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John J. Cahir, John M. Norman, and Dale A. Lowry

Abstract

Real-time computer graphics systems are being introduced into weather stations throughout the United States. A sample of student forecasters used such a system to solve specific specialized forecasting problems. Results suggest that for some types of problems, involving timing, their forecasts were better than those made by forecasters who did not have access to the system.

Examples are given of the diagnostic use of some of the available analyses.

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W. P. Kustas, K. S. Humes, J. M. Norman, and M. S. Moran

Abstract

Single- and dual-source models of the surface energy transfer across the soil-vegetation-atmosphere interface were used in conjunction with remotely sensed surface temperature for computing the surface energy balance over heterogeneous surfaces. Both models are relatively simple so that only a few parameters are specified, making them potentially useful for computing surface fluxes with operational satellite observations. The models were tested with datasets collected from a semiarid rangeland environment with canopy cover generally less than 50% and a subhumid tallgrass prairie environment having canopy cover typically greater than 50%. For the semiarid site, differences between the single-source and dual-source model estimates of the sensible heat flux (H) and the observations averaged about 25%. For the tallgrass prairie, the disagreement between observations and single-source model estimates of H was significantly larger, averaging nearly 55%. The average difference between observations and the dual-source model predictions for the tallgrass prairie site increased slightly from the semiarid site to 30%. The latent heat flux (LE) was determined by residual from measurements of net radiation and model estimates of the soil heat flux. For the semiarid site, the single-source model estimates of LE differed on average with the observations by about 15%, whereas the LE values computed by the dual-source model differed by about 20%. For the tallgrass prairie site, the LE values from the single-source model differed from the observations by almost 35%, on average, whereas the dual-source model estimates produced an average difference of about 20%. Given the fact that energy flux observations by various techniques have been found to differ by at least 20%, the single-source model performed satisfactorily for the semiarid site but had difficulty reproducing the fluxes at the tallgrass prairie site. The dual-source model, however, performed reasonably well at both sites. To obtain results comparable to the dual-source model for the tallgrass prairie site, the single-source model required significant modifications to a parameter used in estimating the roughness length for heat.

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John J. Cahir, John M. Norman, Walter D. Lottes, and John A. Toth

Objective analyses on vertical cross sections are presented as examples of the type of real-time product available on the Penn State, Department of Meteorology, on-line minicomputer. The analyses are not new, but their real-time availability is. Our experience has been that such products improve forecaster diagnosis and understanding and suggest that the “man-machine mix” concept, extended to other types of analyses and diagnoses, may be as appropriate to small machines as to large ones.

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Vikram M. Mehta, Katherin Mendoza, Prasad Daggupati, Raghavan Srinivasan, Norman J. Rosenberg, and Debjani Deb

ABSTRACT

The Missouri River basin (MRB) is the largest river basin in the United States and is one of the most important agricultural regions in the world. Three decadal climate variability (DCV) phenomena—the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO), the tropical Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST) gradient variability (TAG), and the west Pacific warm pool SST variability (WPWP)—substantially influence hydrometeorology in the MRB. The authors report on a simulation study with the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to estimate impacts on water availability in response to realistic values of PDO, TAG, and WPWP indices in approximately 13 500 hydrologic unit areas covering the MRB. SWAT, driven by hydrometeorological anomalies associated with positive and negative phases of PDO and TAG, indicated major impacts on water yields and streamflows, as much as ±40% of the average in many locations. Impacts of the WPWP index were smaller. Consistent with observations during 1949–2010, SWAT showed water flow increases of as much as 80% of the average, causing very wet periods when the positive phase of the PDO and the negative phase of the TAG at extreme amplitudes were superposed. Water flows decreased by a similar amount, resulting in severe to extreme droughts when the negative phase of the PDO and the positive phase of the TAG at extreme amplitudes were superposed. Thus, the combined and cumulative effects of these DCV phenomena on water flows, droughts, and wet periods in the MRB can be dramatic, with important consequences for all water-consuming sectors as well as for feedbacks to the climate system.

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Steven G. Perry, John M. Norman, Hans A. Panofsky, and J. David Martsolf

Abstract

A surface layer experiment is described which includes measurements of turbulent velocities at 2 m above the surface with an army of newly developed drag anemometers. The experiment site is located in central Pennsylvania where mesoscale topographic irregularities exist. The presence of a low mountain ridge near the site affects the estimated lateral scale of turbulence and the fluctuations of the lateral velocity component. A good correlation has been found between the variance spectrum of the lateral (or crosswind) velocity component and an estimate of the lateral Eulerian integral scale of the longitudinal velocity component. This can provide future estimates of the lateral scale from turbulent velocity measurements at a single location.

A model for the decay of horizontal coherence which accounts for the stability, roughness and instrument separation has been suggested in a previous paper by Panofsky and Mizuno. The present data compare favorably with this model. The effect of stability on coherence decay is found to have a definite site dependence.

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Norman W. Junker, Richard H. Grumm, Robert Hart, Lance F. Bosart, Katherine M. Bell, and Frank J. Pereira

Abstract

Extreme rainfall events contribute a large portion of wintertime precipitation to northern California. The motivations of this paper were to study the observed differences in the patterns between extreme and more commonly occurring lighter rainfall events, and to study whether anomaly fields might be used to discriminate between them. Daily (1200–1200 UTC) precipitation amounts were binned into three progressively heavier categories (12.5–50.0 mm, light; 50–100 mm, moderate; and >100 mm, heavy) in order to help identify the physical processes responsible for extreme precipitation in the Sierra Nevada range between 37.5° and 41.0°N.

The composite fields revealed marked differences between the synoptic patterns associated with the three different groups. The heavy composites showed a much stronger, larger-scale, and slower-moving negative geopotential height anomaly off the Pacific coast of Oregon and Washington than was revealed in either of the other two composites. The heavy rainfall events were also typically associated with an atmospheric river with anomalously high precipitable water (PW) and 850-hPa moisture flux (MF) within it. The standardized PW and MF anomalies associated with the heavy grouping were higher and were slower moving than in either of the lighter bins.

Three multiday heavy rainfall events were closely examined in order to ascertain whether anomaly patterns could provide forecast utility. Each of the multiday extreme rainfall events investigated was associated with atmospheric rivers that contained highly anomalous 850-hPa MF and PW within it. Each case was also associated with an unusually intense negative geopotential height anomaly that was similarly located off of the west coast of the United States. The similarities in the anomaly pattern among the three multiday extreme events suggest that standardized anomalies might be useful in predicting extreme multiday rainfall events in the northern Sierra range.

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Martha C. Anderson, J. M. Norman, John R. Mecikalski, Ryan D. Torn, William P. Kustas, and Jeffrey B. Basara

Abstract

Disaggregation of regional-scale (103 m) flux estimates to micrometeorological scales (101–102 m) facilitates direct comparison between land surface models and ground-based observations. Inversely, it also provides a means for upscaling flux-tower information into a regional context. The utility of the Atmosphere–Land Exchange Inverse (ALEXI) model and associated disaggregation technique (DisALEXI) in effecting regional to local downscaling is demonstrated in an application to thermal imagery collected with the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) (5-km resolution) and Landsat (60-m resolution) over the state of Oklahoma on 4 days during 2000–01. A related algorithm (DisTrad) sharpens thermal imagery to resolutions associated with visible–near-infrared bands (30 m on Landsat), extending the range in scales achievable through disaggregation. The accuracy and utility of this combined multiscale modeling system is evaluated quantitatively in comparison with measurements made with flux towers in the Oklahoma Mesonet and qualitatively in terms of enhanced information content that emerges at high resolution where flux patterns can be identified with recognizable surface phenomena.

Disaggregated flux fields at 30-m resolution were reaggregated over an area approximating the tower flux footprint and agreed with observed fluxes to within 10%. In contrast, 5-km flux predictions from ALEXI showed a higher relative error of 17% because of the gross mismatch in scale between model and measurement, highlighting the efficacy of disaggregation as a means for validating regional-scale flux predictions over heterogeneous landscapes. Sharpening the thermal inputs to DisALEXI with DisTrad did not improve agreement with observations in comparison with a simple bilinear interpolation technique because the sharpening interval associated with Landsat (60–30 m) was much smaller than the dominant scale of heterogeneity (200–500 m) in the scenes studied. Greater benefit is expected in application to Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data, where the potential sharpening interval (1 km to 250 m) brackets the typical agricultural field scale. Thermal sharpening did, however, significantly improve output in terms of visual information content and model convergence rate.

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Martha C. Anderson, J. M. Norman, William P. Kustas, Fuqin Li, John H. Prueger, and John R. Mecikalski

Abstract

The effects of nonrandom leaf area distributions on surface flux predictions from a two-source thermal remote sensing model are investigated. The modeling framework is applied at local and regional scales over the Soil Moisture–Atmosphere Coupling Experiment (SMACEX) study area in central Iowa, an agricultural landscape that exhibits foliage organization at a variety of levels. Row-scale clumping in area corn- and soybean fields is quantified as a function of view zenith and azimuth angles using ground-based measurements of canopy architecture. The derived clumping indices are used to represent subpixel clumping in Landsat cover estimates at 30-m resolution, which are then aggregated to the 5-km scale of the regional model, reflecting field-to-field variations in vegetation amount. Consideration of vegetation clumping within the thermal model, which affects the relationship between surface temperature and leaf area inputs, significantly improves model estimates of sensible heating at both local and watershed scales in comparison with eddy covariance data collected by aircraft and with a ground-based tower network. These results suggest that this economical approach to representing subpixel leaf area hetereogeneity at multiple scales within the two-source modeling framework works well over the agricultural landscape studied here.

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Vikram M. Mehta, Cody L. Knutson, Norman J. Rosenberg, J. Rolf Olsen, Nicole A. Wall, Tonya K. Bernadt, and Michael J. Hayes

Abstract

Many decadal climate prediction efforts have been initiated under phase 5 of the World Climate Research Programme Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. There is considerable ongoing discussion about model deficiencies, initialization techniques, and data requirements, but not much attention is being given to decadal climate information (DCI) needs of stakeholders for decision support. Here, the authors report the results of exploratory activities undertaken to assess DCI needs in water resources and agriculture sectors, using the Missouri River basin as a case study. This assessment was achieved through discussions with 120 stakeholders.

Stakeholders’ awareness of decadal dry and wet spells and their societal impacts in the basin are described, and stakeholders’ DCI needs and potential barriers to their use of DCI are enumerated. The authors find that impacts, including economic impacts, of decadal climate variability (DCV) on water and agricultural production in the basin are distinctly identifiable and characterizable. Stakeholders have clear notions about their needs for DCI and have offered specific suggestions as to how these might be met. However, while stakeholders are eager to have climate information, including decadal climate outlooks (DCOs), there are many barriers to the use of such information. The first and foremost barrier is that the credibility of DCOs is yet to be established. Second, the nature of institutional rules and regulations, laws, and legal precedents that pose obstacles to the use of DCOs must be better understood and means to modify these, where possible, must be sought. For the benefit of climate scientists, these and other stakeholder needs are also articulated in this paper.

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Patrick W. S. King, Michael J. Leduc, David M. L. Sills, Norman R. Donaldson, David R. Hudak, Paul Joe, and Brian P. Murphy

Abstract

Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) imagery is used to demonstrate the development of lake-breeze boundaries in southern Ontario under different synoptic conditions. The orientation of the gradient wind with respect to the shorelines is important in determining the location of such lines. When moderate winds (5–10 m s−1) are parallel to straight sections of coastlines, cloud lines can extend well inland. In the region between Lakes Huron and Erie lake-breeze lines merge frequently, sometimes resulting in long-lasting stationary storms and attendant heavy rain and flooding. The influence of the lakes is apparent in the tornado climatology for the region: tornadoes appear to be suppressed in regions visited by lake-modified air and enhanced in regions favored by lake-breeze convergence lines. The cloud patterns in the case of a cold front interacting with merging lake-breeze boundaries are shown to be similar to those on a major tornado outbreak day. Two of the cases discussed are used as conceptual models to explain many of the features in the patterns of tornado touchdown locations. In general, it appears that the lakes suppress tornadoes in southern Ontario, compared with neighboring states and in particular in areas where southwest winds are onshore, but enhance tornado likelihood locally in areas of frequent lake-breeze activity.

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