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Xiaochun Wang and Samuel S. Shen

Abstract

This paper analyzes four methods for estimating the spatial degrees of freedom (dof) of a climate field: the χ 2 method, the Z method, the S method, and the B method. The results show that the B method provides the most accurate estimate of the dof. The χ 2 method, S method, and Z method yield underestimates when the number of realizations of the field is not sufficiently large or the field’s mean and variance vary with respect to spatial location. The dof of the monthly surface temperature field is studied numerically. The B method shows that the dof of the Northern Hemisphere (NH) has an obvious annual cycle, which is around 60 in the winter months and 90 in the summer months. The dof for the Southern Hemisphere (SH) varies between 35 and 50, with large values during its winter months and small ones during its summer months. The dof of the global temperature field demonstrates a similar annual cycle to that of the NH. The dof estimated from the observational data is smaller than that from the GFDL GCM model output of the surface air temperature. In addition, the model output for the SH shows the opposite phase of the seasonal cycle of the dof: large dof in summer and small ones in winter.

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Benjamin S. Grandey, Haiwen Cheng, and Chien Wang

Abstract

Fuel usage is an important driver of anthropogenic aerosol emissions. In Asia, it is possible that aerosol emissions may increase if business continues as usual, with economic growth driving an increase in coal burning. But it is also possible that emissions may decrease rapidly as a result of the widespread adoption of cleaner technologies or a shift toward noncoal fuels, such as natural gas. In this study, the transient climate impacts of two aerosol emissions scenarios are investigated: a representative concentration pathway 4.5 (RCP4.5) control, which projects a decrease in anthropogenic aerosol emissions, and a scenario with enhanced anthropogenic aerosol emissions from Asia. A coupled atmosphere–ocean configuration of the Community Earth System Model (CESM), including the Community Atmosphere Model, version 5 (CAM5), is used. Three sets of initial conditions are used to produce a three-member ensemble for each scenario. Enhanced Asian aerosol emissions are found to exert a large cooling effect across the Northern Hemisphere, partially offsetting greenhouse gas–induced warming. Aerosol-induced suppression of the East Asian and South Asian summer monsoon precipitation occurs. The enhanced Asian aerosol emissions also remotely impact precipitation in other parts of the world. Over Australia, austral summer monsoon precipitation is enhanced, an effect associated with a southward shift of the intertropical convergence zone, driven by the aerosol-induced cooling of the Northern Hemisphere. Over the Sahel, West African monsoon precipitation is suppressed, likely via a weakening of the West African westerly jet. These results indicate that fuel usage in Asia, through the consequent aerosol emissions and associated radiative effects, might significantly influence future climate both locally and globally.

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William J. Gutowski Jr., David S. Gutzler, and Wei-Chyung Wang

Abstract

We examine surface energy balances simulated by three general circulation models for current climatic boundary conditions and for an atmosphere with twice current levels of CO2. Differences between model simulations provide a measure of uncertainty in the prediction of surface temperature in a double-CO2 climate, and diagnosis of the energy balance suggests the radiative and thermodynamic processes responsible for these differences. The scale dependence of the surface energy balance is examined by averaging over a hierarchy of spatial domains ranging from the entire globe to regions encompassing just a few model grid points.

Upward and downward longwave fluxes are the dominant terms in the global-average balance for each model and climate. The models product nearly the same global-average surface temperature in their current climate simulations, so their upward longwave fluxes are nearly the same, but in the global-average balance their downward longwave fluxes, absorbed solar radiation, and sensible and latent heat fluxes have intermodel discrepancies that are larger than respective flux changes associated with doubling CO2. Despite the flux discrepancies, the globally averaged surface flux changes associated with CO2 doubling are qualitatively consistent among the models, suggesting that the basic large-scale mechanisms of greenhouse warming are not very sensitive to the precise surface balance of heat occurring in a model's current climate simulation.

The net longwave flux at the surface has small spatial variability, so global-average discrepancies in surface longwave fluxes are also manifested in the regional-scale balances. For this reason, increasing horizontal resolution will not improve the consistency of regional-scale climate simulations in these models unless discrepancies in global-average longwave radiation are resolved. Differences between models in simulating effects of moisture in the atmosphere and in the ground appear to be an important cause of differences in surface energy budgets on all scales.

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Jeffrey C. Rogers, Sheng-Hung Wang, and Jill S. M. Coleman

Abstract

A 124 (1882–2005) summer record of total surface energy content consisting of time series of surface equivalent temperature (TE) and its components T (mean air temperature) and Lq/cp (moist enthalpy, denoted Lq) is developed, quality controlled, and analyzed for Columbus, Ohio, where long records of monthly dewpoint temperature are available. The analysis shows that the highest TE occurs during the summer of 1995 when both T and Lq were very high, associated with a severe midwestern heat wave. That year contrasts with the hot summers of 1930–36, when Lq and TE had relatively low or negative anomalies (low humidity) compared to those of T. Following the 1930–36 summers, T and Lq departures are much more typically the same sign in individual summers, and the two parameters develop a statistically significant high positive correlation into the twenty-first century. Mean T and Lq departures from the long-term normal have opposite signs, however, when summers are stratified either by seasonal total rainfall amounts or by the Palmer drought severity soil moisture index. Normalized trends of T, Lq, and TE are downward from 1940 to 1964 with those of TE exceeding T. Since 1965, however, significant positive T trends slightly exceed TE in magnitude and those of dewpoint temperature and Lq are comparatively lower. A highly significant upward trend in minimum temperatures especially dominates the T variability, creating a significant downward trend in the temperature range that dominates recent summer climate variability more than moisture trends. Regional moisture flux variations are largest away from Columbus, over the upper Midwest and western Atlantic Ocean, during its seasonal extremes in total surface energy.

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Parichart Promchote, S.-Y. Simon Wang, and Paul G. Johnson

Abstract

Severe flooding occurred in Thailand during the 2011 summer season, which resulted in more than 800 deaths and affected 13.6 million people. The unprecedented nature of this flood in the Chao Phraya River basin (CPRB) was examined and compared with historical flood years. Climate diagnostics were conducted to understand the meteorological conditions and climate forcing that led to the magnitude and duration of this flood. Neither the monsoon rainfall nor the tropical cyclone frequency anomalies alone was sufficient to cause the 2011 flooding event. Instead, a series of abnormal conditions collectively contributed to the intensity of the 2011 flood: anomalously high rainfall in the premonsoon season, especially during March; record-high soil moisture content throughout the year; elevated sea level height in the Gulf of Thailand, which constrained drainage; and other water management factors. In the context of climate change, the substantially increased premonsoon rainfall in CPRB after 1980 and the continual sea level rise in the river outlet have both played a role. The rainfall increase is associated with a strengthening of the premonsoon northeasterly winds that come from East Asia. Attribution analysis using phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project historical experiments pointed to anthropogenic greenhouse gases as the main external climate forcing leading to the rainfall increase. Together, these findings suggest increasing odds for potential flooding of similar intensity to that of the 2011 flood.

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Gan Zhang, Zhuo Wang, Melinda S. Peng, and Gudrun Magnusdottir

Abstract

This study investigates the characteristics of extratropical Rossby wave breaking (RWB) during the Atlantic hurricane season and its impacts on Atlantic tropical cyclone (TC) activity. It was found that RWB perturbs the wind and moisture fields throughout the troposphere in the vicinity of a breaking wave. When RWB occurs more frequently over the North Atlantic, the Atlantic main development region (MDR) is subject to stronger vertical wind shear and reduced tropospheric moisture; the basinwide TC counts are reduced, and TCs are generally less intense, have a shorter lifetime, and are less likely to make landfalls. A significant negative correlation was found between Atlantic TC activity and RWB occurrence during 1979–2013. The correlation is comparable to that with the MDR SST index and stronger than that with the Niño-3.4 index. Further analyses suggest that the variability of RWB occurrence in the western Atlantic is largely independent of that in the eastern Atlantic. The RWB occurrence in the western basin is more closely tied to the environmental variability of the tropical North Atlantic and is more likely to hinder TC intensification or reduce the TC lifetime because of its proximity to the central portion of TC tracks. Consequently, the basinwide TC counts and the accumulated cyclone energy have a strong correlation with western-basin RWB occurrence but only a moderate correlation with eastern-basin RWB occurrence. The results highlight the extratropical impacts on Atlantic TC activity and regional climate via RWB and provide new insights into the variability and predictability of TC activity.

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S-K. Lee, D. B. Enfield, and C. Wang

Abstract

The annual heat budget of the Western Hemisphere warm pool (WHWP) is explored using the output of an ocean general circulation model (OGCM) simulation. According to the analysis, the WHWP cannot be considered as a monolithic whole with a single set of dominating processes that explain its behavior. The three regions considered, namely the eastern north Pacific (ENP), the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), and the Caribbean Sea (CBN), are each unique in terms of the atmospheric and oceanic processes that dominate the corresponding heat budgets. In the ENP region, clear-sky shortwave radiation flux is responsible for the growth of the warm pool in boreal spring, while increased cloud cover in boreal summer and associated reduction in solar radiation play a crucial role for the ENP warm pool’s demise. Ocean upwelling in the Costa Rica Dome connected to surrounding areas by horizontal advection offers a persistent yearlong cooling mechanism. Over the Atlantic, the clear-sky radiation flux that increases monotonically from December to May and decreases later is largely responsible for the onset and decay of the Atlantic-side warm pool in boreal summer and fall. The CBN region is affected by upwelling and horizontal advective cooling within and away from the coastal upwelling zone off northern South America during the onset and peak phases, thus slowing down the warm pool’s development, but no evidence was found that advective heat flux divergence is important in the GoM region. Turbulent mixing is also an important cooling mechanism in the annual cycle of the WHWP, and the vertical shear at the warm pool base helps to sustain the turbulent mixing. Common to all three WHWP regions is the reduction of wind speed at the peak phase, suggestive of a convection–evaporation feedback known to be important in the Indo-Pacific warm pool dynamics.

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Chester F. Ropelewski, Michael S. Halpert, and Xueliang Wang

Abstract

Tropospheric biennial variability in several components of the Southern Oscillation (SO) is defined and described through analysis of observational data from the Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (COADS), as well as through investigation of several SO index time series. The analysis suggests that the temporal behavior of the SO can be described in terms of three components: 1) a pervasive biennial pulse, which appears to be strong in both the Indian Ocean and the west Pacific surface zonal winds as well as in several SO indices, 2) the annual cycle, which tends to set the phase of biennial variability for the major SO excursions, and 3) a low-frequency, or residual, variability, which may be associated with temporal scales between large SO episodes. This study also supports recent papers in suggesting that complete models of the SO must include the Indian Ocean basin.

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Yun Hang, Tristan S. L’Ecuyer, David S. Henderson, Alexander V. Matus, and Zhien Wang

Abstract

The role of clouds in modulating vertically integrated atmospheric heating is investigated using CloudSat’s multisensor radiative flux dataset. On the global mean, clouds are found to induce a net atmospheric heating of 0.07 ± 0.08 K day−1 that derives largely from 0.06 ± 0.07 K day−1 of enhanced shortwave absorption and a small, 0.01 ± 0.04 K day−1 reduction of longwave cooling. However, this small global average longwave effect results from the near cancellation of much larger regional warming by multilayered cloud systems in the tropics and cooling from stratocumulus clouds in subtropical oceans. Clouds are observed to warm the tropical atmosphere by 0.23 K day−1 and cool the polar atmosphere by −0.13 K day−1 enhancing required zonal heat redistribution by the meridional overturning circulation. Zonal asymmetries in the occurrence of multilayered clouds that are more frequent in the Northern Hemisphere and stratocumulus that occur more frequently over the southern oceans also leads to 3 times as much cloud heating in the Northern Hemisphere (0.1 K day−1) than the Southern Hemisphere (0.04 K day−1). These findings suggest that clouds very likely make the strongest contribution to the annual mean atmospheric energy imbalance between the hemispheres (2.0 ± 3.5 PW).

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S. Saha, S. Nadiga, C. Thiaw, J. Wang, W. Wang, Q. Zhang, H. M. Van den Dool, H.-L. Pan, S. Moorthi, D. Behringer, D. Stokes, M. Peña, S. Lord, G. White, W. Ebisuzaki, P. Peng, and P. Xie

Abstract

The Climate Forecast System (CFS), the fully coupled ocean–land–atmosphere dynamical seasonal prediction system, which became operational at NCEP in August 2004, is described and evaluated in this paper. The CFS provides important advances in operational seasonal prediction on a number of fronts. For the first time in the history of U.S. operational seasonal prediction, a dynamical modeling system has demonstrated a level of skill in forecasting U.S. surface temperature and precipitation that is comparable to the skill of the statistical methods used by the NCEP Climate Prediction Center (CPC). This represents a significant improvement over the previous dynamical modeling system used at NCEP. Furthermore, the skill provided by the CFS spatially and temporally complements the skill provided by the statistical tools. The availability of a dynamical modeling tool with demonstrated skill should result in overall improvement in the operational seasonal forecasts produced by CPC.

The atmospheric component of the CFS is a lower-resolution version of the Global Forecast System (GFS) that was the operational global weather prediction model at NCEP during 2003. The ocean component is the GFDL Modular Ocean Model version 3 (MOM3). There are several important improvements inherent in the new CFS relative to the previous dynamical forecast system. These include (i) the atmosphere–ocean coupling spans almost all of the globe (as opposed to the tropical Pacific only); (ii) the CFS is a fully coupled modeling system with no flux correction (as opposed to the previous uncoupled “tier-2” system, which employed multiple bias and flux corrections); and (iii) a set of fully coupled retrospective forecasts covering a 24-yr period (1981–2004), with 15 forecasts per calendar month out to nine months into the future, have been produced with the CFS.

These 24 years of fully coupled retrospective forecasts are of paramount importance to the proper calibration (bias correction) of subsequent operational seasonal forecasts. They provide a meaningful a priori estimate of model skill that is critical in determining the utility of the real-time dynamical forecast in the operational framework. The retrospective dataset also provides a wealth of information for researchers to study interactive atmosphere–land–ocean processes.

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