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Olivier P. Prat and Brian R. Nelson

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The authors evaluate the contribution of tropical cyclones (TCs) to daily precipitation extremes over land for TC-active regions around the world. From 1998 to 2012, data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA 3B42) showed that TCs account for an average of 3.5% ± 1% of the total number of rainy days over land areas experiencing cyclonic activity regardless of the basin considered. TC days represent between 13% and 31% of daily extremes above 4 in. day−1, but can account locally for the large majority (>70%) or almost all (≈100%) of extreme rainfall even over higher-latitude areas marginally affected by cyclonic activity. Moreover, regardless of the TC basin, TC-related extremes occur preferably later in the TC season after the peak of cyclonic activity.

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Olivier P. Prat and Brian R. Nelson

Abstract

The objective of this paper is to characterize the precipitation amounts originating from tropical cyclones (TCs) in the southeastern United States during the tropical storm season from June to November. Using 12 years of precipitation data from the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM), the authors estimate the TC contribution on the seasonal, interannual, and monthly precipitation budget using TC information derived from the International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship (IBTrACS). Results derived from the TRMM Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) 3B42 showed that TCs accounted for about 7% of the seasonal precipitation total from 1998 to 2009. Rainfall attributable to TCs was found to contribute as much as 8%–12% for inland areas located between 150 and 300 km from the coast and up to 15%–20% for coastal areas from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, southern Florida, and coastal Carolinas. The interannual contribution varied from 1.3% to 13.8% for the period 1998–2009 and depended on the TC seasonal activity, TC intensity, and TC paths as they traveled inland. For TCs making landfall, the rainfall contribution could be locally above 40% and, on a monthly basis, TCs contributed as much as 20% of September rainfall. The probability density functions of rainfall attributable to tropical cyclones showed that the percentage of rainfall associated with TC over land increased with increasing rain intensity and represent about 20% of heavy rainfall (>20 mm h−1), while TCs account for less than 5% of all seasonal precipitation events.

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Brian R. Nelson, D-J. Seo, and Dongsoo Kim

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Temporally consistent high-quality, high-resolution multisensor precipitation reanalysis (MPR) products are needed for a wide range of quantitative climatological and hydroclimatological applications. Therefore, the authors have reengineered the multisensor precipitation estimator (MPE) algorithms of the NWS into the MPR package. Owing to the retrospective nature of the analysis, MPR allows for the utilization of additional rain gauge data, more rigorous automatic quality control, and post factum correction of radar quantitative precipitation estimation (QPE) and optimization of key parameters in multisensor estimation. To evaluate and demonstrate the value of MPR, the authors designed and carried out a set of cross-validation experiments in the pilot domain of North Carolina and South Carolina. The rain gauge data are from the reprocessed Hydrometeorological Automated Data System (HADS) and the daily Cooperative Observer Program (COOP). The radar QPE data are the operationally produced Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler digital precipitation array (DPA) products. To screen out bad rain gauge data, quality control steps were taken that use rain gauge and radar data. The resulting MPR products are compared with the stage IV product on a daily scale at the withheld COOP gauge locations. This paper describes the data, the MPR procedure, and the validation experiments, and it summarizes the findings.

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Brian R. Nelson, Olivier P. Prat, and Ronald Leeper

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Ancillary information that exists within rain gauge and radar-based data sets provides opportunities to better identify error and bias between the two observing platforms as compared to error and bias statistics without ancillary information. These variables include precipitation type identification, air temperature, and radar quality. There are two NEXRAD based data sets used for reference; the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) stage IV and the NOAA NEXRAD Reanalysis (NNR) gridded data sets. The NCEP stage IV data set is available at 4km hourly and includes radar-gauge bias adjusted precipitation estimates. The NNR data set is available at 1km at 5-minute and hourly time intervals and includes several different variables such as reflectivity, radar-only estimates, precipitation flag, radar quality indicator, and radar-gauge bias adjusted precipitation estimates. The NNR data product provides additional information to apply quality control such as identification of precipitation type, identification of storm type and Z-R relation. Other measures of quality control are a part of the NNR data product development. In addition, some of the variables are available at 5-minute scale. We compare the radar-based estimates with the rain gauge observations from the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN). The USCRN network is available at the 5-minute scale and includes observations of air temperature, wind, and soil moisture among others. We present statistical comparisons of rain gauge observations with radar-based estimates by segmenting information based on precipitation type, air temperature, and radar quality indicator.

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Brian R. Nelson, Olivier P. Prat, D.-J. Seo, and Emad Habib

Abstract

The National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) stage IV quantitative precipitation estimates (QPEs) are used in many studies for intercomparisons including those for satellite QPEs. An overview of the National Weather Service precipitation processing system is provided here so as to set the stage IV product in context and to provide users with some knowledge as to how it is developed. Then, an assessment of the stage IV product over the period 2002–12 is provided. The assessment shows that the stage IV product can be useful for conditional comparisons of moderate-to-heavy rainfall for select seasons and locations. When evaluating the product at the daily scale, there are many discontinuities due to the operational processing at the radar site as well as discontinuities due to the merging of data from different River Forecast Centers (RFCs) that use much different processing algorithms for generating their precipitation estimates. An assessment of the daily precipitation estimates is provided based on the cumulative distribution function for all of the daily estimates for each RFC by season. In addition it is found that the hourly estimates at certain RFCs suffer from lack of manual quality control and caution should be used.

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Nelson L. Seaman, Brian J. Gaudet, David R. Stauffer, Larry Mahrt, Scott J. Richardson, Jeffrey R. Zielonka, and John C. Wyngaard

Abstract

Numerical weather prediction models often perform poorly for weakly forced, highly variable winds in nocturnal stable boundary layers (SBLs). When used as input to air-quality and dispersion models, these wind errors can lead to large errors in subsequent plume forecasts. Finer grid resolution and improved model numerics and physics can help reduce these errors. The Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting model (ARW-WRF) has higher-order numerics that may improve predictions of finescale winds (scales <~20 km) in nocturnal SBLs. However, better understanding of the physics controlling SBL flow is needed to take optimal advantage of advanced modeling capabilities.

To facilitate ARW-WRF evaluations, a small network of instrumented towers was deployed in the ridge-and-valley topography of central Pennsylvania (PA). Time series of local observations and model forecasts on 1.333- and 0.444-km grids were filtered to isolate deterministic lower-frequency wind components. The time-filtered SBL winds have substantially reduced root-mean-square errors and biases, compared to raw data. Subkilometer horizontal and very fine vertical resolutions are found to be important for reducing model speed and direction errors. Nonturbulent fluctuations in unfiltered, very finescale winds, parts of which may be resolvable by ARW-WRF, are shown to generate horizontal meandering in stable weakly forced conditions. These submesoscale motions include gravity waves, primarily horizontal 2D motions, and other complex signatures. Vertical structure and low-level biases of SBL variables are shown to be sensitive to parameter settings defining minimum “background” mixing in very stable conditions in two representative turbulence schemes.

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Yulin Pan, Brian K. Arbic, Arin D. Nelson, Dimitris Menemenlis, W. R. Peltier, Wentao Xu, and Ye Li

Abstract

We consider the power-law spectra of internal gravity waves in a rotating and stratified ocean. Field measurements have shown considerable variability of spectral slopes compared to the high-wavenumber, high-frequency portion of the Garrett–Munk (GM) spectrum. Theoretical explanations have been developed through wave turbulence theory (WTT), where different power-law solutions of the kinetic equation can be found depending on the mechanisms underlying the nonlinear interactions. Mathematically, these are reflected by the convergence properties of the so-called collision integral (CL) at low- and high-frequency limits. In this work, we study the mechanisms in the formation of the power-law spectra of internal gravity waves, utilizing numerical data from the high-resolution modeling of internal waves (HRMIW) in a region northwest of Hawaii. The model captures the power-law spectra in broad ranges of space and time scales, with scalings ω −2.05±0.2 in frequency and m −2.58±0.4 in vertical wavenumber. The latter clearly deviates from the GM76 spectrum but is closer to a family of induced-diffusion-dominated solutions predicted by WTT. Our analysis of nonlinear interactions is performed directly on these model outputs, which is fundamentally different from previous work assuming a GM76 spectrum. By applying a bicoherence analysis and evaluations of modal energy transfer, we show that the CL is dominated by nonlocal interactions between modes in the power-law range and low-frequency inertial motions. We further identify induced diffusion and the near-resonances at its spectral vicinity as dominating the formation of power-law spectrum.

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Hamed Ashouri, Kuo-Lin Hsu, Soroosh Sorooshian, Dan K. Braithwaite, Kenneth R. Knapp, L. Dewayne Cecil, Brian R. Nelson, and Olivier P. Prat

Abstract

A new retrospective satellite-based precipitation dataset is constructed as a climate data record for hydrological and climate studies. Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information using Artificial Neural Networks–Climate Data Record (PERSIANN-CDR) provides daily and 0.25° rainfall estimates for the latitude band 60°S–60°N for the period of 1 January 1983 to 31 December 2012 (delayed present). PERSIANN-CDR is aimed at addressing the need for a consistent, long-term, high-resolution, and global precipitation dataset for studying the changes and trends in daily precipitation, especially extreme precipitation events, due to climate change and natural variability. PERSIANN-CDR is generated from the PERSIANN algorithm using GridSat-B1 infrared data. It is adjusted using the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) monthly product to maintain consistency of the two datasets at 2.5° monthly scale throughout the entire record. Three case studies for testing the efficacy of the dataset against available observations and satellite products are reported. The verification study over Hurricane Katrina (2005) shows that PERSIANN-CDR has good agreement with the stage IV radar data, noting that PERSIANN-CDR has more complete spatial coverage than the radar data. In addition, the comparison of PERSIANN-CDR against gauge observations during the 1986 Sydney flood in Australia reaffirms the capability of PERSIANN-CDR to provide reasonably accurate rainfall estimates. Moreover, the probability density function (PDF) of PERSIANN-CDR over the contiguous United States exhibits good agreement with the PDFs of the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) gridded gauge data and the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multi-Satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) product. The results indicate high potential for using PERSIANN-CDR for long-term hydroclimate studies in regional and global scales.

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Benjamin J. Miriovsky, A. Allen Bradley, William E. Eichinger, Witold F. Krajewski, Anton Kruger, Brian R. Nelson, Jean-Dominique Creutin, Jean-Marc Lapetite, Gyu Won Lee, Isztar Zawadzki, and Fred L. Ogden

Abstract

Analysis of data collected by four disdrometers deployed in a 1-km2 area is presented with the intent of quantifying the spatial variability of radar reflectivity at small spatial scales. Spatial variability of radar reflectivity within the radar beam is a key source of error in radar-rainfall estimation because of the assumption that drops are uniformly distributed within the radar-sensing volume. Common experience tells one that, in fact, drops are not uniformly distributed, and, although some work has been done to examine the small-scale spatial variability of rain rates, little experimental work has been done to explore the variability of radar reflectivity. The four disdrometers used for this study include a two-dimensional video disdrometer, an X-band radar-based disdrometer, an impact-type disdrometer, and an optical spectropluviometer. Although instrumental differences were expected, the magnitude of these differences clouds the natural variability of interest. An algorithm is applied to mitigate these instrumental effects, and the variability remains high, even as the observations are integrated in time. Although one cannot explicitly quantify the spatial variability from this experiment, the results clearly show that the spatial variability of reflectivity is very large.

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