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Carly R. Tozer, James S. Risbey, Terence J. O’Kane, Didier P. Monselesan, and Michael J. Pook

Abstract

We assess the large-scale atmospheric dynamics influencing rainfall extremes in Tasmania, located within the Southern Hemisphere storm track. We characterize wet and dry multiday rainfall extremes in western and eastern Tasmania, two distinct climate regimes, and construct atmospheric flow composites around these extreme events. We consider the onset and decay of the events and find a link between Rossby wave trains propagating in the polar jet waveguide and wet and dry extremes across Tasmania. Of note is that the wave trains exhibit varying behavior during the different extremes. In the onset phase of rainfall extremes in western Tasmania, there is a coherent wave train in the Indian Ocean, which becomes circumglobal in extent and quasi-stationary as the event establishes and persists. Wet and dry extremes in this region are influenced by opposite phases of this circumglobal wave train pattern. In eastern Tasmania, wet extremes relate to a propagating wave train, which is first established in the Indian Ocean sector and propagates eastward to the Pacific Ocean sector as the event progresses. During dry extremes in eastern Tasmania, the wave train is first established in the Pacific Ocean, as opposed to Indian Ocean, and persists in this sector for the entire event, with a structure indicative of the Pacific–South American pattern. The findings regarding different wave train forms and their relationship to rainfall extremes have implications for extreme event attribution in other regions around the globe.

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Carly R. Tozer, James S. Risbey, Didier P. Monselesan, Dougal T. Squire, Matthew A. Chamberlain, Richard J. Matear, and Tilo Ziehn

Abstract

We assess the representation of multiday temperature and rainfall extremes in southeast Australia in three coupled general circulation models (GCMs) of varying resolution. We evaluate the statistics of the modeled extremes in terms of their frequency, duration, and magnitude compared to observations, and the model representation of the midtropospheric circulation (synoptic and large scale) associated with the extremes. We find that the models capture the statistics of observed heatwaves reasonably well, though some models are “too wet” to adequately capture the observed duration of dry spells but not always wet enough to capture the magnitude of extreme wet events. Despite the inability of the models to simulate all extreme event statistics, the process evaluation indicates that the onset and decay of the observed synoptic structures are well simulated in the models, including for wet and dry extremes. We also show that the large-scale wave train structures associated with the observed extremes are reasonably well simulated by the models although their broader onset and decay is not always captured in the models. The results presented here provide some context for, and confidence in, the use of the coupled GCMs in climate prediction and projection studies for regional extremes.

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James S. Risbey, Didier P. Monselesan, Terence J. O’Kane, Carly R. Tozer, Michael J. Pook, and Peter T. Hayman

Abstract

We define and examine extreme frost events at three station locations across southern Australia. A synoptic assessment of the events shows that they are generally characterized by passage of a front or trough followed by a developing blocking high. Frost typically occurs at the leading edge of the block. The very cold air pool leading to the frost event is the result of descent of cold, dry midtropospheric air parcels from regions poleward of the station. The air is exceptionally cold because it is advected across the strong meridional temperature gradients in the storm track. The air is dry because this equatorward meridional pathway requires descent and so must have origins well above the surface in the dryer midtroposphere. The position of the block and location of the dry descent are dynamically determined by large-scale waveguide modes in the polar jet waveguide. The role of the waveguide modes is deduced from composites of midtropospheric flow anomalies over the days preceding and after the frost events. These show organized wavenumber 3 or 4 wave trains, with the block associated with the frost formed as a node of the wave train. The wave trains resemble known waveguide modes such as the Pacific–South America mode, and the frost event projects clearly onto these modes during their life cycle. The strong interannual and decadal variability of extreme frost events at a location can be understood in light of event dependence on organized waveguide modes.

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Doug Richardson, Amanda S. Black, Didier P. Monselesan, Thomas S. Moore II, James S. Risbey, Andrew Schepen, Dougal T. Squire, and Carly R. Tozer

Abstract

Subseasonal forecast skill is not homogeneous in time, and prior assessment of the likely forecast skill would be valuable for end-users. We propose a method for identifying periods of high forecast confidence using atmospheric circulation patterns, with an application to southern Australia precipitation. In particular, we use archetypal analysis to derive six patterns, called archetypes, of daily 500-hPa geopotential height (Z 500) fields over Australia. We assign Z 500 reanalysis fields to the closest-matching archetype and subsequently link the archetypes to precipitation for three key regions in the Australian agriculture and energy sectors: the Murray Basin, southwest Western Australia, and western Tasmania. Using a 20-yr hindcast dataset from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts subseasonal-to-seasonal prediction system, we identify periods of high confidence as when hindcast Z 500 fields closely match an archetype according to a distance criterion. We compare the precipitation hindcast accuracy during these confident periods compared to normal. Considering all archetypes, we show that there is greater skill during confident periods for lead times of less than 10 days in the Murray Basin and western Tasmania, and for greater than 6 days in southwest Western Australia, although these conclusions are subject to substantial uncertainty. By breaking down the skill results for each archetype individually, we highlight how skill tends to be greater than normal for those archetypes associated with drier-than-average conditions.

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Carly R. Tozer, James S. Risbey, Michael Grose, Didier P. Monselesan, Dougal T. Squire, Amanda S. Black, Doug Richardson, Sarah N. Sparrow, Sihan Li, and David Wallom
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Amanda S. Black, James S. Risbey, Christopher C. Chapman, Didier P. Monselesan, Thomas S. Moore II, Michael J. Pook, Doug Richardson, Bernadette M. Sloyan, Dougal T. Squire, and Carly R. Tozer

Abstract

Large-scale cloud features referred to as cloudbands are known to be related to widespread and heavy rain via the transport of tropical heat and moisture to higher latitudes. The Australian northwest cloudband is such a feature that has been identified in simple searches of satellite imagery but with limited investigation of its atmospheric dynamical support. An accurate, longterm climatology of northwest cloudbands is key to robustly assessing these events. A dynamically based search algorithm has been developed that is guided by the presence and orientation of the subtropical jet stream. This jet stream is the large-scale atmospheric feature that determines the development and alignment of a cloudband. Using a new 40-year dataset of cloudband events compiled by this search algorithm, composite atmospheric and ocean surface conditions over the period 1979-2018 have been assessed. Composite cloudband upper level flow revealed a tilted low pressure trough embedded in a Rossby wave train. Composites of vertically integrated water vapor transport centered around the jet maximum during northwest cloudband events reveal a distinct Atmospheric River supplying tropical moisture for cloudband rainfall. Parcel backtracking indicated multiple regions of moisture support for cloudbands. A thermal wind anomaly orientated with respect to enhanced sea surface temperature gradient over the Indian Ocean was also a key composite cloudband feature. 300 years of a freely-coupled control simulation of the ACCESS-D system was assessed for its ability to simulate northwest cloudbands. Composite analysis of model cloudbands compared reasonably well to reanalysis despite some differences in seasonality and frequency of occurrence.

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William J. Merryfield, Johanna Baehr, Lauriane Batté, Emily J. Becker, Amy H. Butler, Caio A. S. Coelho, Gokhan Danabasoglu, Paul A. Dirmeyer, Francisco J. Doblas-Reyes, Daniela I. V. Domeisen, Laura Ferranti, Tatiana Ilynia, Arun Kumar, Wolfgang A. Müller, Michel Rixen, Andrew W. Robertson, Doug M. Smith, Yuhei Takaya, Matthias Tuma, Frederic Vitart, Christopher J. White, Mariano S. Alvarez, Constantin Ardilouze, Hannah Attard, Cory Baggett, Magdalena A. Balmaseda, Asmerom F. Beraki, Partha S. Bhattacharjee, Roberto Bilbao, Felipe M. de Andrade, Michael J. DeFlorio, Leandro B. Díaz, Muhammad Azhar Ehsan, Georgios Fragkoulidis, Sam Grainger, Benjamin W. Green, Momme C. Hell, Johnna M. Infanti, Katharina Isensee, Takahito Kataoka, Ben P. Kirtman, Nicholas P. Klingaman, June-Yi Lee, Kirsten Mayer, Roseanna McKay, Jennifer V. Mecking, Douglas E. Miller, Nele Neddermann, Ching Ho Justin Ng, Albert Ossó, Klaus Pankatz, Simon Peatman, Kathy Pegion, Judith Perlwitz, G. Cristina Recalde-Coronel, Annika Reintges, Christoph Renkl, Balakrishnan Solaraju-Murali, Aaron Spring, Cristiana Stan, Y. Qiang Sun, Carly R. Tozer, Nicolas Vigaud, Steven Woolnough, and Stephen Yeager

Abstract

Weather and climate variations on subseasonal to decadal time scales can have enormous social, economic, and environmental impacts, making skillful predictions on these time scales a valuable tool for decision-makers. As such, there is a growing interest in the scientific, operational, and applications communities in developing forecasts to improve our foreknowledge of extreme events. On subseasonal to seasonal (S2S) time scales, these include high-impact meteorological events such as tropical cyclones, extratropical storms, floods, droughts, and heat and cold waves. On seasonal to decadal (S2D) time scales, while the focus broadly remains similar (e.g., on precipitation, surface and upper-ocean temperatures, and their effects on the probabilities of high-impact meteorological events), understanding the roles of internal variability and externally forced variability such as anthropogenic warming in forecasts also becomes important. The S2S and S2D communities share common scientific and technical challenges. These include forecast initialization and ensemble generation; initialization shock and drift; understanding the onset of model systematic errors; bias correction, calibration, and forecast quality assessment; model resolution; atmosphere–ocean coupling; sources and expectations for predictability; and linking research, operational forecasting, and end-user needs. In September 2018 a coordinated pair of international conferences, framed by the above challenges, was organized jointly by the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the World Weather Research Programme (WWRP). These conferences surveyed the state of S2S and S2D prediction, ongoing research, and future needs, providing an ideal basis for synthesizing current and emerging developments in these areas that promise to enhance future operational services. This article provides such a synthesis.

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