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Wei Gong and Wei-Chyung Wang

Abstract

This is the second part of a study investigating the 1991 severe precipitation event over the Yangtze–Huai River valley (YHRV) in China using both observations and regional model simulations. While Part I reported on the Mei-yu front and its association with large-scale circulation, this study documents the biases associated with the treatment of the lateral boundary in the regional model. Two aspects of the biases were studied: the driving field, which provides large-scale boundary forcing, and the coupling scheme, which specifies how the forcing is adopted by the model. The former bias is defined as model uncertainty because it is not related to the model itself, while the latter bias (as well as those biases attributed to other sources) is referred to as model error. These two aspects were examined by analyzing the regional model simulations of the 1991 summer severe precipitation event over YHRV using different driving fields (ECMWF–TOGA objective analysis, ECMWF reanalysis, and NCEP–NCAR reanalysis) and coupling scheme (distribution function of the nudging coefficient and width of the buffer zone). Spectral analysis was also used to study the frequency distribution of the bias.

The analyses suggest that the 200-hPa winds, 500-hPa geopotential height, and 850-hPa winds and water vapor mixing ratio, which have dominant influences on Mei-yu evolution, are sensitive to large-scale boundary forcing. In particular the 500-hPa geopotential height, and 850-hPa water vapor mixing ratio near the Tibetan Plateau and over the western Pacific Oceans are highly dependent on the driving field. On the other hand, the water vapor in the lower troposphere, wind at all levels, and precipitation pattern are much more affected by the treatment of nudging in the coupling scheme. It is interesting to find that the two commonly used coupling schemes, the lateral boundary coupling and the spectral coupling, provide similar large-scale information to the simulation domain when the former scheme used a wider buffer zone and stronger nudging coefficient. Systematical model errors, existing in the north of the simulation domain, are caused by the overprediction of low-level inversion stratiform clouds.

The analyses further indicate that the model mesoscale signal is not significantly influenced by the different treatments of the nudging procedure. However, it is also shown that the model performance, especially the monthly mean precipitation and its spatial pattern, is substantially improved with the increase of buffer zone width and nudging coefficient.

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Wei-Chyung Wang, Wei Gong, and Helin Wei

Abstract

The summer Mei-yu event over eastern China, which is strongly influenced by large-scale circulation, is an important aspect of East Asian climate; for example, the Mei-yu frequently brings heavy precipitation to the Yangtze–Huai River valley (YHRV). Both observations and a regional model were used to study the Mei-yu front and its relation to large-scale circulation during the summer of 1991 when severe floods occurred over YHRV. This study has two parts: the first part, presented here, analyzes the association between heavy Mei-yu precipitation and relevant large-scale circulation, while the second part, documented by W. Gong and W.-C. Wang, examines the model biases associated with the treatment of lateral boundary conditions (the objective analyses and coupling schemes) used as the driving fields for the regional model.

Observations indicate that the Mei-yu season in 1991 spans 18 May–14 July, making it the longest Mei-yu period during the last 40 yr. The heavy precipitation over YHRV is found to be intimately related to the western Pacific subtropical high, upper-tropospheric westerly jet at midlatitudes, and lower-tropospheric southwest wind and moisture flux. The regional model simulates reasonably well the regional mean surface air temperature and precipitation, in particular the precipitation evolution and its association with the large-scale circulation throughout the Mei-yu season. However, the model simulates smaller precipitation intensity, which is due partly to the colder and drier model atmosphere resulting from excessive low-level clouds and the simplified land surface process scheme used in the present study.

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Dr. Wei-Chyung Wang
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Ke Wei and Lin Wang

Abstract

Water resources are an essential part of the ecosystem in the extremely arid northwestern part of China. Previous studies revealed a dry-to-wet climate change since the late 1980s in this region, which suggested a relief from the drought condition. However, the analysis in this study using the updated data shows that the arid situation has continued and even intensified in the past decade. This is reflected by the fact that the low-level air relative humidity and deep soil relative humidity have decreased in the past decade. Examination of the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI) and self-calibrating Palmer drought severity index (sc-PDSI) indicates that the severity and spatial extent of aridity and drought have increased substantially in northwestern China in the most recent decade. It is shown that the drought intensification in northwestern China is mainly caused by the increase of evaporation that results from the continuous rise in temperature, which will pose a continuous threat to the ecosystem and economic development in this region, especially under the background of global warming.

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Yi Zhang and Wei-Chyung Wang

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Two 100-yr equilibrium simulations from the NCAR Community Climate Model coupled to a nondynamic slab ocean are used to investigate the activity of northern winter extratropical cyclones and anticyclones under a greenhouse warming scenario. The first simulation uses the 1990 observed CO2, CH4, N2O, CFC-11, and CFC-12 concentrations, and the second adopts the year 2050 concentrations according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change business-as-usual scenario. Variables that describe the characteristic properties of the cyclone-scale eddies, such as surface cyclone and anticyclone frequency and the bandpassed root-mean-square of 500-hPa geopotential height, along with the Eady growth rate maximum, form a framework for the analysis of the cyclone and anticyclone activity.

Objective criteria are developed for identifying cyclone and anticyclone occurrences based on the 1000-hPa geopotential height and vorticity fields and tested using ECMWF analyses. The potential changes of the eddy activity under the greenhouse warming climate are then examined. Results indicate that the activity of cyclone-scale eddies decreases under the greenhouse warming scenario. This is not only reflected in the surface cyclone and anticyclone frequency and in the bandpassed rms of 500-hPa geopotential height, but is also discerned from the Eady growth rate maximum. Based on the analysis, three different physical mechanisms responsible for the decreased eddy activity are discussed: 1) a decrease of the extratropical meridional temperature gradient from the surface to the midtroposphere, 2) a reduction in the land–sea thermal contrast in the east coastal regions of the Asian and North American continents, and 3) an increase in the eddy meridional latent heat fluxes. Uncertainties in the results related to the limitations of the model and the model equilibrium simulations are discussed.

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Gyula Molnar and Wei-Chyung Wang

Abstract

Cloud optical properties, in particular the optical thickness, affect the earth-atmosphere radiation budget, and their potential changes associated with climate changes may induce feedback effect. A one-dimensional radiative-forcing model was used to illustrate that the difference in the vertical distribution of the radiative forcing between C02 increase and changes of solar constant can result in a different τ feedback. Recently, Wang et al. carried out a general circulation model study of the climatic effect of atmospheric trace gases CH4, CFCS, and N2O, and the model results indicate that these trace gases provide an important radiative energy source for the present climate. Because the radiative-forcing behavior of CO2 is different from that of these other gases, the simulations also show that different radiative forcing can lead to quite different climatic effects. Consequently, increases in these trace gases may also induce different τ feedback than that due to CO2 increase. Since no study was attempted before to address this aspect, here a one-dimensional model is used to investigate the τ feedback associated with trace gases using an updated τ scheme that relates τ to cloud liquid water content through cloud layer latent heat flux. Because of the different changes in the τ vertical distribution the τ feedback is calculated to be a small negative value for a C02 increase, but much larger negative values for increases of trace gases. The strongest negative feedback is found for CFCs.

Similar experiments were also feedback conducted using a revised version of the Somerville and Remer τ scheme, which relates τ to cloud liquid water content through cloud temperature. The results indicate that the negative feedback for C02 increases for a single cloud layer becomes much smaller when multiple-layer clouds are used, mainly due to the compensating effect of changes in τ values between high and low clouds. Because this scheme assumes a strong functional dependence of the local temperature, the τ feedback is also found to be sensitive to model dimensionally. In addition, the strength and sometimes even the sign of the τ feedback calculated from both schemes depend on the vertical distribution of cloud cover for the control climate, indicating the complexity of cloud-radiation interaction Clearly, more observational and theoretical studies are needed to understand the cloud microphysics and their relation to large-scale climate variables.

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Wei-Chyung Wang and Kerang Li

Abstract

In recent years the semiarid region of northern China, which has total annual precipitation between 200 and 500 mm, has shown signs of severe desertification. Intensive theoretical and observational studies are currently underway to examine the climate changes and other contributing factors. In this study, we used the 1951–86 monthly precipitation measurements in this region to study their fluctuations and relationship with the El Niño/Southern Oscillation. Three main features are identified: 1) a 2–3 year quasi-periodic fluctuation, 2) a tendency for rainfall deficiency for the whole region during ENSO years, and 3) a significant correlation between the precipitation fluctuation in the southern part of this region and Southern Oscillation index, with the former lagging the latter by 2–5 months. These features are also evident from analysis of the proxy data during the last hundred years. Discussions on the possible link between the precipitation fluctuation, the summer monsoon, the western Pacific subtropical high, and ENSO are also presented.

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Wei Tan, Xin Wang, Weiqiang Wang, Chunzai Wang, and Juncheng Zuo

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This study investigates variations of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the South China Sea (SCS) during developing autumn of various El Niño events. The warm SST anomalies are observed in the SCS for canonical El Niño and El Niño Modoki I, whereas the cold SST anomalies are found for El Niño Modoki II. The ocean heat budget analyses show that the latent heat flux change induced by various types of El Niño events is a major contributor to the SCS SST variations. An anomalous anticyclone resides near the Philippine Sea for canonical El Niño and El Niño Modoki I, which induces the southerly wind anomalies over the SCS and thus weakens the climatological northeasterly in boreal autumn. The weakened surface wind speed reduces heat loss from the ocean, leading to a warmer state in the SCS. However, for El Niño Modoki II, the anomalous anticyclone shifts westward to the west of the SCS, and thus the northeasterly wind anomalies appear in the SCS. The northeasterly anomalies enhance the climatological northeasterly monsoon, increase the wind speed, and increase heat loss from the ocean, thus resulting in a cooling in the SCS. The anomalous anticyclone associated with El Niño events also increases shortwave radiation. The increases of the shortwave radiation can also contribute to the SCS warming for canonical El Niño and El Niño Modoki I in addition to the warm effect from the latent heat flux. Because the cooling effect from the latent heat flux is larger than that of the shortwave radiation for El Niño Modoki II, the SCS for El Niño Modoki II tends to be cool.

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Yangyang Song, Guoxing Chen, and Wei-Chyung Wang

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The WRF-simulated changes in clouds and climate due to the increased anthropogenic aerosols for the summers of 2002–08 (vs the 1970s) over eastern China were used to offline calculate the radiative forcings associated with aerosol–radiation (AR) and aerosol–cloud–radiation (ACR) interactions, which subsequently facilitated the interpretation of surface temperature changes. During this period, the increases of aerosol optical depth (ΔAOD) averaged over eastern China range from 0.18 in 2004 to 0.26 in 2007 as compared to corresponding cases in the 1970s, and the multiyear means (standard deviations) of AR and ACR forcings at the surface are −6.7 (0.58) and −3.5 (0.63) W m−2, respectively, indicating the importance of cloud changes in affecting both the aerosol climate forcing and its interannual variation. The simulated mean surface cooling is 0.35°C, dominated by AR and ACR with a positive (cooling) feedback associated with changes in meteorology (~10%), and two negative (warming) feedbacks associated with decreases in latent (~70%) and sensible (~20%) heat fluxes. More detailed spatial characteristics were analyzed using ensemble simulations for the year 2008. Three regions—Jing-Jin-Ji (ΔAOD ~ 0.63), Sichuan basin (ΔAOD ~ 0.31), and middle Yangtze River valley (ΔAOD ~ 0.26)—at different climate regimes were selected to investigate the relative roles of AR and ACR. While the AR forcing is closely related to ΔAOD values, the ACR forcing presents different regional characteristics owing to cloud changes. In addition, the surface heat flux feedbacks are also different between regions. The study thus illustrates that ACR forcing is useful as a diagnostic parameter to unravel the complexity of climate change to aerosol forcing over eastern China.

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Gang Zeng, Wei-Chyung Wang, and Caiming Shen

Abstract

This study first used measurements to establish the association between the rainy season precipitation in the Yangtze River valley (YRV) and north China (NC) and the 850-hPa meridional wind, and then evaluated the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) models’ simulations of both the associations and precipitation amount. It is shown that there exists a statistically significant positive correlation in the June–July precipitation and wind gradient over the YRV, and in the July–August precipitation and wind over NC. These associations are robust at daily, monthly, and interannual scales. Although many models are found to be capable of simulating the associations, the precipitation amount is still quite inadequate when compared with observations, thus raising the issue of the importance of lower-level wind simulations.

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