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Youlong Xia, David M. Mocko, Shugong Wang, Ming Pan, Sujay V. Kumar, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, Helin Wei, Dagang Wang, and Michael B. Ek

Abstract

Since the second phase of the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS-2) was operationally implemented at NOAA/NCEP as part of the production suite in August 2014, developing the next phase of NLDAS has been a key focus of the NCEP and NASA NLDAS teams. The Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model is one of the four land surface models of the NLDAS system. The current operational NLDAS-2 uses version 4.0.3 (VIC403), the research NLDAS-2 used version 4.0.5 (VIC405), and the NASA Land Information System (LIS)-based NLDAS uses version 4.1.2.l (VIC412). The purpose of this study is to evaluate VIC403 and VIC412 and check if the latter version has better performance for the next phase of NLDAS. Toward this, a comprehensive evaluation was conducted, targeting multiple variables and using multiple metrics to assess the performance of different model versions. The evaluation results show large and significant improvements in VIC412 over the southeastern United States when compared with VIC403 and VIC405. In other regions, there are very limited improvements or even deterioration to some degree. This is partially due to 1) the sparseness of USGS streamflow observations for model parameter calibration and 2) a deterioration of VIC model performance in the Great Plains (GP) region after a model upgrade to a newer version. Overall, the model upgrade enhances model performance and skill scores for most parts of the continental United States; exceptions include the GP and western mountainous regions, as well as the daily soil moisture simulation skill, suggesting that VIC model development is on the right path. Further efforts are needed for scientific understanding of land surface physical processes in the GP, and a recalibration of VIC412 using reasonable reference datasets is recommended.

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Qinglan Li, Zenglu Li, Yulong Peng, Xiaoxue Wang, Lei Li, Hongping Lan, Shengzhong Feng, Liqun Sun, Guangxin Li, and Xiaolin Wei

Abstract

This study proposes a statistical regression scheme to forecast tropical cyclone (TC) intensity at 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, and 72 h in the northwestern Pacific region. This study utilizes best track data from the Shanghai Typhoon Institute (STI), China, and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), United States, from 2000 to 2015. In addition to conventional factors involving climatology and persistence, this study pays close attention to the land effect on TC intensity change by considering a new factor involving the ratio of seawater area to land area (SL ratio) in the statistical regression model. TC intensity changes are investigated over the entire life-span, over the open ocean, near the coast, and after landfall. Data from 2000 to 2011 are used for model calibration, and data from 2012 to 2015 are used for model validation. The results show that the intensity change during the previous 12 h (DVMAX), the potential future intensity change (POT), and the area-averaged (200–800 km) wind shear at 1000–300 hPa (SHRD) are the most significant predictors of the intensity change for TCs over the open ocean and near the coast. Intensity forecasting for TCs near the coast and over land is improved with the addition of the SL ratio compared with that of the models that do not consider the SL ratio. As this study has considered the TC intensity change over the entire TC life-span, the proposed models are valuable and practical for forecasting TC intensity change over the open ocean, near the coast, and after landfall.

Open access
Bradfield Lyon, Michael A. Bell, Michael K. Tippett, Arun Kumar, Martin P. Hoerling, Xiao-Wei Quan, and Hui Wang

Abstract

The inherent persistence characteristics of various drought indicators are quantified to extract predictive information that can improve drought early warning. Predictive skill is evaluated as a function of the seasonal cycle for regions within North America. The study serves to establish a set of baseline probabilities for drought across multiple indicators amenable to direct comparison with drought indicator forecast probabilities obtained when incorporating dynamical climate model forecasts. The emphasis is on the standardized precipitation index (SPI), but the method can easily be applied to any other meteorological drought indicator, and some additional examples are provided. Monte Carlo resampling of observational data generates two sets of synthetic time series of monthly precipitation that include, and exclude, the annual cycle while removing serial correlation. For the case of no seasonality, the autocorrelation (AC) of the SPI (and seasonal precipitation percentiles, moving monthly averages of precipitation) decays linearly with increasing lag. It is shown that seasonality in the variance of accumulated precipitation serves to enhance or diminish the persistence characteristics (AC) of the SPI and related drought indicators, and the seasonal cycle can thereby provide an appreciable source of drought predictability at regional scales. The AC is used to obtain a parametric probability density function of the future state of the SPI that is based solely on its inherent persistence characteristics. In addition, a method is presented for determining the optimal persistence of the SPI for the case of no serial correlation in precipitation (again, the baseline case). The optimized, baseline probabilities are being incorporated into Internet-based tools for the display of current and forecast drought conditions in near–real time.

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Guoxing Chen, Wei-Chyung Wang, Lijun Tao, Huang-Hsiung Hsu, Chia-Ying Tu, and Chao-Tzuen Cheng

Abstract

This study used both observations and global climate model simulations to investigate the characteristics of winter extreme snowfall events along the coast (the Interstate 95 corridor) of the northeast United States where several mega-cities are located. Observational analyses indicate that, during 1980–2015, 110 events occurred when four coastal cities—Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.—had either individually or collectively experienced daily snowfall exceeding the local 95th percentile thresholds. Boston had the most events, with a total of 69, followed by 40, 36, and 30 (moving southward) in the other three cities. The associated circulations at 200 and 850 hPa were categorized via K-means clustering. The resulting three composite circulations are characterized by the strength and location of the jet at 200 hPa and the coupled low pressure system at 850 hPa: a strong jet overlying the cities coupled with an inland trough, a weak and slightly southward shifted jet coupled with a cyclone at the coast, and a weak jet stream situated to the south of the cities coupled with a cyclone over the coastal oceans. Comparative analyses were also conducted using the GFDL High Resolution Atmospheric Model (HiRAM) simulation of the same period. Although the simulated extreme events do not provide one-to-one correspondence with observations, the characteristics nevertheless show consistency notably in total number of occurrences, intraseasonal and multiple-year variations, snow spatial coverage, and the associated circulation patterns. Possible future change in extreme snow events was also explored utilizing the HiRAM RCP8.5 (2075–2100) simulation. The analyses suggest that a warming global climate tends to decrease the extreme snowfall events but increase extreme rainfall events.

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Chaing Chen, Wei-Kuo Tao, Pay-Liam Lin, George S. Lai, S-F. Tseng, and Tai-Chi Chen Wang

Abstract

During the period of 21–25 June 1991, a mei-yu front, observed by the post–Taiwan Area Mesoscale Experiment, produced heavy precipitation along the western side of the Central Mountain Range of Taiwan. Several oceanic mesoscale convective systems were also generated in an area extending from Taiwan to Hong Kong. Numerical experiments using the Penn State–NCAR MM5 mesoscale model were used to understand the intensification of the low-level jet (LLJ). These processes include thermal wind adjustment and convective, inertial, and conditional symmetric instabilities.

Three particular circulations are important in the development of the mei-yu front. First, there is a northward branch of the circulation that develops across the upper-level jet and is mainly caused by the thermal wind adjustment as air parcels enter an upper-level jet streak. The upper-level divergence associated with this branch of the circulation triggers convection.

Second, the southward branch of the circulation, with its rising motion in the frontal region and equatorward sinking motion, is driven by frontal vertical deep convection. The return flow of this circulation at low levels can produce an LLJ through geostrophic adjustment. The intensification of the LLJ is sensitive to the presence of convection.

Third, there is a circulation that develops from low to middle levels that has a slantwise rising and sinking motion in the pre- and postfrontal regions, respectively. From an absolute momentum surface analysis, this slantwise circulation is maintained by conditionally symmetric instability located at low levels ahead of the front. The presence of both the LLJ and moisture is an essential ingredient in fostering this conditionally symmetric unstable environment.

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Xiao-Wei Quan, Martin P. Hoerling, Bradfield Lyon, Arun Kumar, Michael A. Bell, Michael K. Tippett, and Hui Wang

Abstract

The prospects for U.S. seasonal drought prediction are assessed by diagnosing simulation and hindcast skill of drought indicators during 1982–2008. The 6-month standardized precipitation index is used as the primary drought indicator. The skill of unconditioned, persistence forecasts serves as the baseline against which the performance of dynamical methods is evaluated. Predictions conditioned on the state of global sea surface temperatures (SST) are assessed using atmospheric climate simulations conducted in which observed SSTs are specified. Predictions conditioned on the initial states of atmosphere, land surfaces, and oceans are next analyzed using coupled climate-model experiments. The persistence of the drought indicator yields considerable seasonal skill, with a region’s annual cycle of precipitation driving a strong seasonality in baseline skill. The unconditioned forecast skill for drought is greatest during a region’s climatological dry season and is least during a wet season. Dynamical models forced by observed global SSTs yield increased skill relative to this baseline, with improvements realized during the cold season over regions where precipitation is sensitive to El Niño–Southern Oscillation. Fully coupled initialized model hindcasts yield little additional skill relative to the uninitialized SST-forced simulations. In particular, neither of these dynamical seasonal forecasts materially increases summer skill for the drought indicator over the Great Plains, a consequence of small SST sensitivity of that region’s summer rainfall and the small impact of antecedent soil moisture conditions, on average, upon the summer rainfall. The fully initialized predictions for monthly forecasts appreciably improve on the seasonal skill, however, especially during winter and spring over the northern Great Plains.

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Yaohui Li, Xing Yuan, Hongsheng Zhang, Runyuan Wang, Chenghai Wang, Xianhong Meng, Zhiqiang Zhang, Shanshan Wang, Yang Yang, Bo Han, Kai Zhang, Xiaoping Wang, Hong Zhao, Guangsheng Zhou, Qiang Zhang, Qing He, Ni Guo, Wei Hou, Cunjie Zhang, Guoju Xiao, Xuying Sun, Ping Yue, Sha Sha, Heling Wang, Tiejun Zhang, Jinsong Wang, and Yubi Yao

Abstract

A major experimental drought research project entitled “Mechanisms and Early Warning of Drought Disasters over Northern China” (DroughtEX_China) was launched by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China in 2015. The objective of DroughtEX_China is to investigate drought disaster mechanisms and provide early-warning information via multisource observations and multiscale modeling. Since the implementation of DroughtEX_China, a comprehensive V-shape in situ observation network has been established to integrate different observational experiment systems for different landscapes, including crops in northern China. In this article, we introduce the experimental area, observational network configuration, ground- and air-based observing/testing facilities, implementation scheme, and data management procedures and sharing policy. The preliminary observational and numerical experimental results show that the following are important processes for understanding and modeling drought disasters over arid and semiarid regions: 1) the soil water vapor–heat interactions that affect surface soil moisture variability, 2) the effect of intermittent turbulence on boundary layer energy exchange, 3) the drought–albedo feedback, and 4) the transition from stomatal to nonstomatal control of plant photosynthesis with increasing drought severity. A prototype of a drought monitoring and forecasting system developed from coupled hydroclimate prediction models and an integrated multisource drought information platform is also briefly introduced. DroughtEX_China lasted for four years (i.e., 2015–18) and its implementation now provides regional drought monitoring and forecasting, risk assessment information, and a multisource data-sharing platform for drought adaptation over northern China, contributing to the global drought information system (GDIS).

Open access
Jeffrey Beck, John Brown, Jimy Dudhia, David Gill, Tracy Hertneky, Joseph Klemp, Wei Wang, Christopher Williams, Ming Hu, Eric James, Jaymes Kenyon, Tanya Smirnova, and Jung-Hoon Kim

Abstract

A new hybrid, sigma-pressure vertical coordinate was recently added to the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model in an effort to reduce numerical noise in the model equations near complex terrain. Testing of this hybrid, terrain-following coordinate was undertaken in the WRF-based Rapid Refresh (RAP) and High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) models to assess impacts on retrospective and real-time simulations. Initial cold-start simulations indicated that the majority of differences between the hybrid and traditional sigma coordinate were confined to regions downstream of mountainous terrain and focused in the upper levels. Week-long retrospective simulations generally resulted in small improvements for the RAP, and a neutral impact in the HRRR when the hybrid coordinate was used. However, one possibility is that the inclusion of data assimilation in the experiments may have minimized differences between the vertical coordinates. Finally, analysis of turbulence forecasts with the new hybrid coordinate indicate a significant reduction in spurious vertical motion over the full length of the Rocky Mountains. Overall, the results indicate a potential to improve forecast metrics through implementation of the hybrid coordinate, particularly at upper levels, and downstream of complex terrain.

Free access
Chong Shen, Xiaoyang Chen, Wei Dai, Xiaohui Li, Jie Wu, Qi Fan, Xuemei Wang, Liye Zhu, Pakwai Chan, Jian Hang, Shaojia Fan, and Weibiao Li

Abstract

On urban scales, the detailed characteristics of land-use information and building properties are vital to improving the meteorological model. The WRF Model with high-spatial-resolution urban fraction (UF) and urban morphology (UM) is used to study the impacts of these urban canopy parameters (UCPs) on dynamical and thermal meteorological fields in two representative seasons in Guangzhou. The results of two seasons are similar and as follows. 1) The impacts of updated UF and UM are obvious on wind speed but minor on temperature and humidity. In the urban environment, the results with updated UF and UM are more consistent with observations compared with the default UCPs, which means the performance of the model has been improved. 2) The dynamical factors associated with wind speed are analyzed. Turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) is significantly affected by UM but little by UF. And both UF and UM are found to influence friction velocity U*. The UM and greater UF attained larger U*. 3) In addition, the thermal fields are analyzed. The UM and increased UF induce higher surface skin temperature (TSK) and ground heat flux in the daytime, indicating that more heat is transported from the surface to the soil. At night, more heat is transported from the soil to the surface, producing higher TSK. For sensible heat flux (HFX), greater UF induces larger HFX during the daytime. But the effects of UM are complex, which makes HFX decrease during the daytime and increase at night. Finally, larger UF attains lower latent heat in the daytime.

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Fan Yang, Qing He, Jianping Huang, Ali Mamtimin, Xinghua Yang, Wen Huo, Chenglong Zhou, Xinchun Liu, Wenshou Wei, Caixia Cui, Minzhong Wang, Hongjun Li, Lianmei Yang, Hongsheng Zhang, Yuzhi Liu, Xinqian Zheng, Honglin Pan, Lili Jin, Han Zou, Libo Zhou, Yongqiang Liu, Jiantao Zhang, Lu Meng, Yu Wang, Xiaolin Qin, Yongjun Yao, Houyong Liu, Fumin Xue, and Wei Zheng

Abstract

As the second-largest shifting sand desert worldwide, the Taklimakan Desert (TD) represents the typical aeolian landforms in arid regions as an important source of global dust aerosols. It directly affects the ecological environment and human health across East Asia. Thus, establishing a comprehensive environment and climate observation network for field research in the TD region is essential to improve our understanding of the desert meteorology and environment, assess its impact, mitigate potential environmental issues, and promote sustainable development. With a nearly 20-yr effort under the extremely harsh conditions of the TD, the Desert Environment and Climate Observation Network (DECON) has been established completely covering the TD region. The core of DECON is the Tazhong station in the hinterland of the TD. Moreover, the network also includes 4 satellite stations located along the edge of the TD for synergistic observations, and 18 automatic weather stations interspersed between them. Thus, DECON marks a new chapter of environmental and meteorological observation capabilities over the TD, including dust storms, dust emission and transport mechanisms, desert land–atmosphere interactions, desert boundary layer structure, ground calibration for remote sensing monitoring, and desert carbon sinks. In addition, DECON promotes cooperation and communication within the research community in the field of desert environments and climate, which promotes a better understanding of the status and role of desert ecosystems. Finally, DECON is expected to provide the basic support necessary for coordinated environmental and meteorological monitoring and mitigation, joint construction of ecologically friendly communities, and sustainable development of central Asia.

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