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Julie A. Haggerty, Stephen P. Carley, David B. Johnson, and Amy D. Michaelis

Following the onset of the Kuwait oil fires in early 1991, numerous efforts to monitor and estimate the environmental effects of the fires were initiated. These efforts produced a diverse set of atmospheric data from airborne, surface-based, and satellite platforms. Organizers of the experiments, including the World Meteorological Organization, quickly recognized the value of collecting all data into a central archive. This paper describes the development of that archive.

Basic requirements for the archive were that it contain all pertinent datasets, including detailed documentation about each, and provide easy access to all interested researchers. The requirements were met by developing a database management system that contains a catalog of the data inventory and a facility to order specific datasets. A graphical user interface provides access to the database. In addition to the basic capability of searching the data inventory, the system has a number of other features, including a visual catalog of satellite images, a bibliography of relevant publications, and an extensive metadata collection describing the datasets. The system is accessible from the Internet or telephone/modem from a variety of terminal types, making it available to virtually anyone with a computer. Researchers from around the world have successfully used the system.

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Allison C. Michaelis, Jeff Willison, Gary M. Lackmann, and Walter A. Robinson

Abstract

The present study investigates changes in the location, frequency, intensity, and dynamical processes of North Atlantic extratropical cyclones with warming consistent with the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) scenario. The modeling, analysis, and prediction (MAP) climatology of midlatitude storminess (MCMS) feature-tracking algorithm was utilized to analyze 10 cold-season high-resolution atmospheric simulations over the North Atlantic region in current and future climates. Enhanced extratropical cyclone activity is most evident in the northeast North Atlantic and off the U.S. East Coast. These changes in cyclone activity are offset from changes in eddy kinetic energy and eddy heat flux. Investigation of the minimum SLP reached at each grid point reveals a lack of correspondence between the strongest events in the current and future simulations, indicating the future simulations produced a different population of storms. Examination of the percent change of storms in the storm-track region shows a reduction in the number of strong storms (i.e., those reaching a minimum SLP perturbation of at least −51 hPa). Storm-relative composites of strong and moderate storms show an increase in precipitation, associated with enhanced latent heat release and strengthening of the 900–700-hPa layer-average potential vorticity (PV). Other structural changes found for cyclones in a future climate include weakened upper-level PV for strong storms and a weakened near-surface potential temperature anomaly for moderate storms, demonstrating a change in storm dynamics. Furthermore, the impacts associated with extratropical cyclones, such as strong near-surface winds and heavy precipitation, strengthen and become more frequent with warming.

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Reuben Demirdjian, James D. Doyle, Carolyn A. Reynolds, Joel R. Norris, Allison C. Michaelis, and F. Martin Ralph

Abstract

Analysis of a strong landfalling atmospheric river is presented that compares the evolution of a control simulation with that of an adjoint-derived perturbed simulation using the Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System. The initial-condition sensitivities are optimized for all state variables to maximize the accumulated precipitation within the majority of California. The water vapor transport is found to be substantially enhanced at the California coast in the perturbed simulation during the time of peak precipitation, demonstrating a strengthened role of the orographic precipitation forcing. Similarly, moisture convergence and vertical velocities derived from the transverse circulation are found to be substantially enhanced during the time of peak precipitation, also demonstrating a strengthened role of the dynamic component of the precipitation.

Importantly, both components of precipitation are associated with enhanced latent heating by which (i) a stronger diabatically driven low-level potential vorticity anomaly strengthens the low-level wind (and thereby the orographic precipitation forcing), and (ii) greater moist diabatic forcing enhances the Sawyer–Eliassen transverse circulation and thereby increases ascent and dynamic precipitation. A Lagrangian parcel trajectory analysis demonstrates that a positive moisture perturbation within the atmospheric river increases the moisture transport into the warm conveyor belt offshore, which enhances latent heating in the perturbed simulation. These results suggest that the precipitation forecast in this case is particularly sensitive to the initial moisture content within the atmospheric river due to its role in enhancing both the orographic precipitation forcing and the dynamic component of precipitation.

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Forest Cannon, Nina S. Oakley, Chad W. Hecht, Allison Michaelis, Jason M. Cordeira, Brian Kawzenuk, Reuben Demirdjian, Rachel Weihs, Meredith A. Fish, Anna M. Wilson, and F. Martin Ralph

Abstract

Short-duration, high-intensity rainfall in Southern California, often associated with narrow cold-frontal rainbands (NCFR), threaten life and property. While the mechanisms that drive NCFRs are relatively well understood, their regional characteristics, specific contribution to precipitation hazards, and their predictability in the western United States have received little research attention relative to their impact. This manuscript presents observations of NCFR physical processes made during the Atmospheric River Reconnaissance field campaign on 2 February 2019 and investigates the predictability of the observed NCFR across spatiotemporal scales and forecast lead time. Dropsonde data collected along transects of an atmospheric river (AR) and its attendant cyclone during rapid cyclogenesis, and radiosonde observations during landfall 24 h later, are used to demonstrate that a configuration of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model skillfully reproduces the physical processes responsible for the development and maintenance of the impactful NCFR. Ensemble simulations provide quantitative uncertainty information on the representation of these features in numerical weather prediction and instill confidence in the utility of WRF as a forecast guidance tool for short- to medium-range prediction of mesoscale precipitation processes in landfalling ARs. This research incorporates novel data and methodologies to improve forecast guidance for NCFRs impacting Southern California. While this study focuses on a single event, the outlined approach to observing and predicting high-impact weather across a range of spatial and temporal scales will support regional water management and hazard mitigation, in general.

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Travis A. O’Brien, Ashley E. Payne, Christine A. Shields, Jonathan Rutz, Swen Brands, Christopher Castellano, Jiayi Chen, William Cleveland, Michael J. DeFlorio, Naomi Goldenson, Irina V. Gorodetskaya, Héctor Inda Díaz, Karthik Kashinath, Brian Kawzenuk, Sol Kim, Mikhail Krinitskiy, Juan M. Lora, Beth McClenny, Allison Michaelis, John P. O’Brien, Christina M. Patricola, Alexandre M. Ramos, Eric J. Shearer, Wen-Wen Tung, Paul A. Ullrich, Michael F. Wehner, Kevin Yang, Rudong Zhang, Zhenhai Zhang, and Yang Zhou
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