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Gang Zhang and Ronald B. Smith

Abstract

Summer precipitation over the Western Ghats and its adjacent Arabian Sea is an important component of the Indian monsoon. To advance understanding of the physical processes controlling this regional precipitation, a series of high-resolution convection-permitting simulations were conducted using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. Convection simulated in the WRF Model agrees with TRMM and MODIS satellite estimates. Sensitivity simulations are conducted, by altering topography, latent heating, and sea surface temperature (SST), to quantify the effects of different physical forcing factors. It is helpful to put India’s west coast rainfall systems into three categories with different causes and characteristics. 1) Offshore rainfall is controlled by incoming convective available potential energy (CAPE), the entrainment of midtropospheric dry layer in the monsoon westerlies, and the latent heat flux and SST of the Arabian Sea. It is not triggered by the Western Ghats. When offshore convection is present, it reduces both CAPE and the downwind coastal rainfall. Strong (weak) offshore rainfall is associated with high (low) SSTs in the Arabian Sea, suggested by both observations and sensitivity simulations. 2) Coastal convective rainfall is forced by the coastline roughness, diurnal heating, and the Western Ghats topography. This localized convective rainfall ends abruptly beyond the Western Ghats, producing a rain shadow to the east of the mountains. This deep convection with mixed phase microphysics is the biggest overall rain producer. 3) Orographic stratiform warm rain and drizzle dominate the local precipitation on the crest of the Western Ghats.

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Pengfei Zhang, Gang Chen, and Yi Ming

Abstract

While there is substantial evidence for tropospheric jet shift and Hadley cell expansion in response to greenhouse gas increases, quantitative assessments of individual mechanisms and feedback for atmospheric circulation changes remain lacking. We present a new forcing–feedback analysis on circulation response to increasing CO2 concentration in an aquaplanet atmospheric model. This forcing–feedback framework explicitly identifies a direct zonal wind response by holding the zonal mean zonal wind exerting on the zonal advection of eddies unchanged, in comparison with the additional feedback induced by the direct response in zonal mean zonal wind. It is shown that the zonal advection feedback accounts for nearly half of the changes to the eddy-driven jet shift and Hadley cell expansion, largely contributing to the subtropical precipitation decline, when the CO2 concentration varies over a range of climates. The direct response in temperature displays the well-known tropospheric warming pattern to CO2 increases, but the feedback exhibits negative signals. The direct response in eddies is characterized by a reduction in upward wave propagation and a poleward shift of midlatitude eddy momentum flux (EMF) convergence, likely due to an increase in static stability from moist thermodynamic adjustment. In contrast, the feedback features a dipole pattern in EMF that further shifts and strengthens midlatitude EMF convergence, resulting from the upper-level zonal wind increase seen in the direct response. Interestingly, the direct response produces an increase in eddy kinetic energy (EKE), but the feedback weakens EKE. Thus, the forcing–feedback framework highlights the distinct effect of zonal mean advecting wind from direct thermodynamic effects in atmospheric response to greenhouse gas increases.

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Pengfei Zhang, Gang Chen, Weiming Ma, Yi Ming, and Zheng Wu

Abstract

Atmospheric rivers (ARs), narrow intense moisture transport, account for much of the poleward moisture transport in midlatitudes. While studies have characterized AR features and the associated hydrological impacts in a warming climate in observations and comprehensive climate models, the fundamental dynamics for changes in AR statistics (e.g., frequency, length, width) are not well understood. Here we investigate AR response to global warming with a combination of idealized and comprehensive climate models. To that end, we developed an idealized atmospheric GCM with Earth-like global circulation and hydrological cycle, in which water vapor and clouds are modeled as passive tracers with simple cloud microphysics and precipitation processes. Despite the simplicity of the model physics, it reasonably reproduces observed dynamical structures for individual ARs, statistical characteristics of ARs, and spatial distributions of AR climatology. Under climate warming, the idealized model produces robust AR changes similar to CESM large ensemble simulations under RCP8.5, including AR size expansion, intensified landfall moisture transport, and an increased AR frequency, corroborating previously reported AR changes under global warming by climate models. In addition, the latitude of AR frequency maximum shifts poleward with climate warming. Further analysis suggests that the thermodynamic effect (i.e., an increase in water vapor) dominates the AR statistics and frequency changes while both the dynamic and thermodynamic effects contribute to the AR poleward shift. These results demonstrate that AR changes in a warming climate can be understood as passive water vapor and cloud tracers regulated by large-scale atmospheric circulation, whereas convection and latent heat feedback are of secondary importance.

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Xiaoye Yang, Gang Zeng, Guwei Zhang, and Zhongxian Li

Abstract

The paths of winter cold surge (CS) events in East Asia (EA) from 1979 to 2017 are tracked by the Flexible Particle (FLEXPART) model using ERA-Interim daily datasets, and the probability density distribution of the paths is calculated by the kernel density estimation (KDE) method. The results showed that the paths of CSs are significantly correlated with the intensity of the CSs, which shows an interdecadal transition from weak to strong around 1995. CS paths can be classified into two types, namely, the western path type and the northern path type, which were more likely to occur before and after 1995, respectively. Before 1995, the cold air mainly originated from Europe and moved from west to east, and the synoptic features were associated with the zonal wave train. After 1995, cold air accumulated over western Siberia and then invaded EA along the northern path, and the synoptic features were mainly associated with the blocking structure. The geopotential height (GPH) anomalies over the Arctic were abnormally strong. This paper further analyzes the relationship between CSs and winter sea ice concentration (SIC) in the Arctic. The results show that the intensity of CSs is negatively correlated with the Barents SIC (BSIC). When the BSIC declines, the upward wave flux over the Barents Sea is enhanced and expanded to the midlatitude region. GPH anomalies over the Arctic are positive and form a negative AO-like pattern, which is conducive to the formation of the northern path CS. Furthermore, the observed results are supported by numerical experiments with the NCAR Community Atmosphere Model, version 5.3 (CAM5.3).

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Lei Zhang, Gang Wang, Matthew Newman, and Weiqing Han

Abstract

The Indian Ocean has received increasing attention for its large impacts on regional and global climate. However, sea surface temperature (SST) variability arising from Indian Ocean internal processes has not been well understood particularly on decadal and longer time scales, and the external influence from the tropical Pacific has not been quantified. This paper analyzes the interannual-to-decadal SST variability in the tropical Indian Ocean in observations and explores the external influence from the Pacific versus internal processes within the Indian Ocean using a linear inverse model (LIM). Coupling between Indian Ocean and tropical Pacific SST anomalies (SSTAs) is assessed both within the LIM dynamical operator and the unpredictable stochastic noise that forces the system. Results show that the observed Indian Ocean basin (IOB)-wide SSTA pattern is largely a response to the Pacific ENSO forcing, although it in turn has a damping effect on ENSO especially on annual and decadal time scales. On the other hand, the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) is an Indian Ocean internal mode that can actively affect ENSO; ENSO also has a returning effect on the IOD, which is rather weak on decadal time scale. The third mode is partly associated with the subtropical Indian Ocean dipole (SIOD), and it is primarily generated by Indian Ocean internal processes, although a small component of it is coupled with ENSO. Overall, the amplitude of Indian Ocean internally generated SST variability is comparable to that forced by ENSO, and the Indian Ocean tends to actively influence the tropical Pacific. These results suggest that the Indian–Pacific Ocean interaction is a two-way process.

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Gang Zhang, Kerry H. Cook, and Edward K. Vizy

Abstract

This study provides an improved understanding of the diurnal cycle of warm season (June–September) rainfall over West Africa, including its underlying physical processes. Rainfall from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission and atmospheric dynamics fields from reanalyses are used to evaluate the 1998–2013 climatology and a case study for 2006.

In both the climatology and the 2006 case study, most regions of West Africa are shown to have a single diurnal peak of rainfall either in the afternoon or at night. Averaging over West Africa produces a diurnal cycle with two peaks, but this type of diurnal cycle is quite atypical on smaller space scales. Rainfall systems are usually generated in the afternoon and propagate westward, lasting into the night. Afternoon rainfall peaks are associated with an unstable lower troposphere. They occur either over topography or in regions undisturbed by nocturnal systems, allowing locally generated instability to dominate. Nocturnal rainfall peaks are associated with the westward propagation of rainfall systems and not generally with local instability. Nocturnal rainfall peaks occur most frequently about 3°–10° of longitude downstream of regions with afternoon rainfall peaks. The diurnal cycle of rainfall is closely associated with the timing of extreme rainfall events.

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Gang Zhang, Kerry H. Cook, and Edward K. Vizy

Abstract

Convection-permitting simulations at 3-km resolution using a regional climate model are analyzed to improve the understanding of the diurnal cycle of rainfall over West Africa and its underlying physical processes. The warm season of 2006 is used for the model simulations. The model produces an accurate representation of the observed seasonal mean rainfall and lower-troposphere circulation and captures the observed westward propagation of rainfall systems. Most of West Africa has a single diurnal peak of rainfall in the simulations, either in the afternoon or at night, in agreement with observations. However, the number of simulated rainfall systems is greater than observed in association with an overestimation of the initiation of afternoon rainfall over topography. The longevity of the simulated propagating systems is about 30% shorter than is observed, and their propagation speed is nearly 20% faster. The model captures the observed afternoon rainfall peaks associated with elevated topography (e.g., the Jos Plateau). Nocturnal rainfall peaks downstream of the topographic afternoon rainfall are also well simulated. However, these nocturnal rainfall peaks are too widespread, and the model fails to reproduce the observed afternoon rainfall peaks over regions removed from topographic influence. This deficiency is related to a planetary boundary layer that is deeper than observed, elevating unstable profiles and inhibiting afternoon convection. This study concludes that increasing model resolution to convection-permitting space scales significantly improves the diurnal cycle of rainfall compared with the models that parameterize convection, but this is not sufficient to fully resolve the issue, perhaps because other parameterizations remain.

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Weixing Zhang, Yidong Lou, Jennifer S. Haase, Rui Zhang, Gang Zheng, Jinfang Huang, Chuang Shi, and Jingnan Liu

Abstract

Global positioning system (GPS) data from over 260 ground-based permanent stations in China covering the period from 1 March 1999 to 30 April 2015 were used to estimate precipitable water (PW) above each site with an accuracy of about 0.75 mm. Four types of radiosondes (referred to as GZZ2, GTS1, GTS1-1, and GTS1-2) were used in China during this period. Instrumentation type changes in radiosonde records were identified by comparing PW calculated from GPS and radiosonde data. Systematic errors in different radiosonde types introduced significant biases to the estimated PW trends at stations where more than one radiosonde type was used. Estimating PW trends from reanalysis products (ERA-Interim), which assimilate the unadjusted radiosonde humidity data, resulted in an artificial downward PW trend at almost all stations in China. The statistically significant GPS PW trends are predominantly positive, consistent in sign with the increase in moisture expected from the Clausius–Clapeyron relation due to a global temperature increase. The standard deviations of the differences between ERA-Interim and GPS PW in the summer were 3 times larger than the observational error of GPS PW, suggesting that potentially significant improvements to the reanalysis could be achieved by assimilating denser GPS PW observations over China. This work, based on an entirely independent GPS PW dataset, confirms previously reported significant differences in radiosonde PW trends when using corrected data. Furthermore, the dense geographical coverage of the all-weather GPS PW observations, especially in remote areas in western China, provides a valuable resource for calibrating regional trends in reanalysis products.

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Chao Li, Ying Sun, Francis Zwiers, Dongqian Wang, Xuebin Zhang, Gang Chen, and Hui Wu

Abstract

On the basis of a newly developed observational dataset and a suite of climate model simulations, we evaluate changes in summer mean wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT) in China from 1961 through 2080. We show that summer mean WBGT has increased almost everywhere across China since 1961 as a result of human-induced climate change. Consequently, hot summers as measured by summer mean WBGT are becoming more frequent and more conducive to heat stress. Hot summers like the hottest on record during 1961–2015 in western or eastern China are now expected occur once every 3–4 years. These hot WBGT summers have become more than 140 times as likely in eastern China in the present decade (2010s) as in the 1961–90 baseline period and more than 1000 times as likely in western China. The substantially larger influence in western China is associated with its stronger warming signal, which is likely due to the high Bowen ratio of sensible to latent heat fluxes of dry soils and increases in absorbed solar radiation from the decline in mountain snow cover extent. Observation-constrained projections of future summer mean WBGT under the RCP8.5 emissions scenario indicate that, by the 2040s, almost every summer in China will be at least as hot as the hottest summer in the historical record, and by the 2060s it will be common (on average, every other year) for summers to be as much as 3.0°C hotter than the historical record, pointing to potentially large increases in the likelihood of human heat stress and to a massive adaption challenge.

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Xiaoye Yang, Gang Zeng, Guwei Zhang, Jingwei Li, Zhongxian Li, and Zhixin Hao

Abstract

The summer heat waves (HWs) in Northeast China (NEC) during 1961–2016 can be classified into two types, namely, wave train HWs and blocking HWs based on the hierarchical clustering algorithm by using ERA-Interim daily datasets. Wave train HWs occurred accompanied by eastward-moving wave trains with a “− + − +” structure formed over Eurasia, while the blocking HWs occurred with blocking circulation anomalies over Eurasia. In general, the blocking HWs could cause the positive temperature anomalies in NEC to last longer than wave train HWs. During the period from 1961 to 2016, the wave train HWs experienced an interdecadal variation from less to more, while the blocking HWs experienced interdecadal variations of less–more–less. Regression analysis and information flow indicate that the interdecadal variation of the wave train HWs is associated with Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) and Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO), while the interdecadal variation of the blocking HWs is more likely associated with PDO. The positive phase of AMO (negative phase of PDO) could increase the wave train (blocking) HWs by strengthening the zonal wave train similar to the Silk Road pattern (the arched wave train like the polar–Eurasian pattern). The observed results are in agreement with the numerical experiments with the NCAR Community Atmosphere Model, version 5.3.

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