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Kyle Itterly, Patrick Taylor, and J. Brent Roberts


Diurnal air–sea coupling affects climate modes such as the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) via the regional moist static energy budget. Prior to MJO initiation, large-scale subsidence increases (decreases) surface shortwave insolation (winds). These act in concert to significantly warm the uppermost layer of the ocean over the course of a single day and the ocean mixed layer over the course of 1–2 weeks. Here, we provide an integrated analysis of multiple surface, top-of-atmosphere, and atmospheric column observations to assess the covariability related to regions of strong diurnal sea surface temperature (dSST) warming over 44 MJO events between 2000 and 2018 to assess their role in MJO initiation. Combining satellite observations of evaporation and precipitation with reanalysis moisture budget terms, we find 30%–50% enhanced moistening over high-dSST regions during late afternoon using either ERA5 or MERRA-2 despite large model biases. Diurnally developing moisture convergence, only modestly weaker evaporation, and diurnal minimum precipitation act to locally enhance moistening over broad regions of enhanced diurnal warming, which rectifies onto the larger scale. Field campaign ship and sounding data corroborate that strong dSST periods are associated with reduced middle-tropospheric humidity and larger diurnal amplitudes of surface warming, evaporation, instability, and column moistening. Further, we find greater daytime increases in low cloud cover and evidence of enhanced radiative destabilization for the top 50th dSST percentile. Together, these results support that dSST warming acts in concert with large-scale dynamics to enhance moist static energy during the suppressed to active phase transition of the MJO.

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J. Brent Roberts, Franklin R. Robertson, Carol A. Clayson, and Michael G. Bosilovich


Turbulent fluxes of heat and moisture across the atmosphere–ocean interface are fundamental components of the earth’s energy and water balance. Characterizing both the spatiotemporal variability and the fidelity of these exchanges of heat and moisture is critical to understanding the global water and energy cycle variations, quantifying atmosphere–ocean feedbacks, and improving model predictability. This study examines the veracity of the recently completed NASA Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) product in terms of its turbulent surface fluxes. This assessment employs a large dataset of directly measured turbulent fluxes as well as other turbulent surface flux datasets. The spatial and temporal variability of the surface fluxes are examined in terms of their annual-mean climatologies, their seasonal covariability of near-surface bulk parameters, and their representation of extremes. The impact of data assimilation on the near-surface parameters is assessed through evaluation of the incremental analysis update tendencies. It is found that MERRA turbulent surface fluxes are relatively accurate for typical conditions but have systematically weak vertical gradients in moisture and temperature and a weaker covariability between the near-surface gradients and wind speed than found in observations. This results in an underestimate of the surface latent and sensible heat fluxes over the western boundary current and storm-track regions. The assimilation of observations generally acts to bring MERRA closer to observational products by increasing moisture and temperature near the surface and decreasing the near-surface wind speeds.

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Ralph A. Kahn, John A. Ogren, Thomas P. Ackerman, Jens Bösenberg, Robert J. Charlson, David J. Diner, Brent N. Holben, Robert T. Menzies, Mark A. Miller, and John H. Seinfeld

We briefly but systematically review major sources of aerosol data, emphasizing suites of measurements that seem most likely to contribute to assessments of global aerosol climate forcing. The strengths and limitations of existing satellite, surface, and aircraft remote sensing systems are described, along with those of direct sampling networks and ship-based stations. It is evident that an enormous number of aerosol-related observations have been made, on a wide range of spatial and temporal sampling scales, and that many of the key gaps in this collection of data could be filled by technologies that either exist or are expected to be available in the near future. Emphasis must be given to combining remote sensing and in situ active and passive observations and integrating them with aerosol chemical transport models, in order to create a more complete environmental picture, having sufficient detail to address current climate forcing questions. The Progressive Aerosol Retrieval and Assimilation Global Observing Network (PARAGON) initiative would provide an organizational framework to meet this goal.

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David M. Schultz, Katharine M. Kanak, Jerry M. Straka, Robert J. Trapp, Brent A. Gordon, Dusan S. Zrnić, George H. Bryan, Adam J. Durant, Timothy J. Garrett, Petra M. Klein, and Douglas K. Lilly


Mammatus clouds are an intriguing enigma of atmospheric fluid dynamics and cloud physics. Most commonly observed on the underside of cumulonimbus anvils, mammatus also occur on the underside of cirrus, cirrocumulus, altocumulus, altostratus, and stratocumulus, as well as in contrails from jet aircraft and pyrocumulus ash clouds from volcanic eruptions. Despite their aesthetic appearance, mammatus have been the subject of few quantitative research studies. Observations of mammatus have been obtained largely through serendipitous opportunities with a single observing system (e.g., aircraft penetrations, visual observations, lidar, radar) or tangential observations from field programs with other objectives. Theories describing mammatus remain untested, as adequate measurements for validation do not exist because of the small distance scales and short time scales of mammatus. Modeling studies of mammatus are virtually nonexistent. As a result, relatively little is known about the environment, formation mechanisms, properties, microphysics, and dynamics of mammatus.

This paper presents a review of mammatus clouds that addresses these mysteries. Previous observations of mammatus and proposed formation mechanisms are discussed. These hypothesized mechanisms are anvil subsidence, subcloud evaporation/sublimation, melting, hydrometeor fallout, cloud-base detrainment instability, radiative effects, gravity waves, Kelvin–Helmholtz instability, Rayleigh–Taylor instability, and Rayleigh–Bénard-like convection. Other issues addressed in this paper include whether mammatus are composed of ice or liquid water hydrometeors, why mammatus are smooth, what controls the temporal and spatial scales and organization of individual mammatus lobes, and what are the properties of volcanic ash clouds that produce mammatus? The similarities and differences between mammatus, virga, stalactites, and reticular clouds are also discussed. Finally, because much still remains to be learned, research opportunities are described for using mammatus as a window into the microphysical, turbulent, and dynamical processes occurring on the underside of clouds.

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David J. Diner, Robert T. Menzies, Ralph A. Kahn, Theodore L. Anderson, Jens Bösenberg, Robert J. Charlson, Brent N. Holben, Chris A. Hostetler, Mark A. Miller, John A. Ogren, Graeme L. Stephens, Omar Torres, Bruce A. Wielicki, Philip J. Rasch, Larry D. Travis, and William D. Collins

A comprehensive and cohesive aerosol measurement record with consistent, well-understood uncertainties is a prerequisite to understanding aerosol impacts on long-term climate and environmental variability. Objectives to attaining such an understanding include improving upon the current state-of-the-art sensor calibration and developing systematic validation methods for remotely sensed microphysical properties. While advances in active and passive remote sensors will lead to needed improvements in retrieval accuracies and capabilities, ongoing validation is essential so that the changing sensor characteristics do not mask atmospheric trends. Surface-based radiometer, chemical, and lidar networks have critical roles within an integrated observing system, yet they currently undersample key geographic regions, have limitations in certain measurement capabilities, and lack stable funding. In situ aircraft observations of size-resolved aerosol chemical composition are necessary to provide important linkages between active and passive remote sensing. A planned, systematic approach toward a global aerosol observing network, involving multiple sponsoring agencies and surface-based, suborbital, and spaceborne sensors, is required to prioritize trade-offs regarding capabilities and costs. This strategy is a key ingredient of the Progressive Aerosol Retrieval and Assimilation Global Observing Network (PARAGON) framework. A set of recommendations is presented.

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David J. Diner, Thomas P. Ackerman, Theodore L. Anderson, Jens Bösenberg, Amy J. Braverman, Robert J. Charlson, William D. Collins, Roger Davies, Brent N. Holben, Chris A . Hostetler, Ralph A. Kahn, John V. Martonchik, Robert T. Menzies, Mark A. Miller, John A. Ogren, Joyce E. Penner, Philip J. Rasch, Stephen E. Schwartz, John H. Seinfeld, Graeme L. Stephens, Omar Torres, Larry D. Travis, Bruce A . Wielicki, and Bin Yu

Aerosols exert myriad influences on the earth's environment and climate, and on human health. The complexity of aerosol-related processes requires that information gathered to improve our understanding of climate change must originate from multiple sources, and that effective strategies for data integration need to be established. While a vast array of observed and modeled data are becoming available, the aerosol research community currently lacks the necessary tools and infrastructure to reap maximum scientific benefit from these data. Spatial and temporal sampling differences among a diverse set of sensors, nonuniform data qualities, aerosol mesoscale variabilities, and difficulties in separating cloud effects are some of the challenges that need to be addressed. Maximizing the longterm benefit from these data also requires maintaining consistently well-understood accuracies as measurement approaches evolve and improve. Achieving a comprehensive understanding of how aerosol physical, chemical, and radiative processes impact the earth system can be achieved only through a multidisciplinary, interagency, and international initiative capable of dealing with these issues. A systematic approach, capitalizing on modern measurement and modeling techniques, geospatial statistics methodologies, and high-performance information technologies, can provide the necessary machinery to support this objective. We outline a framework for integrating and interpreting observations and models, and establishing an accurate, consistent, and cohesive long-term record, following a strategy whereby information and tools of progressively greater sophistication are incorporated as problems of increasing complexity are tackled. This concept is named the Progressive Aerosol Retrieval and Assimilation Global Observing Network (PARAGON). To encompass the breadth of the effort required, we present a set of recommendations dealing with data interoperability; measurement and model integration; multisensor synergy; data summarization and mining; model evaluation; calibration and validation; augmentation of surface and in situ measurements; advances in passive and active remote sensing; and design of satellite missions. Without an initiative of this nature, the scientific and policy communities will continue to struggle with understanding the quantitative impact of complex aerosol processes on regional and global climate change and air quality.

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