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Andrew G. Slater and David M. Lawrence

Abstract

Permafrost is a characteristic aspect of the terrestrial Arctic and the fate of near-surface permafrost over the next century is likely to exert strong controls on Arctic hydrology and biogeochemistry. Using output from the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), the authors assess its ability to simulate present-day and future permafrost. Permafrost extent diagnosed directly from each climate model's soil temperature is a function of the modeled surface climate as well as the ability of the land surface model to represent permafrost physics. For each CMIP5 model these two effects are separated by using indirect estimators of permafrost driven by climatic indices and compared to permafrost extent directly diagnosed via soil temperatures. Several robust conclusions can be drawn from this analysis. Significant air temperature and snow depth biases exist in some model's climates, which degrade both directly and indirectly diagnosed permafrost conditions. The range of directly calculated present-day (1986–2005) permafrost area is extremely large (~4–25 × 106 km2). Several land models contain structural weaknesses that limit their skill in simulating cold region subsurface processes. The sensitivity of future permafrost extent to temperature change over the present-day observed permafrost region averages (1.67 ± 0.7) × 106 km2 °C−1 but is a function of the spatial and temporal distribution of climate change. Because of sizable differences in future climates for the representative concentration pathway (RCP) emission scenarios, a wide variety of future permafrost states is predicted by 2100. Conservatively, the models suggest that for RCP4.5, permafrost will retreat from the present-day discontinuous zone. Under RCP8.5, sustainable permafrost will be most probable only in the Canadian Archipelago, Russian Arctic coast, and east Siberian uplands.

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G. M. B. DOBSON, D. N. HARRISON, and J. LAWRENCE

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No Abstract Available.

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David M. Lawrence, Andrew G. Slater, and Sean C. Swenson

Abstract

The representation of permafrost and seasonally frozen ground and their projected twenty-first century trends is assessed in the Community Climate System Model, version 4 (CCSM4) and the Community Land Model version 4 (CLM4). The combined impact of advances in CLM and a better Arctic climate simulation, especially for air temperature, improve the permafrost simulation in CCSM4 compared to CCSM3. Present-day continuous plus discontinuous permafrost extent is comparable to that observed [12.5 × 106 versus (11.8–14.6) × 106 km2], but active-layer thickness (ALT) is generally too thick and deep ground (>15 m) temperatures are too warm in CCSM4. Present-day seasonally frozen ground area is well simulated (47.5 × 106 versus 48.1 × 106 km2). ALT and deep ground temperatures are much better simulated in offline CLM4 (i.e., forced with observed climate), which indicates that the remaining climate biases, particularly excessive high-latitude snowfall biases, degrade the CCSM4 permafrost simulation.

Near-surface permafrost (NSP) and seasonally frozen ground (SFG) area are projected to decline substantially during the twenty-first century [representative concentration projections (RCPs); RCP8.5: NSP by 9.0 × 106 km2, 72%, SFG by 7.1 × 106, 15%; RCP2.6: NSP by 4.1 × 106, 33%, SFG by 2.1 × 106, 4%]. The permafrost degradation rate is slower (2000–50) than in CCSM3 by ~35% because of the improved soil physics. Under the low RCP2.6 emissions pathway, permafrost state stabilizes by 2100, suggesting that permafrost related feedbacks could be minimized if greenhouse emissions could be reduced. The trajectory of permafrost degradation is affected by CCSM4 climate biases. In simulations with this climate bias ameliorated, permafrost degradation in RCP8.5 is lower by ~29%. Further reductions of Arctic climate biases will increase the reliability of permafrost projections and feedback studies in earth system models.

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Gerald A. Meehl, Warren M. Washington, Benjamin D. Santer, William D. Collins, Julie M. Arblaster, Aixue Hu, David M. Lawrence, Haiyan Teng, Lawrence E. Buja, and Warren G. Strand

Abstract

Climate change scenario simulations with the Community Climate System Model version 3 (CCSM3), a global coupled climate model, show that if concentrations of all greenhouse gases (GHGs) could have been stabilized at the year 2000, the climate system would already be committed to 0.4°C more warming by the end of the twenty-first century. Committed sea level rise by 2100 is about an order of magnitude more, percentage-wise, compared to sea level rise simulated in the twentieth century. This increase in the model is produced only by thermal expansion of seawater, and does not take into account melt from ice sheets and glaciers, which could at least double that number. Several tenths of a degree of additional warming occurs in the model for the next 200 yr in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) B1 and A1B scenarios after stabilization in the year 2100, but with twice as much sea level rise after 100 yr, and doubling yet again in the next 100 yr to 2300. At the end of the twenty-first century, the warming in the tropical Pacific for the A2, A1B, and B1 scenarios resembles an El Niño–like response, likely due to cloud feedbacks in the model as shown in an earlier version. Greatest warming occurs at high northern latitudes and over continents. The monsoon regimes intensify somewhat in the future warmer climate, with decreases of sea level pressure at high latitudes and increases in the subtropics and parts of the midlatitudes. There is a weak summer midlatitude soil moisture drying in this model as documented in previous models. Sea ice distributions in both hemispheres are somewhat overextensive, but with about the right ice thickness at the end of the twentieth century. Future decreases in sea ice with global warming are proportional to the temperature response from the forcing scenarios, with the high forcing scenario, A2, producing an ice-free Arctic in summer by the year 2100.

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Corey G. Amiot, Lawrence D. Carey, William P. Roeder, Todd M. McNamara, and Richard J. Blakeslee

Abstract

Wind warnings are the second-most-frequent advisory issued by the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron (45WS) at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Given the challenges associated with nowcasting convection in Florida during the warm season, improvements in 45WS warnings for convective wind events are desired. This study aims to explore the physical bases of dual-polarization radar signatures within wet downbursts around Cape Canaveral and identify signatures that may assist the 45WS during real-time convective wind nowcasting. Data from the 45WS’s C-band dual-polarization radar were subjectively analyzed within an environmental context, with quantitative wind measurements recorded by weather tower sensors for 32 threshold-level downbursts with near-surface winds ≥ 35 kt (1 kt ≈ 0.51 m s−1) and 32 null downbursts. Five radar signatures were identified in threshold-level downburst-producing storms: peak height of 1-dB differential reflectivity Z DR column, peak height of precipitation ice signature, peak reflectivity, height below 0°C level where Z DR increases to 3 dB within a descending reflectivity core (DRC), and vertical Z DR gradient within DRC. Examining these signatures directly in updraft–downdraft cycles that produced threshold-level winds yielded mean lead times of 20.0–28.2 min for cumulus and mature stage signatures and 12.8–14.9 min for dissipating stage signatures, with higher signature test values generally yielding higher skill scores. A conceptual test of utilizing signatures within earlier cells in multicell storms to indirectly predict the potential for intense downbursts in later cells was performed, which offered increased lead times and skill scores for an Eulerian forecast region downstream from the storm initiation location.

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S. M. Rosier, B. N. Lawrence, D. G. Andrews, and F. W. Taylor

Abstract

Dynamical fields based on temperature measurements from the Improved Stratospheric and Mesospheric Sounder on the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite are presented for the Northern Hemisphere stratosphere for the period 28 October 1991 through 18 January 1992. Interpretation of these fields gives a picture of the dynamical evolution of this period in terms of the zonal-mean fields and the synoptic structures. Among the features of interest are the movements of the zonal-mean jets and several periods of stratospheric warming, culminating in a near-major warming in January.

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David M. Lawrence, Keith W. Oleson, Mark G. Flanner, Christopher G. Fletcher, Peter J. Lawrence, Samuel Levis, Sean C. Swenson, and Gordon B. Bonan

Abstract

This paper reviews developments for the Community Land Model, version 4 (CLM4), examines the land surface climate simulation of the Community Climate System Model, version 4 (CCSM4) compared to CCSM3, and assesses new earth system features of CLM4 within CCSM4. CLM4 incorporates a broad set of improvements including additions of a carbon–nitrogen (CN) biogeochemical model, an urban canyon model, and transient land cover and land use change, as well as revised soil and snow submodels.

Several aspects of the surface climate simulation are improved in CCSM4. Improvements in the simulation of soil water storage, evapotranspiration, surface albedo, and permafrost that are apparent in offline CLM4 simulations are generally retained in CCSM4. The global land air temperature bias is reduced and the annual cycle is improved in many locations, especially at high latitudes. The global land precipitation bias is larger in CCSM4 because of bigger wet biases in central and southern Africa and Australia.

New earth system capabilities are assessed. The present-day air temperature within urban areas is warmer than surrounding rural areas by 1°–2°C, which is comparable to or greater than the change in climate occurring over the last 130 years. The snow albedo feedback is more realistic and the radiative forcing of snow aerosol deposition is calculated as +0.083 W m−2 for present day. The land carbon flux due to land use, wildfire, and net ecosystem production is a source of carbon to the atmosphere throughout most of the historical simulation. CCSM4 is increasingly suited for studies of the role of land processes in climate and climate change.

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Gerald A. Meehl, Warren M. Washington, Julie M. Arblaster, Aixue Hu, Haiyan Teng, Jennifer E. Kay, Andrew Gettelman, David M. Lawrence, Benjamin M. Sanderson, and Warren G. Strand

Abstract

Future climate change projections for phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) are presented for the Community Earth System Model version 1 that includes the Community Atmospheric Model version 5 [CESM1(CAM5)]. These results are compared to the Community Climate System Model, version 4 (CCSM4) and include simulations using the representative concentration pathway (RCP) mitigation scenarios, and extensions for those scenarios beyond 2100 to 2300. Equilibrium climate sensitivity of CESM1(CAM5) is 4.10°C, which is higher than the CCSM4 value of 3.20°C. The transient climate response is 2.33°C, compared to the CCSM4 value of 1.73°C. Thus, even though CESM1(CAM5) includes both the direct and indirect effects of aerosols (CCSM4 had only the direct effect), the overall climate system response including forcing and feedbacks is greater in CESM1(CAM5) compared to CCSM4. The Atlantic Ocean meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) in CESM1(CAM5) weakens considerably in the twenty-first century in all the RCP scenarios, and recovers more slowly in the lower forcing scenarios. The total aerosol optical depth (AOD) changes from ~0.12 in 2006 to ~0.10 in 2100, compared to a preindustrial 1850 value of 0.08, so there is less negative forcing (a net positive forcing) from that source during the twenty-first century. Consequently, the change from 2006 to 2100 in aerosol direct forcing in CESM1(CAM5) contributes to greater twenty-first century warming relative to CCSM4. There is greater Arctic warming and sea ice loss in CESM1(CAM5), with an ice-free summer Arctic occurring by about 2060 in RCP8.5 (2040s in September) as opposed to about 2100 in CCSM4 (2060s in September).

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C. A. Barth, R. W. Sanders, G. E. Thomas, G. J. Rottman, D. W. Rusch, R. J. Thomas, G. H. Mount, G. M. Lawrence, J. M. Zawodny, R. A. West, and J. London
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Abayomi A. Abatan, William J. Gutowski Jr., Caspar M. Ammann, Laurna Kaatz, Barbara G. Brown, Lawrence Buja, Randy Bullock, Tressa Fowler, Eric Gilleland, and John Halley Gotway

Abstract

This study analyzes spatial and temporal characteristics of multiyear droughts and pluvials over the southwestern United States with a focus on the upper Colorado River basin. The study uses two multiscalar moisture indices: standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI) and standardized precipitation index (SPI) on a 36-month scale (SPEI36 and SPI36, respectively). The indices are calculated from monthly average precipitation and maximum and minimum temperatures from the Parameter-Elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model dataset for the period 1950–2012. The study examines the relationship between individual climate variables as well as large-scale atmospheric circulation features found in reanalysis output during drought and pluvial periods. The results indicate that SPEI36 and SPI36 show similar temporal and spatial patterns, but that the inclusion of temperatures in SPEI36 leads to more extreme magnitudes in SPEI36 than in SPI36. Analysis of large-scale atmospheric fields indicates an interplay between different fields that yields extremes over the study region. Widespread drought (pluvial) events are associated with enhanced positive (negative) 500-hPa geopotential height anomaly linked to subsidence (ascent) and negative (positive) moisture convergence and precipitable water anomalies. Considering the broader context of the conditions responsible for the occurrence of prolonged hydrologic anomalies provides water resource managers and other decision-makers with valuable understanding of these events. This perspective also offers evaluation opportunities for climate models.

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