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R. Wójcik, Peter A. Troch, H. Stricker, P. Torfs, E. Wood, H. Su, and Z. Su

Abstract

This paper proposes a new probabilistic approach for describing uncertainty in the ensembles of latent heat flux proxies. The proxies are obtained from hourly Bowen ratio and satellite-derived measurements, respectively, at several locations in the southern Great Plains region in the United States. The novelty of the presented approach is that the proxies are not considered separately, but as bivariate samples from an underlying probability density function. To describe the latter, the use of Gaussian mixture density models—a class of nonparametric, data-adaptive probability density functions—is proposed. In this way any subjective assumptions (e.g., Gaussianity) on the form of bivariate latent heat flux ensembles are avoided. This makes the estimated mixtures potentially useful in nonlinear interpolation and nonlinear probabilistic data assimilation of noisy latent heat flux measurements. The results in this study show that both of these applications are feasible through regionalization of estimated mixture densities. The regionalization scheme investigated here utilizes land cover and vegetation fraction as discriminatory variables.

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John E. Walsh, David H. Bromwich, James. E. Overland, Mark C. Serreze, and Kevin R. Wood

Abstract

The polar regions present several unique challenges to meteorology, including remoteness and a harsh environment. We summarize the evolution of polar meteorology in both hemispheres, beginning with measurements made during early expeditions and concluding with the recent decades in which polar meteorology has been central to global challenges such as the ozone hole, weather prediction, and climate change. Whereas the 1800s and early 1900s provided data from expeditions and only a few subarctic stations, the past 100 years have seen great advances in the observational network and corresponding understanding of the meteorology of the polar regions. For example, a persistent view in the early twentieth century was of an Arctic Ocean dominated by a permanent high pressure cell, a glacial anticyclone. With increased observations, by the 1950s it became apparent that, while anticyclones are a common feature of the Arctic circulation, cyclones are frequent and may be found anywhere in the Arctic. Technology has benefited polar meteorology through advances in instrumentation, especially autonomously operated instruments. Moreover, satellite remote sensing and computer models revolutionized polar meteorology. We highlight the four International Polar Years and several high-latitude field programs of recent decades. We also note outstanding challenges, which include understanding of the role of the Arctic in variations of midlatitude weather and climate, the ability to model surface energy exchanges over a changing Arctic Ocean, assessments of ongoing and future trends in extreme events in polar regions, and the role of internal variability in multiyear-to-decadal variations of polar climate.

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Matthew B. Menary, Daniel L. R. Hodson, Jon I. Robson, Rowan T. Sutton, and Richard A. Wood

Abstract

The North Atlantic Ocean subpolar gyre (NA SPG) is an important region for initializing decadal climate forecasts. Climate model simulations and paleoclimate reconstructions have indicated that this region could also exhibit large, internally generated variability on decadal time scales. Understanding these modes of variability, their consistency across models, and the conditions in which they exist is clearly important for improving the skill of decadal predictions—particularly when these predictions are made with the same underlying climate models. This study describes and analyzes a mode of internal variability in the NA SPG in a state-of-the-art, high-resolution, coupled climate model. This mode has a period of 17 yr and explains 15%–30% of the annual variance in related ocean indices. It arises because of the advection of heat content anomalies around the NA SPG. Anomalous circulation drives the variability in the southern half of the NA SPG, while mean circulation and anomalous temperatures are important in the northern half. A negative feedback between Labrador Sea temperatures/densities and those in the North Atlantic Current (NAC) is identified, which allows for the phase reversal. The atmosphere is found to act as a positive feedback on this mode via the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which itself exhibits a spectral peak at 17 yr. Decadal ocean density changes associated with this mode are driven by variations in temperature rather than salinity—a point which models often disagree on and which may affect the veracity of the underlying assumptions of anomaly-assimilating decadal prediction methodologies.

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Vincent E. Larson, Robert Wood, Paul R. Field, Jean-Christophe Golaz, Thomas H. Vonder Haar, and William R. Cotton

Abstract

A grid box in a numerical model that ignores subgrid variability has biases in certain microphysical and thermodynamic quantities relative to the values that would be obtained if subgrid-scale variability were taken into account. The biases are important because they are systematic and hence have cumulative effects. Several types of biases are discussed in this paper. Namely, numerical models that employ convex autoconversion formulas underpredict (or, more precisely, never overpredict) autoconversion rates, and numerical models that use convex functions to diagnose specific liquid water content and temperature underpredict these latter quantities. One may call these biases the “grid box average autoconversion bias,” “grid box average liquid water content bias,” and “grid box average temperature bias,” respectively, because the biases arise when grid box average values are substituted into formulas valid at a point, not over an extended volume. The existence of these biases can be derived from Jensen’s inequality.

To assess the magnitude of the biases, the authors analyze observations of boundary layer clouds. Often the biases are small, but the observations demonstrate that the biases can be large in important cases.

In addition, the authors prove that the average liquid water content and temperature of an isolated, partly cloudy, constant-pressure volume of air cannot increase, even temporarily. The proof assumes that liquid water content can be written as a convex function of conserved variables with equal diffusivities. The temperature decrease is due to evaporative cooling as cloudy and clear air mix. More generally, the authors prove that if an isolated volume of fluid contains conserved scalars with equal diffusivities, then the average of any convex, twice-differentiable function of the conserved scalars cannot increase.

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Vincent E. Larson, Robert Wood, Paul R. Field, Jean-Christophe Golaz, Thomas H. Vonder Haar, and William R. Cotton

Abstract

A key to parameterization of subgrid-scale processes is the probability density function (PDF) of conserved scalars. If the appropriate PDF is known, then grid box average cloud fraction, liquid water content, temperature, and autoconversion can be diagnosed. Despite the fundamental role of PDFs in parameterization, there have been few observational studies of conserved-scalar PDFs in clouds. The present work analyzes PDFs from boundary layers containing stratocumulus, cumulus, and cumulus-rising-into-stratocumulus clouds.

Using observational aircraft data, the authors test eight different parameterizations of PDFs, including double delta function, gamma function, Gaussian, and double Gaussian shapes. The Gaussian parameterization, which depends on two parameters, fits most observed PDFs well but fails for large-scale PDFs of cumulus legs. In contrast, three-parameter parameterizations appear to be sufficiently general to model PDFs from a variety of cloudy boundary layers.

If a numerical model ignores subgrid variability, the model has biases in diagnoses of grid box average liquid water content, temperature, and Kessler autoconversion, relative to the values it would obtain if subgrid variability were taken into account. The magnitude of such biases is assessed using observational data. The biases can be largely eliminated by three-parameter PDF parameterizations.

Prior authors have suggested that boundary layer PDFs from short segments are approximately Gaussian. The present authors find that the hypothesis that PDFs of total specific water content are Gaussian can almost always be rejected for segments as small as 1 km.

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Malcolm J. Roberts, H. Banks, N. Gedney, J. Gregory, R. Hill, S. Mullerworth, A. Pardaens, G. Rickard, R. Thorpe, and R. Wood

Abstract

Initial results are presented from a 150-yr control and an 80-yr transient simulation of a new global coupled climate model with an ocean model resolution of ⅓°, which is sufficient to permit ocean eddies to form. With no spinup procedure or flux correction, the coupled model remains close to radiative equilibrium, and the enhanced ocean resolution allows an improved ocean state to be simulated; this includes a general decrease in sea surface temperature errors compared to climatology and more realistic large-scale flows compared to previous lower-resolution models. However, the improvements in the atmospheric and coupled model climatology are less pronounced, with small improvements in atmospheric circulation counterbalanced by an El Niño–Southern Oscillation cycle that has peak power at too short a period and with too little power on longer time scales. With the model using exactly the same atmospheric component as a lower-resolution counterpart, the comparison gives some insight into the impact of ocean resolution on climate and suggests that a corresponding increase in atmospheric resolution may be needed before major changes to the coupled climatology are seen.

The transient climate change simulation shows some important regional differences in response compared to previous lower-resolution models. A less pronounced weakening to the meridional overturning in the North Atlantic leads to a smaller decrease in northward heat transport and enhances the surface temperature increase in the northern Europe–Atlantic region by 10% over the lower-resolution model. This may be connected to processes involved in deep-water formation in the Labrador and Nordic Seas.

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Rodger A. Brown, Vincent T. Wood, Randy M. Steadham, Robert R. Lee, Bradley A. Flickinger, and Dale Sirmans

Abstract

For the first time since the installation of the national network of Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D), a new scanning strategy—Volume Coverage Pattern 12 (VCP 12)—has been added to the suite of scanning strategies. VCP 12 is a faster version of VCP 11 and has denser vertical sampling at lower elevation angles. This note discusses results of field tests in Oklahoma and Mississippi during 2001–03 that led to the decision to implement VCP 12. Output from meteorological algorithms for a test-bed radar using an experimental VCP were compared with output for a nearby operational WSR-88D using VCP 11 or 21. These comparisons were made for severe storms that were at comparable distances from both radars. Findings indicate that denser vertical sampling at lower elevation angles leads to earlier and longer algorithm identifications of storm cells and mesocyclones, especially those more distant from a radar.

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C. R. Mechoso, R. Wood, R. Weller, C. S. Bretherton, A. D. Clarke, H. Coe, C. Fairall, J. T. Farrar, G. Feingold, R. Garreaud, C. Grados, J. McWilliams, S. P. de Szoeke, S. E. Yuter, and P. Zuidema

The present paper describes the Variability of the American Monsoon Systems (VAMOS) Ocean–Cloud–Atmosphere–Land Study (VOCALS), an international research program focused on the improved understanding and modeling of the southeastern Pacific (SEP) climate system on diurnal to interannual time scales. In the framework of the SEP climate, VOCALS has two fundamental objectives: 1) improved simulations by coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation models (CGCMs), with an emphasis on reducing systematic errors in the region; and 2) improved estimates of the indirect effects of aerosols on low clouds and climate, with an emphasis on the more precise quantification of those effects. VOCALS major scientific activities are outlined, and selected achievements are highlighted. Activities described include monitoring in the region, a large international field campaign (the VOCALS Regional Experiment), and two model assessments. The program has already produced significant advances in the understanding of major issues in the SEP: the coastal circulation and the diurnal cycle, the ocean heat budget, factors controlling precipitation and formation of pockets of open cells in stratocumulus decks, aerosol impacts on clouds, and estimation of the first aerosol indirect effect. The paper concludes with a brief presentation on VOCALS contributions to community capacity building before a summary of scientific findings and remaining questions.

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H.H. Jonsson, J.C. Wilson, C.A. Brock, R.G. Knollenberg, T.R. Newton, J.E. Dye, D. Baumgardner, S. Borrmann, G.V. Ferry, R. Pueschel, Dave C. Woods, and Mike C. Pitts

Abstract

A focused cavity aerosol spectrometer aboard a NASA ER-2 high-altitude aircraft provided high-resolution measurements of the size of the stratospheric particles in the 0.06–2.0-µm-diameter range in flights following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. Effects of anisokinetic sampling and evaporation in the sampling system were accounted for by means adapted and specifically developed for this instrument. Calibrations with monodisperse aerosol particles provided the instrument's response matrix, which upon inversion during data reduction yielded the particle size distributions. The resultant dataset is internally consistent and generally shows agreement to within a factor of 2 with comparable measurements simultaneously obtained by a condensation nuclei counter, a forward-scattering spectrometer probe, and aerosol particle impactors, as well as with nearby extinction profiles obtained by satellite measurements and with lidar measurements of backscatter.

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Robert Atlas, Ross N. Hoffman, Zaizhong Ma, G. David Emmitt, Sidney A. Wood Jr., Steven Greco, Sara Tucker, Lisa Bucci, Bachir Annane, R. Michael Hardesty, and Shirley Murillo

Abstract

The potential impact of Doppler wind lidar (DWL) observations from a proposed optical autocovariance wind lidar (OAWL) instrument is quantified in observing system simulation experiments (OSSEs). The OAWL design would provide profiles of useful wind vectors along a ground track to the left of the International Space Station (ISS), which is in a 51.6° inclination low-Earth orbit (LEO). These observations are simulated realistically, accounting for cloud and aerosol distributions inferred from the OSSE nature runs (NRs), and measurement and sampling error sources. The impact of the simulated observations is determined in both global and regional OSSE frameworks. The global OSSE uses the ECMWF T511 NR and the NCEP operational Global Data Assimilation System at T382 resolution. The regional OSSE uses an embedded hurricane NR and the NCEP operational HWRF data assimilation system with outer and inner domains of 9- and 3-km resolution, respectively.

The global OSSE results show improved analyses and forecasts of tropical winds and extratropical geopotential heights. The tropical wind RMSEs are significantly reduced in the analyses and in short-term forecasts. The tropical wind improvement decays as the forecasts lengthen. The regional OSSEs are limited but show some improvements in hurricane track and intensity forecasts.

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