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Jason P. Evans and Seth Westra

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This study investigates the ability of a regional climate model (RCM) to simulate the diurnal cycle of precipitation over southeast Australia, to provide a basis for understanding the mechanisms that drive diurnal variability. When compared with 195 observation gauges, the RCM tends to simulate too many occurrences and too little intensity for precipitation events at the 3-hourly time scale. However, the overall precipitation amounts are well simulated and the diurnal variability in occurrences and intensities are generally well reproduced, particularly in spring and summer. In terms of precipitation amounts, the RCM overestimated the diurnal cycle during the warmer months but was reasonably accurate during winter. The timing of the maxima and minima was found to match the observed timings well. The spatial pattern of diurnal variability in the Weather Research and Forecasting model outputs was remarkably similar to the observed record, capturing many features of regional variability. The RCM diurnal cycle was dominated by the convective (subgrid scale) precipitation. In the RCM the diurnal cycle of convective precipitation over land corresponds well to atmospheric instability and thermally triggered convection over large areas, and also to the large-scale moisture convergence at 700 hPa along the east coast, with the strongest diurnal cycles present where these three mechanisms are in phase.

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Ronald B. Smith and Jason P. Evans

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The climatological nature of orographic precipitation in the southern Andes between 40° and 48°S is investigated primarily using stable isotope data from streamwater. In addition, four precipitation events are examined using balloon soundings and satellite images. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images taken during precipitation events reveal complex patterns of upstream open-cell convection over the ocean, stratus and/or convective clouds over the mountains, and sharp leeside clearing and roll convection over the steppe. Using the water vapor bands on MODIS reveals a sharp drop in column water vapor from about 1.4 to 0.7 cm across the mountain range.

Seventy-one water samples from streams across the southern Andes provide deuterium and oxygen-18 isotope data to determine the drying ratio (DR) of airstreams crossing the mountain range and to constrain free parameters in a mathematical model of orographic precipitation. From the strong isotope fractionation associated with orographic precipitation, it is estimated that DR is ∼50%, the highest value yet found for a mountain range. The cloud delay parameters in a high-resolution linear precipitation model were optimized to fit the streamwater isotope data. The model agrees well with the data when the cloud delay time (i.e., elapsed time from condensation to precipitation) is about 1700 s. The tuned model is used to discuss the small-scale spatial pattern of precipitation.

The isotope data from streams are also compared with data from sapwater. The good agreement suggests that future isotope mapping could be done using trees.

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Eytan Rocheta, Jason P. Evans, and Ashish Sharma

Abstract

Global climate model simulations inherently contain multiple biases that, when used as boundary conditions for regional climate models, have the potential to produce poor downscaled simulations. Removing these biases before downscaling can potentially improve regional climate change impact assessment. In particular, reducing the low-frequency variability biases in atmospheric variables as well as modeled rainfall is important for hydrological impact assessment, predominantly for the improved simulation of floods and droughts. The impact of this bias in the lateral boundary conditions driving the dynamical downscaling has not been explored before. Here the use of three approaches for correcting the lateral boundary biases including mean, variance, and modification of sample moments through the use of a nested bias correction (NBC) method that corrects for low-frequency variability bias is investigated. These corrections are implemented at the 6-hourly time scale on the global climate model simulations to drive a regional climate model over the Australian Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) domain. The results show that the most substantial improvement in low-frequency variability after bias correction is obtained from modifying the mean field, with smaller changes attributed to the variance. Explicitly modifying monthly and annual lag-1 autocorrelations through NBC does not substantially improve low-frequency variability attributes of simulated precipitation in the regional model over a simpler mean bias correction. These results raise questions about the nature of bias correction techniques that are required to successfully gain improvement in regional climate model simulations and show that more complicated techniques do not necessarily lead to more skillful simulation.

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Benjamin F. Zaitchik, Jason P. Evans, and Ronald B. Smith

Abstract

The authors propose that a heat-driven circulation from the Zagros Plateau has a significant impact on the climate of the Middle East Plain (MEP), especially summertime winds, air temperature, and aridity. This proposal is examined in numerical experiments with a regional climate model. Simulations in which the Zagros Plateau was assigned a highly reflective, “snowlike” albedo neutralized the heat-driven circulation and produced an extra summertime warming of 1°–2°C in the MEP, measured relative to a control simulation and to the records of the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis project. This effect was largest in midsummer, when heating on the plateau was greatest. Additionally, simulations with high albedo on the Zagros showed reduced subsidence and enhanced precipitation in the MEP. These sensitivities are interesting because the Zagros Plateau lies downwind of the MEP. Analysis of model results indicates that the sensitivity of the upwind subsidence region to Zagros albedo can be understood as a linear atmospheric response to plateau heating, communicated upwind by a steady heat-driven circulation that influences the thermodynamic balance of the atmosphere. This regional phenomenon adds to the large-scale subsidence patterns established by the Hadley circulation and the Asian monsoon. Observed patterns of vertical motion in the Middle East, then, are a combined product of Zagros-induced subsidence and hemispheric-scale circulations.

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Hooman Ayat, Jason P. Evans, Steven Sherwood, and Ali Behrangi

Abstract

High-resolution datasets offer the potential to improve our understanding of spatial and temporal precipitation patterns and storm structures. The goal of this study is to evaluate the similarities and differences of object-based storm characteristics as observed using space- or land-based sensors. The Method of Object-based Diagnostic Evaluation (MODE) Time Domain (MTD) is used to identify and track storm objects in two high-resolution merged datasets: the Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG) final product V06B and gauge-corrected ground-radar-based Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) quantitative precipitation estimations. Characteristics associated with landfalling hurricanes were also examined as a separate category of storm. The results reveal that IMERG and MRMS agree reasonably well across many object-based storm characteristics. However, there are some discrepancies that are statistically significant. MRMS storms are more concentrated, with smaller areas and higher peak intensities, which implies higher flash flood risks associated with the storms. On the other hand, IMERG storms can travel longer distances with a higher volume of precipitation, which implies higher risk of riverine flooding. Agreement between the datasets is higher for faster-moving hurricanes in terms of the averaged intensity. Finally, MRMS indicates a higher average precipitation intensity during the hurricane’s lifetime. However, in non-hurricanes, the opposite result was observed. This is likely related to MRMS having higher resolution; monitoring the hurricanes from many viewing angles, leading to different signal saturation properties compared to IMERG; and/or the dominance of droplet aggregation effects over evaporation effects at lower altitudes.

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Shaoxiu Ma, Andy Pitman, Jiachuan Yang, Claire Carouge, Jason P. Evans, Melissa Hart, and Donna Green

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Global warming, in combination with the urban heat island effect, is increasing the temperature in cities. These changes increase the risk of heat stress for millions of city dwellers. Given the large populations at risk, a variety of mitigation strategies have been proposed to cool cities—including strategies that aim to reduce the ambient air temperature. This paper uses common heat stress metrics to evaluate the performance of several urban heat island mitigation strategies. The authors found that cooling via reducing net radiation or increasing irrigated vegetation in parks or on green roofs did reduce ambient air temperature. However, a lower air temperature did not necessarily lead to less heat stress because both temperature and humidity are important factors in determining human thermal comfort. Specifically, cooling the surface via evaporation through the use of irrigation increased humidity—consequently, the net impact on human comfort of any cooling was negligible. This result suggests that urban cooling strategies must aim to reduce ambient air temperatures without increasing humidity, for example via the deployment of solar panels over roofs or via cool roofs utilizing high albedos, in order to combat human heat stress in the urban environment.

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Liping Deng, Matthew F. McCabe, Georgiy Stenchikov, Jason P. Evans, and Paul A. Kucera

Abstract

The challenges of monitoring and forecasting flash-flood-producing storm events in data-sparse and arid regions are explored using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model (version 3.5) in conjunction with a range of available satellite, in situ, and reanalysis data. Here, we focus on characterizing the initial synoptic features and examining the impact of model parameterization and resolution on the reproduction of a number of flood-producing rainfall events that occurred over the western Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah. Analysis from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) interim reanalysis (ERA-Interim) data suggests that mesoscale convective systems associated with strong moisture convergence ahead of a trough were the major initial features for the occurrence of these intense rain events. The WRF Model was able to simulate the heavy rainfall, with driving convective processes well characterized by a high-resolution cloud-resolving model. The use of higher (1 km vs 5 km) resolution along the Jeddah coastline favors the simulation of local convective systems and adds value to the simulation of heavy rainfall, especially for deep-convection-related extreme values. At the 5-km resolution, corresponding to an intermediate study domain, simulation without a cumulus scheme led to the formation of deeper convective systems and enhanced rainfall around Jeddah, illustrating the need for careful model scheme selection in this transition resolution. In analysis of multiple nested WRF simulations (25, 5, and 1 km), localized volume and intensity of heavy rainfall together with the duration of rainstorms within the Jeddah catchment area were captured reasonably well, although there was evidence of some displacements of rainstorm events.

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Faye T. Cruz, Andrew J. Pitman, John L. McGregor, and Jason P. Evans

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Using a coupled atmosphere–land surface model, simulations were conducted to characterize the regional climate changes that result from the response of stomates to increases in leaf-level carbon dioxide (CO2) under differing conditions of moisture availability over Australia. Multiple realizations for multiple Januarys corresponding to dry and wet years were run, where only the leaf-level CO2 was varied at 280, 375, 500, 650, 840, and 1000 ppmv and the atmospheric CO2 was fixed at 375 ppmv. The results show the clear effect of increasing leaf-level CO2 on the transpiration via the stomatal response, particularly when sufficient moisture is available. Statistically significant reductions in transpiration generally lead to a significantly warmer land surface with decreases in rainfall. Increases in CO2 lead to increases in the magnitude and areal extent of the statistically significant mean changes in the surface climate. However, the results also show that the availability of moisture substantially affects the effect of increases in the leaf-level CO2, particularly for a moisture-limited region. The physiological feedback can indirectly lead to more rainfall via changes in the low-level moisture convergence and vertical velocity, which result in a cooling simulated over Western Australia. The significant changes in the surface climate presented in the results suggest that it is still important to incorporate these feedbacks in future climate assessments and projections for Australia. The influence of moisture availability also indicates that the capacity of the physiological feedback to affect the future climate may be affected by uncertainties in rainfall projections, particularly for water-stressed regions such as Australia.

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Alejandro Di Luca, Jason P. Evans, Acacia Pepler, Lisa Alexander, and Daniel Argüeso

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The climate of the eastern seaboard of Australia is strongly influenced by the passage of low pressure systems over the adjacent Tasman Sea due to their associated precipitation and their potential to develop into extreme weather events. The aim of this study is to quantify differences in the climatology of east coast lows derived from the use of six global reanalyses. The methodology is explicitly designed to identify differences between reanalyses arising from differences in their horizontal resolution and their structure (type of forecast model, assimilation scheme, and the kind and number of observations assimilated). As a basis for comparison, reanalysis climatologies are compared with an observation-based climatology. Results show that reanalyses, specially high-resolution products, lead to very similar climatologies of the frequency, intensity, duration, and size of east coast lows when using spatially smoothed (about 300-km horizontal grid meshes) mean sea level pressure fields as input data. Moreover, at these coarse horizontal scales, monthly, interannual, and spatial variabilities appear to be very similar across the various reanalyses with a generally stronger agreement between winter events compared with summer ones. Results also show that, when looking at cyclones using reanalysis data at their native resolution (approaching 50-km grid spacing for the most recent products), uncertainties related to the frequency, intensity, and size of lows are very large and it is not clear which reanalysis, if any, gives a better description of cyclones. Further work is needed in order to evaluate the usefulness of the finescale information in modern reanalyses and to better understand the sources of their differences.

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Vincent Moron, Renaud Barbero, Jason P. Evans, Seth Westra, and Hayley J. Fowler

Abstract

Six weather types (WTs) are computed for tropical Australia during the wet season (November–March 1979–2015) using cluster analysis of 6-hourly low-level winds at 850 hPa. The WTs may be interpreted as a varying combination of at least five distinct phenomena operating at different time scales: the diurnal cycle, fast and recurrent atmospheric phenomena such as transient low pressure, the intraseasonal Madden–Julian oscillation, the annual cycle, and interannual variations mostly associated with El Niño–Southern Oscillation. The WTs are also strongly phase-locked onto the break/active phases of the monsoon; two WTs characterize mostly the trade-wind regime prevalent either at the start and the end of the monsoon or during its breaks, while three monsoonal WTs occur mostly during its core and active phases. The WT influence is strongest for the frequency of wet spells, while the influence on intensity varies according to the temporal aggregation of the rainfall. At hourly time scale, the climatological mean wet intensity tends to be near-constant in space and not systematically larger for the monsoonal WTs compared to other WTs. Nevertheless, one transitional WT, most prevalent around late November and characterized by weak synoptic forcings and overall drier conditions than the monsoonal WTs, is associated with an increased number of high hourly rainfall intensities for some stations, including for the interior of the Cape York Peninsula. When the temporal aggregation exceeds 6–12 h, the mean intensity tends to be larger for some of the monsoonal WTs, in association with more frequent and also slightly longer wet spells.

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