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Baoqiang Xiang and Bin Wang

Abstract

Understanding the variability and change of monsoon onset is of utmost importance for agriculture planning and water management. In the last three decades, the Asian summer monsoon onset (ASMO) has remarkably advanced, but the physical mechanisms underlying the change remain elusive. Since the overall ASMO occurs in May, this paper focuses on the change of mean fields in May and considers enhanced mean precipitation and monsoon westerly winds as signs of advanced ASMO. The results reveal that the advanced ASMO mainly represents a robust decadal shift in the mid-to-late 1990s, which is attributed to the mean state change in the Pacific basin characterized by a grand La Niña–like pattern. The La Niña–like mean state change controls the ASMO through the westward propagation of Rossby waves and its interaction with the asymmetric background mean states in the Indian Ocean and western Pacific, which intensifies the Northern Hemispheric perturbations and westerly winds. Intriguingly, the abrupt decadal shifts of monsoon onset in the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal occur in 1999, in contrast to the South China Sea with a decadal shift in 1994. Numerical experiments with a coupled climate model demonstrate that the advanced monsoon onset in the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal is governed by the enhanced zonal sea surface temperature (SST) gradients in the equatorial Pacific, while that in the South China Sea is primarily determined by the abrupt SST warming near the Philippine Sea.

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Liudan Ding, Tim Li, Baoqiang Xiang, and Melinda Peng

Abstract

Hurricane Sandy (2012) experienced an unusual westward turning and made landfall in New Jersey after its northward movement over the Atlantic Ocean. The landfall caused severe casualties and great economic losses. The westward turning took place in the midlatitude Atlantic where the climatological mean wind is eastward. The cause of this unusual westward track is investigated through both observational analysis and model simulations. The observational analysis indicates that the hurricane steering flow was primarily controlled by atmospheric intraseasonal oscillation (ISO), which was characterized by a pair of anticyclonic and cyclonic circulation systems. The anticyclone to the north was part of a global wave train forced by convection over the tropical Indian Ocean through Rossby wave energy dispersion, and the cyclone to the south originated from the tropical Atlantic through northward propagation. Hindcast experiments using a global coupled model show that the model is able to predict the observed circulation pattern as well as the westward steering flow 6 days prior to Sandy’s landfall. Sensitivity experiments with different initial dates confirm the important role of the ISO in establishing the westward steering flow in the midlatitude Atlantic. Thus the successful numerical model experiments suggest a potential for extended-range dynamical tropical cyclone track predictions.

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Baoqiang Xiang, Ming Zhao, Xianan Jiang, Shian-Jiann Lin, Tim Li, Xiouhua Fu, and Gabriel Vecchi

Abstract

Based on a new version of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) coupled model, the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) prediction skill in boreal wintertime (November–April) is evaluated by analyzing 11 years (2003–13) of hindcast experiments. The initial conditions are obtained by applying a simple nudging technique toward observations. Using the real-time multivariate MJO (RMM) index as a predictand, it is demonstrated that the MJO prediction skill can reach out to 27 days before the anomaly correlation coefficient (ACC) decreases to 0.5. The MJO forecast skill also shows relatively larger contrasts between target strong and weak cases (32 versus 7 days) than between initially strong and weak cases (29 versus 24 days). Meanwhile, a strong dependence on target phases is found, as opposed to relative skill independence from different initial phases. The MJO prediction skill is also shown to be about 29 days during the Dynamics of the MJO/Cooperative Indian Ocean Experiment on Intraseasonal Variability in Year 2011 (DYNAMO/CINDY) field campaign period. This model’s potential predictability, the upper bound of prediction skill, extends out to 42 days, revealing a considerable unutilized predictability and a great potential for improving current MJO prediction.

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Baoqiang Xiang, Bin Wang, Juan Li, Ming Zhao, and June-Yi Lee

Abstract

Understanding the change of equatorial Pacific trade winds is pivotal for understanding the global mean temperature change and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) property change. The weakening of the Walker circulation due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing was suggested as one of the most robust phenomena in current climate models by examining zonal sea level pressure gradient over the tropical Pacific. This study explores another component of the Walker circulation change focusing on equatorial Pacific trade wind change. Model sensitivity experiments demonstrate that the direct/fast response due to GHG forcing is to increase the trade winds, especially over the equatorial central-western Pacific (ECWP) (5°S–5°N, 140°E–150°W), while the indirect/slow response associated with sea surface temperature (SST) warming weakens the trade winds.

Further, analysis of the results from 19 models in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) and the Parallel Ocean Program (POP)–Ocean Atmosphere Sea Ice Soil (OASIS)–ECHAM model (POEM) shows that the projected weakening of the trades is robust only in the equatorial eastern Pacific (EEP) ( 5°S–5°N, 150°–80°W), but highly uncertain over the ECWP with 9 out of 19 CMIP5 models producing intensified trades. The prominent and robust weakening of EEP trades is suggested to be mainly driven by a top-down mechanism: the mean vertical advection of more upper-tropospheric warming downward to generate a cyclonic circulation anomaly in the southeast tropical Pacific. In the ECWP, the large intermodel spread is primarily linked to model diversity in simulating the relative warming of the equatorial Pacific versus the tropical mean sea surface temperature. The possible root causes of the uncertainty for the trade wind change are also discussed.

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Xianan Jiang, Baoqiang Xiang, Ming Zhao, Tim Li, Shian-Jiann Lin, Zhuo Wang, and Jan-Huey Chen

Abstract

Motivated by increasing demand in the community for intraseasonal predictions of weather extremes, predictive skill of tropical cyclogenesis is investigated in this study based on a global coupled model system. Limited intraseasonal cyclogenesis prediction skill with a high false alarm rate is found when averaged over about 600 tropical cyclones (TCs) over global oceans from 2003 to 2013, particularly over the North Atlantic (NA). Relatively skillful genesis predictions with more than 1-week lead time are only evident for about 10% of the total TCs. Further analyses suggest that TCs with relatively higher genesis skill are closely associated with the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) and tropical synoptic waves, with their geneses strongly phase-locked to the convectively active region of the MJO and low-level cyclonic vorticity associated with synoptic-scale waves. Moreover, higher cyclogenesis prediction skill is found for TCs that formed during the enhanced periods of strong MJO episodes than those during weak or suppressed MJO periods. All these results confirm the critical role of the MJO and tropical synoptic waves for intraseasonal prediction of TC activity. Tropical cyclogenesis prediction skill in this coupled model is found to be closely associated with model predictability of several large-scale dynamical and thermodynamical fields. Particularly over the NA, higher predictability of low-level relative vorticity, midlevel humidity, and vertical zonal wind shear is evident along a tropical belt from the West Africa coast to the Caribbean Sea, in accord with more predictable cyclogenesis over this region. Over the extratropical NA, large-scale variables exhibit less predictability due to influences of extratropical systems, leading to poor cyclogenesis predictive skill.

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Hyeyum Hailey Shin, Yi Ming, Ming Zhao, Jean-Christophe Golaz, Baoqiang Xiang, and Huan Guo

Abstract

This study describes the performance of two Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) atmospheric general circulation models (AGCMs) in simulating the climatologies of planetary boundary layer (PBL) parameters, with a particular focus on the diurnal cycles. The two models differ solely in the PBL parameterization: one uses a prescribed K-profile parameterization (KPP) scheme with an entrainment parameterization, and the other employs a turbulence kinetic energy (TKE) scheme. The models are evaluated through comparison with the reanalysis ensemble, which is generated from European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) twentieth-century reanalysis (ERA-20C), ERA-Interim, NCEP CFSR, and NASA MERRA, and the following systematic biases are identified. The models exhibit widespread cold biases in the high latitudes, and the biases are smaller when the KPP scheme is used. The diurnal cycle amplitudes are underestimated in most dry regions, and the model with the TKE scheme simulates larger amplitudes. For the near-surface winds, the models underestimate both the daily means and the diurnal amplitudes; the differences between the models are relatively small compared to the biases. The role of the PBL schemes in simulating the PBL parameters is investigated through the analysis of vertical profiles. The Sahara, which is suitable for focusing on the role of vertical mixing in dry PBLs, is selected for a detailed analysis. It reveals that compared to the KPP scheme, the heat transport is weaker with the TKE scheme in both convective and stable PBLs as a result of weaker vertical mixing, resulting in larger diurnal amplitudes. Lack of nonlocal momentum transport from the nocturnal low-level jets to the surfaces appears to explain the underestimation of the near-surface winds in the models.

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Baoqiang Xiang, Ming Zhao, Yi Ming, Weidong Yu, and Sarah M. Kang

Abstract

Most current climate models suffer from pronounced cloud and radiation biases in the Southern Ocean (SO) and in the tropics. Using one GFDL climate model, this study investigates the migration of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) with prescribed top-of-the-atmosphere (TOA) shortwave radiative heating in the SO (50°–80°S) versus the southern tropics (ST; 0°–20°S). Results demonstrate that the ITCZ position response to the ST forcing is twice as strong as the SO forcing, which is primarily driven by the contrasting sea surface temperature (SST) gradient over the tropics; however, the mechanism for the formation of the SST pattern remains elusive. Energy budget analysis reveals that the conventional energetic constraint framework is inadequate in explaining the ITCZ shift in these two perturbed experiments. For both cases, the anomalous Hadley circulation does not contribute to transport the imposed energy from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere, given a positive mean gross moist stability in the equatorial region. Changes in the cross-equatorial atmospheric energy are primarily transported by atmospheric transient eddies when the anomalous ITCZ shift is most pronounced during December–May. The partitioning of energy transport between the atmosphere and ocean shows latitudinal dependence: the atmosphere and ocean play an overall equivalent role in transporting the imposed energy for the extratropical SO forcing, while for the ST forcing, the imposed energy is nearly completely transported by the atmosphere. This contrast originates from the different ocean heat uptake and also the different meridional scale of the anomalous ocean circulation.

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Nathaniel C. Johnson, Lakshmi Krishnamurthy, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Baoqiang Xiang, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Sarah B. Kapnick, and Salvatore Pascale

Abstract

Positive precipitation biases over western North America have remained a pervasive problem in the current generation of coupled global climate models. These biases are substantially reduced, however, in a version of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Forecast-Oriented Low Ocean Resolution (FLOR) coupled climate model with systematic sea surface temperature (SST) biases artificially corrected through flux adjustment. This study examines how the SST biases in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans contribute to the North American precipitation biases. Experiments with the FLOR model in which SST biases are removed in the Atlantic and Pacific are carried out to determine the contribution of SST errors in each basin to precipitation statistics over North America. Tropical and North Pacific SST biases have a strong impact on northern North American precipitation, while tropical Atlantic SST biases have a dominant impact on precipitation biases in southern North America, including the western United States. Most notably, negative SST biases in the tropical Atlantic in boreal winter induce an anomalously strong Aleutian low and a southward bias in the North Pacific storm track. In boreal summer, the negative SST biases induce a strengthened North Atlantic subtropical high and Great Plains low-level jet. Each of these impacts contributes to positive annual mean precipitation biases over western North America. Both North Pacific and North Atlantic SST biases induce SST biases in remote basins through dynamical pathways, so a complete attribution of the effects of SST biases on precipitation must account for both the local and remote impacts.

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Baoqiang Xiang, Shian-Jiann Lin, Ming Zhao, Shaoqing Zhang, Gabriel Vecchi, Tim Li, Xianan Jiang, Lucas Harris, and Jan-Huey Chen

Abstract

While tropical cyclone (TC) prediction, in particular TC genesis, remains very challenging, accurate prediction of TCs is critical for timely preparedness and mitigation. Using a new version of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) coupled model, the authors studied the predictability of two destructive landfall TCs: Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Results demonstrate that the geneses of these two TCs are highly predictable with the maximum prediction lead time reaching 11 days. The “beyond weather time scale” predictability of tropical cyclogenesis is primarily attributed to the model’s skillful prediction of the intraseasonal Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) and the westward propagation of easterly waves. Meanwhile, the landfall location and time can be predicted one week ahead for Sandy’s U.S landfall, and two weeks ahead for Haiyan’s landing in the Philippines. The success in predicting Sandy and Haiyan, together with low false alarms, indicates the potential of using the GFDL coupled model for extended-range predictions of TCs.

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Bin Wang, Juan Li, Mark A. Cane, Jian Liu, Peter J. Webster, Baoqiang Xiang, Hye-Mi Kim, Jian Cao, and Kyung-Ja Ha

Abstract

Predictions of changes of the land monsoon rainfall (LMR) in the coming decades are of vital importance for successful sustainable economic development. Current dynamic models, though, have shown little skill in the decadal prediction of the Northern Hemisphere (NH) LMR (NHLMR). The physical basis and predictability for such predictions remain largely unexplored. Decadal change of the NHLMR reflects changes in the total NH continental precipitation, tropical general circulation, and regional land monsoon rainfall over northern Africa, India, East Asia, and North America. Using observations from 1901 to 2014 and numerical experiments, it is shown that the decadal variability of the NHLMR is rooted primarily in (i) the north–south hemispheric thermal contrast in the Atlantic–Indian Ocean sector measured by the North Atlantic–south Indian Ocean dipole (NAID) sea surface temperature (SST) index and (ii) an east–west thermal contrast in the Pacific measured by an extended El Niño–Southern Oscillation (XEN) index. Results from a 500-yr preindustrial control experiment demonstrate that the leading mode of decadal NHLMR and the associated NAID and XEN SST anomalies may be largely an internal mode of Earth’s climate system, although possibly modified by natural and anthropogenic external forcing. A 51-yr, independent forward-rolling decadal hindcast was made with a hybrid dynamic conceptual model and using the NAID index predicted by a multiclimate model ensemble. The results demonstrate that the decadal changes in the NHLMR can be predicted approximately a decade in advance with significant skills, opening a promising way forward for decadal predictions of regional land monsoon rainfall worldwide.

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