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Christopher J. Cox, Robert S. Stone, David C. Douglas, Diane M. Stanitski, George J. Divoky, Geoff S. Dutton, Colm Sweeney, J. Craig George, and David U. Longenecker

Abstract

Linkages between atmospheric, ecological, and biogeochemical variables in the changing Arctic are analyzed using long-term measurements near Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska. Two key variables are the date when snow disappears in spring, as determined primarily by atmospheric dynamics, precipitation, air temperature, winter snow accumulation, and cloud cover, and the date of onset of snowpack in autumn that is additionally influenced by ocean temperature and sea ice extent. In 2015 and 2016 the snow melted early at Utqiaġvik owing mainly to anomalous warmth during May of both years attributed to atmospheric circulation patterns, with 2016 having the record earliest snowmelt. These years are discussed in the context of a 115-yr snowmelt record at Utqiaġvik with a trend toward earlier melting since the mid-1970s (–2.86 days decade–1, 1975–2016). At nearby Cooper Island, where a colony of seabirds, black guillemots, have been monitored since 1975, timing of egg laying is correlated with Utqiaġvik snowmelt with 2015 and 2016 being the earliest years in the 42-yr record. Ice out at a nearby freshwater lagoon is also correlated with Utqiaġvik snowmelt. The date when snow begins to accumulate in autumn at Utqiaġvik shows a trend toward later dates (+4.6 days decade–1, 1975–2016), with 2016 being the latest on record. The relationships between the lengthening snow-free season and regional phenology, soil temperatures, fluxes of gases from the tundra, and to regional sea ice conditions are discussed. Better understanding of these interactions is needed to predict the annual snow cycles in the region at seasonal to decadal scales and to anticipate coupled environmental responses.

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George C. Craig, Andreas H. Fink, Corinna Hoose, Tijana Janjić, Peter Knippertz, Audine Laurian, Sebastian Lerch, Bernhard Mayer, Annette Miltenberger, Robert Redl, Michael Riemer, Kirsten I. Tempest, and Volkmar Wirth

Abstract

Prediction of weather is a main goal of atmospheric science. Its importance to society is growing continuously due to factors such as vulnerability to natural disasters, the move to renewable energy sources, and the risks of climate change. But prediction is also a major scientific challenge due to the inherently limited predictability of a chaotic atmosphere, and has led to a revolution in forecasting methods as we have moved to probabilistic prediction. These changes provide the motivation for Waves to Weather (W2W), a major national research program in Germany with three main university partners in Munich, Mainz, and Karlsruhe. We are currently in the second 4-year phase of our planned duration of 12 years and employ 36 doctoral and post-doctoral scientists. In the context of this large program, we address what we have identified to be the most important and challenging scientific questions in predictability of weather, namely upscale error growth, errors associated with cloud processes, and probabilistic prediction of high impact weather. This paper presents some key results of the first phase of W2W and discusses how they have influenced our understanding of predictability. The key role of interdisciplinary research linking atmospheric scientists with experts in visualization, statistics, numerical analysis, and inverse methods will be highlighted. To ensure a lasting impact on research in our field in Germany and internationally, we have instituted innovative programs for training and support of early career scientists, and to support education, equal opportunities, and outreach, which are also described here.

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