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R. W. Higgins, Y. Yao, and X. L. Wang

Abstract

Key features of the U.S. summer precipitation regime are examined within the context of the evolving North American monsoon system. The focus is on the antecedent and subsequent atmospheric conditions over the conterminous United States relative to the onset of monsoon precipitation over the southwestern United States, which typically begins in early July. The onset of the monsoon in this region is determined using a precipitation index, based on daily observed precipitation for a 31-yr (1963–94) period. Lagged composites of the observed precipitation and various fields from the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis for the period 1979–94 provide a comprehensive picture of atmospheric conditions during the evolution of the U.S. warm season precipitation regime.

The summer precipitation regime is characterized by an out-of-phase relationship between precipitation over the Southwest and the Great Plains–northern tier and an in-phase relationship between precipitation over the Southwest and the East Coast. Changes in the upper-tropospheric wind and divergence fields (mean vertical motion) are broadly consistent with the evolution of this precipitation pattern. Enhanced upper-tropospheric divergence in the vicinity and south of the upper-tropospheric monsoon high coincides with enhanced upper-tropospheric easterlies and Mexican monsoon rainfall after onset. Over the Great Plains and along the northern tier, the middle- and upper-tropospheric flow is more convergent and rainfall diminishes after onset to the north and east of the monsoon high. The frequency of occurrence of the Great Plains low-level jet (LLJ) and southerly moisture transport change little during the evolution. However, LLJ-related precipitation is controlled by changes in the large-scale flow related to the North American monsoon system. There is increased upper-tropospheric divergence and precipitation after onset in the vicinity of an “induced” trough over the eastern United States. The pattern of evaporation minus precipitation from the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis shows broad consistency with the divergence of the vertically integrated flux of water vapor during the monsoon, although the resolution in the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis is inadequate to yield quantitatively accurate regional estimates of these fields. In agreement with earlier studies, the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis indicates that most of the moisture below 850 hPa over the desert Southwest comes from the northern Gulf of California, while most of the moisture at and above 850 hPa arrives from over the Gulf of Mexico.

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Jun Yang, Weitao Lu, Ying Ma, and Wen Yao

Abstract

Cloud detection is a basic research for achieving cloud-cover state and other cloud characteristics. Because of the influence of sunlight, the brightness of sky background on the ground-based cloud image is usually nonuniform, which increases the difficulty for cirrus cloud detection, and few detection methods perform well for thin cirrus clouds. This paper presents an effective background estimation method to eliminate the influence of variable illumination conditions and proposes a background subtraction adaptive threshold method (BSAT) to detect cirrus clouds in visible images for the small field of view and mixed clear–cloud scenes. The BSAT algorithm consists of red-to-blue band operation, background subtraction, adaptive threshold selection, and binarization. The experimental results show that the BSAT algorithm is robust for all types of cirrus clouds, and the quantitative evaluation results demonstrate that the BSAT algorithm outperforms the fixed threshold (FT) and adaptive threshold (AT) methods in cirrus cloud detection.

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Gengxin Chen, Weiqing Han, Yuanlong Li, Jinglong Yao, and Dongxiao Wang

Abstract

By analyzing in situ observations and conducting a series of ocean general circulation model experiments, this study investigates the physical processes controlling intraseasonal variability (ISV) of the Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC) of the Indian Ocean. ISV of the EUC leads to time-varying water exchanges between the western and eastern equatorial Indian Ocean. For the 2001–14 period, standard deviations of the EUC transport variability are 1.92 and 1.77 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) in the eastern and western basins, respectively. The ISV of the EUC is predominantly caused by the wind forcing effect of atmospheric intraseasonal oscillations (ISOs) but through dramatically different ocean dynamical processes in the eastern and western basins. The stronger ISV in the eastern basin is dominated by the reflected Rossby waves associated with intraseasonal equatorial zonal wind forcing. It takes 20–30 days to set up an intraseasonal EUC anomaly through the Kelvin and Rossby waves associated with the first and second baroclinic modes. In the western basin, the peak intraseasonal EUC anomaly is generated by the zonal pressure gradient force, which is set up by radiating equatorial Kelvin and Rossby waves induced by the equatorial wind stress. Directly forced and reflected Rossby waves from the eastern basin propagate westward, contributing to intraseasonal zonal current near the surface but having weak impact on the peak ISV of the EUC.

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Meilin Zhu, Tandong Yao, Wei Yang, Baiqing Xu, and Xiaojun Wang

Abstract

Accurate evaluations of incoming longwave radiation (L in) parameterization have practical implications for glacier and river runoff changes in high-mountain regions of the Tibetan Plateau (TP). To identify potential means of accurately predicting spatiotemporal variations in L in, 13 clear-sky parameterizations combined with 10 cloud corrections for all-sky atmospheric emissivity were evaluated at five sites in high-mountain regions of the TP through temporal and spatial parameter transfer tests. Most locally calibrated parameterizations for clear-sky and all-sky conditions performed well when applied to the calibration site. The best parameterization at five sites is Dilley and O’Brien’s A model combined with Sicart et al.’s A for cloud-correction-incorporated relative humidity. The performance of parameter transferability in time is better than that in space for the same all-sky parameterizations. The performance of parameter transferability in space presents spatial discrepancies. In addition, all all-sky parameterizations show a decrease in performance with increasing altitude regardless of whether the parameters of all-sky parameterizations were recalibrated by local conditions or transferred from other study sites. This may be attributable to the difference between screen-level air temperature and the effective atmospheric boundary layer temperature and to different cloud-base heights. Nevertheless, such worse performance at higher altitudes is likely to change because of terrain, underlying surfaces, and wind systems, among other factors. The study also describes possible spatial characteristics of L in and its driving factors by reviewing the few studies about L in for the mountain regions of the TP.

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Zhigang Yao, Jun Li, Jinlong Li, and Hong Zhang

Abstract

An accurate land surface emissivity (LSE) is critical for the retrieval of atmospheric temperature and moisture profiles along with land surface temperature from hyperspectral infrared (IR) sounder radiances; it is also critical to assimilating IR radiances in numerical weather prediction models over land. To investigate the impact of different LSE datasets on Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) sounding retrievals, experiments are conducted by using a one-dimensional variational (1DVAR) retrieval algorithm. Sounding retrievals using constant LSE, the LSE dataset from the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI), and the baseline fit dataset from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) are performed. AIRS observations over northern Africa on 1–7 January and 1–7 July 2007 are used in the experiments. From the limited regional comparisons presented here, it is revealed that the LSE from the IASI obtained the best agreement between the retrieval results and the ECMWF reanalysis, whereas the constant LSE gets the worst results when the emissivities are fixed in the retrieval process. The results also confirm that the simultaneous retrieval of atmospheric profile and surface parameters could reduce the dependence of soundings on the LSE choice and finally improve sounding accuracy when the emissivities are adjusted in the iterative retrieval. In addition, emissivity angle dependence is investigated with AIRS radiance measurements. The retrieved emissivity spectra from AIRS over the ocean reveal weak angle dependence, which is consistent with that from an ocean emissivity model. This result demonstrates the reliability of the 1DVAR simultaneous algorithm for emissivity retrieval from hyperspectral IR radiance measurements.

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Zhanyu Yao, Wanbiao Li, Yuanjing Zhu, Bolin Zhao, and Yong Chen

Abstract

The Tibetan Plateau is a unique location for studying the global climate and China's severe weather. The precipitation on the Tibetan Plateau can be studied conveniently with the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI). It is shown that the TMI brightness temperature at 85 GHz in the vertical polarization (TB85V) is negatively correlated to the surface rain rate, but a very low value of TB85V does not correspond to very intense surface rain rates on the Tibetan Plateau, a result that is different from what is observed in other areas of the world. For surface precipitation retrieval on the Tibetan Plateau from TMI, the effect from snow cover on precipitation retrieval is removed before analysis of precipitation. Using the dynamic cluster K-mean method, five categories of surface types and rain areas are identified on the Tibetan Plateau: dry soil, wet soil, water area, stratiform rain area, and convective rain area. The precipitation areas are screened by classification before the precipitation retrieval. Two datasets of rain-free areas and precipitation areas are formed after surface classification. Based on the dataset of rain-free areas, the value of TB85V can be simulated well by TB10V, TB19V, and TB21V when it is not raining. By means of the dataset of precipitation areas, it is revealed that the scattering index over land (SIL) is positively correlated and the polarization-corrected brightness temperature at 85 GHz (PCT85) is negatively correlated with the surface rain rate. With SIL, PCT85, and their combinations as retrieval algorithms, three precipitation retrieval formulas are proposed in which the SIL algorithm is most suitable for small rain retrieval, the PCT85 algorithm is most suitable for moderate rain retrieval, and the combined SIL and PCT85 algorithm is most suitable for relatively large rain retrieval on the Tibetan Plateau. By means of two thresholds, 265 and 245 K, for TB85V, the combination of the three formulas is applied to precipitation retrieval on the Tibetan Plateau during the Tibetan Plateau Experiment Intensive Observing Period of 1998, resulting in acceptable and encouraging surface rain-rate retrievals. Intercomparison among the TMI algorithms and the 17 Special Sensor Microwave Imager algorithms from the second Precipitation Intercomparison Project demonstrates that the comprehensive application of the TMI algorithms has good precision and error index and is suitable for precipitation retrieval on the Tibetan Plateau.

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Xiuping Yao, Jiali Ma, Da-Lin Zhang, and Lizhu Yan

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A 33-yr climatology of shear lines occurring over the Yangtze–Huai River basin (YHSLs) of eastern China during the mei-yu season (i.e., June and July) of 1981–2013 is examined using the daily ERA-Interim reanalysis data and daily rain gauge observations. Results show that (i) nearly 75% of the heavy-rainfall days (i.e., >50 mm day−1) are accompanied by YHSLs, (ii) about 66% of YHSLs can produce heavy rainfall over the Yangtze–Huai River basin, and (iii) YHSL-related heavy rainfall occurs frequently in the south-central basin. The statistical properties of YHSLs are investigated by classifying them into warm, cold, quasi-stationary, and vortex types based on their distinct flow and thermal patterns as well as orientations and movements. Although the warm-type rainfall intensity is the weakest among the four, it has the highest number of heavy-rainfall days, making it the largest contributor (33%) to the total mei-yu rainfall amounts associated with YHSLs. By comparison, the quasi-stationary type has the smallest number of heavy-rainfall days, contributing about 19% to the total rainfall, whereas the vortex type is the more frequent extreme-rain producer (i.e., >100 mm day−1). The four types of YHSLs are closely related to various synoptic-scale low-to-midtropospheric disturbances—such as the southwest vortex, low-level jets, and midlatitude traveling perturbations that interact with mei-yu fronts over the basin and a subtropical high to the south—that provide favorable lifting and the needed moisture supply for heavy-rainfall production. The results have important implications for the operational rainfall forecasts associated with YHSLs through analog pattern recognition.

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Yunjun Yao, Shunlin Liang, Qiming Qin, and Kaicun Wang

Abstract

Monitoring land surface drought using remote sensing data is a challenge, although a few methods are available. Evapotranspiration (ET) is a valuable indicator linked to land drought status and plays an important role in surface drought detection at continental and global scales. In this study, the evaporative drought index (EDI), based on the estimated actual ET and potential ET (PET), is described to characterize the surface drought conditions. Daily actual ET at 4-km resolution for April–September 2003–05 across the continental United States is estimated using a simple improved ET model with input solar radiation acquired by Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) at a spatial resolution of 4 km and input meteorological parameters from NCEP Reanalysis-2 data at a spatial resolution of 32 km. The PET is also calculated using some of these data. The estimated actual ET has been rigorously validated with ground-measured ET at six Enhanced Facility sites in the Southern Great Plains (SGP) of the Atmosphere Radiation Measurement Program (ARM) and four AmeriFlux sites. The validation results show that the bias varies from −11.35 to 27.62 W m−2 and the correlation coefficient varies from 0.65 to 0.86. The monthly composites of EDI at 4-km resolution during April–September 2003–05 are found to be in good agreement with the Palmer Z index anomalies, but the advantage of EDI is its finer spatial resolution. The EDI described in this paper incorporates information about energy fluxes in response to soil moisture stress without requiring too many meteorological input parameters, and performs well in assessing drought at continental scales.

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Haijun Yang, Xingchen Shen, Jie Yao, and Qin Wen

Abstract

As the most extensive highland in the world, the Tibetan Plateau (TP) plays an important role in shaping the global climate. Quantifying the effect of the TP on global climate is the first step for a full understanding of the TP’s standing on planet Earth. Through coupled model sensitivity experiments, we draw a panorama of the TP’s global impact in this paper. Our model results show that the absence of the TP would result in a 4°C colder and 10% drier climate in the Northern Hemisphere (NH). The TP has a striking remote effect on the North Atlantic. Removing the TP would enhance the westerlies in the mid- to high latitudes of the NH and weaken the easterlies over the tropical Pacific. More moisture would be relocated from the tropical Pacific to the North Atlantic, shutting down the Atlantic thermohaline circulation, which would eventually result in more than 15°C colder and 20% drier climate over the North Atlantic. Our model results suggest that the presence of the TP may have contributed greatly to the hospitable modern climate in the NH, by promoting the establishment of the thermohaline circulation in the Atlantic, and therefore enhancing the northward ocean heat transport and atmosphere moisture transport across the equator.

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Donghai Wu, Shilong Piao, Yongwen Liu, Philippe Ciais, and Yitong Yao

Abstract

Earth system models (ESMs) from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) were diagnosed as having large discrepancies in their land carbon turnover times, which partly explains the differences in the future projections of terrestrial carbon storage from the models. Carvalhais et al. focused on evaluation of model-based ecosystem carbon turnover times τ eco in relation with climate factors. In this study, τ eco from models was analyzed separately for biomass and soil carbon pools, and its spatial dependency upon temperature and precipitation was evaluated using observational datasets. The results showed that 8 of 14 models slightly underestimated global biomass carbon turnover times τ veg (modeled median of 8 yr vs observed 11 yr), and 11 models grossly underestimated the soil carbon turnover time τ soil (modeled median of 16 yr vs observed 26 yr). The underestimation of global carbon turnover times in ESMs was mainly due to values for τ veg and τ soil being too low in the high northern latitudes and arid and semiarid regions. In addition, the models did not capture the observed spatial climate sensitivity of carbon turnover time in these regions. Modeled τ veg and τ soil values were generally weakly correlated with climate variables, implying that differences between carbon cycle models primarily originated from structural differences rather than from differences in atmospheric climate models (i.e., related to temperature and precipitation). This study indicates that most models do not reproduce the underlying processes driving regional τ veg and τ soil, highlighting the need for improving the model parameterization and adding key processes such as biotic disturbances and permafrost–carbon climate responses.

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