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Matthew Henry and Timothy M. Merlis

Abstract

The Stefan–Boltzmann law governs the temperature dependence of the blackbody emission of radiation: . A consequence of this nonlinearity is that a cold object needs a greater increase in temperature than a hot object in order to reach the same increase in radiation emitted. Therefore, this nonlinearity potentially has an impact on the structure of radiatively forced atmospheric temperature change in both the horizontal and vertical directions. For example, it has previously been argued to be a cause of polar amplification (PA) of surface air warming. Here, the role of this nonlinearity is investigated by 1) assessing the magnitude of its effect on PA compared to spatial variations in CO2’s radiative forcing for Earth’s atmosphere and 2) linearizing in a gray radiation atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) with an interactive hydrological cycle. Estimates for Earth’s atmosphere show that the combination of the Planck feedback and forcing from CO2 would produce a tropically amplified warming if they were the only means of changing the Earth’s energy balance. Contrary to expectations, climate change simulations with linearized radiation do not have reduced polar amplification of surface air warming relative to the standard GCM configuration. However, simulations with linearized radiation consistently show less warming in the upper troposphere and more warming in the lower troposphere across latitudes. The lapse rate feedbacks from pure radiative and radiative–convective configurations of the model are used to show that the “cold-altitudes-warm-more” effect of the nonlinearity carries across this model hierarchy.

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Timothy M. Merlis and Matthew Henry

Abstract

Diffusive energy balance models (EBMs) that use moist static energy, rather than temperature, as the thermodynamic variable to determine the energy transport provide an idealized framework to understand the pattern of radiatively forced surface warming. These models have a polar amplified warming pattern that is quantitatively similar to general circulation model simulations. Even without surface albedo changes or other spatially varying feedbacks, they simulate polar amplification that results from increased poleward energy transport with warming. Here, two estimates for polar amplification are presented that do not require numerical solution of the EBM governing equation. They are evaluated relative to the results of numerical moist EBM solutions. One estimate considers only changes in a moist thermodynamic quantity (assuming that the increase in energy transport results in a spatially uniform change in moist static energy in the warmed climate) and has more polar amplification than the EBM solution. The other estimate uses a new solution of a truncated form of the moist EBM equation, which allows for a temperature change that is consistent with both the dry and latent energy transport changes, as well as radiative changes. The truncated EBM solution provides an estimate for polar amplification that is nearly identical to that of the numerical EBM solution and only depends on the EBM parameters and climatology of temperature. This solution sheds light on the dependence of polar amplification on the climatological temperature distribution and offers an estimate of the residual polar warming in solar radiation management geoengineered climates.

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Henry E. Fuelberg and Matthew F. Printy

Meso β-scale rawinsonde data from the Atmospheric Variability Experiment-Severe Environmental Storms and Mesoscale Experiment (AVE-SESAME) V period (20–21 May 1979) are used to diagnose atmospheric variability in the environment of a convective area. As the storms developed, temperatures increased in the upper stratosphere; however, cooling was observed nearer to the surface and in the lower stratosphere. Height rises above 400 mb produced a mesohigh over the convective area that was most pronounced near 200 mb. Weaker height falls occurred in the lower troposphere.

Wind patterns underwent especially interesting fluctuations. North of the convective area, upper-level winds increased significantly during storm development. Southeast of the convection, however, winds near 200 mb decreased approximately 50% during a 3 h period coinciding with the most active storms. On the other hand, winds at 400 mb almost doubled during the same 3 h period. Strong low-level convergence, upper-level divergence, and ascending motion developed after storm initiation.

Much more detailed study is required to understand this fascinating case. However, many of the current findings about the meso β-scale storm environment are consistent with those previously attributed to feedback mechanisms from severe thunderstorms.

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Matthew J. Onderlinde and Henry E. Fuelberg

Abstract

The authors develop a statistical guidance product, the tropical cyclone tornado parameter (TCTP), for forecasting the probability of one or more tornadoes during a 6-h period that are associated with landfalling tropical cyclones affecting the coastal Gulf of Mexico and the southern Atlantic coast. TCTP is designed to aid forecasters in a time-limited environment. TCTP provides a “quick look” at regions where forecasters can then conduct detailed analyses. The pool of potential predictors included tornado reports and tropical cyclone data between 2000 and 2008, as well as storm environmental parameters. The original pool of 28 potential predictors is reduced to six using stepwise regression and logistic regression. These six predictors are 0–3-km wind shear, 0–3-km storm relative helicity, azimuth angle of the tornado report from the tropical cyclone, distance from the cyclone’s center, time of day, and 950–1000-hPa convective available potential energy. Mean Brier scores and Brier skill scores are computed for the entire TCTP-dependent dataset and for corresponding forecasts produced by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC). TCTP then is applied to four individual cyclone cases to qualitatively and quantitatively assess the parameter and compare its performance with SPC forecasts. Results show that TCTP has skill at identifying regions of tornado potential. However, tornadoes in some tropical systems are overpredicted, but underpredicted in others. TCTP 6-h forecast periods provide slightly poorer statistical performance than the 1-day tornado probability forecasts from SPC, probably because the SPC product includes forecaster guidance and because their forecasts are valid for longer periods (24 h).

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Henry E. Fuelberg and Matthew F. Printy

Abstract

An area of intense thunderstorms occurred within the special rawinsonde network collecting data on 20–21 May 1979, the fifth day of the Atmospheric Variability Experiment-Severe Environmental Storms and Mesoscale Experiment (AVE-SESAME). The data are at the meso β-scale, i.e., 75 km spacing and 3 or 1.5 h intervals. They are used to perform a kinetic energy analysis of the near storm environment. The mesoscale storm environment is characterized by cross-contour generation of kinetic energy, transfers of energy to nonresolvable scales of motion (negative dissipation), horizontal flux divergence and upward transport of energy. These processes are maximized within the upper troposphere and are greatest during times of strongest convection. Current mesoscale values are much larger than previous results based on synoptic-scale data.

Energy budgets are obtained at 3 h intervals from the routine National Weather Service rawinsonde network. A comparison of results from the same analysis region, but derived from the two different resolutions, reveals several common features. Complex vertical variations in winds (energy) over southeastern Oklahoma are also examined in detail. Motions not detected by the meso β-scale input data appera to play an important role in the energy balance of some layers. A sensitivity analysis is presented to quantify uncertainties in the energy budget terms.

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Adam W. Burnett, Matthew E. Kirby, Henry T. Mullins, and William P. Patterson

Abstract

The influence of the Laurentian Great Lakes on the climate of surrounding regions is significant, especially in leeward settings where lake-effect snowfall occurs. Heavy lake-effect snow represents a potential natural hazard and plays important roles in winter recreational activities, agriculture, and regional hydrology. Changes in lake-effect snowfall may represent a regional-scale manifestation of hemispheric-scale climate change, such as that associated with global warming. This study examines records of snowfall from several lake-effect and non-lake-effect sites throughout most of the twentieth century in order to 1) determine whether differences in snowfall trends exist between these settings and 2) offer possible linkages between lake-effect snow trends and records of air temperature, water temperature, and ice cover. A new, historic record of oxygen isotope [δ 18O(CaCO3)] data from the sediments of three eastern Finger Lakes in central New York is presented as a means of independently assessing changes in Great Lakes lake-effect snowfall. Results reveal a statistically significant increasing trend in snowfall for the lake-effect sites, whereas no trend is observed in the non-lake-effect settings. The Finger Lake oxygen isotope record reflects this increase in lake-effect snow through a statistically significant trend toward lower δ 18O(CaCO3) values. Records of air temperature, water temperature, and lake ice suggest that the observed lake-effect snow increase during the twentieth century may be the result of warmer Great Lakes surface waters and decreased ice cover, both of which are consistent with the historic upward trend in Northern Hemispheric temperature due to global warming. Given projected increases in future global temperature, areas downwind of the Great Lakes may experience increased lake-effect snowfall for the foreseeable future.

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Chris Derksen, Arvids Silis, Matthew Sturm, Jon Holmgren, Glen E. Liston, Henry Huntington, and Daniel Solie

Abstract

During April 2007, a coordinated series of snow measurements was made across the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, Canada, during a snowmobile traverse from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Baker Lake, Nunavut. The purpose of the measurements was to document the general nature of the snowpack across this region for the evaluation of satellite- and model-derived estimates of snow water equivalent (SWE). Although detailed, local snow measurements have been made as part of ongoing studies at tundra field sites (e.g., Daring Lake and Trail Valley Creek in the Northwest Territories; Toolik Lake and the Kuparak River basin in Alaska), systematic measurements at the regional scale have not been previously collected across this region of northern Canada. The snow cover consisted of depth hoar and wind slab with small and ephemeral fractions of new, recent, and icy snow. The snow was shallow (<40 cm deep), usually with fewer than six layers. Where snow was deposited on lake and river ice, it was shallower, denser, and more metamorphosed than where it was deposited on tundra. Although highly variable locally, no longitudinal gradients in snow distribution, magnitude, or structure were detected. This regional homogeneity allowed us to identify that the observed spatial variability in passive microwave brightness temperatures was related to subgrid fractional lake cover. Correlation analysis between lake fraction and Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) brightness temperature showed frequency dependent, seasonally evolving relationships consistent with lake ice drivers. Simulations of lake ice thickness and snow depth on lake ice produced from the Canadian Lake Ice Model (CLIMo) indicated that at low frequencies (6.9, 10.7 GHz), correlations with lake fraction were consistent through the winter season, whereas at higher frequencies (18.7, 36.5 GHz), the strength and direction of the correlations evolved consistently with the penetration depth as the influence of the subice water was replaced by emissions from the ice and snowpack. A regional rain-on-snow event created a surface ice lens that was detectable using the AMSR-E 36.5-GHz polarization gradient due to a strong response at the horizontal polarization. The appropriate polarization for remote sensing of the tundra snowpack depends on the application: horizontal measurements are suitable for ice lens detection; vertically polarized measurements are appropriate for deriving SWE estimates.

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Alison D. Nugent, Ryan J. Longman, Clay Trauernicht, Matthew P. Lucas, Henry F. Diaz, and Thomas W. Giambelluca

Abstract

Hurricane Lane (2018) was an impactful event for the Hawaiian Islands and provided a textbook example of the compounding hazards that can be produced from a single storm. Over a 4-day period, the island of Hawaiʻi received an island-wide average of 424 mm (17 in.) of rainfall, with a 4-day single-station maximum of 1,444 mm (57 in.), making Hurricane Lane the wettest tropical cyclone ever recorded in Hawaiʻi (based on all available quantitative records). Simultaneously, fires on the islands of nearby Maui and Oʻahu burned 1,043 ha (2,577 ac) and 162 ha (400 ac), respectively. Land-use characteristics and antecedent moisture conditions exacerbated fire hazard, and both fire and rain severity were influenced by the storm environment and local topographical features. Broadscale subsidence around the storm periphery and downslope winds resulted in dry and windy conditions conducive to fire, while in a different region of the same storm, preexisting convection, incredibly moist atmospheric conditions, and upslope flow brought intense, long-duration rainfall. The simultaneous occurrence of rain-driven flooding and landslides, high-intensity winds, and multiple fires complicated emergency response. The compounding nature of the hazards produced during the Hurricane Lane event highlights the need to improve anticipation of complex feedback mechanisms among climate- and weather-related phenomena.

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Gary M. Lackmann, Brian Ancell, Matthew Bunkers, Ben Kirtman, Karen Kosiba, Amy McGovern, Lynn McMurdie, Zhaoxia Pu, Elizabeth Ritchie, and Henry P. Huntington
Open access
David M. Schultz, Altuğ Aksoy, Jeffrey Anderson, Tommaso Benacchio, Kristen L. Corbosiero, Matthew D. Eastin, Clark Evans, Jidong Gao, Almut Gassman, Joshua P. Hacker, Daniel Hodyss, Matthew R. Kumjian, Ron McTaggart-Cowan, Glen Romine, Paul Roundy, Angela Rowe, Elizabeth Satterfield, Russ S. Schumacher, Stan Trier, Christopher Weiss, Henry P. Huntington, and Gary M. Lackmann
Open access