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Jieshun Zhu, Bohua Huang, Arun Kumar, and James L. Kinter III

Abstract

Seasonality of sea surface temperature (SST) predictions in the tropical Indian Ocean (TIO) was investigated using hindcasts (1982–2009) made with the NCEP Climate Forecast System version 2 (CFSv2). CFSv2 produced useful predictions of the TIO SST with lead times up to several months. A substantial component of this skill was attributable to signals other than the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD). The prediction skill of the IOD index, defined as the difference between the SST anomaly (SSTA) averaged over 10°S–0°, 90°–110°E and 10°S–10°N, 50°–70°E, had strong seasonality, with high scores in the boreal autumn. In spite of skill in predicting its two poles with longer leads, CFSv2 did not have skill significantly better than persistence in predicting IOD. This was partly because the seasonal nature of IOD intrinsically limits its predictability.

The seasonality of the predictable patterns of the TIO SST was further explored by applying the maximum signal-to-noise (MSN) empirical orthogonal function (EOF) method to the predicted SSTA in March and October, respectively. The most predictable pattern in spring was the TIO basin warming, which is closely associated with El Niño. The basin mode, including its associated atmospheric anomalies, can be predicted at least 9 months ahead, even though some biases were evident. On the other hand, the most predictable pattern in fall was characterized by the IOD mode. This mode and its associated atmospheric variations can be skillfully predicted only 1–2 seasons ahead. Statistically, the predictable IOD mode coexists with El Niño; however, the 1994 event in a non-ENSO year (at least not a canonical ENSO year) can also be predicted at least 3 months ahead by CFSv2.

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Tuantuan Zhang, Bohua Huang, Song Yang, and James L. Kinter III

Abstract

The predictable patterns and intraensemble variability of monthly 850-hPa zonal wind over the tropical Indo-Pacific region are investigated using 7-month hindcasts for 1983–2009 from Project Minerva. When applied to the ensemble hindcasts initialized on 1 May and 1 November, a maximum signal-to-noise empirical orthogonal function analysis identifies the patterns of high predictability as the hindcasts progress. For both initial months, the most predictable patterns are associated with El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The second predictable patterns with May initialization reflect the anomalous evolution of the western North Pacific (WNP) monsoon, characterized by a northward shift of the WNP anomalous anticyclone/cyclone in summer and a southward shift in fall. The intraensemble variability shows a strong seasonality that affects different predictable patterns in different seasons. For May initialization, the dominant patterns of the ensemble spread bear some resemblance to the predictable WNP patterns in summer and ENSO patterns in fall, which reflect the noise-induced differences in the evolution of the predictable signals among ensemble members. On the other hand, the noise patterns with November initialization are dominated by the northern extratropical atmospheric perturbations from winter to early spring, which expand southward through the coupled footprinting mechanism to perturb the ENSO evolution in different ensemble members. In comparison, the extratropical perturbations in the Southern Hemisphere, most significant in early months with May-initialized predictions, are less effective in affecting the tropical circulation.

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Fang Pan, Xianglei Huang, L. Larabbe Strow, and Huan Guo

Abstract

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) level-1b radiances have been shown to be well calibrated (~0.3 K or higher) and have little secular drift (~4 mK yr−1) since operation started in September 2002. This paper investigates the linear trends of 10 years (2003–12) of AIRS global-mean radiances in the CO2 v 2 band that are sensitive to emissions from the stratosphere (stratospheric channels). AIRS lower-stratospheric channels have a cooling trend of no more than 0.23 K decade−1 whereas the midstratospheric channels consistently show a statistically significant cooling trend as large as 0.58 K decade−1. The 95% confidence interval for the trend is ~±0.20 K decade−1. Two sets of synthetic AIRS radiances are computed using the principal component–based radiative transfer model (PCRTM), one based on a free-running GFDL Atmospheric Model, version 3 (AM3), over the same period and one based on ERA-Interim. The GFDL AM3 simulations overestimate the cooling trends in the mid- to upper-stratospheric channels but slightly underestimate them in the lower-stratospheric channels. The synthetic radiances based on ERA-Interim, however, have statistically significant positive trends at virtually all stratospheric channels. This confirms the challenge to the GCM modeling and reanalysis community to create a better simulation or assimilation of the stratospheric climate. It is shown that the linear trends in AIRS radiances can be reproduced to a large extent by the spectral radiative kernel technique and the trends from the AIRS L2 temperature retrievals and from the change of CO2. This suggests a closure between AIRS L1 radiances and L2 retrievals and the potential merit of AIRS data in studies of stratosphere changes.

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L. H. LinHo, Xianglei Huang, and Ngar-Cheung Lau

Abstract

Analysis of observations from 1979 to 2002 shows that the seasonal transition from winter to spring in East Asia is marked with a distinctive event—the onset of the south China spring rain (SCSR). In late February, the reduced thermal contrast between ocean and land leads to weakening of the Asian winter monsoon as well as the Siberian high and the Aleutian low. Meanwhile, convection over Australia and the western Pacific Maritime Continent is suppressed on the passage of the dry phase of a Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). In conjunction with the seasonal march of monsoon circulation in the Indonesian–Australian sector, this MJO passage weakens the local thermally direct cell in the East Asia–Australia sector. This development is further accompanied by a series of adjustments in both the tropics and midlatitudes. These changes include attenuation of the planetary stationary wave, considerable weakening of the westerly jet stream over much of the central Pacific adjacent to Japan, and reduction of baroclinicity near the East Asian trough. The influence of concurrent local processes in midlatitudes on the SCSR onset is also important. The weakened jet stream is associated with confinement of frontal activities to the coastal regions of East Asia as well as with rapid expansion of the subtropical Pacific high from the eastern Pacific to the western Pacific. A parallel analysis using output from an experiment with a GFDL-coupled GCM shows that the above sequence of circulation changes is well simulated in that model.

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Yuanhong Guan, Jieshun Zhu, Bohua Huang, Zeng-Zhen Hu, and James L. Kinter III

Abstract

Evaluating the climate hindcasts for 1982–2009 from the NCEP CFS Reanalysis and Reforecast (CFSRR) project using the Climate Forecast System, version 2 (CFSv2), this study identifies substantial areas of high prediction skill of the sea surface temperature (SST) in the South Pacific. The skill is the highest in the extratropical oceans on seasonal-to-interannual time scales, and it is only slightly lower than that for the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Two regions with the highest prediction skills in the South Pacific in both the CFSv2 and persistence hindcasts coincide with the active centers of opposite signs in the South Pacific Ocean dipole (SPOD) mode, a seesaw between the subtropical and extratropical SST in the South Pacific with a strong phase locking to austral summer. Interestingly, the CFSv2 prediction exhibits skillful predictions made three seasons ahead, more superior to the persistence forecast, suggesting significant dynamical predictability of the SPOD. An austral “spring predictability barrier” is noted in both the dynamical and persistence hindcasts. An analysis of the observational and model data suggests that the SPOD mode is significantly associated with ENSO, as an oceanic response to the atmospheric planetary wave trains forced by the anomalous atmospheric heating in the western Pacific. Although previous studies have demonstrated that the pattern of subtropical SST dipole is ubiquitous in the Southern Ocean, the SPOD has been least known and studied, compared with its counterparts in the south Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Since the SPOD is the most predictable oceanic mode in the whole Southern Hemisphere, its climate effects for local and remote regions should be further studied.

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Fang Pan, Xianglei Huang, Stephen S. Leroy, Pu Lin, L. Larrabee Strow, Yi Ming, and V. Ramaswamy

Abstract

Global-mean radiances observed by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) and the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit A (AMSU-A) are analyzed from 2003 to 2012. The focus of this study is on channels sensitive to emission and absorption in the stratosphere. Optimal fingerprinting is used to obtain estimates of changes of stratospheric temperature in five vertical layers due to external forcing in the presence of natural variability. Natural variability is estimated using synthetic radiances based on the 500-yr GFDL CM3 and 240-yr HadGEM2-CC control runs. The results show a cooling rate of 0.65 ± 0.11 (2σ) K decade−1 in the upper stratosphere above 6 hPa, approximately 0.46 ± 0.24 K decade−1 in two midstratospheric layers between 6 and 30 hPa, and 0.39 ± 0.32 K decade−1 in the lower stratosphere (30–60 hPa). The cooling rate in the lowest part of the stratosphere (60–100 hPa) is −0.014 ± 0.22 K decade−1, which is smallest among all five layers and statistically insignificant. The synergistic use of well-calibrated passive infrared and microwave radiances permits disambiguation of trends of carbon dioxide and stratospheric temperature, increases vertical resolution of detected stratospheric temperature trends, and effectively reduces uncertainties of estimated temperature trends.

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L. Huang, J. Zhai, C. Y. Sun, J. Y. Liu, J. Ning, and G.S. Zhao

Abstract

Land-use changes (LUCs) strongly influence regional climates through both the biogeochemical and biogeophysical processes. However, many studies have ignored the biogeophysical processes, which in some cases can offset the biogeochemical impacts. We integrated the field observations, satellite-retrieved data, and a conceptual land surface energy balance model to provide new evidence to fill our knowledge gap concerning how regional warming or cooling is affected by the three main types of LUCs (afforestation, cropland expansion, and urbanization) in different climate zones of China. According to our analyses, similar LUCs presented varied, even reverse, biogeophysical forcing on local temperatures across different climate regimes. Afforestation in arid and semiarid regions has caused increased net radiation that has typically outweighed increased latent evapotranspiration, thus warming has been the net biogeophysical effect. However, it has resulted in cooling in subtropical zones because the increase in net radiation has been exceeded by the increase in latent evapotranspiration. Cropland expansion has decreased the net radiation more than latent evapotranspiration, which has resulted in biogeophysical cooling in arid and semiarid regions. Conversely, it has caused warming in subtropical zones as a result of increases in net radiation and decreases in latent evapotranspiration. In all climatic regions, the net biogeophysical effects of urbanization have generally resulted in more or less warming because urbanization has led to smaller net radiation decreases than latent evapotranspiration. This study reinforces the need to adjust land-use policies to consider biogeophysical effects across different climate regimes and to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

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Richard C. Y. Li, Wen Zhou, Johnny C. L. Chan, and P. Huang

Abstract

The present study investigates the modulation by the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) and the impact of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on tropical cyclone (TC) genesis in the western North Pacific (WNP) during the period 1975–2010. Results reveal a stronger modulation of cyclogenesis by the MJO during El Niño years, while the modulations in neutral and La Niña years are comparable to each other.

The asymmetric background modification by ENSO is found to greatly affect the extent of MJO modulation under different ENSO conditions. First, MJO activity is intensified and extends farther eastward during El Niño years, instead of being confined west of 150°E as in neutral and La Niña periods. Thus, the influence of MJO is stronger and more zonally widespread in El Niño years, causing significant differences in cyclogenesis parameters in most parts of the WNP. In El Niño years, cyclogenesis is further enhanced in the active phase due to synchronization of MJO signals with favorable background ENSO conditions. While in the inactive phase, the dominance of the strong MJO signals leads to further suppression in TC formation. This leads to overall enhancement of the MJO–TC relationship during El Niño years. On the other hand, the MJO signals confined to the western region west of 150°E in neutral and La Niña years lead to changes in TC-related parameters mainly in the western region, which contribute to the comparatively weaker TC modulations. It can thus be concluded that the MJO has an asymmetric modulation on cyclogenesis in the WNP under different ENSO conditions.

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Clark Weaver, Jay Herman, Gordon Labow, David Larko, and L.-K. Huang

Abstract

A 34-yr record of shortwave top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiative cloud forcing is derived from UV Lambertian equivalent reflectivity (LER) data constructed using measured upwelling radiances from the Nimbus-7 Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet (SBUV) and from seven NOAA SBUV/2 instruments on polar-orbiting satellites. The approach is to scale the dimensionless UV LER data to match the CERES shortwave cloud radiative forcing when they are concurrent (2000–13). The underlying trends of this new longer-term CERES-like data record are solely based on the UV LER record. The good agreement between trends and anomalies of the CERES-like and CERES shortwave cloud forcing records during the overlapping data period supports using this new dataset for extended climate studies. The estimated linear trend for the shortwave TOA radiative forcing due to clouds from 60°S to 60°N is +1.47 W m−2 with a 0.11 uncertainty at the 95% confidence level over the 34-yr period 1980–2013.

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Boyin Huang, Michelle L’Heureux, Zeng-Zhen Hu, Xungang Yin, and Huai-Min Zhang

Abstract

Previous research has shown that the 1877/78 El Niño resulted in great famine events around the world. However, the strength and statistical significance of this El Niño event have not been fully addressed, largely due to the lack of data. We take a closer look at the data using an ensemble analysis of the Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperature version 5 (ERSSTv5). The ERSSTv5 standard run indicates a strong El Niño event with a peak monthly value of the Niño-3 index of 3.5°C during 1877/78, stronger than those during 1982/83, 1997/98, and 2015/16. However, an analysis of the ERSSTv5 ensemble runs indicates that the strength and significance (uncertainty estimates) depend on the construction of the ensembles. A 1000-member ensemble analysis shows that the ensemble mean Niño-3 index has a much weaker peak of 1.8°C, and its uncertainty is much larger during 1877/78 (2.8°C) than during 1982/83 (0.3°C), 1997/98 (0.2°C), and 2015/16 (0.1°C). Further, the large uncertainty during 1877/78 is associated with selections of a short (1 month) period of raw-data filter and a large (20%) acceptance criterion of empirical orthogonal teleconnection modes in the ERSSTv5 reconstruction. By adjusting these two parameters, the uncertainty during 1877/78 decreases to 0.5°C, while the peak monthly value of the Niño-3 index in the ensemble mean increases to 2.8°C, suggesting a strong and statistically significant 1877/78 El Niño event. The adjustment of those two parameters is validated by masking the modern observations of 1981–2017 to 1861–97. Based on the estimated uncertainties, the differences among the strength of these four major El Niño events are not statistically significant.

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