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Paul A. Dirmeyer, Benjamin A. Cash, James L. Kinter III, Cristiana Stan, Thomas Jung, Lawrence Marx, Peter Towers, Nils Wedi, Jennifer M. Adams, Eric L. Altshuler, Bohua Huang, Emilia K. Jin, and Julia Manganello

Abstract

Global simulations have been conducted with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts operational model run at T1279 resolution for multiple decades representing climate from the late twentieth and late twenty-first centuries. Changes in key components of the water cycle are examined, focusing on variations at short time scales. Metrics of coupling and feedbacks between soil moisture and surface fluxes and between surface fluxes and properties of the planetary boundary layer (PBL) are inspected. Features of precipitation and other water cycle trends from coupled climate model consensus projections are well simulated. Extreme 6-hourly rainfall totals become more intense over much of the globe, suggesting an increased risk for flash floods. Seasonal-scale droughts are projected to escalate over much of the subtropics and midlatitudes during summer, while tropical and winter droughts become less likely. These changes are accompanied by an increase in the responsiveness of surface evapotranspiration to soil moisture variations. Even though daytime PBL depths increase over most locations in the next century, greater latent heat fluxes also occur over most land areas, contributing a larger energy effect per unit mass of air, except over some semiarid regions. This general increase in land–atmosphere coupling is represented in a combined metric as a “land coupling index” that incorporates the terrestrial and atmospheric effects together. The enhanced feedbacks are consistent with the precipitation changes, but a causal connection cannot be made without further sensitivity studies. Nevertheless, this approach could be applied to the output of traditional climate change simulations to assess changes in land–atmosphere feedbacks.

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Julia V. Manganello, Kevin I. Hodges, Brandt Dirmeyer, James L. Kinter III, Benjamin A. Cash, Lawrence Marx, Thomas Jung, Deepthi Achuthavarier, Jennifer M. Adams, Eric L. Altshuler, Bohua Huang, Emilia K. Jin, Peter Towers, and Nils Wedi

Abstract

How tropical cyclone (TC) activity in the northwestern Pacific might change in a future climate is assessed using multidecadal Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP)-style and time-slice simulations with the ECMWF Integrated Forecast System (IFS) at 16-km and 125-km global resolution. Both models reproduce many aspects of the present-day TC climatology and variability well, although the 16-km IFS is far more skillful in simulating the full intensity distribution and genesis locations, including their changes in response to El Niño–Southern Oscillation. Both IFS models project a small change in TC frequency at the end of the twenty-first century related to distinct shifts in genesis locations. In the 16-km IFS, this shift is southward and is likely driven by the southeastward penetration of the monsoon trough/subtropical high circulation system and the southward shift in activity of the synoptic-scale tropical disturbances in response to the strengthening of deep convective activity over the central equatorial Pacific in a future climate. The 16-km IFS also projects about a 50% increase in the power dissipation index, mainly due to significant increases in the frequency of the more intense storms, which is comparable to the natural variability in the model. Based on composite analysis of large samples of supertyphoons, both the development rate and the peak intensities of these storms increase in a future climate, which is consistent with their tendency to develop more to the south, within an environment that is thermodynamically more favorable for faster development and higher intensities. Coherent changes in the vertical structure of supertyphoon composites show system-scale amplification of the primary and secondary circulations with signs of contraction, a deeper warm core, and an upward shift in the outflow layer and the frequency of the most intense updrafts. Considering the large differences in the projections of TC intensity change between the 16-km and 125-km IFS, this study further emphasizes the need for high-resolution modeling in assessing potential changes in TC activity.

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S. Kondragunta, L. E. Flynn, A. Neuendorffer, A. J. Miller, C. Long, R. Nagatani, S. Zhou, T. Beck, E. Beach, R. McPeters, R. Stolarski, P. K. Bhartia, M. T. DeLand, and L.-K. Huang

Abstract

Ozone estimates from observations by the NOAA-16 Solar Backscattered Ultraviolet (SBUV/2) instrument and Television Infrared Observation Satellite (TIROS-N) Operational Vertical Sounder (TOVS) are used to describe the vertical structure of ozone in the anomalous 2002 polar vortex. The SBUV/2 total ozone maps show that the ozone hole was pushed off the Pole and split into two halves due to a split in the midstratospheric polar vortex in late September. The vortex split and the associated transport of high ozone from midlatitudes to the polar region reduced the ozone hole area from 18 × 106 km2 on 20 September to 3 × 106 km2 on 27 September 2002. A 23-yr time series of SBUV/2 daily zonal mean total ozone amounts between 70° and 80°S shows record high values [385 Dobson units (DU)] during the late-September 2002 warming event. The transport and descent of high ozone from low latitudes to high latitudes between 60 and 15 mb contributed to the unusual increase in total column ozone and a small ozone hole estimated using the standard criterion (area with total ozone < 220 DU). In contrast, TOVS observations show an ozone-depleted region between 0 and 24 km, indicating that ozone destruction was present in the elongated but unsplit vortex in the lower stratosphere. During the warming event, the low-ozone regions in the middle and upper stratosphere were not vertically aligned with the low-ozone regions in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. This offset in the vertical distribution of ozone resulted in higher total column ozone masking the ozone depletion in the lower stratosphere and resulting in a smaller ozone hole size estimate from satellite total ozone data.

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Michelle L. L’Heureux, Ken Takahashi, Andrew B. Watkins, Anthony G. Barnston, Emily J. Becker, Tom E. Di Liberto, Felicity Gamble, Jon Gottschalck, Michael S. Halpert, Boyin Huang, Kobi Mosquera-Vásquez, and Andrew T. Wittenberg

Abstract

The El Niño of 2015/16 was among the strongest El Niño events observed since 1950 and took place almost two decades after the previous major event in 1997/98. Here, perspectives of the event are shared by scientists from three national meteorological or climate services that issue regular operational updates on the status and prediction of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Public advisories on the unfolding El Niño were issued in the first half of 2015. This was followed by significant growth in sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies, a peak during November 2015–January 2016, subsequent decay, and its demise during May 2016. The life cycle and magnitude of the 2015/16 El Niño was well predicted by most models used by national meteorological services, in contrast to the generally overexuberant model predictions made the previous year. The evolution of multiple atmospheric and oceanic measures demonstrates the rich complexity of ENSO, as a coupled ocean–atmosphere phenomenon with pronounced global impacts. While some aspects of the 2015/16 El Niño rivaled the events of 1982/83 and 1997/98, we show that it also differed in unique and important ways, with implications for the study and evaluation of past and future ENSO events. Unlike previous major El Niños, remarkably above-average SST anomalies occurred in the western and central equatorial Pacific but were milder near the coast of South America. While operational ENSO systems have progressed markedly over the past several decades, the 2015/16 El Niño highlights several challenges that will continue to test both the research and operational forecast communities.

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L. Palchetti, H. Brindley, R. Bantges, S. A. Buehler, C. Camy-Peyret, B. Carli, U. Cortesi, S. Del Bianco, G. Di Natale, B. M. Dinelli, D. Feldman, X. L. Huang, L. C.-Labonnote, Q. Libois, T. Maestri, M. G. Mlynczak, J. E. Murray, H. Oetjen, M. Ridolfi, M. Riese, J. Russell, R. Saunders, and C. Serio

Abstract

The outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) emitted to space is a fundamental component of the Earth’s energy budget. There are numerous, entangled physical processes that contribute to OLR and that are responsible for driving, and responding to, climate change. Spectrally resolved observations can disentangle these processes, but technical limitations have precluded accurate space-based spectral measurements covering the far infrared (FIR) from 100 to 667 cm−1 (wavelengths between 15 and 100 µm). The Earth’s FIR spectrum is thus essentially unmeasured even though at least half of the OLR arises from this spectral range. The region is strongly influenced by upper-tropospheric–lower-stratospheric water vapor, temperature lapse rate, ice cloud distribution, and microphysics, all critical parameters in the climate system that are highly variable and still poorly observed and understood. To cover this uncharted territory in Earth observations, the Far-Infrared Outgoing Radiation Understanding and Monitoring (FORUM) mission has recently been selected as ESA’s ninth Earth Explorer mission for launch in 2026. The primary goal of FORUM is to measure, with high absolute accuracy, the FIR component of the spectrally resolved OLR for the first time with high spectral resolution and radiometric accuracy. The mission will provide a benchmark dataset of global observations which will significantly enhance our understanding of key forcing and feedback processes of the Earth’s atmosphere to enable more stringent evaluation of climate models. This paper describes the motivation for the mission, highlighting the scientific advances that are expected from the new measurements.

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J. D. Doyle, D. R. Durran, C. Chen, B. A. Colle, M. Georgelin, V. Grubisic, W. R. Hsu, C. Y. Huang, D. Landau, Y. L. Lin, G. S. Poulos, W. Y. Sun, D. B. Weber, M. G. Wurtele, and M. Xue

Abstract

Two-dimensional simulations of the 11 January 1972 Boulder, Colorado, windstorm, obtained from 11 diverse nonhydrostatic models, are intercompared with special emphasis on the turbulent breakdown of topographically forced gravity waves, as part of the preparation for the Mesoscale Alpine Programme field phase. The sounding used to initialize the models is more representative of the actual lower stratosphere than those applied in previous simulations. Upper-level breaking is predicted by all models in comparable horizontal locations and vertical layers, which suggests that gravity wave breaking may be quite predictable in some circumstances. Characteristics of the breaking include the following: pronounced turbulence in the 13–16-km and 18–20-km layers positioned beneath a critical level near 21-km, a well-defined upstream tilt with height, and enhancement of upper-level breaking superpositioned above the low-level hydraulic jump. Sensitivity experiments indicate that the structure of the wave breaking was impacted by the numerical dissipation, numerical representation of the horizontal advection, and lateral boundary conditions. Small vertical wavelength variations in the shear and stability above 10 km contributed to significant changes in the structures associated with wave breaking. Simulation of this case is ideal for testing and evaluation of mesoscale numerical models and numerical algorithms because of the complex wave-breaking response.

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N. Wanders, A. Bachas, X. G. He, H. Huang, A. Koppa, Z. T. Mekonnen, B. R. Pagán, L. Q. Peng, N. Vergopolan, K. J. Wang, M. Xiao, S. Zhan, D. P. Lettenmaier, and E. F. Wood

Abstract

Dry conditions in 2013–16 in much of the western United States were responsible for severe drought and led to an exceptional fire season in the Pacific Northwest in 2015. Winter 2015/16 was forecasted to relieve drought in the southern portion of the region as a result of increased precipitation due to a very strong El Niño signal. A student forecasting challenge is summarized in which forecasts of winter hydroclimate across the western United States were made on 1 January 2016 for the winter hydroclimate using several dynamical and statistical forecast methods. They show that the precipitation forecasts had a large spread and none were skillful, while anomalously high observed temperatures were forecasted with a higher skill and precision. The poor forecast performance, particularly for precipitation, is traceable to high uncertainty in the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) forecast, which appears to be related to the inability of the models to predict an atmospheric blocking pattern over the region. It is found that strong El Niño sensitivities in dynamical models resulted in an overprediction of precipitation in the southern part of the domain. The results suggest the need for a more detailed attribution study of the anomalous meteorological patterns of the 2015/16 El Niño event compared to previous major events.

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Yongxiang Hu, David Winker, Mark Vaughan, Bing Lin, Ali Omar, Charles Trepte, David Flittner, Ping Yang, Shaima L. Nasiri, Bryan Baum, Robert Holz, Wenbo Sun, Zhaoyan Liu, Zhien Wang, Stuart Young, Knut Stamnes, Jianping Huang, and Ralph Kuehn

Abstract

The current cloud thermodynamic phase discrimination by Cloud-Aerosol Lidar Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) is based on the depolarization of backscattered light measured by its lidar [Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP)]. It assumes that backscattered light from ice crystals is depolarizing, whereas water clouds, being spherical, result in minimal depolarization. However, because of the relationship between the CALIOP field of view (FOV) and the large distance between the satellite and clouds and because of the frequent presence of oriented ice crystals, there is often a weak correlation between measured depolarization and phase, which thereby creates significant uncertainties in the current CALIOP phase retrieval. For water clouds, the CALIOP-measured depolarization can be large because of multiple scattering, whereas horizontally oriented ice particles depolarize only weakly and behave similarly to water clouds. Because of the nonunique depolarization–cloud phase relationship, more constraints are necessary to uniquely determine cloud phase. Based on theoretical and modeling studies, an improved cloud phase determination algorithm has been developed. Instead of depending primarily on layer-integrated depolarization ratios, this algorithm differentiates cloud phases by using the spatial correlation of layer-integrated attenuated backscatter and layer-integrated particulate depolarization ratio. This approach includes a two-step process: 1) use of a simple two-dimensional threshold method to provide a preliminary identification of ice clouds containing randomly oriented particles, ice clouds with horizontally oriented particles, and possible water clouds and 2) application of a spatial coherence analysis technique to separate water clouds from ice clouds containing horizontally oriented ice particles. Other information, such as temperature, color ratio, and vertical variation of depolarization ratio, is also considered. The algorithm works well for both the 0.3° and 3° off-nadir lidar pointing geometry. When the lidar is pointed at 0.3° off nadir, half of the opaque ice clouds and about one-third of all ice clouds have a significant lidar backscatter contribution from specular reflections from horizontally oriented particles. At 3° off nadir, the lidar backscatter signals for roughly 30% of opaque ice clouds and 20% of all observed ice clouds are contaminated by horizontally oriented crystals.

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Z. Q. Li, H. Xu, K. T. Li, D. H. Li, Y. S. Xie, L. Li, Y. Zhang, X. F. Gu, W. Zhao, Q. J. Tian, R. R. Deng, X. L. Su, B. Huang, Y. L. Qiao, W. Y. Cui, Y. Hu, C. L. Gong, Y. Q. Wang, X. F. Wang, J. P. Wang, W. B. Du, Z. Q. Pan, Z. Z. Li, and D. Bu

Abstract

An overview of Sun–Sky Radiometer Observation Network (SONET) measurements in China is presented. Based on observations at 16 distributed SONET sites in China, atmospheric aerosol parameters are acquired via standardization processes of operational measurement, maintenance, calibration, inversion, and quality control implemented since 2010. A climatology study is performed focusing on total columnar atmospheric aerosol characteristics, including optical (aerosol optical depth, ÅngstrÖm exponent, fine-mode fraction, single-scattering albedo), physical (volume particle size distribution), chemical composition (black carbon; brown carbon; fine-mode scattering component, coarse-mode component; and aerosol water), and radiative properties (aerosol radiative forcing and efficiency). Data analyses show that aerosol optical depth is low in the west but high in the east of China. Aerosol composition also shows significant spatial and temporal variations, leading to noticeable diversities in optical and physical property patterns. In west and north China, aerosols are generally affected by dust particles, while monsoon climate and human activities impose remarkable influences on aerosols in east and south China. Aerosols in China exhibit strong light-scattering capability and result in significant radiative cooling effects.

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Tristan S. L’Ecuyer, Brian J. Drouin, James Anheuser, Meredith Grames, David Henderson, Xianglei Huang, Brian H. Kahn, Jennifer E. Kay, Boon H. Lim, Marian Mateling, Aronne Merrelli, Nathaniel B. Miller, Sharmila Padmanabhan, Colten Peterson, Nicole-Jeanne Schlegel, Mary L. White, and Yan Xie

Abstract

The Earth’s climate is strongly influenced by energy deficits at the poles that emit more thermal energy than they receive from the sun. Energy exchanges between the surface and atmosphere influence the local environment while heat transport from lower latitudes drives midlatitude atmospheric and oceanic circulations. In the Arctic, in particular, local energy imbalances induce strong seasonality in surface-atmosphere heat exchanges and an acute sensitivity to forced climate variations. Despite these important local and global influences, the largest contributions to the polar atmospheric and surface energy budgets have not been fully characterized. The spectral variation of far-infrared radiation that makes up 60% of polar thermal emission has never been systematically measured impeding progress toward consensus in predicted rates of Arctic warming, sea ice decline, and ice sheet melt.

Enabled by recent advances in sensor miniaturization and CubeSat technology, the Polar Radiant Energy in the Far InfraRed Experiment (PREFIRE) mission will document, for the first time, the spectral, spatial, and temporal variations of polar far-infrared emission. Selected under NASA’s Earth Ventures Instrument (EVI) program, PREFIRE will utilize new light weight, low-power, ambient temperature detectors capable of measuring at wavelengths up to 50 micrometers to quantify Earth’s far-infrared spectrum. Estimates of spectral surface emissivity, water vapor, cloud properties, and the atmospheric greenhouse effect derived from these measurements offer the potential to advance our understanding of the factors that modulate thermal fluxes in the cold, dry conditions characteristic of the polar regions.

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