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David M. Hall and Ramachandran D. Nair

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A discontinuous Galerkin (DG) transport scheme is presented that employs the Yin–Yang grid on the sphere. The Yin–Yang grid is a quasi-uniform overset mesh comprising two notched latitude–longitude meshes placed at right angles to each other. Surface fluxes of conserved scalars are obtained at the overset boundaries by interpolation from the interior of the elements on the complimentary grid, using high-order polynomial interpolation intrinsic to the DG technique. A series of standard tests are applied to evaluate its performance, revealing it to be robust and its accuracy to be competitive with other global advection schemes at equivalent resolutions. Under p-type grid refinement, the DG Yin–Yang method exhibits spectral error convergence for smooth initial conditions and third-order geometric convergence for C 1 continuous functions. In comparison with finite-volume implementations of the Yin–Yang mesh, the DG implementation is less complex, as it does not require a wide halo region of elements for accurate boundary value interpolation. With respect to DG cubed-sphere implementations, the Yin–Yang grid exhibits similar accuracy and appears to be a viable alternative suitable for global advective transport. A variant called the Yin–Yang polar (YY-P) mesh is also examined and is shown to have properties similar to the original Yin–Yang mesh while performing better on tests with strictly zonal flow.

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Alexandra Simpson, Merrick Haller, David Walker, Patrick Lynett, and David Honegger

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This work describes a phase-resolving wave-forecasting algorithm that is based on the assimilation of marine radar image time series. The algorithm is tested against synthetic data and field observations. The algorithm couples X-band marine radar observations with a phase-resolving wave model that uses the linear mild slope equations for reconstruction of water surface elevations over a large domain of O(km) and a prescribed time window of O(min). The reconstruction also enables wave-by-wave forecasting through forward propagation in space and time. Marine radar image time series provide the input wave observations through a previously given relationship between backscatter intensity and the radial component of the sea surface slope. The algorithm assimilates the wave slope information into the model via a best-fit wave source function at the boundary that minimizes the slope reconstruction error over an annular region at the outer ranges of the radar images. The wave model is then able to propagate the waves across a polar domain to a location of interest at nearer ranges. The constraints on the method for achieving real-time forecasting are identified, and the algorithm is verified against synthetic data and tested using field observations.

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Jonty D. Hall, Adrian J. Matthews, and David J. Karoly

Abstract

The observed relationship between tropical cyclone activity in the Australian region and the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) has been examined using 20 yr of outgoing longwave radiation, NCEP–NCAR reanalysis, and best track tropical cyclone data. The MJO strongly modulates the climatological pattern of cyclogenesis in the Australian region, where significantly more (fewer) cyclones form in the active (inactive) phase of the MJO. This modulation is more pronounced to the northwest of Australia. The relationship between tropical cyclone activity and the MJO was strengthened during El Niño periods. Variations of the large-scale dynamical conditions necessary for cyclogenesis were explored, and it was found that MJO-induced perturbations of these parameters correspond with the observed variation in cyclone activity. In particular, 850-hPa relative vorticity anomalies attributable to the MJO were found to be an excellent diagnostic of the changes in the large-scale cyclogenesis patterns.

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Klaus Keller, Curtis Deutsch, Matthew G. Hall, and David F. Bradford

Abstract

Many climate models predict that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions may cause a threshold response of the North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (MOC). These model predictions are, however, uncertain. Reducing this uncertainty can have an economic value, because it would allow for the design of more efficient risk management strategies. Early information about the MOC sensitivity to anthropogenic forcing (i.e., information that arrives before the system is committed to a threshold response) could be especially valuable. Here the focus is on one particular kind of information: the detection of anthropogenic MOC changes. It is shown that an MOC observation system based on infrequent (decadal scale) hydrographic observations may well fail in the task of early MOC change detection. This is because this system observes too infrequently and the observation errors are too large. More frequent observations and reduced observation errors would result in earlier detection. It is also shown that the economic value of information associated with a confident and early prediction of an MOC threshold response could exceed the costs of typically implemented ocean observation systems by orders of magnitude. One open challenge is to identify a feasible observation system that would enable such a confident and early MOC prediction across the range of possible MOC responses.

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Christina Kumler-Bonfanti, Jebb Stewart, David Hall, and Mark Govett

Abstract

Extracting valuable information from large sets of diverse meteorological data is a time-intensive process. Machine-learning methods can help to improve both speed and accuracy of this process. Specifically, deep-learning image-segmentation models using the U-Net structure perform faster and can identify areas that are missed by more restrictive approaches, such as expert hand-labeling and a priori heuristic methods. This paper discusses four different state-of-the-art U-Net models designed for detection of tropical and extratropical cyclone regions of interest (ROI) from two separate input sources: total precipitable water output from the Global Forecast System (GFS) model and water vapor radiance images from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES). These models are referred to as International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship (IBTrACS)-GFS, Heuristic-GFS, IBTrACS-GOES, and Heuristic-GOES. All four U-Nets are fast information extraction tools and perform with an ROI detection accuracy ranging from 80% to 99%. These are additionally evaluated with the Dice and Tversky intersection-over-union (IoU) metrics, having Dice coefficient scores ranging from 0.51 to 0.76 and Tversky coefficients ranging from 0.56 to 0.74. The extratropical cyclone U-Net model performed 3 times as fast as the comparable heuristic model used to detect the same ROI. The U-Nets were specifically selected for their capabilities in detecting cyclone ROI beyond the scope of the training labels. These machine-learning models identified more ambiguous and active ROI missed by the heuristic model and hand-labeling methods that are commonly used in generating real-time weather alerts, having a potentially direct impact on public safety.

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Guillermo M. Díaz Méndez, Merrick C. Haller, Britt Raubenheimer, Steve Elgar, and David A. Honegger

Abstract

The time and space variability of wave transformation through a tidal inlet is investigated with radar remote sensing. The frequency of wave breaking and the net wave breaking dissipation at high spatial resolution is estimated using image sequences acquired with a land-based X-band marine radar. Using the radar intensity data, transformed to normalized radar cross section σ 0, the temporal and spatial distributions of wave breaking are identified using a threshold developed via the data probability density function. In addition, the inlet bathymetry is determined via depth inversion of the radar-derived frequencies and wavenumbers of the surface waves using a preexisting algorithm (cBathy). Wave height transformation is calculated through the 1D cross-shore energy flux equation incorporating the radar-estimated breaking distribution and bathymetry. The accuracy of the methodology is tested by comparison with in situ wave height observations over a 9-day period, obtaining correlation values R = 0.68 to 0.96, and root-mean-square errors from 0.05 to 0.19 m. Predicted wave forcing, computed as the along-inlet gradient of the cross-shore radiation stress was onshore during high-wave conditions, in good agreement (R = 0.95) with observations.

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Alex Hall, Amy Clement, David W. J. Thompson, Anthony Broccoli, and Charles Jackson

Abstract

Milankovitch proposed that variations in the earth’s orbit cause climate variability through a local thermodynamic response to changes in insolation. This hypothesis is tested by examining variability in an atmospheric general circulation model coupled to an ocean mixed layer model subjected to the orbital forcing of the past 165 000 yr. During Northern Hemisphere summer, the model’s response conforms to Milankovitch’s hypothesis, with high (low) insolation generating warm (cold) temperatures throughout the hemisphere. However, during Northern Hemisphere winter, the climate variations stemming from orbital forcing cannot be solely understood as a local thermodynamic response to radiation anomalies. Instead, orbital forcing perturbs the atmospheric circulation in a pattern bearing a striking resemblance to the northern annular mode, the primary mode of simulated and observed unforced atmospheric variability. The hypothesized reason for this similarity is that the circulation response to orbital forcing reflects the same dynamics generating unforced variability. These circulation anomalies are in turn responsible for significant fluctuations in other climate variables: Most of the simulated orbital signatures in wintertime surface air temperature over midlatitude continents are directly traceable not to local radiative forcing, but to orbital excitation of the northern annular mode. This has paleoclimate implications: during the point of the model integration corresponding to the last interglacial (Eemian) period, the orbital excitation of this mode generates a 1°–2°C warm surface air temperature anomaly over Europe, providing an explanation for the warm anomaly of comparable magnitude implied by the paleoclimate proxy record. The results imply that interpretations of the paleoclimate record must account for changes in surface temperature driven not only by changes in insolation, but also by perturbations in atmospheric dynamics.

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Jesse Norris, Alex Hall, J. David Neelin, Chad W. Thackeray, and Di Chen

Abstract

Daily and subdaily precipitation extremes in historical phase 6 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) simulations are evaluated against satellite-based observational estimates. Extremes are defined as the precipitation amount exceeded every x years, ranging from 0.01 to 10, encompassing the rarest events that are detectable in the observational record without noisy results. With increasing temporal resolution there is an increased discrepancy between models and observations: for daily extremes, the multimodel median underestimates the highest percentiles by about a third, and for 3-hourly extremes by about 75% in the tropics. The novelty of the current study is that, to understand the model spread, we evaluate the 3D structure of the atmosphere when extremes occur. In midlatitudes, where extremes are simulated predominantly explicitly, the intuitive relationship exists whereby higher-resolution models produce larger extremes (r = −0.49), via greater vertical velocity. In the tropics, the convective fraction (the fraction of precipitation simulated directly from the convective scheme) is more relevant. For models below 60% convective fraction, precipitation amount decreases with convective fraction (r = −0.63), but above 75% convective fraction, this relationship breaks down. In the lower-convective-fraction models, there is more moisture in the lower troposphere, closer to saturation. In the higher-convective-fraction models, there is deeper convection and higher cloud tops, which appears to be more physical. Thus, the low-convective models are mostly closer to the observations of extreme precipitation in the tropics, but likely for the wrong reasons. These intermodel differences in the environment in which extremes are simulated hold clues into how parameterizations could be modified in general circulation models to produce more credible twenty-first-century projections.

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Neil Berg, Alex Hall, Fengpeng Sun, Scott Capps, Daniel Walton, Baird Langenbrunner, and David Neelin

Abstract

A new hybrid statistical–dynamical downscaling technique is described to project mid- and end-of-twenty-first-century local precipitation changes associated with 36 global climate models (GCMs) in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project archive over the greater Los Angeles region. Land-averaged precipitation changes, ensemble-mean changes, and the spread of those changes for both time slices are presented. It is demonstrated that the results are similar to what would be produced if expensive dynamical downscaling techniques were instead applied to all GCMs. Changes in land-averaged ensemble-mean precipitation are near zero for both time slices, reflecting the region’s typical position in the models at the node of oppositely signed large-scale precipitation changes. For both time slices, the intermodel spread of changes is only about 0.2–0.4 times as large as natural interannual variability in the baseline period. A caveat to these conclusions is that interannual variability in the tropical Pacific is generally regarded as a weakness of the GCMs. As a result, there is some chance the GCM responses in the tropical Pacific to a changing climate and associated impacts on Southern California precipitation are not credible. It is subjectively judged that this GCM weakness increases the uncertainty of regional precipitation change, perhaps by as much as 25%. Thus, it cannot be excluded that the possibility that significant regional adaptation challenges related to either a precipitation increase or decrease would arise. However, the most likely downscaled outcome is a small change in local mean precipitation compared to natural variability, with large uncertainty on the sign of the change.

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David A. Honegger, Merrick C. Haller, W. Rockwell Geyer, and Gordon Farquharson

Abstract

Observations and analyses of two tidally recurring, oblique, internal hydraulic jumps at a stratified estuary mouth (Columbia River, Oregon/Washington) are presented. These hydraulic features have not previously been studied due to the challenges of both horizontally resolving the sharp gradients and temporally resolving their evolution in numerical models and traditional observation platforms. The jumps, both of which recurred during ebb, formed adjacent to two engineered lateral channel constrictions and were identified in marine radar image time series. Jump occurrence was corroborated by (i) a collocated sharp gradient in the surface currents measured via airborne along-track interferometric synthetic aperture radar and (ii) the transition from supercritical to subcritical flow in the cross-jump direction via shipborne velocity and density measurements. Using a two-layer approximation, observed jump angles at both lateral constrictions are shown to lie within the theoretical bounds given by the critical internal long-wave (Froude) angle and the arrested maximum-amplitude internal bore angle, respectively. Also, intratidal and intertidal variability of the jump angles are shown to be consistent with that expected from the two-layer model, applied to varying stratification and current speed over a range of tidal and river discharge conditions. Intratidal variability of the upchannel jump angle is similar under all observed conditions, whereas the downchannel jump angle shows an additional association with stratification and ebb velocity during the low discharge periods. The observations additionally indicate that the upchannel jump achieves a stable position that is collocated with a similarly oblique bathymetric slope.

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