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Matthew Rydzik and Ankur R. Desai

Abstract

A relationship between midlatitude cyclone (MLC) tracks and snow-cover extent has been discussed in the literature over the last 50 years but not explicitly analyzed with high-resolution and long-term observations of both. Large-scale modeling studies have hinted that areas near the edge of the snow extent support enhanced baroclinicity because of differences in surface albedo and moisture fluxes. In this study, the relationship between snow-cover extent and midlatitude disturbance (MLD) trajectories is investigated across North America using objectively analyzed midlatitude disturbance trajectories and snow-cover extent from the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) for 1979–2010. MLDs include low-level mesoscale disturbances through midlatitude cyclones. A high-resolution MLD database is developed from sea level pressure minima that are tracked through subsequent 3-h time steps, and a simple algorithm is developed that identified the southern edge of the snow-cover extent. A robust enhanced frequency of MLDs in a region 50–350 km south of the snow-cover extent is found. The region of enhanced MLD frequency coincides with the region of maximum low-level baroclinicity. These observations support hypotheses of an internal feedback in which the snow-cover extent is leading the disturbance tracks through surface heat and moisture fluxes. Further, these results aid in the understanding of how midlatitude disturbance tracks may shift in a changing climate in response to snow-cover trends.

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Joseph C. Blankinship, Diego A. Riveros-Iregui, and Ankur R. Desai
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Zachary W. Taebel, David E. Reed, and Ankur R. Desai

Abstract

The physical processes of heat exchange between lakes and the surrounding atmosphere are important in simulating and predicting terrestrial surface energy balance. Latent and sensible heat fluxes are the dominate physical process controlling ice growth and decay on the lake surface, as well as having influence on regional climate. While one-dimensional lake models have been used in simulating environmental changes in ice dynamics and water temperature, understanding the seasonal to daily cycles of lake surface energy balance and its relationship to lake thermal properties, atmospheric conditions, and how those are represented in models is still an open area of research. We evaluated a pair of one-dimensional lake models, FLake and GLM, to compare modeled latent and sensible heat fluxes against observed data collected by an eddy covariance tower during a one-year period in 2017, using Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin, as our study site. We hypothesized transitional periods of ice cover as a leading source of model uncertainty, and we instead found that the models failed to simulate accurate values for large positive heat fluxes that occurred from late August into late December. Our results ultimately showed that one-dimensional models are effective in simulating sensible heat fluxes but are considerably less sensitive to latent heat fluxes than the observed relationships of latent heat flux to environmental drivers. These results can be used to focus future improvement of these lake models especially if they are to be used for surface boundary conditions in regional numerical weather models.

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Melissa L. Breeden, Ryan Clare, Jonathan E. Martin, and Ankur R. Desai

Abstract

Previous research has found a relationship between the equatorward extent of snow cover and low-level baroclinicity, suggesting a link between the development and trajectory of midlatitude cyclones and the extent of preexisting snow cover. Midlatitude cyclones are more frequent 50–350 km south of the snow boundary, coincident with weak maxima in the environmental Eady growth rate. The snow line is projected to recede poleward with increasing greenhouse gas emissions, possibly affecting the development and track of midlatitude cyclones during Northern Hemisphere winter. Detailed examination of the physical implications of a modified snow boundary on the life cycle of individual storms has, to date, not been undertaken. This study investigates the impact of a receding snow boundary on two cyclogenesis events using Weather Research and Forecasting Model simulations initialized with observed and projected future changes to snow extent as a surface boundary condition. Potential vorticity diagnosis of the modified cyclone simulations isolates how changes in surface temperature, static stability, and relative vorticity arising from the altered boundary affect the developing cyclone. We find that the surface warm anomaly associated with snow removal lowered heights near the center of the two cyclones investigated, strengthening their cyclonic circulation. However, the direct effect of snow removal is mitigated by the stability response and an indirect relative vorticity response to snow removal. Because of these opposing effects, it is suggested that the immediate effect of receding snow cover on midlatitude cyclones is likely minimal and depends on the stage of the cyclone life cycle.

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Justin E. Bagley, Ankur R. Desai, Paul C. West, and Jonathan A. Foley

Abstract

The impacts of changing land cover on the soil–vegetation–atmosphere system are numerous. With the fraction of land used for farming and grazing expected to increase, extensive alterations to land cover such as replacing forests with cropland will continue. Therefore, quantifying the impact of global land-cover scenarios on the biosphere is critical. The Predicting Ecosystem Goods and Services Using Scenarios boundary layer (PegBL) model is a new global soil–vegetation–boundary layer model designed to quantify these impacts and act as a complementary tool to computationally expensive general circulation models and large-eddy simulations. PegBL provides high spatial resolution and inexpensive first-order estimates of land-cover change on the surface energy balance and atmospheric boundary layer with limited input requirements. The model uses a climatological-data-driven land surface model that contains only the physics necessary to accurately reproduce observed seasonal cycles of fluxes and state variables for natural and agricultural ecosystems. A bulk boundary layer model was coupled to the land model to estimate the impacts of changing land cover on the lower atmosphere. The model most realistically simulated surface–atmosphere dynamics and impacts of land-cover change at tropical rain forest and northern boreal forest sites. Further, simple indices to measure the potential impact of land-cover change on boundary layer climate were defined and shown to be dependent on boundary layer dynamics and geographically similar to results from previous studies, which highlighted the impacts of land-cover change on the atmosphere in the tropics and boreal forest.

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David E. Reed, Ankur R. Desai, Emily C. Whitaker, and Henry Nuckles

Abstract

Climate change is expected to decrease ice coverage and thickness globally while increasing the variability of ice coverage and thickness on midlatitude lakes. Ice thickness affects physical, biological, and chemical processes as well as safety conditions for scientists and the general public. Measurements of ice thickness that are both temporally frequent and spatially extensive remain a technical challenge. Here new observational methods using repurposed soil moisture sensors that facilitate high spatial–temporal sampling of ice thickness are field tested on Lake Mendota in Wisconsin during the winter 2015/16 season. Spatial variability in ice thickness was high, with differences of 10 cm of ice column thickness over 1.05 km of horizontal distance. When observational data were compared with manual measurements and model output from both the Freshwater Lake (FLake) model and General Lake Model (GLM), ice thickness from sensors matches manual measurements, whereas GLM and FLake results showed a thinner and thicker ice layer, respectively. The FLake-modeled ice column temperature effectively remained at 0°C, not matching observations. We also show that daily ice dynamics follows the expected linear function of ice thickness growth/melt, improving confidence in sensor accuracy under field conditions. We have demonstrated a new method that allows low-cost and high-frequency measurements of ice thickness, which will be needed both to advance winter limnology and to improve on-ice safety.

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Justin E. Bagley, Ankur R. Desai, Keith J. Harding, Peter K. Snyder, and Jonathan A. Foley

Abstract

Expansion of agricultural lands and inherent variability of climate can influence the water cycle in the Amazon basin, impacting numerous ecosystem services. However, these two influences do not work independently of each other. With two once-in-a-century-level droughts occurring in the Amazon in the past decade, it is vital to understand the feedbacks that contribute to altering the water cycle. The biogeophysical impacts of land cover change within the Amazon basin were examined under drought and pluvial conditions to investigate how land cover and drought jointly may have enhanced or diminished recent precipitation extremes by altering patterns and intensity. Using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model coupled to the Noah land surface model, a series of April–September simulations representing drought, normal, and pluvial years were completed to assess how land cover change impacts precipitation and how these impacts change under varied rainfall regimes. Evaporative sources of water vapor that precipitate across the region were developed with a quasi-isentropic back-trajectory algorithm to delineate the extent and variability that terrestrial evaporation contributes to regional precipitation. A decrease in dry season latent heat flux and other impacts of deforestation on surface conditions were increased by drought conditions. Coupled with increases in dry season moisture recycling over the Amazon basin by ~7% during drought years, land cover change is capable of reducing precipitation and increasing the amplitude of droughts in the region.

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Alexandria G. McCombs, April L. Hiscox, Cuizhen Wang, Ankur R. Desai, Andrew E. Suyker, and Sebastien C. Biraud

Abstract

Carbon flux phenology is widely used to understand carbon flux dynamics and surface exchange processes. Vegetation phenology has been widely evaluated by remote sensors; however, very few studies have evaluated the use of vegetation phenology for identifying carbon flux phenology. Currently available techniques to derive net ecosystem exchange (NEE) from a satellite image use a single generic modeling subgroup for agricultural crops. But, carbon flux phenological processes vary highly with crop types and land management practices; this paper reexamines this assumption. Presented here are an evaluation of ground-truth remotely sensed vegetation indices with in situ NEE measurements and an identification of vegetation indices for estimating carbon flux phenology metrics by crop type. Results show that the performance of different vegetation indices as an indicator of phenology varies with crop type, particularly when identifying the start of a season and the peak of a season. Maize fields require vegetation indices that make use of the near-infrared and red reflectance bands, while soybean fields require those making use of the shortwave infrared (IR) and near-IR bands. In summary, the study identifies how to best utilize remote sensing technology as a crop-specific measurement tool.

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Emily V. Fischer, Brittany Bloodhart, Kristen Rasmussen, Ilana B. Pollack, Meredith G. Hastings, Erika Marin-Spiotta, Ankur R. Desai, Joshua P. Schwarz, Stephen Nesbitt, and Deanna Hence

Abstract

Sexual harassment in field settings brings unique challenges for prevention and response, as field research occurs outside “typical” workplaces, often in remote locations that create additional safety concerns and new team dynamics. We report on a project that has 1) trained field project participants to recognize, report, and confront sexual harassment, and 2) investigated the perceptions, attitudes, and experiences of field researchers regarding sexual harassment. Precampaign surveys from four major, multi-institutional, domestic, and international field projects indicate that the majority of sexual harassment reported prior to the field campaigns was hostile work environment harassment, and women were more likely to be the recipients, on average reporting two to three incidents each. The majority of those disclosing harassment indicated that they coped with past experiences by avoiding their harasser or downplaying incidents. Of the incidences reported (47) in postcampaign surveys of the four field teams, all fell under the category of hostile work environment and included incidents of verbal, visual, and physical harassment. Women’s harassment experiences were perpetrated by men 100% of the time, and the majority of the perpetrators were in more senior positions than the victims. Men’s harassment experiences were perpetrated by a mix of women and men, and the majority came from those at the same position of seniority. Postproject surveys indicate that the training programs (taking place before the field projects) helped participants come away with more positive than negative emotions and perceptions of the training, the leadership, and their overall experiences on the field campaign.

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Brian J. Butterworth, Ankur R. Desai, Philip A. Townsend, Grant W. Petty, Christian G. Andresen, Timothy H. Bertram, Eric L. Kruger, James K. Mineau, Erik R. Olson, Sreenath Paleri, Rosalyn A. Pertzborn, Claire Pettersen, Paul C. Stoy, Jonathan E. Thom, Michael P. Vermeuel, Timothy J. Wagner, Daniel B. Wright, Ting Zheng, Stefan Metzger, Mark D. Schwartz, Trevor J. Iglinski, Matthias Mauder, Johannes Speidel, Hannes Vogelmann, Luise Wanner, Travis J. Augustine, William O. J. Brown, Steven P. Oncley, Michael Buban, Temple R. Lee, Patricia Cleary, David J. Durden, Christopher R. Florian, Kathleen Lantz, Laura D. Riihimaki, Joseph Sedlar, Tilden P. Meyers, David M. Plummer, Eliceo Ruiz Guzman, Elizabeth N. Smith, Matthias Sühring, David D. Turner, Zhien Wang, Loren D. White, and James M. Wilczak

Abstract

The Chequamegon Heterogeneous Ecosystem Energy-Balance Study Enabled by a High-Density Extensive Array of Detectors 2019 (CHEESEHEAD19) is an ongoing National Science Foundation project based on an intensive field campaign that occurred from June to October 2019. The purpose of the study is to examine how the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) responds to spatial heterogeneity in surface energy fluxes. One of the main objectives is to test whether lack of energy balance closure measured by eddy covariance (EC) towers is related to mesoscale atmospheric processes. Finally, the project evaluates data-driven methods for scaling surface energy fluxes, with the aim to improve model–data comparison and integration. To address these questions, an extensive suite of ground, tower, profiling, and airborne instrumentation was deployed over a 10 km × 10 km domain of a heterogeneous forest ecosystem in the Chequamegon–Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin, United States, centered on an existing 447-m tower that anchors an AmeriFlux/NOAA supersite (US-PFa/WLEF). The project deployed one of the world’s highest-density networks of above-canopy EC measurements of surface energy fluxes. This tower EC network was coupled with spatial measurements of EC fluxes from aircraft; maps of leaf and canopy properties derived from airborne spectroscopy, ground-based measurements of plant productivity, phenology, and physiology; and atmospheric profiles of wind, water vapor, and temperature using radar, sodar, lidar, microwave radiometers, infrared interferometers, and radiosondes. These observations are being used with large-eddy simulation and scaling experiments to better understand submesoscale processes and improve formulations of subgrid-scale processes in numerical weather and climate models.

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