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J. A. Curry and P. J. Webster

How to understand and reason about uncertainty in climate science is a topic that is receiving increasing attention in both the scientific and philosophical literature. This paper provides a perspective on exploring ways to understand, assess, and reason about uncertainty in climate science, including application to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports. Uncertainty associated with climate science and the science–policy interface presents unique challenges owing to the complexity of the climate system itself, the potential for adverse socioeconomic impacts of climate change, and the politicization of proposed policies to reduce societal vulnerability to climate change. The challenges to handling uncertainty at the science– policy interface are framed using the “monster” metaphor, whereby attempts to tame the monster are described. An uncertainty lexicon is provided that describes the natures and levels of uncertainty and ways of representing and reasoning about uncertainty. Uncertainty of climate models is interpreted in the context of model inadequacy, uncertainty in model parameter values, and initial condition uncertainty. This article examines the challenges of building confidence in climate models and, in particular, the issue of confidence in simulations of the twenty-first-century climate. The treatment of uncertainty in the IPCC assessment reports is examined, including the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report conclusion regarding the attribution of climate change in the latter half of the twentieth century. Ideas for monster-taming strategies are discussed for institutions, individual scientists, and communities.

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J. A. Curry, P. J. Webster, and G. J. Holland

The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active and costly season on record. Recent publications linking an increase in hurricane intensity to increasing tropical sea surface temperatures have fueled the debate on whether or not global warming is causing an increase in hurricane intensity. Because of the substantial implications of the hurricane–global warming issue for society and the immediate policy relevance associated with decision making related to Hurricane Katrina, attacks and rebuttals related to this research are being made in the media and on the World Wide Web without the rigor or accountability expected of scientific discourse. In this paper, we aim to promote a balanced and thoughtful examination of this subject by

  • clarifying the debate surrounding the subject as to whether or not global warming is causing an increase in global hurricane intensity,
  • illustrating a methodology of hypothesis testing to address multiple criticisms of a complex hypothesis that involves a causal chain, and
  • providing a case study of the impact of politics, the media, and the World Wide Web on the scientific process.

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G. J. Holland, P. J. Webster, J. A. Curry, G. Tyrell, D. Gauntlett, G. Brett, J. Becker, R. Hoag, and W. Vaglienti

The Aerosonde is a small robotic aircraft designed for highly flexible and inexpensive operations. Missions are conducted in a completely robotic mode, with the aircraft under the command of a ground controller who monitors the mission. Here we provide an update on the Aerosonde development and operations and expand on the vision for the future, including instrument pay loads, observational strategies, and platform capabilities. The aircraft was conceived in 1992 and developed to operational status in 1995–98, after a period of early prototyping. Continuing field operations and development since 1998 have led to the Aerosonde Mark 3, with ~2000 flight hours completed. A defined development path through to 2002 will enable the aircraft to become increasingly more robust with increased flexibility in the range and type of operations that can be achieved. An Aerosonde global reconnaissance facility is being developed that consists of launch and recovery sites dispersed around the globe. The use of satellite communications and internet technology enables an operation in which all aircraft around the globe are under the command of a single center. During operation, users will receive data at their home institution in near-real time via the virtual field environment, allowing the user to update the mission through interaction with the global command center. Sophisticated applications of the Aerosonde will be enabled by the development of a variety of interchangeable instrument payloads and the operation of Smart Aerosonde Clusters that allow a cluster of Aerosondes to interact intelligently in response to the data being collected.

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P. J. Webster, E. F. Bradley, C. W. Fairall, J. S. Godfrey, P. Hacker, R. A. Houze Jr., R. Lukas, Y. Serra, J. M. Hummon, T. D. M. Lawrence, C. A. Russell, M. N. Ryan, K. Sahami, and P. Zuidema

The methods and initial results of an extensive pilot study, the Joint Air–Sea Monsoon Interaction Experiment (JASMINE) held in the Indian Ocean during the summer of 1999, are described. The experimental design was based on the precept that the monsoon sways back and forth from active to inactive (or break) phases and that these intraseasonal oscillations are coupled ocean–atmosphere phenomena that are important components of the monsoon system. JASMINE is the first comprehensive study of the coupled ocean–atmosphere system in the eastern Indian Ocean and the southern Bay of Bengal. Two research vessels, the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown and the Australian research vessel Franklin, totaled 52 days of surveillance in April–June and September, with 388 conductivity–temperature–depth (CTD) casts and 272 radiosonde ascents. In addition, both ships carried identical flux systems to measure the ocean–atmosphere interaction. The Brown had five radar systems and profilers, including a cloud radar and a Doppler C-band rain radar.

Active and break periods of the monsoon, and the transitions between these phases, and the onset of the 1999 South Asian summer monsoon occurred during JASMINE. The undisturbed and disturbed periods had vast differences in the net heating of the ocean, ranging from daily averages of +150 W m−2 during the former to −100 W m−2 in the latter. Accompanying these changes in the monsoon phase were distinct states of the upper ocean and the atmosphere, including complete reversals of the near-equatorial currents on the timescales of weeks. Diurnal variability occurred in both phases of the monsoon, particularly in near-surface thermodynamical quantities in undisturbed periods and in convection when conditions were disturbed. The JASMINE observations and analyses are compared with those from other tropical regions. Differences in the surface fluxes between disturbed and undisturbed periods appear to be greater in the monsoon than in the western Pacific Ocean. However, in both regions, it is argued that the configuration of convection and vertical wind shear acts as a positive feedback to accelerate low-level westerly winds. Outstanding questions and tentative plans for the future are also discussed.

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J. A. Curry, C. A. Clayson, W. B. Rossow, R. Reeder, Y.-C. Zhang, P. J. Webster, G. Liu, and R.-S. Sheu

An integrated approach is presented for determining from several different satellite datasets all of the components of the tropical sea surface fluxes of heat, freshwater, and momentum. The methodology for obtaining the surface turbulent and radiative fluxes uses physical properties of the atmosphere and surface retrieved from satellite observations as inputs into models of the surface turbulent and radiative flux processes. The precipitation retrieval combines analysis of satellite microwave brightness temperatures with a statistical model employing satellite observations of visible/infrared radiances. A high-resolution dataset has been prepared for the Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE) intensive observation period (IOP), with a spatial resolution of 50 km and temporal resolution of 3 h. The high spatial resolution is needed to resolve the diurnal and mesoscale storm-related variations of the fluxes. The fidelity of the satellite-derived surface fluxes is examined by comparing them with in situ measurements obtained from ships and aircraft during the TOGA COARE IOP and from vertically integrated budgets of heat and freshwater for the atmosphere and ocean. The root-mean-square differences between the satellite-derived and in situ fluxes are dominated by limitations in the satellite sampling; these are reduced when some averaging is done, particularly for the precipitation (which is from a statistical algorithm) and the surface solar radiation (which uses spatially sampled satellite pixels). Nevertheless, the fluxes are determined with a useful accuracy, even at the highest temporal and spatial resolution. By compiling the fluxes at such high resolution, users of the dataset can decide whether and how to average for particular purposes. For example, over time, space, or similar weather events.

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A. Henderson-Sellers, H. Zhang, G. Berz, K. Emanuel, W. Gray, C. Landsea, G. Holland, J. Lighthill, S-L. Shieh, P. Webster, and K. McGuffie

The very limited instrumental record makes extensive analyses of the natural variability of global tropical cyclone activities difficult in most of the tropical cyclone basins. However, in the two regions where reasonably reliable records exist (the North Atlantic and the western North Pacific), substantial multidecadal variability (particularly for intense Atlantic hurricanes) is found, but there is no clear evidence of long-term trends. Efforts have been initiated to use geological and geomorphological records and analysis of oxygen isotope ratios in rainfall recorded in cave stalactites to establish a paleoclimate of tropical cyclones, but these have not yet produced definitive results. Recent thermodynamical estimation of the maximum potential intensities (MPI) of tropical cyclones shows good agreement with observations.

Although there are some uncertainties in these MPI approaches, such as their sensitivity to variations in parameters and failure to include some potentially important interactions such as ocean spray feedbacks, the response of upper-oceanic thermal structure, and eye and eyewall dynamics, they do appear to be an objective tool with which to predict present and future maxima of tropical cyclone intensity. Recent studies indicate the MPI of cyclones will remain the same or undergo a modest increase of up to 10%–20%. These predicted changes are small compared with the observed natural variations and fall within the uncertainty range in current studies. Furthermore, the known omissions (ocean spray, momentum restriction, and possibly also surface to 300-hPa lapse rate changes) could all operate to mitigate the predicted intensification.

A strong caveat must be placed on analysis of results from current GCM simulations of the “tropical-cyclone-like” vortices. Their realism, and hence prediction skill (and also that of “embedded” mesoscale models), is greatly limited by the coarse resolution of current GCMs and the failure to capture environmental factors that govern cyclone intensity. Little, therefore, can be said about the potential changes of the distribution of intensities as opposed to maximum achievable intensity. Current knowledge and available techniques are too rudimentary for quantitative indications of potential changes in tropical cyclone frequency.

The broad geographic regions of cyclogenesis and therefore also the regions affected by tropical cyclones are not expected to change significantly. It is emphasized that the popular belief that the region of cyclogenesis will expand with the 26°C SST isotherm is a fallacy. The very modest available evidence points to an expectation of little or no change in global frequency. Regional and local frequencies could change substantially in either direction, because of the dependence of cyclone genesis and track on other phenomena (e.g., ENSO) that are not yet predictable. Greatly improved skills from coupled global ocean–atmosphere models are required before improved predictions are possible.

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J. A. Curry, A. Bentamy, M. A. Bourassa, D. Bourras, E. F. Bradley, M. Brunke, S. Castro, S. H. Chou, C. A. Clayson, W. J. Emery, L. Eymard, C. W. Fairall, M. Kubota, B. Lin, W. Perrie, R. A. Reeder, I. A. Renfrew, W. B. Rossow, J. Schulz, S. R. Smith, P. J. Webster, G. A. Wick, and X. Zeng

High-resolution surface fluxes over the global ocean are needed to evaluate coupled atmosphere–ocean models and weather forecasting models, provide surface forcing for ocean models, understand the regional and temporal variations of the exchange of heat between the atmosphere and ocean, and provide a large-scale context for field experiments. Under the auspices of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) Radiation Panel, the SEAFLUX Project has been initiated to investigate producing a high-resolution satellite-based dataset of surface turbulent fluxes over the global oceans to complement the existing products for surface radiation fluxes and precipitation. The SEAFLUX Project includes the following elements: a library of in situ data, with collocated satellite data to be used in the evaluation and improvement of global flux products; organized intercomparison projects, to evaluate and improve bulk flux models and determination from the satellite of the input parameters; and coordinated evaluation of the flux products in the context of applications, such as forcing ocean models and evaluation of coupled atmosphere–ocean models. The objective of this paper is to present an overview of the status of global ocean surface flux products, the methodology being used by SEAFLUX, and the prospects for improvement of satellite-derived flux products.

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J. K. Andersen, Liss M. Andreassen, Emily H. Baker, Thomas J. Ballinger, Logan T. Berner, Germar H. Bernhard, Uma S. Bhatt, Jarle W. Bjerke, Jason E. Box, L. Britt, R. Brown, David Burgess, John Cappelen, Hanne H. Christiansen, B. Decharme, C. Derksen, D. S. Drozdov, Howard E. Epstein, L. M. Farquharson, Sinead L. Farrell, Robert S. Fausto, Xavier Fettweis, Vitali E. Fioletov, Bruce C. Forbes, Gerald V. Frost, Sebastian Gerland, Scott J. Goetz, Jens-Uwe Grooß, Edward Hanna, Inger Hanssen-Bauer, Stefan Hendricks, Iolanda Ialongo, K. Isaksen, Bjørn Johnsen, L. Kaleschke, A. L. Kholodov, Seong-Joong Kim, Jack Kohler, Zachary Labe, Carol Ladd, Kaisa Lakkala, Mark J. Lara, Bryant Loomis, Bartłomiej Luks, K. Luojus, Matthew J. Macander, G. V. Malkova, Kenneth D. Mankoff, Gloria L. Manney, J. M. Marsh, Walt Meier, Twila A. Moon, Thomas Mote, L. Mudryk, F. J. Mueter, Rolf Müller, K. E. Nyland, Shad O’Neel, James E. Overland, Don Perovich, Gareth K. Phoenix, Martha K. Raynolds, C. H. Reijmer, Robert Ricker, Vladimir E. Romanovsky, E. A. G. Schuur, Martin Sharp, Nikolai I. Shiklomanov, C. J. P. P. Smeets, Sharon L. Smith, Dimitri A. Streletskiy, Marco Tedesco, Richard L. Thoman, J. T. Thorson, X. Tian-Kunze, Mary-Louise Timmermans, Hans Tømmervik, Mark Tschudi, Dirk van As, R. S. W. van de Wal, Donald A. Walker, John E. Walsh, Muyin Wang, Melinda Webster, Øyvind Winton, Gabriel J. Wolken, K. Wood, Bert Wouters, and S. Zador
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