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Yao Ha and Zhong Zhong

Abstract

This study investigates the decadal change in tropical cyclone (TC) activity over the South China Sea (SCS) in the boreal summer (June–August) since the early 1990s and explores possible causes behind it. Results show that the SCS TC activity experienced an abrupt decadal decrease at around 2003/03. Compared to the TC activities from the early 1990s to 2002, the number of TCs formed in the SCS markedly decreased from 2003 through the early 2010s. Moreover, most of the TCs were primarily confined within the SCS basin during this period. The TCs that formed during the period of 2003–11 usually moved west-northwestward and rapidly weakened after making landfall. It is found that a significant decadal-scale sea surface temperature (SST) warming occurred in the northern Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean after 2002 while convection intensified over the tropical regions between 60° and 80°E and around 150°E, respectively. The warm SST anomalies induced an anomalous subsiding flow over the SCS basin via the Walker-like (zonal) circulation. Meanwhile, anomalously dry, sinking air around 5°–20°N derived from local Hadley (meridional) circulation reinforced the subsiding flow of the zonal circulation. The above circulation patterns suppressed TC genesis over the northern SCS, leading to the decadal decrease in TC activity that occurred around 2002/03. In addition, in conjunction with the local anomalous easterly flow, the intraseasonal atmospheric variability over the SCS has decreased since the early 2000s. This is unfavorable for the development of synoptic-scale disturbances and may also contribute to the decadal decrease in TC activity.

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Dehai Luo, Yao Yao, Aiguo Dai, and Steven B. Feldstein
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Dehai Luo, Yao Yao, Aiguo Dai, and Steven B. Feldstein

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In this study, the atmospheric conditions for the December 2013 Middle East snowstorm are examined from a case study perspective and by performing a composite analysis of extreme winter events from 1950 to 2013 using reanalysis data. It is revealed that this snowstorm arises from the occurrence of an omega (Ω)-type European blocking (EB) with a strong downstream trough that is associated with a southward-displaced positive-phase North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO+) event. In the anomaly field, the EB exhibits a northeast–southwest (NE–SW)-tilted dipole structure. The Ω-type EB transports cold air into the Middle East and produces snowfall within the trough over the Middle East.

The composite analysis shows that the location of cold temperatures depends strongly on the tilting direction and strength of the EB dipole anomaly. The NE–SW [northwest–southeast (NW–SE)]-tilted EB dipole occurs with a southward (northward)-displaced NAO+ event. The NE–SW-tilted EB dipole anomaly is associated with an arching-type low-frequency wave train that spans the North Atlantic, Europe, and the Middle East. This tilting has the most favorable structure for cold air outbreaks over the Middle East and southeastern Europe because this tilting leads to an intense downstream trough over this region. In contrast, a NW–SE-tilted EB dipole anomaly leads to cold temperatures over northwestern Africa and southwestern Europe. The analyses herein also suggest that a strong jet over the North Atlantic may be a precursor for a southward-displaced NAO+ event that is usually associated with an Ω-type EB with a NE–SW-tilted dipole in the anomaly height field that favors a cold air outbreak over the Middle East.

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Yao Yao, Dehai Luo, Aiguo Dai, and Steven B. Feldstein

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A recent study revealed that cold winter outbreaks over the Middle East and southeastern Europe are caused mainly by the northeast–southwest (NE–SW) tilting of European blocking (EB) associated with the positive-phase North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO+). Here, the North Atlantic conditions are examined that determine the EB tilting direction, defined as being perpendicular to the dipole anomaly orientation. Using daily reanalysis data, the NAO+ events are classified into strong (SJN) and weak (WJN) North Atlantic jet types. A composite analysis shows that the EB is generally stronger and located more westward and southward during SJN events than during WJN events. During SJN events, the NAO+ and EB dipoles exhibit NE–SW tilting, which leads to strong cold advection and large negative temperature anomalies over the Middle East and southeastern Europe. In contrast, northwest–southeast (NW–SE) tilting without strong negative temperature anomalies over the Middle East is seen during WJN events.

A nonlinear multiscale interaction model is modified to investigate the physical mechanism through which the North Atlantic jet (NAJ) affects EB with the NAO+ event. It is shown that, when the NAJ is stronger, an amplified EB event forms because of enhanced NAO+ energy dispersion. For a strong (weak) NAJ, the EB tends to occur in a relatively low-latitude (high latitude) region because of the suppressive (favorable) role of intensified (reduced) zonal wind in high latitudes. It exhibits NE–SW (NW–SE) tilting because the blocking region corresponds to negative-over-positive (opposite) zonal wind anomalies. The results suggest that the NAJ can modulate the tilting direction of EB, leading to different effects over the Middle East.

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Qingzhi Zhao, Xiongwei Ma, Wanqiang Yao, Yang Liu, and Yibin Yao

Abstract

Precipitable water vapor (PWV) with high precision and high temporal resolution can be obtained based on the global navigation and satellite positioning system (GNSS) technique, which is important for GNSS in disaster prevention and mitigation. However, related studies on drought monitoring using PWV have rarely been performed before, which becomes the focus of this paper. This paper proposes a novel drought monitoring method using GNSS-derived PWV and precipitation, and a multi-time-scale standardized precipitation conversion index (SPCI) is established. This index is different from the traditional index in terms of expression, standardization, and time scale. The proposed SPCI is then compared with the standardized precipitation index/standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index/self-calibrating Palmer drought severity index (SPI/SPEI/scPDSI) and applied to local and global drought monitoring. Validated results show that multi-time-scale SPCI has good consistency with the corresponding SPI/SPEI/scPDSI. The correlation between SPCI and SPEI is the strongest (more than 0.96) on a 12-month scale, which indicates the application potential of SPCI in drought monitoring. In addition, applications for regional (Queensland, Australia) and global drought/wet monitoring further verify the capability of the proposed SPCI. The average percentage deviations of drought/wet monitoring between SPCI and SPEI are 2.77% and 3.75%, respectively on a global scale. The above results show that the SPCI developed in this study is efficiently applied to global flood/wet studies.

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Yao Yao, Dehai Luo, Aiguo Dai, and Ian Simmonds

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Part I of this study examines the relationship among winter cold anomalies over Eurasia, Ural blocking (UB), and the background conditions associated with Arctic warming over the Barents and Kara Seas (BKS) using reanalysis data. It is found that the intensity, persistence, and occurrence region of UB-related Eurasian cold anomalies depend strongly on the strength and vertical shear (VS) of the mean westerly wind (MWW) over mid–high-latitude Eurasia related to BKS warming.

Observational analysis reveals that during 1951–2015 UB days are 64% (54%) more frequent during weak MWW (VS) winters, with 26.9 (28.4) days per winter, than during strong MWW (VS) winters. During weak MWW or VS winters, as frequently observed during 2000–15, persistent and large UB-related warming is seen over the BKS together with large and widespread midlatitude Eurasian cold anomalies resulting from increased quasi stationarity and persistence of the UB. By contrast, when the MWW or VS is strong as frequently observed during 1979–99, the cold anomaly is less intense and persistent and confined to a narrow region of Europe because of a rapid westward movement of the strong UB. For this case, the BKS warming is relatively weak and less persistent. The midlatitude cold anomalies are maintained primarily by reduced downward infrared radiation (IR), while the surface heat fluxes, IR, and advection all contribute to the BKS warming. Thus, the large BKS warming since 2000 weakens the meridional temperature gradient, MWW, and VS, which increases quasi stationarity and persistence of the UB (rather than its amplitude) and then leads to more widespread Eurasian cold events and further enhances the BKS warming.

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Dehai Luo, Yao Yao, Aiguo Dai, Ian Simmonds, and Linhao Zhong

Abstract

In Part I of this study, it was shown that the Eurasian cold anomalies related to Arctic warming depend strongly on the quasi stationarity and persistence of the Ural blocking (UB). The analysis here revealed that under weak mean westerly wind (MWW) and vertical shear (VS) (quasi barotropic) conditions with weak synoptic-scale eddies and a large planetary wave anomaly, the growth of UB is slow and its amplitude is small. For this case, a quasi-stationary and persistent UB is seen. However, under strong MWW and VS (quasi baroclinic) conditions, synoptic-scale eddies are stronger and the growth of UB is rapid; the resulting UB is less persistent and has large amplitude. In this case, a marked retrogression of the UB is observed.

The dynamical mechanism behind the dependence of the movement and persistence of UB upon the background conditions is further examined using a nonlinear multiscale model. The results show that when the blocking has large amplitude under quasi-baroclinic conditions, the blocking-induced westward displacement greatly exceeds the strong mean zonal-wind-induced eastward movement and hence generates a marked retrogression of the blocking. By contrast, under quasi-barotropic conditions because the UB amplitude is relatively small the blocking-induced westward movement is less distinct, giving rise to a quasi-stationary and persistent blocking. It is further shown that the strong mid–high-latitude North Atlantic mean zonal wind is the quasi-barotropic condition that suppresses UB’s retrogression and thus is conducive to the quasi stationarity and persistence of the UB. The model results show that the blocking duration is longer when the mean zonal wind in the blocking region or eddy strength is weaker.

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Yao Yao, Yong Luo, Jianbin Huang, and Zongci Zhao

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The extreme monthly-mean temperatures simulated by 28 models in the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) are evaluated and compared with those from 24 models in the third phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3). Comparisons with observations and reanalyses indicate that the models from both CMIP3 and CMIP5 perform well in simulating temperature extremes, which are expressed as 20-yr return values. When the climatological annual cycle is removed, the ensemble spread in CMIP5 is smaller than that in CMIP3. Benefitting from a higher resolution, the CMIP5 models perform better at simulating extreme temperatures on the local gridcell scale. The CMIP5 representative concentration pathway (RCP4.5) and CMIP3 B1 experiments project a similar change pattern in the near future for both warm and cold extremes, and the pattern is in agreement with that of the seasonal extremes. By the late twenty-first century, the changes in monthly temperature extremes projected under the three CMIP3 (B1, A1B, and A2) and two CMIP5 (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) scenarios generally follow the changes in climatological annual cycles, which is consistent with previous studies on daily extremes. Compared with the CMIP3 ensemble, the CMIP5 ensemble shows a larger intermodel uncertainty with regard to the change in cold extremes in snow-covered regions. Enhanced changes in extreme temperatures that exceed the global mean warming are found in regions where the retreat of snow (or the soil moisture feedback effect) plays an important role, confirming the findings for daily temperature extremes.

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Mao-Sung Yao and Ye Cheng

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The response of cloud simulations to turbulence parameterizations is studied systematically using the GISS general circulation model (GCM) E2 employed in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). Without the turbulence parameterization, the relative humidity (RH) and the low cloud cover peak unrealistically close to the surface; with the dry convection or with only the local turbulence parameterization, these two quantities improve their vertical structures, but the vertical transport of water vapor is still weak in the planetary boundary layers (PBLs); with both local and nonlocal turbulence parameterizations, the RH and low cloud cover have better vertical structures in all latitudes due to more significant vertical transport of water vapor in the PBL. The study also compares the cloud and radiation climatologies obtained from an experiment using a newer version of turbulence parameterization being developed at GISS with those obtained from the AR5 version. This newer scheme differs from the AR5 version in computing nonlocal transports, turbulent length scale, and PBL height and shows significant improvements in cloud and radiation simulations, especially over the subtropical eastern oceans and the southern oceans. The diagnosed PBL heights appear to correlate well with the low cloud distribution over oceans. This suggests that a cloud-producing scheme needs to be constructed in a framework that also takes the turbulence into consideration.

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Peter H. Stone and Mao-Sung Yao

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Vertical eddy fluxes of heat are calculated from simulations with a variety of climate models, ranging from three-dimensional GCMs to a one-dimensional radiative-convective model. The models’ total eddy flux in the lower troposphere is found to agree well with Hantel's analysis from observations, but in the mid- and upper troposphere the models’ values are systematically 30% to 50% smaller than Hantel's. The models nevertheless give very good results for the global temperature profile, and the reason for the discrepancy is unclear. The model results show that the manner in which the vertical eddy flux is carried is very sensitive to the parameterization of moist convection. When a moist adiabatic adjustment scheme with a critical value for the relative humidity of 100% is used, the vertical transports by large-scale eddies and small-scale convection on a global basis are equal; but when a penetrative convection scheme is used, the large-scale flux on a global basis is only about one-fifth to one-fourth the small-scale flux. Comparison of the model results with observations indicates that the results with the latter scheme are more realistic. However, even in this case, in mid- and high latitudes the large and small-scale vertical eddy fluxes of heat are comparable in magnitude above the planetary boundary layer.

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