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John E. Janowiak, Philip A. Arkin, Pingping Xie, Mark L. Morrissey, and David R. Legates

Abstract

Very few (if any) in situ measurements of rainfall are available in the Pacific ITCZ east of the Line Islands (157°W). Hence, climatological datasets, which are assembled from various in situ sources, and satellite-derived analyses of precipitation are frequently relied upon to provide information on the distribution of rainfall in this important region. A substantial amount of disagreement exists among these information sources as demonstrated in this paper. In particular, the east–west gradient of estimated rainfall intensity in the eastern Pacific ITCZ is quite different during the Northern Hemisphere warm season among six different satellite algorithms (one infrared and five microwave) and two climatologies that are examined. Some of these data suggest that a local minimum in rainfall intensity is located near 140°W in the Pacific ITCZ during northern summer, with increasing intensity toward the east and west, while the others depict steadily decreasing rainfall intensity from west of the Americas to the date line. Conversely, all of the precipitation estimates that are examined depict a rainfall maximum in the Pacific ITCZ near 140°W during the Northern Hemisphere cool season, although the magnitudes vary substantially among them.

The authors examine estimates of seasonal mean rainfall over the eastern Pacific ITCZ (cast of the date line) from two rainfall climatologies and six satellite precipitation estimation techniques during July 1987 through June 1990. Inconsistencies among the precipitation analyses are investigated by examining several independent datasets that include atmospheric circulation data, sea surface temperature data, and ship reports of weather type.

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Annakaisa von Lerber, Dmitri Moisseev, David A. Marks, Walter Petersen, Ari-Matti Harri, and V. Chandrasekar

Abstract

Currently, there are several spaceborne microwave instruments suitable for the detection and quantitative estimation of snowfall. To test and improve retrieval snowfall algorithms, ground validation datasets that combine detailed characterization of snowfall microphysics and spatial precipitation measurements are required. To this endpoint, measurements of snow microphysics are combined with large-scale weather radar observations to generate such a dataset. The quantitative snowfall estimates are computed by applying event-specific relations between the equivalent reflectivity factor and snowfall rate to weather radar observations. The relations are derived using retrieved ice particle microphysical properties from observations that were carried out at the University of Helsinki research station in Hyytiälä, Finland, which is about 64 km east of the radar. For each event, the uncertainties of the estimate are also determined. The feasibility of using this type of data to validate spaceborne snowfall measurements and algorithms is demonstrated with the NASA GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) snowfall product. The detection skill and retrieved surface snowfall precipitation of the GPROF detection algorithm, versions V04A and V05A, are assessed over southern Finland. On the basis of the 26 studied overpasses, probability of detection (POD) is 0.90 for version V04A and 0.84 for version V05A, and corresponding false-alarm rates are 0.09 and 0.10, respectively. A clear dependence of detection skill on cloud echo top height is shown: POD increased from 0.8 to 0.99 (V04A) and from 0.61 to 0.94 (V05A) as the cloud echo top altitude increased from 2 to 5 km. Both versions underestimate the snowfall rate by factors of 6 (V04A) and 3 (V05A).

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Nathan P. Arnold, Mark Branson, Zhiming Kuang, David A. Randall, and Eli Tziperman

Abstract

The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is the dominant mode of tropical intraseasonal variability, characterized by an eastward-propagating envelope of convective anomalies with a 30–70-day time scale. Here, the authors report changes in MJO activity across coupled simulations with a superparameterized version of the NCAR Community Earth System Model. They find that intraseasonal OLR variance nearly doubles between a preindustrial control run and a run with 4×CO2. Intraseasonal precipitation increases at a rate of roughly 10% per 1 K of warming, and MJO events become 20%–30% more frequent. Moist static energy (MSE) budgets of composite MJO events are calculated for each scenario, and changes in budget terms are used to diagnose the physical processes responsible for changes in the MJO with warming. An increasingly positive contribution from vertical advection is identified as the most likely cause of the enhanced MJO activity. A decomposition links the changes in vertical advection to a steepening of the mean MSE profile, which is a robust thermodynamic consequence of warming. Surface latent heat flux anomalies are a significant sink of MJO MSE at 1×CO2, but this damping effect is reduced in the 4×CO2 case. This work has implications for organized tropical variability in past warm climates as well as future global warming scenarios.

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Mark A. Moline, Kelly Benoit-Bird, David O’Gorman, and Ian C. Robbins

Abstract

Acoustic echo sounders designed to map and discriminate organisms in the water column have primarily been deployed on ships. Because of acoustic attenuation of higher frequencies used to detect and discriminate micronekton and nekton, this has effectively restricted the range of this information to the upper water column. In an effort to overcome these range limitations by reducing the distance between the transducer and the targets of interest, dual-frequency (38 and 120 kHz) split-beam echo sounders were integrated into a Remote Environmental Monitoring Units (REMUS) 600 autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), effectively doubling the range of quantitative acoustic data into the mesopelagic zone (600–1200 m). Data from the first set of missions in a range of conditions revealed that the AUV provided a stable platform for the echo sounders and improved vertical and horizontal positional accuracy over echo sounders towed by ships. In comparison to hull-mounted echo sounders, elimination of ship noise and surface bubbles provided a 17- and 19-dBW decrease in the noise floor for the 38- and 120-kHz echo sounders, respectively, effectively increasing the sampling range by 30%–40%. The extended depth range also increased the resolution of the acoustic horizontal footprint from 37–40 to 0.6–3.7 m, enabling discrimination of individual targets at depth. Also developed here is novel onboard echo sounder data processing and autonomy to allow sampling not feasible in a surface ship or towed configuration. Taken together, these data demonstrate an effective new tool for examining the biology of animals in the mesopelagic zone (600–1200 m) in ways previously only possible in the upper ocean.

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David J. Lorenz, Jason A. Otkin, Mark Svoboda, Christopher R. Hain, Martha C. Anderson, and Yafang Zhong

Abstract

Probabilistic forecasts of U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) intensification over 2-, 4-, and 8-week time periods are developed based on recent anomalies in precipitation, evapotranspiration, and soil moisture. These statistical forecasts are computed using logistic regression with cross validation. While recent precipitation, evapotranspiration, and soil moisture do provide skillful forecasts, it is found that additional information on the current state of the USDM adds significant skill to the forecasts. The USDM state information takes the form of a metric that quantifies the “distance” from the next-higher drought category using a nondiscrete estimate of the current USDM state. This adds skill because USDM states that are close to the next-higher drought category are more likely to intensify than states that are farther from this threshold. The method shows skill over most of the United States but is most skillful over the north-central United States, where the cross-validated Brier skill score averages 0.20 for both 2- and 4-week forecasts. The 8-week forecasts are less skillful in most locations. The 2- and 4-week probabilities have very good reliability. The 8-week probabilities, on the other hand, are noticeably overconfident. For individual drought events, the method shows the most skill when forecasting high-amplitude flash droughts and when large regions of the United States are experiencing intensifying drought.

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David A. Short, James E. Sardonia, Winifred C. Lambert, and Mark M. Wheeler

Abstract

Electrified thunderstorm anvil clouds extend the threat of natural and triggered lightning to space launch and landing operations far beyond the immediate vicinity of thunderstorm cells. The deep convective updrafts of thunderstorms transport large amounts of water vapor, supercooled water droplets, and ice crystals into the upper troposphere, forming anvil clouds, which are then carried downstream by the prevailing winds in the anvil-formation layer. Electrified anvil clouds have been observed over the space launch and landing facilities of the John F. Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), emanating from thunderstorm activity more than 200 km away. Space launch commit criteria and flight rules require launch and landing vehicles to avoid penetration of the nontransparent portion of anvil clouds. The life cycles of 163 anvil clouds over the Florida peninsula and its coastal waters were documented using Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-8 visible imagery on 49 anvil-case days during the months of May–July 2001. Anvil clouds were found to propagate at the speed and direction of upper-tropospheric winds in the layer from 300 to 150 hPa, approximately 9.4–14 km in altitude, with an effective average transport lifetime of approximately 2 h and a standard deviation of approximately 30 min. The effective lifetime refers to the time required for the nontransparent leading edge of an anvil cloud to reach its maximum extent before beginning to dissipate. The information about propagation and lifetime was incorporated into the design, construction, and implementation of an objective short-range anvil forecast tool based on upper-air observations, for use on the Meteorological Interactive Data Display System within the Range Weather Operations facility of the 45th Weather Squadron at CCAFS and the Spaceflight Meteorology Group at Johnson Space Center.

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ROLLS, STREETS, WAVES, AND MORE

A Review of Quasi-Two-Dimensional Structures in the Atmospheric Boundary Layer

George S. Young, David A. R. Kristovich, Mark R. Hjelmfelt, and Ralph C. Foster

The atmospheric boundary layer is home to a number of horizontally elongated quasi-two-dimensional phenomena including cloud streets, roll vortices, thermal waves, and surface layer streaks. These phenomena, their dynamics, and their interactions are explored via a review of the literature. Making a clear distinction between the various quasi-two-dimensional phenomena allows improved synthesis of previous results and a better understanding of the interrelationships between phenomena.

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Xiaofeng Li, Jun A. Zhang, Xiaofeng Yang, William G. Pichel, Mark DeMaria, David Long, and Ziwei Li

In 2008, the Canadian Space Agency sponsored the Radarsat Hurricane Applications Project (RHAP), for researching new developments in the application of Radarsat-1 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data and innovative mapping approaches to better understand the dynamics of tropical cyclone genesis, morphology, and movement. Although tropical cyclones can be detected by many remote sensors, SAR can yield high-resolution (subkilometer) and low-level storm information that cannot be seen below the clouds by other sensors. In addition to the wind field and tropical cyclone eye information, structures associated with atmospheric processes can also be detected by SAR. We have acquired 161 Radarsat-1 SAR images through RHAP between 2001 and 2007. Among these, 73 images show clear tropical cyclone eye structure. In addition, we also acquired 10 images from the European Space Agency's Envisat SAR between 2004 and 2010. Both Atlantic hurricanes and Pacific typhoons are included.

In this study, we analyze these 83 (73 Radarsat-1 and 10 Envisat) images with tropical cyclone eye information along with ancillary tropical cyclone intensity information from the archive to generate tropical cyclone morphology statistics. Histograms of wave-number asymmetry and intensity are presented. The statistics show that when the storm has higher intensity, the tropical cyclone eye tends to become more symmetric, and the area of the tropical cyclone eye, defined by the minimum wind area, tends to be smaller. Examples of finescale structures within the tropical cyclone (i.e., eye/eyewall mesovortices, arc clouds, double eyewalls, and abnormally high wind or rain within eyes) are presented and discussed.

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V. N. Bringi, Gwo-Jong Huang, S. Joseph Munchak, Christian D. Kummerow, David A. Marks, and David B. Wolff

Abstract

The estimation of the drop size distribution parameter [median volume diameter (D 0)] and rain rate (R) from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR) as well as from combined PR–TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) algorithms are considered in this study for two TRMM satellite overpasses near the Kwajalein Atoll. An operational dual-polarized S-band radar (KPOL) located in Kwajalein is central as the only TRMM ground validation site for measurement of precipitation over the open ocean. The accuracy of the TRMM PR in retrieving D 0 and R is better for precipitation over the ocean based on a more stable surface reference technique for estimating the path-integrated attenuation. Also, combined PR–TMI methods are more accurate over the open ocean because of better knowledge of the surface microwave emissivity. Using Zh (horizontal polarized radar reflectivity) and Z dr (differential reflectivity) data for the two TRMM overpass events over Kwajalein, D 0 and R from KPOL are retrieved. Herein, the main objective is to see if the D 0 retrieved from either PR or the combined PR–TMI algorithms are in agreement with KPOL-derived values. Also, the variation of D 0 versus R is compared for convective rain pixels from KPOL, PR, and PR–TMI. It is shown that the PR–TMI optimal estimation scheme does indeed adjust the D 0 in the “correct” direction, on average, from the a priori state if the KPOL data are considered to be the ground truth. This correct adjustment may be considered as evidence of the value added by the TMI brightness temperatures in the combined PR–TMI variational scheme, at least for the two overpass events considered herein.

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Ryan C. Scott, Timothy A. Myers, Joel R. Norris, Mark D. Zelinka, Stephen A. Klein, Moguo Sun, and David R. Doelling

Abstract

Understanding how marine low clouds and their radiative effects respond to changing meteorological conditions is crucial to constrain low-cloud feedbacks to greenhouse warming and internal climate variability. In this study, we use observations to quantify the low-cloud radiative response to meteorological perturbations over the global oceans to shed light on physical processes governing low-cloud and planetary radiation budget variability in different climate regimes. We assess the independent effect of perturbations in sea surface temperature, estimated inversion strength, horizontal surface temperature advection, 700-hPa relative humidity, 700-hPa vertical velocity, and near-surface wind speed. Stronger inversions and stronger cold advection greatly enhance low-level cloudiness and planetary albedo in eastern ocean stratocumulus and midlatitude regimes. Warming of the sea surface drives pronounced reductions of eastern ocean stratocumulus cloud amount and optical depth, and hence reflectivity, but has a weaker and more variable impact on low clouds in the tropics and middle latitudes. By reducing entrainment drying, higher free-tropospheric relative humidity enhances low-level cloudiness. At low latitudes, where cold advection destabilizes the boundary layer, stronger winds enhance low-level cloudiness; by contrast, wind speed variations have weak influence at midlatitudes where warm advection frequently stabilizes the marine boundary layer, thus inhibiting vertical mixing. These observational constraints provide a framework for understanding and evaluating marine low-cloud feedbacks and their simulation by models.

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