting, Chundi Hu, and Mengmeng Lu

Abstract

The mid-Pacific trough (MPT), occurring in the upper troposphere during boreal summer, acts as an atmospheric bridge connecting the climate variations over Asia, the Pacific, and North America. The first (second) mode of empirical orthogonal function analysis of the MPT, which accounts for 20.3% (13.4%) of the total variance, reflects a change in its intensity on the southwestern (northeastern) portion of the trough. Both modes are significantly correlated with the variability of tropical Pacific sea surface temperature (SST). Moreover, the first mode is affected by Atlantic SST via planetary waves that originate from the North Atlantic and propagate eastward across the Eurasian continent, and the second mode is influenced by the Arctic sea ice near the Bering Strait by triggering an equatorward wave train over the northeast Pacific.

A stronger MPT shown in the first mode is significantly linked to drier and warmer conditions in the Yangtze River basin, southern Japan, and the northern United States and wetter conditions in South Asia and northern China, while a stronger MPT shown in the second mode is associated with a drier and warmer southwestern United States. In addition, an intensified MPT (no matter whether in the southwestern or the northeastern portion) corresponds to more tropical cyclones (TCs) over the western North Pacific (WNP) and fewer TCs over the eastern Pacific (EP) in summer, which is associated with the MPT-induced ascending and descending motions over the WNP and the EP, respectively.

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