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Bin Wang and Hualan Rui


A simple theoretical analysis on the stability of a resting tropical atmosphere to semigeostrophic perturbations is given using a free atmosphere–boundary layer coupled model on an equatorial β-plane.

An unstable mode emerges when sea surface temperature is higher than a critical value. The growing mode is a moist Kelvin wave modified through coupling with a Rossby wave of the lowest meridional index. The modified Rossby modes, however, remain damped even for high SST. The unstable mode selection can be explained in terms of wave energy generation due to the latent heating induced by frictional moisture convergence.

The horizontal mode-coupling has profound impacts on wave instability. It favors the amplification of long planetary-scale waves, slows down eastward propagation, and suppresses unrealistically fast growth of the uncoupled moist Kelvin mode by creating substantial meridional flows. These effects make the coupled unstable mode more resemble observed equatorial intraseasonal disturbances.

The results also demonstrate that when maximum SST moves from the equator to 7.5°N, the growth rate of the unstable wave is significantly reduced, suggesting that the annual march of the “thermal equator” and associated convective heating is likely responsible for annual variations of the equatorial 40–50 day wave activity.

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Hualan Rui and Bin Wang


The development and dynamical structure of intraseasonal low-frequency convection anomalies in the equatorial region are investigated using 10 years (1975–85) of outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) and 7 years (1979–85) of 200 and 850 mb wind data.

The composite OLR anomalies for 36 cases show a four-stage development process: initiation over equatorial Africa, rapid intensification when passing through the Indian Ocean, mature evolution characterized by a weakening in the maritime continent and redevelopment over the western Pacific, and dissipation near the date line in moderate events or emanation from the equator toward North America and southeastern Pacific in strong events.

A noticeable feature in vertical structure is that the 850 mb convergence leads convection and midtropospheric upward motion by about 30 degrees longitude in both developing and mature phases. Equatorial upper- (lower-) level easterly (westerly) anomalies and associated twin anomalous anticyclonic (cyclonic) circulation anomalies couple with equatorial convection anomalies. The wind anomalies, however, generally lag convection anomalies in development and early mature phases, but nearly overlap in late mature phase and slightly lead the convection anomalies in dissipation phase. The upper-level twin cyclonic cells associated with the westerly anomalies in front of the convection travel across eastern Pacific after the convection ceases in the central Pacific, while the low-level wind anomalies die out east of the date line.

The implications of the findings in relation to theoretical hypotheses on low-frequency motion are discussed.

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Robert E. Livezey, Michiko Masutani, Ants Leetmaa, Hualan Rui, Ming Ji, and Arun Kumar


A prominent year-round ensemble response to a global sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly field fixed to that for January 1992 (near the peak of a major warm El Niño–Southern Oscillation episode) was observed in a 20-yr integration of the general circulation model used for operational seasonal prediction by the U.S. National Weather Service. This motivated a detailed observational reassessment of the teleconnections between strong SST anomalies in the central equatorial Pacific Ocean and Pacific–North America region 700-hPa heights and U.S. surface temperatures and precipitation. The approach used consisted of formation of monthly mean composites formed separately from cases in which the SST anomaly in a key area of the central equatorial Pacific Ocean was either large and positive or large and negative. Extensive permutation tests were conducted to test null hypotheses of no signal in these composites. The results provided a substantial case for the presence of teleconnections to either the positive- or negative-SST anomalies in every month of the year. These signals were seasonally varying (sometimes with substantial month to month changes) and, when present for both SST-anomaly signs in a particular month, usually were not similarly phased patterns of opposite polarity (i.e., the SST–teleconnected variable relationships were most often nonlinear).

A suite of 13 45-yr integrations of the same model described above was run with global SST analyses reconstructed from the observational record. Corresponding composites from the model were formed and compared visually and quantitatively with the high-confidence observational signals. The quantitative comparisons included skill analyses utilizing a decomposition that relates the squared differences between two maps to phase correspondence and amplitude and bias error terms and analyses of the variance about composite means. For the latter, in the case of the model runs it was possible to estimate the portions of this variance attributable to case to case variation in SSTs and to internal variability. Comparisons to monthly mean maps and analyses of variance for the 20-yr run with SSTs fixed to January 1992 values were also made.

The visual and quantitative comparisons all revealed different aspects of prominent model systematic errors that have important implications for the optimum exploitation of the model for use in prediction. One of these implications was that the current model’s ensemble responses to SST forcing will not be optimally useful until after nonlinear correction of SST-field-dependent systematic errors.

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Zhong Liu, Hualan Rui, William Teng, Long Chiu, Gregory Leptoukh, and Steven Kempler


Over the decades, significant progress has been made in satellite precipitation product development. In particular, temporal resolution and timely availability have been improved by blended techniques. The resulting products, including near-real-time precipitation products, are widely used in various research and applications. However, the lack of support for user-defined areas or points of interest poses a major obstacle to quickly gaining knowledge of product quality and behavior on a local or regional scale. Current online operational intercomparison and validation services have not addressed this issue adequately. This paper describes an ongoing work to develop an online information system prototype for global satellite precipitation algorithm validation and intercomparison, to overcome current shortcomings by providing dynamic and customized information to users on the expected bias and accuracy of the products, and to give algorithm developers a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of different algorithmic approaches and data sources. An example is provided to illustrate the functionality and capabilities of the system, and future plans are discussed. The system being developed complements and accelerates the existing and ongoing validation activities in the community and contributes to the current NASA Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission and the future NASA Global Precipitation Mission.

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Michael F. Jasinski, Jordan S. Borak, Sujay V. Kumar, David M. Mocko, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, Matthew Rodell, Hualan Rui, Hiroko K. Beaudoing, Bruce E. Vollmer, Kristi R. Arsenault, Bailing Li, John D. Bolten, and Natthachet Tangdamrongsub


Terrestrial hydrologic trends over the conterminous United States are estimated for 1980–2015 using the National Climate Assessment Land Data Assimilation System (NCA-LDAS) reanalysis. NCA-LDAS employs the uncoupled Noah version 3.3 land surface model at 0.125° × 0.125° forced with NLDAS-2 meteorology, rescaled Climate Prediction Center precipitation, and assimilated satellite-based soil moisture, snow depth, and irrigation products. Mean annual trends are reported using the nonparametric Mann–Kendall test at p < 0.1 significance. Results illustrate the interrelationship between regional gradients in forcing trends and trends in other land energy and water stores and fluxes. Mean precipitation trends range from +3 to +9 mm yr−1 in the upper Great Plains and Northeast to −1 to −9 mm yr−1 in the West and South, net radiation flux trends range from +0.05 to +0.20 W m−2 yr−1 in the East to −0.05 to −0.20 W m−2 yr−1 in the West, and U.S.-wide temperature trends average about +0.03 K yr−1. Trends in soil moisture, snow cover, latent and sensible heat fluxes, and runoff are consistent with forcings, contributing to increasing evaporative fraction trends from west to east. Evaluation of NCA-LDAS trends compared to independent data indicates mixed results. The RMSE of U.S.-wide trends in number of snow cover days improved from 3.13 to 2.89 days yr−1 while trend detection increased 11%. Trends in latent heat flux were hardly affected, with RMSE decreasing only from 0.17 to 0.16 W m−2 yr−1, while trend detection increased 2%. NCA-LDAS runoff trends degraded significantly from 2.6 to 16.1 mm yr−1 while trend detection was unaffected. Analysis also indicated that NCA-LDAS exhibits relatively more skill in low precipitation station density areas, suggesting there are limits to the effectiveness of satellite data assimilation in densely gauged regions. Overall, NCA-LDAS demonstrates capability for quantifying physically consistent, U.S. hydrologic climate trends over the satellite era.

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