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Marco L. Carrera
and
John R. Gyakum

Abstract

The various modes of atmospheric mass redistribution characterize the principal variations of the general circulation of the atmosphere. Interhemispheric exchanges of atmospheric mass occur with considerable regularity on subseasonal time scales. Observational evidence from previous studies indicates that anomalous and persistent regional atmospheric mass distributions (e.g., atmospheric blocking) may often be related to interhemispheric atmospheric mass exchange.

Using the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP)–National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) reanalysis surface pressure, significant events when the Northern Hemisphere (NH) loses dry atmospheric mass on subseasonal time scales during the boreal winter from 1968 to 1997 are identified. A total of 25 events is found, with a preferred time scale of 9 days from the time of maximum to minimum NH dry atmospheric mass. The linear correlation coefficient between the dry atmospheric mass anomalies for the NH and Southern Hemisphere (SH) is −0.91 for the 25 events, indicating very strong interhemispheric compensation and increasing confidence in the suitability of the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis dataset for the study of interhemispheric dry atmospheric mass exchange.

Positive sea level pressure anomalies are found over northern Eurasia, the North Pacific, and the North Atlantic prior to the onset of the composite NH dry atmospheric mass collapse event. Over northern Eurasia the building of the Siberian high is found to be a statistically significant precursor to the events. The breakdown of NH dry atmospheric mass occurs in association with the decay of the positive atmospheric mass anomaly in the North Pacific as a cyclone deepens explosively in the Gulf of Alaska. Pressure surges over Southeast Asia and North America, associated with statistically significant positive atmospheric mass anomalies, are mechanisms that act to channel the atmospheric mass equatorward out of the NH extratropics on a rapid time scale (∼4 days). The dry atmospheric mass increase in the SH is manifested as enhanced surface ridging over the South Pacific and south Indian Oceans, two noted regions of atmospheric blocking.

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Marco L. Carrera
and
John R. Gyakum

Abstract

A recent study of significant events of atmospheric mass depletion from the Northern Hemisphere (NH) during the extended boreal winter indicated that Southeast Asian pressure surges were an important physical mechanism that acted to channel the atmospheric mass equatorward out of the NH on a rapid time scale. This study builds upon this finding and examines both the direct and indirect roles of Southeast Asian pressure surges for a particular event of dry atmospheric mass depletion from the NH. The focus of this study is on the enhanced interhemispheric interactions and associated Southern Hemisphere (SH) tropical and extratropical responses resulting from the pressure surges.

First, this study examines the conservation of dry atmospheric mass (i.e., the relationship between the dry meridional winds and the area-integrated dry air surface pressure) in the NCEP reanalysis for the 25 significant events of dry atmospheric mass depletion from the NH. Results indicate that the NCEP dry meridional winds are able to qualitatively capture the dry atmospheric mass evacuation from the NH. In a quantitative sense there is very good agreement between the wind and pressure data in the extratropics of both hemispheres. A distinct negative or southward bias in the NCEP vertically and zonally integrated dry meridional winds is apparent between 5° and 17.5°N. This southward bias was not present in the ECMWF Re-Analysis. The source of the southward bias in NCEP appears to result from a weaker analyzed ITCZ.

The particular case of dry atmospheric mass depletion from the NH examined in detail is associated with an intense pressure surge over Southeast Asia. A significant enhancement of convection in the monsoon trough region of northern Australia occurs roughly 4 days after the peak intensity of the Siberian high. A low-level westerly wind burst develops in response to this enhanced zonal pressure gradient caused by the pressure surge as part of the onset of an active phase of the Australian summer monsoon. This study shows that three prominent anticyclonic circulations intensify in the SH extratropics, stretching from the south Indian Ocean to the South Pacific, beneath regions of upper-tropospheric dry atmospheric mass convergence, originating partly from the monsoon convection outflow. These anticyclonic circulations are regional manifestations of the dry atmospheric mass increase in the SH.

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Deepti Joshi
,
Marco Carrera
,
Stephane Bélair
, and
Sylvie Leroyer

Abstract

There are numerous water features on the Canadian landscapes that are not monitored. Specifically, there are water bodies over the prairies and Canadian shield regions of North America that are ephemeral in nature and could have a significant influence on convective storm generation and local weather patterns through turbulent exchanges of sensible and latent heat between the land and the atmosphere. In this study a series of numerical experiments is performed with Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Global Environmental Multiscale (GEM) model at 2.5-km grid spacing to examine the sensitivity of the atmospheric boundary layer and the resulting precipitation to the presence of open water bodies. Operationally, the land–water fraction in GEM is specified by means of static geophysical databases that do not change with time. Uncertainty is introduced in this study into this land–water fraction and the sensitivity of the resulting precipitation is quantified for a convective precipitation event occurring over the Canadian Prairies in the summer of 2014. The results indicate that with an increase in open water bodies, accumulated precipitation, peak precipitation amounts, and intensities decrease. Moreover, shifts are seen in times of peak for both precipitation amounts and intensities, in the order of increasing wetness. Additionally, with an increase in open water bodies, convective available potential energy decreases and convective inhibition increases, indicating suppression of forcing for convective precipitation.

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Marco L. Carrera
,
Stéphane Bélair
, and
Bernard Bilodeau

Abstract

The Canadian Land Data Assimilation System (CaLDAS) has been developed at the Meteorological Research Division of Environment Canada (EC) to better represent the land surface initial states in environmental prediction and assimilation systems. CaLDAS is built around an external land surface modeling system and uses the ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) methodology. A unique feature of CaLDAS is the use of improved precipitation forcing through the assimilation of precipitation observations. An ensemble of precipitation analyses is generated by combining numerical weather prediction (NWP) model precipitation forecasts with precipitation observations. Spatial phasing errors to the NWP first-guess precipitation forecasts are more effective than perturbations to the precipitation observations in decreasing (increasing) the exceedance ratio (uncertainty ratio) scores and generating flatter, more reliable ranked histograms. CaLDAS has been configured to assimilate L-band microwave brightness temperature TB by coupling the land surface model with a microwave radiative transfer model. A continental-scale synthetic experiment assimilating passive L-band TBs for an entire warm season is performed over North America. Ensemble metric scores are used to quantify the impact of different atmospheric forcing uncertainties on soil moisture and TB ensemble spread. The use of an ensemble of precipitation analyses, generated by assimilating precipitation observations, as forcing combined with the assimilation of L-band TBs gave rise to the largest improvements in superficial soil moisture scores and to a more rapid reduction of the root-zone soil moisture errors. Innovation diagnostics show that the EnKF is able to maintain a sufficient forecast error spread through time, while soil moisture estimation error improvements with increasing ensemble size were limited.

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Camille Garnaud
,
Stéphane Bélair
,
Marco L. Carrera
,
Heather McNairn
, and
Anna Pacheco

Abstract

Although soil moisture is an essential variable within the Earth system and has been extensively investigated, there is still a limited understanding of its spatiotemporal distribution and variability. Thus, the objective of this study is to attempt to reproduce the spatial variability of soil moisture and brightness temperature as measured by point-based and airborne remote sensing measurements. To do so, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Surface Prediction System (SPS) is run at very high resolution (100 m) over a region of Manitoba (Canada) where an extensive soil moisture experiment took place in the summer of 2012 [SMAP Validation Experiment 2012 (SMAPVEX12)]. Results show that realistic finescale soil texture improves the quality of SPS outputs. Soil moisture spatial average evolution in time is well simulated by SPS. Simulated spatial variability is underestimated when compared to point-based measurements, although results are improved when examined domainwide versus comparisons using grid points corresponding to measurement sites. SPS brightness temperature fields compare well with remote sensing data in terms of spatial variability. It is shown that during drier periods, factors other than soil texture become important with respect to soil moisture spatial variability. However, during periods with plenty of precipitation, soil texture seems essential in improving simulated soil moisture spatial variability at high resolutions. These results support the conclusion that SPS could provide very high–resolution soil moisture products for research and operational purposes if high-resolution soil texture and vegetation products are made available on a larger scale.

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Marco L. Carrera
,
John R. Gyakum
, and
Da-Lin Zhang

Abstract

Secondary cyclogenesis has been identified as a difficult forecast challenge. In this paper, the authors examine the dominant physical processes associated with the predictability of a case of explosive secondary marine cyclogenesis and provide a better understanding of the large variability in the recent model-intercomparison simulations of the case. A series of sensitivity experiments, involving changes to the model initial conditions and physical parameterizations, is performed using the Canadian Mesoscale Compressible Community Model with a grid size of 50 km.

It is found that errors in the model initial conditions tend to decay with time, and more rapidly so in “dry” simulations. The model fails to produce the secondary cyclogenesis in the absence of latent heating. Water vapor budget calculations from the control experiment show that the surface moisture flux from 6 to 12 h is the largest contributor of water vapor to the budget area in the vicinity of the cyclone center, and remains an important moisture supply throughout the integration period. During the first 12 h, these fluxes are crucial in inducing grid-scale diabatic heating and destabilizing the lower troposphere, thereby facilitating the subsequent rapid deepening of the storm. A secondary maximum in surface latent heat flux to the north and east of the primary maximum acts to force the cyclogenesis event to the south and east of a coastal circulation center. When the surface evaporation is not allowed, much less precipitation is produced and the secondary cyclone fails to develop. Calculations of the potential temperature on the dynamic tropopause (i.e., 2-PVU surface) in the absence of surface evaporation indicate a significantly damped thermal wave when compared with the control integration.

This result for a case of secondary cyclogenesis differs from those generally found for large-scale extratropical cyclogenesis where upper-level baroclinic forcings tend to dominate, and motivates the need for better physical parameterizations, including the condensation and boundary layer processes, in operational models. The authors speculate that the different treatment of condensation and boundary layer processes may have been partly responsible for the enhanced variability in the simulation of this case in a recently completed international mesoscale model intercomparison experiment.

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Marco L. Carrera
,
John R. Gyakum
, and
Charles A. Lin

Abstract

The presence of orography can lead to thermally and dynamically induced mesoscale wind fields. The phenomenon of channeling refers to the tendency for the winds within a valley to blow more or less parallel to the valley axis for a variety of wind directions above ridge height. Channeling of surface winds has been observed in several regions of the world, including the upper Rhine Valley of Germany, the mountainous terrain near Basel, Switzerland, and the Tennessee and Hudson River Valleys in the United States. The St. Lawrence River valley (SLRV) is a primary topographic feature of eastern Canada, extending in a southwest–northeast direction from Lake Ontario, past Montreal (YUL) and Quebec City (YQB), and terminating in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In this study the authors examine the long-term surface wind climatology of the SLRV and Lake Champlain Valley (LCV) as represented by hourly surface winds at Montreal, Quebec City, and Burlington, Vermont (BTV). Surface wind channeling is found to be prominent at all three locations with strong bidirectionalities that vary seasonally. To assess the importance of the various channeling mechanisms the authors compared the joint frequency distributions of surface wind directions versus 925-hPa geostrophic wind directions with those obtained from conceptual models. At YUL, downward momentum transport is important for geostrophic wind directions ranging from 240° to 340°. Pressure-driven channeling is the dominant mechanism producing northeasterly surface winds at YUL. These northeasterlies are most prominent in the winter, spring, and autumn seasons. At YQB, pressure-driven channeling is the dominant physical mechanism producing channeling of surface winds throughout all seasons. Of particular importance, both YUL and YQB exhibit countercurrents whereby the velocity component of the wind within the valley is opposite to the component above the valley. Forced channeling was found to be prominent at BTV, with evidence of diurnal thermal forcing during the summer season. Reasons for the predominance of pressure-driven channeling at YUL and YQB and forced channeling at BTV are discussed.

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Christophe Lavaysse
,
Marco Carrera
,
Stéphane Bélair
,
Normand Gagnon
,
Ronald Frenette
,
Martin Charron
, and
M. K. Yau

Abstract

The aim of this study is to assess the impact of uncertainties in surface parameter and initial conditions on numerical prediction with the Canadian Regional Ensemble Prediction System (REPS). As part of this study, the Canadian version of the Interactions between Soil–Biosphere–Atmosphere (ISBA) land surface scheme has been coupled to Environment Canada’s numerical weather prediction model within the REPS. For 20 summer periods in 2009, stochastic perturbations of surface parameters have been generated in several experiments. Each experiment corresponds to 20 simulations differing by the perturbations at the initial time of one or several surface parameters or prognostic variables. The sensitivity to these perturbations is quantified especially for 2-m temperature, 10-m wind speed, cloud fraction, and precipitation up to 48-h lead time. Spatial variability of these sensitivities over the North American continent shows that soil moisture, albedo, leaf area index, and SST have the largest impacts on the screen-level variables. The temporal evolution of these sensitivities appears to be closely linked to the diurnal cycle of the boundary layer. The surface perturbations are shown to increase the ensemble spread of the REPS for all screen-level variables especially for 2-m temperature and 10-m wind speed during daytime. A preliminary study of the impact on the ensemble forecast has shown that the inclusion of the surface perturbations tends to significantly increase the 2-m temperature and 10-m wind speed skill.

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Marco L. Carrera
,
Bernard Bilodeau
,
Stéphane Bélair
,
Maria Abrahamowicz
,
Albert Russell
, and
Xihong Wang

Abstract

This study examines the impacts of assimilating Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) L-band brightness temperatures (TBs) on warm season short-range numerical weather prediction (NWP) forecasts. Focusing upon the summer 2015 period over North America, offline assimilation cycles are run with the Canadian Land Data Assimilation System (CaLDAS) to compare the impacts of assimilating SMAP TB versus screen-level observations to analyze soil moisture. The analyzed soil moistures are quantitatively compared against a set of in situ sparse soil moisture networks and a set of SMAP core validation sites. These surface analyses are used to initialize a series of 48-h forecasts where near-surface temperature and precipitation are evaluated against in situ observations. Assimilation of SMAP TBs leads to soil moisture that is markedly improved in terms of correlation and standard deviation of the errors (STDE) compared to the use of screen-level observations. NWP forecasts initialized with SMAP-derived soil moistures exhibit a general dry bias in 2-m dewpoint temperatures (TD2m), while displaying a relative warm bias in 2-m temperatures (TT2m), when compared to those forecasts initialized with soil moistures analyzed with screen-level temperature errors. Largest impacts with SMAP are seen for TD2m, where the use of screen-level observations leads to a daytime wet bias that is reduced with SMAP. The overall drier soil moisture leads to improved precipitation bias scores with SMAP. A notable deterioration in TD2m STDE scores was found in the SMAP experiments during the daytime over the Northern Great Plains. A reduction in the daytime TD2m wet bias was found when the observation errors for the screen-level observations were increased.

Open access
Jason A. Milbrandt
,
Stéphane Bélair
,
Manon Faucher
,
Marcel Vallée
,
Marco L. Carrera
, and
Anna Glazer

Abstract

Since November 2014, the Meteorological Services of Canada (MSC) has been running a real-time numerical weather prediction system that provides deterministic forecasts on a regional domain with a 2.5-km horizontal grid spacing covering a large portion of Canada using the Global Environmental Multiscale (GEM) forecast model. This system, referred to as the High Resolution Deterministic Prediction System (HRDPS), is currently downscaled from MSC’s operational 10-km GEM-based regional system but uses initial surface fields from a high-resolution (2.5 km) land data assimilation system coupled to the HRDPS and initial hydrometeor fields from the forecast of a 2.5-km cycle, which reduces the spinup time for clouds and precipitation. Forecast runs of 48 h are provided four times daily. The HRDPS was tested and compared to the operational 10-km system. Model runs from the two systems were evaluated against surface observations for common weather elements (temperature, humidity, winds, and precipitation), fractional cloud cover, and also against upper-air soundings, all using standard metrics. Although the predictions of some fields were degraded in some specific regions, the HRDPS generally outperformed the operational system for a majority of the scores. The evaluation illustrates the added value of the 2.5-km model and the potential for improved numerical guidance for the prediction of high-impact weather.

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