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Weihong Qian, Ning Jiang, and Jun Du

Abstract

Mathematical derivation, meteorological justification, and comparison to model direct precipitation forecasts are the three main concerns recently raised by Schultz and Spengler about moist divergence (MD) and moist vorticity (MV), which were introduced in earlier work by Qian et al. That previous work demonstrated that MD (MV) can in principle be derived mathematically with a value-added empirical modification. MD (MV) has a solid meteorological basis. It combines ascent motion and high moisture: the two elements necessary for rainfall. However, precipitation efficiency is not considered in MD (MV). Given the omission of an advection term in the mathematical derivation and the lack of precipitation efficiency, MD (MV) might be suitable mainly for heavy rain events with large areal coverage and long duration caused by large-scale quasi-stationary weather systems, but not for local intense heavy rain events caused by small-scale convection. In addition, MD (MV) is not capable of describing precipitation intensity. MD (MV) worked reasonably well in predicting heavy rain locations from short to medium ranges as compared with the ECMWF model precipitation forecasts. MD (MV) was generally worse than (though sometimes similar to) the model heavy rain forecast at shorter ranges (about a week) but became comparable or even better at longer ranges (around 10 days). It should be reiterated that MD (MV) is not intended to be a primary tool for predicting heavy rain areas, especially in the short range, but is a useful parameter for calibrating model heavy precipitation forecasts, as stated in the original paper.

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Weihong Qian, Ning Jiang, and Jun Du

Abstract

Although the use of anomaly fields in the forecast process has been shown to be useful and has caught forecasters’ attention, current short-range (1–3 days) weather analyses and forecasts are still predominantly total-field based. This paper systematically examines the pros and cons of anomaly- versus total-field-based approaches in weather analysis using a case from 1 July 1991 (showcase) and 41 cases from 1998 (statistics) of heavy rain events that occurred in China. The comparison is done for both basic atmospheric variables (height, temperature, wind, and humidity) and diagnostic parameters (divergence, vorticity, and potential vorticity). Generally, anomaly fields show a more enhanced and concentrated signal (pattern) directly related to surface anomalous weather events, while total fields can obscure the visualization of anomalous features due to the climatic background. The advantage is noticeable in basic atmospheric variables, but is marginal in nonconservative diagnostic parameters and is lost in conservative diagnostic parameters. Sometimes a mix of total and anomaly fields works the best; for example, in the moist vorticity when anomalous vorticity combines with total moisture, it can depict the heavy rain area the best when comparing to either the purely total or purely anomalous moist vorticity. Based on this study, it is recommended that anomaly-based weather analysis could be a valuable supplement to the commonly used total-field-based approach. Anomalies can help a forecaster to more quickly identify where an abnormal weather event might occur as well as more easily pinpoint possible meteorological causes than a total field. However, one should not use the anomaly structure approach alone to explain the underlying dynamics without a total field.

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Jing Huang, Jun Du, and Weihong Qian

Abstract

A total of 163 tropical cyclones (TCs) occurred in the eastern China seas during 1979–2011 with four types of tracks: left turning, right turning, straight moving, and irregular. The left-turning type is unusual and hard to predict. In this paper, 133 TCs from the first three types have been investigated. A generalized beta–advection model (GBAM) is derived by decomposing a meteorological field into climatic and anomalous components. The ability of the GBAM to predict tracks 1–2 days in advance is compared with three classical beta–advection models (BAMs). For both normal and unusual tracks, the GBAM apparently outperformed the BAMs. The GBAM’s ability to predict unusual TC tracks is particularly encouraging, while the BAMs have no ability to predict the left-turning and right-turning TC tracks. The GBAM was also used to understand unusual TC tracks because it can be separated into two forms: a climatic-flow BAM (CBAM) and an anomalous-flow BAM (ABAM). In the CBAM a TC vortex is steered by the large-scale climatic background flow, while in the ABAM, a TC vortex interacts with the surrounding anomalous flows. This decomposition approach can be used to examine the climatic and anomalous flows separately. It is found that neither the climatic nor the anomalous flow alone can explain unusual tracks. Sensitivity experiments show that two anomalous highs as well as a nearby TC played the major roles in the unusual left turn of Typhoon Aere (2004). This study demonstrates that a simple model can work well if key factors are properly included.

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Weihong Qian, Jun Du, Xiaolong Shan, and Ning Jiang

Abstract

Properly including moisture effects into a dynamical parameter can significantly increase the parameter’s ability to diagnose heavy rain locations. The relative humidity–based weighting approach used to extend the moist potential vorticity (MPV) to the generalized moist potential vorticity (GMPV) is analyzed and demonstrates such an improvement. Following the same approach, two new diagnostic parameters, moist vorticity (MV) and moist divergence (MD), have been proposed in this study by incorporating moisture effects into the traditional vorticity and divergence. A regional heavy rain event that occurred along the Yangtze River on 1 July 1991 is used as a case study, and 41 daily regional heavy rain events during the notorious flooding year of 1998 in eastern China are used for a systematic evaluation. Results show that after the moisture effects were properly incorporated, the improved ability of all three parameters to capture a heavy rain area is significant (statistically at the 99% confidence level): the GMPV is improved over the MPV by 194%, the MD over the divergence by 60%, and the MV over the vorticity by 34% in terms of the threat score (TS). The average TS is 0.270 for the MD, 0.262 for the MV, and 0.188 for the GMPV. Application of the MV and MD to assess heavy rain potential is not intended to replace a complete, multiscale forecasting methodology; however, the results from this study suggest that the MV and MD could be used to postprocess a model forecast to potentially improve heavy rain location predictions.

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