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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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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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J. L. Kinter III, B. Cash, D. Achuthavarier, J. Adams, E. Altshuler, P. Dirmeyer, B. Doty, B. Huang, E. K. Jin, L. Marx, J. Manganello, C. Stan, T. Wakefield, T. Palmer, M. Hamrud, T. Jung, M. Miller, P. Towers, N. Wedi, M. Satoh, H. Tomita, C. Kodama, T. Nasuno, K. Oouchi, Y. Yamada, H. Taniguchi, P. Andrews, T. Baer, M. Ezell, C. Halloy, D. John, B. Loftis, R. Mohr, and K. Wong

The importance of using dedicated high-end computing resources to enable high spatial resolution in global climate models and advance knowledge of the climate system has been evaluated in an international collaboration called Project Athena. Inspired by the World Modeling Summit of 2008 and made possible by the availability of dedicated high-end computing resources provided by the National Science Foundation from October 2009 through March 2010, Project Athena demonstrated the sensitivity of climate simulations to spatial resolution and to the representation of subgrid-scale processes with horizontal resolutions up to 10 times higher than contemporary climate models. While many aspects of the mean climate were found to be reassuringly similar, beyond a suggested minimum resolution, the magnitudes and structure of regional effects can differ substantially. Project Athena served as a pilot project to demonstrate that an effective international collaboration can be formed to efficiently exploit dedicated supercomputing resources. The outcomes to date suggest that, in addition to substantial and dedicated computing resources, future climate modeling and prediction require a substantial research effort to efficiently explore the fidelity of climate models when explicitly resolving important atmospheric and oceanic processes.

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Hanqin Tian, Jia Yang, Chaoqun Lu, Rongting Xu, Josep G. Canadell, Robert B. Jackson, Almut Arneth, Jinfeng Chang, Guangsheng Chen, Philippe Ciais, Stefan Gerber, Akihiko Ito, Yuanyuan Huang, Fortunat Joos, Sebastian Lienert, Palmira Messina, Stefan Olin, Shufen Pan, Changhui Peng, Eri Saikawa, Rona L. Thompson, Nicolas Vuichard, Wilfried Winiwarter, Sönke Zaehle, Bowen Zhang, Kerou Zhang, and Qiuan Zhu

Abstract

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is an important greenhouse gas and also an ozone-depleting substance that has both natural and anthropogenic sources. Large estimation uncertainty remains on the magnitude and spatiotemporal patterns of N2O fluxes and the key drivers of N2O production in the terrestrial biosphere. Some terrestrial biosphere models have been evolved to account for nitrogen processes and to show the capability to simulate N2O emissions from land ecosystems at the global scale, but large discrepancies exist among their estimates primarily because of inconsistent input datasets, simulation protocol, and model structure and parameterization schemes. Based on the consistent model input data and simulation protocol, the global N2O Model Intercomparison Project (NMIP) was initialized with 10 state-of-the-art terrestrial biosphere models that include nitrogen (N) cycling. Specific objectives of NMIP are to 1) unravel the major N cycling processes controlling N2O fluxes in each model and identify the uncertainty sources from model structure, input data, and parameters; 2) quantify the magnitude and spatial and temporal patterns of global and regional N2O fluxes from the preindustrial period (1860) to present and attribute the relative contributions of multiple environmental factors to N2O dynamics; and 3) provide a benchmarking estimate of N2O fluxes through synthesizing the multimodel simulation results and existing estimates from ground-based observations, inventories, and statistical and empirical extrapolations. This study provides detailed descriptions for the NMIP protocol, input data, model structure, and key parameters, along with preliminary simulation results. The global and regional N2O estimation derived from the NMIP is a key component of the global N2O budget synthesis activity jointly led by the Global Carbon Project and the International Nitrogen Initiative.

Open access
Bruce A. Wielicki, D. F. Young, M. G. Mlynczak, K. J. Thome, S. Leroy, J. Corliss, J. G. Anderson, C. O. Ao, R. Bantges, F. Best, K. Bowman, H. Brindley, J. J. Butler, W. Collins, J. A. Dykema, D. R. Doelling, D. R. Feldman, N. Fox, X. Huang, R. Holz, Y. Huang, Z. Jin, D. Jennings, D. G. Johnson, K. Jucks, S. Kato, D. B. Kirk-Davidoff, R. Knuteson, G. Kopp, D. P. Kratz, X. Liu, C. Lukashin, A. J. Mannucci, N. Phojanamongkolkij, P. Pilewskie, V. Ramaswamy, H. Revercomb, J. Rice, Y. Roberts, C. M. Roithmayr, F. Rose, S. Sandford, E. L. Shirley, Sr. W. L. Smith, B. Soden, P. W. Speth, W. Sun, P. C. Taylor, D. Tobin, and X. Xiong

The Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) mission will provide a calibration laboratory in orbit for the purpose of accurately measuring and attributing climate change. CLARREO measurements establish new climate change benchmarks with high absolute radiometric accuracy and high statistical confidence across a wide range of essential climate variables. CLARREO's inherently high absolute accuracy will be verified and traceable on orbit to Système Internationale (SI) units. The benchmarks established by CLARREO will be critical for assessing changes in the Earth system and climate model predictive capabilities for decades into the future as society works to meet the challenge of optimizing strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change. The CLARREO benchmarks are derived from measurements of the Earth's thermal infrared spectrum (5–50 μm), the spectrum of solar radiation reflected by the Earth and its atmosphere (320–2300 nm), and radio occultation refractivity from which accurate temperature profiles are derived. The mission has the ability to provide new spectral fingerprints of climate change, as well as to provide the first orbiting radiometer with accuracy sufficient to serve as the reference transfer standard for other space sensors, in essence serving as a “NIST [National Institute of Standards and Technology] in orbit.” CLARREO will greatly improve the accuracy and relevance of a wide range of space-borne instruments for decadal climate change. Finally, CLARREO has developed new metrics and methods for determining the accuracy requirements of climate observations for a wide range of climate variables and uncertainty sources. These methods should be useful for improving our understanding of observing requirements for most climate change observations.

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Ben P. Kirtman, Dughong Min, Johnna M. Infanti, James L. Kinter III, Daniel A. Paolino, Qin Zhang, Huug van den Dool, Suranjana Saha, Malaquias Pena Mendez, Emily Becker, Peitao Peng, Patrick Tripp, Jin Huang, David G. DeWitt, Michael K. Tippett, Anthony G. Barnston, Shuhua Li, Anthony Rosati, Siegfried D. Schubert, Michele Rienecker, Max Suarez, Zhao E. Li, Jelena Marshak, Young-Kwon Lim, Joseph Tribbia, Kathleen Pegion, William J. Merryfield, Bertrand Denis, and Eric F. Wood

The recent U.S. National Academies report, Assessment of Intraseasonal to Interannual Climate Prediction and Predictability, was unequivocal in recommending the need for the development of a North American Multimodel Ensemble (NMME) operational predictive capability. Indeed, this effort is required to meet the specific tailored regional prediction and decision support needs of a large community of climate information users.

The multimodel ensemble approach has proven extremely effective at quantifying prediction uncertainty due to uncertainty in model formulation and has proven to produce better prediction quality (on average) than any single model ensemble. This multimodel approach is the basis for several international collaborative prediction research efforts and an operational European system, and there are numerous examples of how this multimodel ensemble approach yields superior forecasts compared to any single model.

Based on two NOAA Climate Test bed (CTB) NMME workshops (18 February and 8 April 2011), a collaborative and coordinated implementation strategy for a NMME prediction system has been developed and is currently delivering real-time seasonal-to-interannual predictions on the NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) operational schedule. The hindcast and real-time prediction data are readily available (e.g., http://iridl.ldeo.columbia.edu/SOURCES/.Models/.NMME/) and in graphical format from CPC (www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/NMME/). Moreover, the NMME forecast is already currently being used as guidance for operational forecasters. This paper describes the new NMME effort, and presents an overview of the multimodel forecast quality and the complementary skill associated with individual models.

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P. Joe, S. Belair, N.B. Bernier, V. Bouchet, J. R. Brook, D. Brunet, W. Burrows, J.-P. Charland, A. Dehghan, N. Driedger, C. Duhaime, G. Evans, A.-B. Filion, R. Frenette, J. de Grandpré, I. Gultepe, D. Henderson, A. Herdt, N. Hilker, L. Huang, E. Hung, G. Isaac, C.-H. Jeong, D. Johnston, J. Klaassen, S. Leroyer, H. Lin, M. MacDonald, J. MacPhee, Z. Mariani, T. Munoz, J. Reid, A. Robichaud, Y. Rochon, K. Shairsingh, D. Sills, L. Spacek, C. Stroud, Y. Su, N. Taylor, J. Vanos, J. Voogt, J. M. Wang, T. Wiechers, S. Wren, H. Yang, and T. Yip

Abstract

The Pan and Parapan American Games (PA15) are the third largest sporting event in the world and were held in Toronto in the summer of 2015 (10–26 July and 7–15 August). This was used as an opportunity to coordinate and showcase existing innovative research and development activities related to weather, air quality (AQ), and health at Environment and Climate Change Canada. New observational technologies included weather stations based on compact sensors that were augmented with black globe thermometers, two Doppler lidars, two wave buoys, a 3D lightning mapping array, two new AQ stations, and low-cost AQ and ultraviolet sensors. These were supplemented by observations from other agencies, four mobile vehicles, two mobile AQ laboratories, and two supersites with enhanced vertical profiling. High-resolution modeling for weather (250 m and 1 km), AQ (2.5 km), lake circulation (2 km), and wave models (250-m, 1-km, and 2.5-km ensembles) were run. The focus of the science, which guided the design of the observation network, was to characterize and investigate the lake breeze, which affects thunderstorm initiation, air pollutant transport, and heat stress. Experimental forecasts and nowcasts were provided by research support desks. Web portals provided access to the experimental products for other government departments, public health authorities, and PA15 decision-makers. The data have been released through the government of Canada’s Open Data Portal and as a World Meteorological Organization’s Global Atmospheric Watch Urban Research Meteorology and Environment dataset.

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C. P. Weaver, X.-Z. Liang, J. Zhu, P. J. Adams, P. Amar, J. Avise, M. Caughey, J. Chen, R. C. Cohen, E. Cooter, J. P. Dawson, R. Gilliam, A. Gilliland, A. H. Goldstein, A. Grambsch, D. Grano, A. Guenther, W. I. Gustafson, R. A. Harley, S. He, B. Hemming, C. Hogrefe, H.-C. Huang, S. W. Hunt, D.J. Jacob, P. L. Kinney, K. Kunkel, J.-F. Lamarque, B. Lamb, N. K. Larkin, L. R. Leung, K.-J. Liao, J.-T. Lin, B. H. Lynn, K. Manomaiphiboon, C. Mass, D. McKenzie, L. J. Mickley, S. M. O'neill, C. Nolte, S. N. Pandis, P. N. Racherla, C. Rosenzweig, A. G. Russell, E. Salathé, A. L. Steiner, E. Tagaris, Z. Tao, S. Tonse, C. Wiedinmyer, A. Williams, D. A. Winner, J.-H. Woo, S. WU, and D. J. Wuebbles

This paper provides a synthesis of results that have emerged from recent modeling studies of the potential sensitivity of U.S. regional ozone (O3) concentrations to global climate change (ca. 2050). This research has been carried out under the auspices of an ongoing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assessment effort to increase scientific understanding of the multiple complex interactions among climate, emissions, atmospheric chemistry, and air quality. The ultimate goal is to enhance the ability of air quality managers to consider global change in their decisions through improved characterization of the potential effects of global change on air quality, including O3 The results discussed here are interim, representing the first phase of the EPA assessment. The aim in this first phase was to consider the effects of climate change alone on air quality, without accompanying changes in anthropogenic emissions of precursor pollutants. Across all of the modeling experiments carried out by the different groups, simulated global climate change causes increases of a few to several parts per billion (ppb) in summertime mean maximum daily 8-h average O3 concentrations over substantial regions of the country. The different modeling experiments in general do not, however, simulate the same regional patterns of change. These differences seem to result largely from variations in the simulated patterns of changes in key meteorological drivers, such as temperature and surface insolation. How isoprene nitrate chemistry is represented in the different modeling systems is an additional critical factor in the simulated O3 response to climate change.

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