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Myung-Sook Park, Myong-In Lee, Dongmin Kim, Michael M. Bell, Dong-Hyun Cha, and Russell L. Elsberry

Abstract

The effects of land-based convection on the formation of Tropical Storm Mekkhala (2008) off the west coast of the Philippines are investigated using the Weather Research and Forecasting Model with 4-km horizontal grid spacing. Five simulations with Thompson microphysics are utilized to select the control-land experiment that reasonably replicates the observed sea level pressure evolution. To demonstrate the contribution of the land-based convection, sensitivity experiments are performed by changing the land of the northern Philippines to water, and all five of these no-land experiments fail to develop Mekkhala.

The Mekkhala tropical depression develops when an intense, well-organized land-based mesoscale convective system moves offshore from Luzon and interacts with an oceanic mesoscale system embedded in a strong monsoon westerly flow. Because of this interaction, a midtropospheric mesoscale convective vortex (MCV) organizes offshore from Luzon, where monsoon convection continues to contribute to low-level vorticity enhancement below the midlevel vortex center. In the no-land experiments, widespread oceanic convection induces a weaker midlevel vortex farther south in a strong vertical wind shear zone and subsequently farther east in a weaker monsoon vortex region. Thus, the monsoon convection–induced low-level vorticity remained separate from the midtropospheric MCV, which finally resulted in a failure of the low-level spinup. This study suggests that land-based convection can play an advantageous role in TC formation by influencing the intensity and the placement of the incipient midtropospheric MCV to be more favorable for TC low-level circulation development.

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Robert F. Rogers, Sim Aberson, Michael M. Bell, Daniel J. Cecil, James D. Doyle, Todd B. Kimberlain, Josh Morgerman, Lynn K. Shay, and Christopher Velden

Abstract

Hurricane Patricia was a historic tropical cyclone that broke many records, such as intensification rate, peak intensity, and overwater weakening rate, during its brief 4-day lifetime in late October 2015 in the eastern Pacific basin. Patricia confounded all of the intensity forecast guidance owing to its rapid intensity changes. Fortunately, the hurricane-penetrating National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration WP-3D and U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration WB-57 high-altitude jet, under support of the Office of Naval Research, conducted missions through and over Patricia prior to and during its extreme intensity changes on all 4 days, while an extensive array of pressure sensors sampled Patricia after landfall. The observations collected from these missions include traditional data sources such as airborne Doppler radar and flight-level instruments as well as new data sources like a high-density array of dropsondes released from high-altitude and wide-swath radiometer. The combination of data from these sources and from satellites provides an excellent opportunity to investigate the physical processes responsible for Patricia’s structure and evolution and offers the potential to improve forecasts of tropical cyclone rapid intensity changes. This paper provides an overview of Patricia as well as the data collected during the aircraft missions.

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Gerald D. Bell, Michael S. Halpert, Russell C. Schnell, R. Wayne Higgins, Jay Lawrimore, Vernon E. Kousky, Richard Tinker, Wasila Thiaw, Muthuvel Chelliah, and Anthony Artusa

The global climate during 1999 was impacted by Pacific cold episode (La Niña) conditions throughout the year, which resulted in regional precipitation and atmospheric circulation patterns across the Pacific Ocean and the Americas that are generally consistent with those observed during past cold episodes. The primary La Niña-related precipitation anomalies included 1) increased rainfall across Indonesia, and a nearly complete disappearance of rainfall across the east-central and eastern equatorial Pacific; 2) above-normal rains across northwestern and northern Australia; 3) increased monsoon rains across the Sahel region of western Africa; 4) above-average rains over southeastern Africa, 5) above-average rains over the Caribbean Sea and portions of Central America, and 6) below-average rains in southeastern South America.

The La Niña also contributed to persistent cyclonic circulation anomalies in the subtropics of both hemispheres, which flanked the area of suppressed convective activity over the eastern half of the equatorial Pacific. In the Northern Hemisphere this anomaly feature contributed to a pronounced westward retraction of the wintertime East Asian jet stream, which subsequently impacted precipitation and storm patterns across the eastern North Pacific and western North America. The La Niña-related pattern of tropical rainfall also contributed to a very persistent pattern of anticyclonic circulation anomalies in the middle latitude of both hemispheres, extending from the eastern Pacific across the Atlantic and Africa eastward to Australasia. This anomaly pattern was associated with an active Atlantic hurricane season, an inactive eastern North Pacific hurricane season, above-average rains in the African Sahel, and an overall amplification of the entire southeast Asian summer monsoon complex.

The active 1999 North Atlantic hurricane season featured 12 named storms, 8 of which became hurricanes, and 5 of which became intense hurricanes. The peak of activity during mid-August–October was accompanied by low vertical wind shear across the central and western Atlantic, along with both a favorable structure and location of the African easterly jet. In contrast, only 9 tropical storms formed over the eastern North Pacific during the year, making it one of the most inactive years for that region in the historical record. This relative inactivity was linked to a persistent pattern of high vertical wind shear that covered much of the main development region of the eastern North Pacific.

Other regional aspects of the short-term climate included: 1) above-average wintertime precipitation and increased storminess in the Pacific Northwest, United States; 2) above-average monsoonal rainfall across the southwestern United States; 3) drought over the northeastern quadrant of the United States during April–mid-August; 4) hurricane-related flooding in the Carolinas during September; 5) drought over the south-central United States during July–November; 6) below-average rainfall in the Hawaiian Islands throughout the year, with long-term dryness affecting some parts of the islands since October 1997; 7) a continuation of long-term drought conditions in southeastern Australia, with most of Victoria experiencing below-average rainfall since late 1996; and 8) above-average rainfall in central China during April–August.

Global annual mean surface temperatures during 1999 for land and marine areas were 0.41°C above the 1880–1998 long-term mean, making it the fifth warmest year in the record. However, significant cooling was evident in the Tropics during 1999 in association with a continuation of La Niña conditions. In contrast, temperatures in both the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere extratropics were the second warmest in the historical record during 1999, and only slightly below the record 1998 anomalies.

The areal extent of the Antarctic ozone hole remained near record levels during 1999. The ozone hole also lasted longer than has been observed in past years.

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Peter J. Marinescu, Patrick C. Kennedy, Michael M. Bell, Aryeh J. Drager, Leah D. Grant, Sean W. Freeman, and Susan C. van den Heever

Abstract

Observations of the air vertical velocities (w air) in supercell updrafts are presented, including uncertainty estimates, from radiosonde GPS measurements in two supercells. These in situ observations were collected during the Colorado State University Convective Cloud Outflows and Updrafts Experiment (C3LOUD-Ex) in moderately unstable environments in Colorado and Wyoming. Based on the radiosonde accelerations, instances when the radiosonde balloon likely bursts within the updraft are determined, and adjustments are made to account for the subsequent reduction in radiosonde buoyancy. Before and after these adjustments, the maximum estimated w air values are 36.2 and 49.9 m s−1, respectively. Radar data are used to contextualize the in situ observations and suggest that most of the radiosonde observations were located several kilometers away from the most intense vertical motions. Therefore, the radiosonde-based w air values presented likely underestimate the maximum values within these storms due to these sampling biases, as well as the impacts from hydrometeors, which are not accounted for. When possible, radiosonde-based w air values were compared to estimates from dual-Doppler methods and from parcel theory. When the radiosondes observed their highest w air values, dual-Doppler methods generally produced 15–20 m s−1 lower w air for the same location, which could be related to the differences in the observing systems’ resolutions. In situ observations within supercell updrafts, which have been limited in recent decades, can be used to improve our understanding and modeling of storm dynamics. This study provides new in situ observations, as well as methods and lessons that could be applied to future field campaigns.

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Chih-Pei Chang, Richard H. Johnson, Kyung-Ja Ha, Daehyun Kim, Gabriel Ngar-Cheung Lau, Bin Wang, Michael M. Bell, and Yali Luo
Open access
Gerald D. Bell, Michael S. Halpert, Chester F. Ropelewski, Vernon E. Kousky, Arthur V. Douglas, Russell C. Schnell, and Melvyn E. Gelman

The global climate during 1998 was affected by opposite extremes of the ENSO cycle, with one of the strongest Pacific warm episodes (El Niño) in the historical record continuing during January–early May and Pacific cold episode (La Niña) conditions occurring from JulyñDecember. In both periods, regional temperature, rainfall, and atmospheric circulation patterns across the Pacific Ocean and the Americas were generally consistent with those observed during past warm and cold episodes.

Some of the most dramatic impacts from both episodes were observed in the Tropics, where anomalous convection was evident across the entire tropical Pacific and in most major monsoon regions of the world. Over the Americas, many of the El Niño– (La Niña–) related rainfall anomalies in the subtropical and extratropical latitudes were linked to an extension (retraction) of the jet streams and their attendant circulation features typically located over the subtropical latitudes of both the North Pacific and South Pacific.

The regions most affected by excessive El Niño–related rainfall included 1) the eastern half of the tropical Pacific, including western Ecuador and northwestern Peru, which experienced significant flooding and mudslides; 2) southeastern South America, where substantial flooding was also observed; and 3) California and much of the central and southern United States during January–March, and the central United States during April–June.

El Niño–related rainfall deficits during 1998 included 1) Indonesia and portions of northern Australia; 2) the Amazon Basin, in association with a substantially weaker-than-normal South American monsoon circulation; 3) Mexico, which experienced extreme drought throughout the El Niño episode; and 4) the Gulf Coast states of the United States, which experienced extreme drought during April–June 1998. The El Niño also contributed to extreme warmth across North America during January–May.

The primary La Niña–related precipitation anomalies included 1) increased rainfall across Indonesia, and a nearly complete disappearance of rainfall across the east-central equatorial Pacific; 2) above-normal rains across northwestern, eastern, and northern Australia; 3) increased monsoon rains across central America and Mexico during October–December; and 4) dryness across equatorial eastern Africa.

The active 1998 North Atlantic hurricane season featured 14 named storms (9 of which became hurricanes) and the strongest October hurricane (Mitch) in the historical record. In Honduras and Nicaragua extreme flooding and mudslides associated with Hurricane Mitch claimed more than 11 000 lives. During the peak of activity in August–September, the vertical wind shear across the western Atlantic, along with both the structure and location of the African easterly jet, were typical of other active seasons.

Other regional aspects of the short-term climate included 1) record rainfall and massive flooding in the Yangtze River Basin of central China during June–July; 2) a drier and shorter-than-normal 1997/98 rainy season in southern Africa; 3) above-normal rains across the northern section of the African Sahel during June–September 1998; and 4) a continuation of record warmth across Canada during June–November.

Global annual mean surface temperatures during 1998 for land and marine areas were 0.56°C above the 1961–90 base period means. This record warmth surpasses the previous highest anomaly of +0.43°C set in 1997. Record warmth was also observed in the global Tropics and Northern Hemisphere extratropics during the year, and is partly linked to the strong El Nino conditions during January–early May.

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Michael M. Bell, Robert A. Ballard, Mark Bauman, Annette M. Foerster, Andrew Frambach, Karen A. Kosiba, Wen-Chau Lee, Shannon L. Rees, and Joshua Wurman

Abstract

A National Science Foundation sponsored educational deployment of a Doppler on Wheels radar called the Hawaiian Educational Radar Opportunity (HERO) was conducted on O‘ahu from 21 October to 13 November 2013. This was the first-ever deployment of a polarimetric X-band (3 cm) research radar in Hawaii. A unique fine-resolution radar and radiosonde dataset was collected during 16 intensive observing periods through a collaborative effort between University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa undergraduate and graduate students and the National Weather Service’s Weather Forecast Office in Honolulu. HERO was the field component of MET 628 “Radar Meteorology,” with 12 enrolled graduate students who collected and analyzed the data as part of the course. Extensive community outreach was conducted, including participation in a School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology open house event with over 7,500 visitors from local K–12 schools and the public. An overview of the HERO project and highlights of some interesting tropical rain and cloud observations are described. Phenomena observed by the radar include cumulus clouds, trade wind showers, deep convective thunderstorms, and a widespread heavy rain event associated with a cold frontal passage. Detailed cloud and precipitation structures and their interactions with O‘ahu terrain, unique dual-polarization signatures, and the implications for the dynamics and microphysics of tropical convection are presented.

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Philip J. Klotzbach, Carl J. Schreck III, Gilbert P. Compo, Steven G. Bowen, Ethan J. Gibney, Eric C. J. Oliver, and Michael M. Bell

Abstract

The 1933 Atlantic hurricane season was extremely active, with 20 named storms and 11 hurricanes including 6 major (category 3+; 1-min maximum sustained winds ≥96 kt) hurricanes occurring. The 1933 hurricane season also generated the most accumulated cyclone energy (an integrated metric that accounts for frequency, intensity, and duration) of any Atlantic hurricane season on record. A total of 8 hurricanes tracked through the Caribbean in 1933—the most on record. In addition, two category 3 hurricanes made landfall in the United States just 23 h apart: the Treasure Coast hurricane in southeast Florida followed by the Cuba–Brownsville hurricane in south Texas. This manuscript examines large-scale atmospheric and oceanic conditions that likely led to such an active hurricane season. Extremely weak vertical wind shear was prevalent over both the Caribbean and the tropical Atlantic throughout the peak months of the hurricane season, likely in part due to a weak-to-moderate La Niña event. These favorable dynamic conditions, combined with above-normal tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures, created a very conducive environment for hurricane formation and intensification. The Madden–Julian oscillation was relatively active during the summer and fall of 1933, providing subseasonal conditions that were quite favorable for tropical cyclogenesis during mid- to late August and late September to early October. The current early June and August statistical models used by Colorado State University would have predicted a very active 1933 hurricane season. A better understanding of these extremely active historical Atlantic hurricane seasons may aid in anticipation of future hyperactive seasons.

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Michelle L. L’Heureux, Michael K. Tippett, Ken Takahashi, Anthony G. Barnston, Emily J. Becker, Gerald D. Bell, Tom E. Di Liberto, Jon Gottschalck, Michael S. Halpert, Zeng-Zhen Hu, Nathaniel C. Johnson, Yan Xue, and Wanqiu Wang

Abstract

Three strategies for creating probabilistic forecast outlooks for El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are compared. One is subjective and is currently used by the NOAA/Climate Prediction Center (CPC) to produce official ENSO outlooks. A second is purely objective and is based on the North American Multimodel Ensemble (NMME). A new third strategy is proposed in which the forecaster only provides the expected value of the Niño-3.4 index, and then categorical probabilities are objectively determined based on past skill. The new strategy results in more confident probabilities compared to the subjective approach and higher verification scores, while avoiding the significant forecast busts that sometimes afflict the NMME-based objective approach. The higher verification scores of the new strategy appear to result from the added value that forecasters provide in predicting the mean, combined with more reliable representations of uncertainty, which is difficult to represent because forecasters often assume less confidence than is justified. Moreover, the new approach can produce higher-resolution probabilistic forecasts that include ENSO strength information and that are difficult, if not impossible, for forecasters to produce. To illustrate, a nine-category ENSO outlook based on the new strategy is assessed and found to be skillful. The new approach can be applied to other outlooks where users desire higher-resolution probabilistic forecasts, including the extremes.

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Howard J. Diamond, Thomas R. Karl, Michael A. Palecki, C. Bruce Baker, Jesse E. Bell, Ronald D. Leeper, David R. Easterling, Jay H. Lawrimore, Tilden P. Meyers, Michael R. Helfert, Grant Goodge, and Peter W. Thorne

The year 2012 marks a decade of observations undertaken by the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) under the auspices of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center and Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division. The network consists of 114 sites across the conterminous 48 states, with additional sites in Alaska and Hawaii. Stations are installed in open (where possible), rural sites very likely to have stable land-cover/use conditions for several decades to come. At each site a suite of meteorological parameters are monitored, including triple redundancy for the primary air temperature and precipitation variables and for soil moisture/temperature. Instrumentation is regularly calibrated to National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) standards and maintained by a staff of expert engineers. This attention to detail in USCRN is intended to ensure the creation of an unimpeachable record of changes in surface climate over the United States for decades to come. Data are made available without restriction for all public, private, and government use. This article describes the rationale for the USCRN, its implementation, and some of the highlights of the first decade of operations. One critical use of these observations is as an independent data source to verify the existing U.S. temperature record derived from networks corrected for nonhomogenous histories. Future directions for the network are also discussed, including the applicability of USCRN approaches for networks monitoring climate at scales from regional to global. Constructive feedback from end users will allow for continued improvement of USCRN in the future and ensure that it continues to meet stakeholder requirements for precise climate measurements.

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