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Yang Zhou, Keith R. Thompson, and Youyu Lu

Abstract

A regression-based modeling approach is described for mapping the dependence of atmospheric state variables such as surface air temperature (SAT) on the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). For the special case of a linear model the dependence can be described by two maps corresponding to the amplitude and lag of the mean atmospheric response with respect to the MJO. In this sense the method leads to a more parsimonious description than traditional compositing, which usually results in eight maps, one for each MJO phase. Another advantage of the amplitude and phase maps is that they clearly identify propagating signals, and also regions where the response is strongly amplified or attenuated. A straightforward extension of the linear model is proposed to allow the amplitude and phase of the response to vary with the amplitude of the MJO or indices that define the background state of the atmosphere–ocean system. Application of the approach to global SAT for boreal winter clearly shows the propagation of MJO-related signals in both the tropics and extratropics and an enhanced response over eastern North America and Alaska (further enhanced during La Niña years). The SAT response over Alaska and eastern North America is caused mainly by horizontal advection related to variations in shore-normal surface winds that, in turn, can be traced (via signals in the 500-hPa geopotential height) back to MJO-related disturbances in the tropics.

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Xiaosong Yang, Timothy DelSole, and Hua-Lu Pan

Abstract

This paper examines the extent to which an empirical correction method can improve forecasts of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) operational Global Forecast System. The empirical correction is based on adding a forcing term to the prognostic equations equal to the negative of the climatological tendency errors. The tendency errors are estimated by a least squares method using 6-, 12-, 18-, and 24-h forecast errors. Tests on independent verification data show that the empirical correction significantly reduces temperature biases nearly everywhere at all lead times up to at least 5 days but does not significantly reduce biases in forecast winds and humidity. Decomposing mean-square error into bias and random components reveals that the reduction in total mean-square error arises solely from reduction in bias. Interestingly, the empirical correction increases the random error slightly, but this increase is argued to be an artifact of the change in variance in the forecasts. The empirical correction also is found to reduce the bias more than traditional “after the fact” corrections. The latter result might be a consequence of the very different sample sizes available for estimation, but this difference in sample size is unavoidable in operational situations in which limited calibration data are available for a given forecast model.

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Fanglin Yang, Hua-Lu Pan, Steven K. Krueger, Shrinivas Moorthi, and Stephen J. Lord

Abstract

This study evaluates the performance of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction Global Forecast System (GFS) against observations made by the U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program at the southern Great Plains site for the years 2001–04. The spatial and temporal scales of the observations are examined to search for an optimum approach for comparing grid-mean model forecasts with single-point observations. A single-column model (SCM) based upon the GFS was also used to aid in understanding certain forecast errors. The investigation is focused on the surface energy fluxes and clouds. Results show that the overall performance of the GFS model has been improving, although certain forecast errors remain. The model overestimated the daily maximum latent heat flux by 76 W m−2 and the daily maximum surface downward solar flux by 44 W m−2, and underestimated the daily maximum sensible heat flux by 44 W m−2. The model’s surface energy balance was reached by a cancellation of errors. For clouds, the GFS was able to capture the observed evolutions of cloud systems during major synoptic events. However, on average, the model largely underestimated cloud fraction in the lower and midtroposphere, especially for daytime nonprecipitating low clouds because shallow convection in the GFS does not produce clouds. Analyses of surface radiative fluxes revealed that the diurnal cycle of the model’s surface downward longwave flux (SDLW) was not in phase with that of the ARM-observed SDLW. SCM experiments showed that this error was caused by an inaccurate scaling factor, which was a function of ground skin temperature and was used to adjust the SDLW at each model time step to that computed by the model’s longwave radiative transfer routine once every 3 h. A method has been proposed to correct this error in the operational forecast model. It was also noticed that the SDLW biases changed from mostly negative in 2003 to slightly positive in 2004. This change was traced back to errors in the near-surface air temperature. In addition, the SDLW simulated with the newly implemented Rapid Radiative Transfer Model longwave routine in the GFS is usually 5–10 W m−2 larger than that simulated with the previous routine. The forecasts of surface downward shortwave flux (SDSW) were relatively accurate under clear-sky conditions. The errors in SDSW were primarily caused by inaccurate forecasts of cloud properties. Results from this study can be used as guidance for the further development of the GFS.

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