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Clara S. Draper, Rolf H. Reichle, and Randal D. Koster

Abstract

In the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications version 2 (MERRA-2) system the land is forced by replacing the model-generated precipitation with observed precipitation before it reaches the surface. This approach is motivated by the expectation that the resultant improvements in soil moisture will lead to improved land surface latent heating (LH). Here aspects of the MERRA-2 land surface energy budget and 2-m air temperatures are assessed. For global land annual averages, MERRA-2 appears to overestimate the LH (by 5 W m−2), the sensible heating (by 6 W m−2), and the downwelling shortwave radiation (by 14 W m−2) while underestimating the downwelling and upwelling (absolute) longwave radiation (by 10–15 W m−2 each). These results differ only slightly from those for NASA’s previous reanalysis, MERRA. Comparison to various gridded reference datasets over boreal summer (June–August) suggests that MERRA-2 has particularly large positive biases (>20 W m−2) where LH is energy limited and that these biases are associated with evaporative fraction biases rather than radiation biases. For time series of monthly means during boreal summer, the globally averaged anomaly correlations with reference data were improved from MERRA to MERRA-2, for LH (from 0.39 to 0.48 vs Global Land Evaporation Amsterdam Model data) and the daily maximum T 2m (from 0.69 to 0.75 vs Climatic Research Unit data). In regions where is particularly sensitive to the precipitation corrections (including the central United States, the Sahel, and parts of South Asia), the changes in the are relatively large, suggesting that the observed precipitation influenced the performance.

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Rolf H. Reichle, Randal D. Koster, Jiarui Dong, and Aaron A. Berg

Abstract

Three independent surface soil moisture datasets for the period 1979–87 are compared: 1) global retrievals from the Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer (SMMR), 2) global soil moisture derived from observed meteorological forcing using the NASA Catchment Land Surface Model, and 3) ground-based measurements in Eurasia and North America from the Global Soil Moisture Data Bank. Time-average soil moisture fields from the satellite and the model largely agree in the global patterns of wet and dry regions. Moreover, the time series and anomaly time series of monthly mean satellite and model soil moisture are well correlated in the transition regions between wet and dry climates where land initialization may be important for seasonal climate prediction. However, the magnitudes of time-average soil moisture and soil moisture variability are markedly different between the datasets in many locations. Absolute soil moisture values from the satellite and the model are very different, and neither agrees better with ground data, implying that a “correct” soil moisture climatology cannot be identified with confidence from the available global data. The discrepancies between the datasets point to a need for bias estimation and correction or rescaling before satellite soil moisture can be assimilated into land surface models.

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C.-H. Moeng, W. R. Cotton, C. Bretherton, A. Chlond, M. Khairoutdinov, S. Krueger, W. S. Lewellen, M. K. MacVean, J. R. M. Pasquier, H. A. Rand, A. P. Siebesma, B. Stevens, and R. I. Sykes

This paper reports an intercomparison study of a stratocumulus-topped planetary boundary layer (PBL) generated from ten 3D large eddy simulation (LES) codes and four 2D cloud-resolving models (CRMs). These models vary in the numerics, the parameterizations of the subgrid-scale (SGS) turbulence and condensation processes, and the calculation of longwave radiative cooling. Cloud-top radiative cooling is often the major source of buoyant production of turbulent kinetic energy in the stratocumulus-topped PBL. An idealized nocturnal stratocumulus case was selected for this study. It featured a statistically horizontally homogeneous and nearly solid cloud deck with no drizzle, no solar radiation, little wind shear, and little surface heating.

Results of the two-hour simulations showed that the overall cloud structure, including cloud-top height, cloud fraction, and the vertical distributions of many turbulence statistics, compared well among all LESs despite the code variations. However, the entrainment rate was found to differ significantly among the simulations. Among the model uncertainties due to numerics, SGS turbulence, SGS condensation, and radiation, none could be identified to explain such differences. Therefore, a follow-up study will focus on simulating the entrainment process. The liquid water mixing ratio profiles also varied significantly among the simulations; these profiles are sensitive to the algorithm used for computing the saturation mixing ratio.

Despite the obvious differences in eddy structure in two- and three-dimensional simulations, the cloud structure predicted by the 2D CRMs was similar to that obtained by the 3D LESs, even though the momentum fluxes, the vertical and horizontal velocity variances, and the turbulence kinetic energy profiles predicted by the 2D CRMs all differ significantly from those of the LESs.

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Rolf H. Reichle, Randal D. Koster, Gabriëlle J. M. De Lannoy, Barton A. Forman, Qing Liu, Sarith P. P. Mahanama, and Ally Touré

Abstract

The Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) is a state-of-the-art reanalysis that provides, in addition to atmospheric fields, global estimates of soil moisture, latent heat flux, snow, and runoff for 1979–present. This study introduces a supplemental and improved set of land surface hydrological fields (“MERRA-Land”) generated by rerunning a revised version of the land component of the MERRA system. Specifically, the MERRA-Land estimates benefit from corrections to the precipitation forcing with the Global Precipitation Climatology Project pentad product (version 2.1) and from revised parameter values in the rainfall interception model, changes that effectively correct for known limitations in the MERRA surface meteorological forcings. The skill (defined as the correlation coefficient of the anomaly time series) in land surface hydrological fields from MERRA and MERRA-Land is assessed here against observations and compared to the skill of the state-of-the-art ECMWF Re-Analysis-Interim (ERA-I). MERRA-Land and ERA-I root zone soil moisture skills (against in situ observations at 85 U.S. stations) are comparable and significantly greater than that of MERRA. Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, MERRA and MERRA-Land agree reasonably well with in situ snow depth measurements (from 583 stations) and with snow water equivalent from an independent analysis. Runoff skill (against naturalized stream flow observations from 18 U.S. basins) of MERRA and MERRA-Land is typically higher than that of ERA-I. With a few exceptions, the MERRA-Land data appear more accurate than the original MERRA estimates and are thus recommended for those interested in using MERRA output for land surface hydrological studies.

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P. A. Durkee, K. J. Noone, R. J. Ferek, D. W. Johnson, J. P. Taylor, T. J. Garrett, P. V. Hobbs, J. G. Hudson, C. S. Bretherton, G. Innis, G. M. Frick, W. A. Hoppel, C. D. O’Dowd, L. M. Russell, R. Gasparovic, K. E. Nielsen, S. A. Tessmer, E. Öström, S. R. Osborne, R. C. Flagan, J. H. Seinfeld, and H. Rand

Abstract

Anomalously high reflectivity tracks in stratus and stratocumulus sheets associated with ships (known as ship tracks) are commonly seen in visible and near-infrared satellite imagery. Until now there have been only a limited number of in situ measurements made in ship tracks. The Monterey Area Ship Track (MAST) experiment, which was conducted off the coast of California in June 1994, provided a substantial dataset on ship emissions and their effects on boundary layer clouds. Several platforms, including the University of Washington C-131A aircraft, the Meteorological Research Flight C-130 aircraft, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration ER-2 aircraft, the Naval Research Laboratory airship, the Research Vessel Glorita, and dedicated U.S. Navy ships, participated in MAST in order to study processes governing the formation and maintenance of ship tracks.

This paper tests the hypotheses that the cloud microphysical changes that produce ship tracks are due to (a) particulate emission from the ship’s stack and/or (b) sea-salt particles from the ship’s wake. It was found that ships powered by diesel propulsion units that emitted high concentrations of aerosols in the accumulation mode produced ship tracks. Ships that produced few particles (such as nuclear ships), or ships that produced high concentrations of particles but at sizes too small to be activated as cloud drops in typical stratocumulus (such as gas turbine and some steam-powered ships), did not produce ship tracks. Statistics and case studies, combined with model simulations, show that provided a cloud layer is susceptible to an aerosol perturbation, and the atmospheric stability enables aerosol to be mixed throughout the boundary layer, the direct emissions of cloud condensation nuclei from the stack of a diesel-powered ship is the most likely, if not the only, cause of the formation of ship tracks. There was no evidence that salt particles from ship wakes cause ship tracks.

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Rolf H. Reichle, Gabrielle J. M. De Lannoy, Qing Liu, Randal D. Koster, John S. Kimball, Wade T. Crow, Joseph V. Ardizzone, Purnendu Chakraborty, Douglas W. Collins, Austin L. Conaty, Manuela Girotto, Lucas A. Jones, Jana Kolassa, Hans Lievens, Robert A. Lucchesi, and Edmond B. Smith

Abstract

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission Level-4 Soil Moisture (L4_SM) product provides 3-hourly, 9-km resolution, global estimates of surface (0–5 cm) and root-zone (0–100 cm) soil moisture and related land surface variables from 31 March 2015 to present with ~2.5-day latency. The ensemble-based L4_SM algorithm assimilates SMAP brightness temperature (Tb) observations into the Catchment land surface model. This study describes the spatially distributed L4_SM analysis and assesses the observation-minus-forecast (OF) Tb residuals and the soil moisture and temperature analysis increments. Owing to the climatological rescaling of the Tb observations prior to assimilation, the analysis is essentially unbiased, with global mean values of ~0.37 K for the OF Tb residuals and practically zero for the soil moisture and temperature increments. There are, however, modest regional (absolute) biases in the OF residuals (under ~3 K), the soil moisture increments (under ~0.01 m3 m−3), and the surface soil temperature increments (under ~1 K). Typical instantaneous values are ~6 K for OF residuals, ~0.01 (~0.003) m3 m−3 for surface (root zone) soil moisture increments, and ~0.6 K for surface soil temperature increments. The OF diagnostics indicate that the actual errors in the system are overestimated in deserts and densely vegetated regions and underestimated in agricultural regions and transition zones between dry and wet climates. The OF autocorrelations suggest that the SMAP observations are used efficiently in western North America, the Sahel, and Australia, but not in many forested regions and the high northern latitudes. A case study in Australia demonstrates that assimilating SMAP observations successfully corrects short-term errors in the L4_SM rainfall forcing.

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Ronald Gelaro, Will McCarty, Max J. Suárez, Ricardo Todling, Andrea Molod, Lawrence Takacs, Cynthia A. Randles, Anton Darmenov, Michael G. Bosilovich, Rolf Reichle, Krzysztof Wargan, Lawrence Coy, Richard Cullather, Clara Draper, Santha Akella, Virginie Buchard, Austin Conaty, Arlindo M. da Silva, Wei Gu, Gi-Kong Kim, Randal Koster, Robert Lucchesi, Dagmar Merkova, Jon Eric Nielsen, Gary Partyka, Steven Pawson, William Putman, Michele Rienecker, Siegfried D. Schubert, Meta Sienkiewicz, and Bin Zhao

Abstract

The Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications, version 2 (MERRA-2), is the latest atmospheric reanalysis of the modern satellite era produced by NASA’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO). MERRA-2 assimilates observation types not available to its predecessor, MERRA, and includes updates to the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) model and analysis scheme so as to provide a viable ongoing climate analysis beyond MERRA’s terminus. While addressing known limitations of MERRA, MERRA-2 is also intended to be a development milestone for a future integrated Earth system analysis (IESA) currently under development at GMAO. This paper provides an overview of the MERRA-2 system and various performance metrics. Among the advances in MERRA-2 relevant to IESA are the assimilation of aerosol observations, several improvements to the representation of the stratosphere including ozone, and improved representations of cryospheric processes. Other improvements in the quality of MERRA-2 compared with MERRA include the reduction of some spurious trends and jumps related to changes in the observing system and reduced biases and imbalances in aspects of the water cycle. Remaining deficiencies are also identified. Production of MERRA-2 began in June 2014 in four processing streams and converged to a single near-real-time stream in mid-2015. MERRA-2 products are accessible online through the NASA Goddard Earth Sciences Data Information Services Center (GES DISC).

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Rolf H. Reichle, Gabrielle J. M. De Lannoy, Qing Liu, Joseph V. Ardizzone, Andreas Colliander, Austin Conaty, Wade Crow, Thomas J. Jackson, Lucas A. Jones, John S. Kimball, Randal D. Koster, Sarith P. Mahanama, Edmond B. Smith, Aaron Berg, Simone Bircher, David Bosch, Todd G. Caldwell, Michael Cosh, Ángel González-Zamora, Chandra D. Holifield Collins, Karsten H. Jensen, Stan Livingston, Ernesto Lopez-Baeza, José Martínez-Fernández, Heather McNairn, Mahta Moghaddam, Anna Pacheco, Thierry Pellarin, John Prueger, Tracy Rowlandson, Mark Seyfried, Patrick Starks, Zhongbo Su, Marc Thibeault, Rogier van der Velde, Jeffrey Walker, Xiaoling Wu, and Yijian Zeng

Abstract

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission Level-4 Surface and Root-Zone Soil Moisture (L4_SM) data product is generated by assimilating SMAP L-band brightness temperature observations into the NASA Catchment land surface model. The L4_SM product is available from 31 March 2015 to present (within 3 days from real time) and provides 3-hourly, global, 9-km resolution estimates of surface (0–5 cm) and root-zone (0–100 cm) soil moisture and land surface conditions. This study presents an overview of the L4_SM algorithm, validation approach, and product assessment versus in situ measurements. Core validation sites provide spatially averaged surface (root zone) soil moisture measurements for 43 (17) “reference pixels” at 9- and 36-km gridcell scales located in 17 (7) distinct watersheds. Sparse networks provide point-scale measurements of surface (root zone) soil moisture at 406 (311) locations. Core validation site results indicate that the L4_SM product meets its soil moisture accuracy requirement, specified as an unbiased RMSE (ubRMSE, or standard deviation of the error) of 0.04 m3 m−3 or better. The ubRMSE for L4_SM surface (root zone) soil moisture is 0.038 m3 m−3 (0.030 m3 m−3) at the 9-km scale and 0.035 m3 m−3 (0.026 m3 m−3) at the 36-km scale. The L4_SM estimates improve (significantly at the 5% level for surface soil moisture) over model-only estimates, which do not benefit from the assimilation of SMAP brightness temperature observations and have a 9-km surface (root zone) ubRMSE of 0.042 m3 m−3 (0.032 m3 m−3). Time series correlations exhibit similar relative performance. The sparse network results corroborate these findings over a greater variety of climate and land cover conditions.

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