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Jerome D. Fast, Rob K. Newsom, K. Jerry Allwine, Qin Xu, Pengfei Zhang, Jeffrey Copeland, and Juanzhen Sun

Abstract

Two entirely different methods for retrieving 3D fields of horizontal winds from Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) radial velocities have been evaluated using radar wind profiler measurements to determine whether routine wind retrievals would be useful for atmospheric dispersion model applications. The first method uses a physical algorithm based on four-dimensional variational data assimilation, and the second simpler method uses a statistical technique based on an analytic formulation of the background error covariance. Both methods can be run in near–real time, but the simpler method was executed about 2.5 times as fast as the four-dimensional variational method. The observed multiday and diurnal variations in wind speed and direction were reproduced by both methods below ∼1.5 km above the ground in the vicinity of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, during July 2003. However, wind retrievals overestimated the strength of the nighttime low-level jet by as much as 65%. The wind speeds and directions obtained from both methods were usually similar when compared with profiler measurements, and neither method outperformed the other statistically. Within a dispersion model framework, the 3D wind fields and transport patterns were often better represented when the wind retrievals were included along with operational data. Despite uncertainties in the wind speed and direction obtained from the wind retrievals that are higher than those from remote sensing radar wind profilers, the inclusion of the wind retrievals is likely to produce more realistic temporal variations in the winds aloft than would be obtained by interpolation using the available radiosondes, especially during rapidly changing synoptic- and mesoscale conditions.

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Su-Ping Zhang, Shang-Ping Xie, Qin-Yu Liu, Yu-Qiang Yang, Xin-Gong Wang, and Zhao-Peng Ren

Abstract

Sea fog is frequently observed over the Yellow Sea, with an average of 50 fog days on the Chinese coast during April–July. The Yellow Sea fog season is characterized by an abrupt onset in April in the southern coast of Shandong Peninsula and an abrupt, basin-wide termination in August. This study investigates the mechanisms for such steplike evolution that is inexplicable from the gradual change in solar radiation. From March to April over the northwestern Yellow Sea, a temperature inversion forms in a layer 100–350 m above the sea surface, and the prevailing surface winds switch from northwesterly to southerly, both changes that are favorable for advection fog. The land–sea contrast is the key to these changes. In April, the land warms up much faster than the ocean. The prevailing west-southwesterlies at 925 hPa advect warm continental air to form an inversion over the western Yellow Sea. The land–sea differential warming also leads to the formation of a shallow anticyclone over the cool Yellow and northern East China Seas in April. The southerlies on the west flank of this anticyclone advect warm and humid air from the south, causing the abrupt fog onset on the Chinese coast. The lack of such warm/moist advection on the east flank of the anticyclone leads to a gradual increase in fog occurrence on the Korean coast. The retreat of Yellow Sea fog is associated with a shift in the prevailing winds from southerly to easterly from July to August. The August wind shift over the Yellow Sea is part of a large-scale change in the East Asian–western Pacific monsoons, characterized by enhanced convection over the subtropical northwest Pacific and the resultant teleconnection into the midlatitudes, the latter known as the western Pacific–Japan pattern. Back trajectories for foggy and fog-free air masses support the results from the climatological analysis.

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Shun Liu, Geoff DiMego, Shucai Guan, V. Krishna Kumar, Dennis Keyser, Qin Xu, Kang Nai, Pengfei Zhang, Liping Liu, Jian Zhang, Kenneth Howard, and Jeff Ator

Abstract

Real-time access to level II radar data became available in May 2005 at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Central Operations (NCO). Using these real-time data in operational data assimilation requires the data be processed reliably and efficiently through rigorous data quality controls. To this end, advanced radar data quality control techniques developed at the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) are combined into a comprehensive radar data processing system at NCEP. Techniques designed to create a high-resolution reflectivity mosaic developed at the NSSL are also adopted and installed within the NCEP radar data processing system to generate hourly 3D reflectivity mosaics and 2D-derived products. The processed radar radial velocity and 3D reflectivity mosaics are ingested into NCEP’s data assimilation systems to improve operational numerical weather predictions. The 3D reflectivity mosaics and 2D-derived products are also used for verification of high-resolution numerical weather prediction. The NCEP radar data processing system is described.

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Ian Baxter, Qinghua Ding, Axel Schweiger, Michelle L’Heureux, Stephen Baxter, Tao Wang, Qin Zhang, Kirstin Harnos, Bradley Markle, Daniel Topal, and Jian Lu

Abstract

Over the past 40 years, the Arctic sea ice minimum in September has declined. The period between 2007 and 2012 showed accelerated melt contributed to the record minima of 2007 and 2012. Here, observational and model evidence shows that the changes in summer sea ice since the 2000s reflect a continuous anthropogenically forced melting masked by interdecadal variability of Arctic atmospheric circulation. This variation is partially driven by teleconnections originating from sea surface temperature (SST) changes in the east-central tropical Pacific via a Rossby wave train propagating into the Arctic [herein referred to as the Pacific–Arctic teleconnection (PARC)], which represents the leading internal mode connecting the pole to lower latitudes. This mode has contributed to accelerated warming and Arctic sea ice loss from 2007 to 2012, followed by slower declines in recent years, resulting in the appearance of a slowdown over the past 11 years. A pacemaker model simulation, in which we specify observed SST in the tropical eastern Pacific, demonstrates a physically plausible mechanism for the PARC mode. However, the model-based PARC mechanism is considerably weaker and only partially accounts for the observed acceleration of sea ice loss from 2007 to 2012. We also explore features of large-scale circulation patterns associated with extreme melting periods in a long (1800 yr) CESM preindustrial simulation. These results further support that remote SST forcing originating from the tropical Pacific can excite significant warm episodes in the Arctic. However, further research is needed to identify the reasons for model limitations in reproducing the observed PARC mode featuring a cold Pacific–warm Arctic connection.

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Rob K. Newsom, Larry K. Berg, Mikhail Pekour, Jerome Fast, Qin Xu, Pengfei Zhang, Qing Yang, William J. Shaw, and Julia Flaherty

Abstract

The accuracy of winds derived from Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) level-II data is assessed by comparison with independent observations from 915-MHz radar wind profilers. The evaluation is carried out at two locations with very different terrain characteristics. One site is located in an area of complex terrain within the State Line Wind Energy Center in northeastern Oregon. The other site is located in an area of flat terrain on the east-central Florida coast. The National Severe Storm Laboratory’s two-dimensional variational data assimilation (2DVar) algorithm is used to retrieve wind fields from the KPDT (Pendleton, Oregon) and KMLB (Melbourne, Florida) NEXRAD radars. Wind speed correlations at most observation height levels fell in the range from 0.7 to 0.8, indicating that the retrieved winds followed temporal fluctuations in the profiler-observed winds reasonably well. The retrieved winds, however, consistently exhibited slow biases in the range of 1–2 m s−1. Wind speed difference distributions were broad, with standard deviations in the range from 3 to 4 m s−1. Results from the Florida site showed little change in the wind speed correlations and difference standard deviations with altitude between about 300 and 1400 m AGL. Over this same height range, results from the Oregon site showed a monotonic increase in the wind speed correlation and a monotonic decrease in the wind speed difference standard deviation with increasing altitude. The poorest overall agreement occurred at the lowest observable level (~300 m AGL) at the Oregon site, where the effects of the complex terrain were greatest.

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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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Suranjana Saha, Shrinivas Moorthi, Xingren Wu, Jiande Wang, Sudhir Nadiga, Patrick Tripp, David Behringer, Yu-Tai Hou, Hui-ya Chuang, Mark Iredell, Michael Ek, Jesse Meng, Rongqian Yang, Malaquías Peña Mendez, Huug van den Dool, Qin Zhang, Wanqiu Wang, Mingyue Chen, and Emily Becker

Abstract

The second version of the NCEP Climate Forecast System (CFSv2) was made operational at NCEP in March 2011. This version has upgrades to nearly all aspects of the data assimilation and forecast model components of the system. A coupled reanalysis was made over a 32-yr period (1979–2010), which provided the initial conditions to carry out a comprehensive reforecast over 29 years (1982–2010). This was done to obtain consistent and stable calibrations, as well as skill estimates for the operational subseasonal and seasonal predictions at NCEP with CFSv2. The operational implementation of the full system ensures a continuity of the climate record and provides a valuable up-to-date dataset to study many aspects of predictability on the seasonal and subseasonal scales. Evaluation of the reforecasts show that the CFSv2 increases the length of skillful MJO forecasts from 6 to 17 days (dramatically improving subseasonal forecasts), nearly doubles the skill of seasonal forecasts of 2-m temperatures over the United States, and significantly improves global SST forecasts over its predecessor. The CFSv2 not only provides greatly improved guidance at these time scales but also creates many more products for subseasonal and seasonal forecasting with an extensive set of retrospective forecasts for users to calibrate their forecast products. These retrospective and real-time operational forecasts will be used by a wide community of users in their decision making processes in areas such as water management for rivers and agriculture, transportation, energy use by utilities, wind and other sustainable energy, and seasonal prediction of the hurricane season.

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Ben P. Kirtman, Dughong Min, Johnna M. Infanti, James L. Kinter III, Daniel A. Paolino, Qin Zhang, Huug van den Dool, Suranjana Saha, Malaquias Pena Mendez, Emily Becker, Peitao Peng, Patrick Tripp, Jin Huang, David G. DeWitt, Michael K. Tippett, Anthony G. Barnston, Shuhua Li, Anthony Rosati, Siegfried D. Schubert, Michele Rienecker, Max Suarez, Zhao E. Li, Jelena Marshak, Young-Kwon Lim, Joseph Tribbia, Kathleen Pegion, William J. Merryfield, Bertrand Denis, and Eric F. Wood

The recent U.S. National Academies report, Assessment of Intraseasonal to Interannual Climate Prediction and Predictability, was unequivocal in recommending the need for the development of a North American Multimodel Ensemble (NMME) operational predictive capability. Indeed, this effort is required to meet the specific tailored regional prediction and decision support needs of a large community of climate information users.

The multimodel ensemble approach has proven extremely effective at quantifying prediction uncertainty due to uncertainty in model formulation and has proven to produce better prediction quality (on average) than any single model ensemble. This multimodel approach is the basis for several international collaborative prediction research efforts and an operational European system, and there are numerous examples of how this multimodel ensemble approach yields superior forecasts compared to any single model.

Based on two NOAA Climate Test bed (CTB) NMME workshops (18 February and 8 April 2011), a collaborative and coordinated implementation strategy for a NMME prediction system has been developed and is currently delivering real-time seasonal-to-interannual predictions on the NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) operational schedule. The hindcast and real-time prediction data are readily available (e.g., http://iridl.ldeo.columbia.edu/SOURCES/.Models/.NMME/) and in graphical format from CPC (www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/NMME/). Moreover, the NMME forecast is already currently being used as guidance for operational forecasters. This paper describes the new NMME effort, and presents an overview of the multimodel forecast quality and the complementary skill associated with individual models.

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