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S. Sokolovskiy, W. Schreiner, C. Rocken, and D. Hunt

Abstract

GPS radio occultation remote sensing of the neutral atmosphere requires ionospheric correction of L1 and L2 signals. The ionosphere-corrected variables derived from radio occultation signals—such as the phase, Doppler, and bending angle—are affected by small-scale ionospheric effects that are not completely eliminated by the ionospheric correction. They are also affected by noise from mainly the L2 signal. This paper introduces a simple method for optimal filtering of the L4 = L1 − L2 signal used to correct the L1 signal, which minimizes the combined effects of both the small-scale ionospheric residual effects and L2 noise on the ionosphere-corrected variables. Statistical comparisons to high-resolution numerical weather models from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) validate that this increases the accuracy of radio occultation inversions in the stratosphere.

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J. M. Alvarez, M. A. Vaughan, C. A. Hostetler, W. H. Hunt, and D. M. Winker

Abstract

Polarization-sensitive lidars have proven to be highly effective in discriminating between spherical and nonspherical particles in the atmosphere. These lidars use a linearly polarized laser and are equipped with a receiver that can separately measure the components of the return signal polarized parallel and perpendicular to the outgoing beam. In this work a technique for calibrating polarization-sensitive lidars is described that was originally developed at NASA's Langley Research Center (LaRC) and has been used continually over the past 15 yr. The procedure uses a rotatable half-wave plate inserted into the optical path of the lidar receiver to introduce controlled amounts of polarization cross talk into a sequence of atmospheric backscatter measurements. Solving the resulting system of nonlinear equations generates the system calibration constants (gain ratio and offset angle) required for deriving calibrated measurements of depolarization ratio from the lidar signals. In addition, this procedure also determines the mean depolarization ratio within the region of the atmosphere that is analyzed. Simulations and error propagation studies show the method to be both reliable and well behaved. Operational details of the technique are illustrated using measurements obtained as part of LaRC's participation in the First International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project Regional Experiment.

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Harold D. B. S. Heorton, Daniel L. Feltham, and Julian C. R. Hunt

Abstract

The sea ice edge presents a region of many feedback processes between the atmosphere, ocean, and sea ice (Maslowski et al.). Here the authors focus on the impact of on-ice atmospheric and oceanic flows at the sea ice edge. Mesoscale jet formation due to the Coriolis effect is well understood over sharp changes in surface roughness such as coastlines (Hunt et al.). This sharp change in surface roughness is experienced by the atmosphere and ocean encountering a compacted sea ice edge. This paper presents a study of a dynamic sea ice edge responding to prescribed atmospheric and oceanic jet formation. An idealized analytical model of sea ice drift is developed and compared to a sea ice climate model [the Los Alamos Sea Ice Model (CICE)] run on an idealized domain. The response of the CICE model to jet formation is tested at various resolutions.

It is found that the formation of atmospheric jets at the sea ice edge increases the wind speed parallel to the sea ice edge and results in the formation of a sea ice drift jet in agreement with an observed sea ice drift jet (Johannessen et al.). The increase in ice drift speed is dependent upon the angle between the ice edge and wind and results in up to a 40% increase in ice transport along the sea ice edge. The possibility of oceanic jet formation and the resultant effect upon the sea ice edge is less conclusive. Observations and climate model data of the polar oceans have been analyzed to show areas of likely atmospheric jet formation, with the Fram Strait being of particular interest.

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Jason A. Otkin, Mark Svoboda, Eric D. Hunt, Trent W. Ford, Martha C. Anderson, Christopher Hain, and Jeffrey B. Basara

Abstract

Given the increasing use of the term “flash drought” by the media and scientific community, it is prudent to develop a consistent definition that can be used to identify these events and to understand their salient characteristics. It is generally accepted that flash droughts occur more often during the summer owing to increased evaporative demand; however, two distinct approaches have been used to identify them. The first approach focuses on their rate of intensification, whereas the second approach implicitly focuses on their duration. These conflicting notions for what constitutes a flash drought (i.e., unusually fast intensification vs short duration) introduce ambiguity that affects our ability to detect their onset, monitor their development, and understand the mechanisms that control their evolution. Here, we propose that the definition for “flash drought” should explicitly focus on its rate of intensification rather than its duration, with droughts that develop much more rapidly than normal identified as flash droughts. There are two primary reasons for favoring the intensification approach over the duration approach. First, longevity and impact are fundamental characteristics of drought. Thus, short-term events lasting only a few days and having minimal impacts are inconsistent with the general understanding of drought and therefore should not be considered flash droughts. Second, by focusing on their rapid rate of intensification, the proposed “flash drought” definition highlights the unique challenges faced by vulnerable stakeholders who have less time to prepare for its adverse effects.

Open access
Jason A. Otkin, Yafang Zhong, Eric D. Hunt, Jeff Basara, Mark Svoboda, Martha C. Anderson, and Christopher Hain

Abstract

This study examines the evolution of soil moisture, evapotranspiration, vegetation, and atmospheric conditions during an unusual flash drought–flash recovery sequence that occurred across the south-central United States during 2015. This event was characterized by a period of rapid drought intensification (flash drought) during late summer that was terminated by heavy rainfall at the end of October that eliminated the extreme drought conditions over a 2-week period (flash recovery). A detailed analysis was performed using time series of environmental variables derived from meteorological, remote sensing, and land surface modeling datasets. Though the analysis revealed a similar progression of cascading effects in each region, characteristics of the flash drought such as its onset time, rate of intensification, and vegetation impacts differed between regions due to variations in the antecedent conditions and the atmospheric anomalies during its growth. Overall, flash drought signals initially appeared in the near-surface soil moisture, followed closely by reductions in evapotranspiration. Total column soil moisture deficits took longer to develop, especially in the western part of the region where heavy rainfall during the spring and early summer led to large moisture surpluses. Large differences were noted in how land surface models in the North American Land Data Assimilation System depicted soil moisture evolution during the flash drought; however, the models were more similar in their assessment of conditions during the flash recovery period. This study illustrates the need to use multiple datasets to track the evolution and impacts of rapidly evolving flash drought and flash recovery events.

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Y.-H. Kuo, X. Zou, S. J. Chen, W. Huang, Y.-R. Guo, R. A. Anthes, M. Exner, D. Hunt, C. Rocken, and S. Sokolovskiy

A Global Positioning System Meteorology (GPS/MET) proof-of-concept experiment became a reality on 3 April 1995. A small satellite carrying a modified GPS receiver was launched into earth orbit to demonstrate the feasibility of active limb sounding of the earth's neutral atmosphere and ionosphere using the radio occultation method. On 22 October 1995, a GPS/MET occultation took place over northeastern China where a dense network of radiosonde observations was available within an hour of the occultation. The GPS/MET refractivity profile shows an inflection, and the corresponding temperature retrieval displays a sharp temperature inversion around 310 mb. Subjective analyses based on radiosonde observations indicate that the GPS/MET occultation went through a strong upper-level front. In this paper, the GPS/MET sounding is compared with nearby radiosonde observations to assess its accuracy and ability to resolve a strong mesoscale feature. The inflection in the refractivity profile and the sharp frontal inversion seen in the GPS/MET sounding were verified closely by a radiosonde located about 150 km to the east of the GPS/MET occultation site. A similar frontal structure was also found in other nearby radiosonde observations. These results showed that high-quality GPS/MET radio occultation data can be obtained even when the occultation goes through a sharp temperature gradient associated with an upper-level front.

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R. A Anthes, P. A Bernhardt, Y. Chen, L. Cucurull, K. F. Dymond, D. Ector, S. B. Healy, S.-P. Ho, D. C Hunt, Y.-H. Kuo, H. Liu, K. Manning, C. McCormick, T. K. Meehan, W J. Randel, C. Rocken, W S. Schreiner, S. V. Sokolovskiy, S. Syndergaard, D. C. Thompson, K. E. Trenberth, T.-K. Wee, N. L. Yen, and Z Zeng

The radio occultation (RO) technique, which makes use of radio signals transmitted by the global positioning system (GPS) satellites, has emerged as a powerful and relatively inexpensive approach for sounding the global atmosphere with high precision, accuracy, and vertical resolution in all weather and over both land and ocean. On 15 April 2006, the joint Taiwan-U.S. Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (COSMIC)/Formosa Satellite Mission 3 (COSMIC/FORMOSAT-3, hereafter COSMIC) mission, a constellation of six microsatellites, was launched into a 512-km orbit. After launch the satellites were gradually deployed to their final orbits at 800 km, a process that took about 17 months. During the early weeks of the deployment, the satellites were spaced closely, offering a unique opportunity to verify the high precision of RO measurements. As of September 2007, COSMIC is providing about 2000 RO soundings per day to support the research and operational communities. COSMIC RO data are of better quality than those from the previous missions and penetrate much farther down into the troposphere; 70%–90% of the soundings reach to within 1 km of the surface on a global basis. The data are having a positive impact on operational global weather forecast models.

With the ability to penetrate deep into the lower troposphere using an advanced open-loop tracking technique, the COSMIC RO instruments can observe the structure of the tropical atmospheric boundary layer. The value of RO for climate monitoring and research is demonstrated by the precise and consistent observations between different instruments, platforms, and missions. COSMIC observations are capable of intercalibrating microwave measurements from the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) on different satellites. Finally, unique and useful observations of the ionosphere are being obtained using the RO receiver and two other instruments on the COSMIC satellites, the tiny ionosphere photometer (TIP) and the tri-band beacon.

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H. J. S. Fernando, E. R. Pardyjak, S. Di Sabatino, F. K. Chow, S. F. J. De Wekker, S. W. Hoch, J. Hacker, J. C. Pace, T. Pratt, Z. Pu, W. J. Steenburgh, C. D. Whiteman, Y. Wang, D. Zajic, B. Balsley, R. Dimitrova, G. D. Emmitt, C. W. Higgins, J. C. R. Hunt, J. C. Knievel, D. Lawrence, Y. Liu, D. F. Nadeau, E. Kit, B. W. Blomquist, P. Conry, R. S. Coppersmith, E. Creegan, M. Felton, A. Grachev, N. Gunawardena, C. Hang, C. M. Hocut, G. Huynh, M. E. Jeglum, D. Jensen, V. Kulandaivelu, M. Lehner, L. S. Leo, D. Liberzon, J. D. Massey, K. McEnerney, S. Pal, T. Price, M. Sghiatti, Z. Silver, M. Thompson, H. Zhang, and T. Zsedrovits

Abstract

Emerging application areas such as air pollution in megacities, wind energy, urban security, and operation of unmanned aerial vehicles have intensified scientific and societal interest in mountain meteorology. To address scientific needs and help improve the prediction of mountain weather, the U.S. Department of Defense has funded a research effort—the Mountain Terrain Atmospheric Modeling and Observations (MATERHORN) Program—that draws the expertise of a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional, and multinational group of researchers. The program has four principal thrusts, encompassing modeling, experimental, technology, and parameterization components, directed at diagnosing model deficiencies and critical knowledge gaps, conducting experimental studies, and developing tools for model improvements. The access to the Granite Mountain Atmospheric Sciences Testbed of the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground, as well as to a suite of conventional and novel high-end airborne and surface measurement platforms, has provided an unprecedented opportunity to investigate phenomena of time scales from a few seconds to a few days, covering spatial extents of tens of kilometers down to millimeters. This article provides an overview of the MATERHORN and a glimpse at its initial findings. Orographic forcing creates a multitude of time-dependent submesoscale phenomena that contribute to the variability of mountain weather at mesoscale. The nexus of predictions by mesoscale model ensembles and observations are described, identifying opportunities for further improvements in mountain weather forecasting.

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C. P. Weaver, X.-Z. Liang, J. Zhu, P. J. Adams, P. Amar, J. Avise, M. Caughey, J. Chen, R. C. Cohen, E. Cooter, J. P. Dawson, R. Gilliam, A. Gilliland, A. H. Goldstein, A. Grambsch, D. Grano, A. Guenther, W. I. Gustafson, R. A. Harley, S. He, B. Hemming, C. Hogrefe, H.-C. Huang, S. W. Hunt, D.J. Jacob, P. L. Kinney, K. Kunkel, J.-F. Lamarque, B. Lamb, N. K. Larkin, L. R. Leung, K.-J. Liao, J.-T. Lin, B. H. Lynn, K. Manomaiphiboon, C. Mass, D. McKenzie, L. J. Mickley, S. M. O'neill, C. Nolte, S. N. Pandis, P. N. Racherla, C. Rosenzweig, A. G. Russell, E. Salathé, A. L. Steiner, E. Tagaris, Z. Tao, S. Tonse, C. Wiedinmyer, A. Williams, D. A. Winner, J.-H. Woo, S. WU, and D. J. Wuebbles

This paper provides a synthesis of results that have emerged from recent modeling studies of the potential sensitivity of U.S. regional ozone (O3) concentrations to global climate change (ca. 2050). This research has been carried out under the auspices of an ongoing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assessment effort to increase scientific understanding of the multiple complex interactions among climate, emissions, atmospheric chemistry, and air quality. The ultimate goal is to enhance the ability of air quality managers to consider global change in their decisions through improved characterization of the potential effects of global change on air quality, including O3 The results discussed here are interim, representing the first phase of the EPA assessment. The aim in this first phase was to consider the effects of climate change alone on air quality, without accompanying changes in anthropogenic emissions of precursor pollutants. Across all of the modeling experiments carried out by the different groups, simulated global climate change causes increases of a few to several parts per billion (ppb) in summertime mean maximum daily 8-h average O3 concentrations over substantial regions of the country. The different modeling experiments in general do not, however, simulate the same regional patterns of change. These differences seem to result largely from variations in the simulated patterns of changes in key meteorological drivers, such as temperature and surface insolation. How isoprene nitrate chemistry is represented in the different modeling systems is an additional critical factor in the simulated O3 response to climate change.

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Annmarie G. Carlton, Joost de Gouw, Jose L. Jimenez, Jesse L. Ambrose, Alexis R. Attwood, Steven Brown, Kirk R. Baker, Charles Brock, Ronald C. Cohen, Sylvia Edgerton, Caroline M. Farkas, Delphine Farmer, Allen H. Goldstein, Lynne Gratz, Alex Guenther, Sherri Hunt, Lyatt Jaeglé, Daniel A. Jaffe, John Mak, Crystal McClure, Athanasios Nenes, Thien Khoi Nguyen, Jeffrey R. Pierce, Suzane de Sa, Noelle E. Selin, Viral Shah, Stephanie Shaw, Paul B. Shepson, Shaojie Song, Jochen Stutz, Jason D. Surratt, Barbara J. Turpin, Carsten Warneke, Rebecca A. Washenfelder, Paul O. Wennberg, and Xianling Zhou

Abstract

The Southeast Atmosphere Studies (SAS), which included the Southern Oxidant and Aerosol Study (SOAS); the Southeast Nexus (SENEX) study; and the Nitrogen, Oxidants, Mercury and Aerosols: Distributions, Sources and Sinks (NOMADSS) study, was deployed in the field from 1 June to 15 July 2013 in the central and eastern United States, and it overlapped with and was complemented by the Studies of Emissions, Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys (SEAC4RS) campaign. SAS investigated atmospheric chemistry and the associated air quality and climate-relevant particle properties. Coordinated measurements from six ground sites, four aircraft, tall towers, balloon-borne sondes, existing surface networks, and satellites provide in situ and remotely sensed data on trace-gas composition, aerosol physicochemical properties, and local and synoptic meteorology. Selected SAS findings indicate 1) dramatically reduced NOx concentrations have altered ozone production regimes; 2) indicators of “biogenic” secondary organic aerosol (SOA), once considered part of the natural background, were positively correlated with one or more indicators of anthropogenic pollution; and 3) liquid water dramatically impacted particle scattering while biogenic SOA did not. SAS findings suggest that atmosphere–biosphere interactions modulate ambient pollutant concentrations through complex mechanisms and feedbacks not yet adequately captured in atmospheric models. The SAS dataset, now publicly available, is a powerful constraint to develop predictive capability that enhances model representation of the response and subsequent impacts of changes in atmospheric composition to changes in emissions, chemistry, and meteorology.

Open access