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Jay H. Lawrimore and Thomas C. Peterson

Abstract

Decreasing pan evaporation trends in many regions of the world have been viewed as evidence of a decrease in the terrestrial evaporation component of the hydrologic cycle. However, some researchers suggest that the relationship between pan evaporation and terrestrial evaporation depends on the environment in which the measurements are recorded and that pan evaporation trends run counter to trends in terrestrial evaporation in some climates. To determine whether evidence of this kind of relationship exists in the observational record, pan evaporation trends were compared with precipitation trends in eight regions within the United States. To the extent that warm-season precipitation can be used as an indicator of surface evaporation, these results support the view that pan evaporation and actual evaporation can be inversely related.

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Karin L. Gleason, Jay H. Lawrimore, David H. Levinson, Thomas R. Karl, and David J. Karoly

Abstract

A revised framework is presented that quantifies observed changes in the climate of the contiguous United States through analysis of a revised version of the U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI). The CEI is based on a set of climate extremes indicators that measure the fraction of the area of the United States experiencing extremes in monthly mean surface temperature, daily precipitation, and drought (or moisture surplus). In the revised CEI, auxiliary station data, including recently digitized pre-1948 data, are incorporated to extend it further back in time and to improve spatial coverage. The revised CEI is updated for the period from 1910 to the present in near–real time and is calculated for eight separate seasons, or periods.

Results for the annual revised CEI are similar to those from the original CEI. Observations over the past decade continue to support the finding that the area experiencing much above-normal maximum and minimum temperatures in recent years has been on the rise, with infrequent occurrence of much below- normal mean maximum and minimum temperatures. Conversely, extremes in much below-normal mean maximum and minimum temperatures indicate a decline from about 1910 to 1930. An increasing trend in the area experiencing much above-normal proportion of heavy daily precipitation is observed from about 1950 to the present. A period with a much greater-than-normal number of days without precipitation is also noted from about 1910 to the mid-1930s. Warm extremes in mean maximum and minimum temperature observed during the summer and warm seasons show a more pronounced increasing trend since the mid-1970s. Results from the winter season show large variability in extremes and little evidence of a trend. The cold season CEI indicates an increase in extremes since the early 1970s yet has large multidecadal variability.

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Matthew J. Menne, Claude N. Williams, Byron E. Gleason, J. Jared Rennie, and Jay H. Lawrimore

Abstract

We describe a fourth version of the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN)-monthly (GHCNm) temperature dataset. Version 4 (v4) fulfills the goal of aligning GHCNm temperature values with the GHCN-daily dataset and makes use of data from previous versions of GHCNm as well as data collated under the auspices of the International Surface Temperature Initiative. GHCNm v4 has many thousands of additional stations compared to version 3 (v3) both historically and with short time-delay updates. The greater number of stations as well as the use of records with incomplete data during the base period provides for greater global coverage throughout the record compared to earlier versions. Like v3, the monthly averages are screened for random errors and homogenized to address systematic errors. New to v4, uncertainties are calculated for each station series, and regional uncertainties scale directly from the station uncertainties. Correlated errors in the station series are quantified by running the homogenization algorithm as an ensemble. Additional uncertainties associated with incomplete homogenization and use of anomalies are then incorporated into the station ensemble. Further uncertainties are quantified at the regional level, the most important of which is for incomplete spatial coverage. Overall, homogenization has a smaller impact on the v4 global trend compared to v3, though adjustments lead to much greater consistency than between the unadjusted versions. The adjusted v3 global mean therefore falls within the range of uncertainty for v4 adjusted data. Likewise, annual anomaly uncertainties for the other major independent land surface air temperature datasets overlap with GHCNm v4 uncertainties.

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Michael Wehner, David R. Easterling, Jay H. Lawrimore, Richard R. Heim Jr., Russell S. Vose, and Benjamin D. Santer

Abstract

Using the Palmer drought severity index, the ability of 19 state-of-the-art climate models to reproduce observed statistics of drought over North America is examined. It is found that correction of substantial biases in the models’ surface air temperature and precipitation fields is necessary. However, even after a bias correction, there are significant differences in the models’ ability to reproduce observations. Using metrics based on the ability to reproduce observed temporal and spatial patterns of drought, the relationship between model performance in simulating present-day drought characteristics and their differences in projections of future drought changes is investigated. It is found that all models project increases in future drought frequency and severity. However, using the metrics presented here to increase confidence in the multimodel projection is complicated by a correlation between models’ drought metric skill and climate sensitivity. The effect of this sampling error can be removed by changing how the projection is presented, from a projection based on a specific time interval to a projection based on a specified temperature change. This modified class of projections has reduced intermodel uncertainty and could be suitable for a wide range of climate change impacts projections.

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Richard R. Heim Jr., Jay H. Lawrimore, David B. Wuertz, Anne M. Waple, and Trevor W. R. Wallis

Abstract

Two climate indices that are useful for monitoring the impact of weather and climate on energy usage and crop yields in the United States have been developed at the National Climatic Data Center. The residential energy-demand temperature index (REDTI), which is based on total population-weighted heating and cooling degree days in the contiguous United States, provides quantitative information on the impact of seasonal temperatures on residential energy demand. The moisture stress index (MSI) is based on the effect of severe to catastrophic drought (Palmer Z index values ≤−2) or catastrophic wetness (Z ≥ +5) on crop productivity within two crop-growing regions (corn and soybeans). Using climate data that extends into the late nineteenth century and operational updates of near-real-time data, the indices provide information that places the impact of weather and climate on energy-supply and crop-production sectors of the economy during the most recent season into historical perspective.

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Pavel Ya Groisman, Richard W. Knight, Thomas R. Karl, David R. Easterling, Bomin Sun, and Jay H. Lawrimore

Abstract

Over the contiguous United States, precipitation, temperature, streamflow, and heavy and very heavy precipitation have increased during the twentieth century. In the east, high streamflow has increased as well. Soil wetness (as described by the Keetch–Byram Drought index) has increased over the northern and eastern regions of the United States, but in the southwestern quadrant of the country soil dryness has increased, making the region more susceptible to forest fires. In addition to these changes during the past 50 yr, increases in evaporation, near-surface humidity, total cloud cover, and low stratiform and cumulonimbus clouds have been observed. Snow cover has diminished earlier in the year in the west, and a decrease in near-surface wind speed has also occurred in many areas. Much of the increase in heavy and very heavy precipitation has occurred during the past three decades.

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Michael F. Squires, Jay H. Lawrimore, Richard R. Heim Jr., David A. Robinson, Mathieu R. Gerbush, and Thomas W. Estilow

This paper describes a new snowfall index that quantifies the impact of snowstorms within six climate regions in the United States. The regional snowfall index (RSI) is based on the spatial extent of snowfall accumulation, the amount of snowfall, and the juxtaposition of these elements with population. Including population information provides a measure of the societal susceptibility for each region. The RSI is an evolution of the Northeast snowfall impact scale (NESIS), which NOAA's National Climatic Data Center began producing operationally in 2006. While NESIS was developed for storms that had a major impact in the Northeast, it includes all snowfall during the lifetime of a storm across the United States and as such can be thought of as a quasi-national index that is calibrated to Northeast snowstorms. By contrast, the RSI is a regional index calibrated to specific regions using only the snow that falls within that region. This paper describes the methodology used to compute the RSI, which requires region-specific parameters and thresholds, and its application within six climate regions in the eastern two-thirds of the nation. The process used to select the region-specific parameters and thresholds is explained. The new index has been calculated for over 580 snowstorms that occurred between 1900 and 2013 providing a century-scale historical perspective for these snowstorms. The RSI is computed for category 1 or greater storms in near–real time, usually a day after the storm has ended.

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Boyin Huang, Peter W. Thorne, Viva F. Banzon, Tim Boyer, Gennady Chepurin, Jay H. Lawrimore, Matthew J. Menne, Thomas M. Smith, Russell S. Vose, and Huai-Min Zhang

Abstract

The monthly global 2° × 2° Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperature (ERSST) has been revised and updated from version 4 to version 5. This update incorporates a new release of ICOADS release 3.0 (R3.0), a decade of near-surface data from Argo floats, and a new estimate of centennial sea ice from HadISST2. A number of choices in aspects of quality control, bias adjustment, and interpolation have been substantively revised. The resulting ERSST estimates have more realistic spatiotemporal variations, better representation of high-latitude SSTs, and ship SST biases are now calculated relative to more accurate buoy measurements, while the global long-term trend remains about the same. Progressive experiments have been undertaken to highlight the effects of each change in data source and analysis technique upon the final product. The reconstructed SST is systematically decreased by 0.077°C, as the reference data source is switched from ship SST in ERSSTv4 to modern buoy SST in ERSSTv5. Furthermore, high-latitude SSTs are decreased by 0.1°–0.2°C by using sea ice concentration from HadISST2 over HadISST1. Changes arising from remaining innovations are mostly important at small space and time scales, primarily having an impact where and when input observations are sparse. Cross validations and verifications with independent modern observations show that the updates incorporated in ERSSTv5 have improved the representation of spatial variability over the global oceans, the magnitude of El Niño and La Niña events, and the decadal nature of SST changes over 1930s–40s when observation instruments changed rapidly. Both long- (1900–2015) and short-term (2000–15) SST trends in ERSSTv5 remain significant as in ERSSTv4.

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Jay H. Lawrimore, David Wuertz, Anna Wilson, Scott Stevens, Matthew Menne, Bryant Korzeniewski, Michael A. Palecki, Ronald D. Leeper, and Thomas Trunk

Abstract

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has operated a network of Fischer & Porter gauges providing hourly and subhourly precipitation observations as part of the U.S. Cooperative Observer Program since the middle of the twentieth century. A transition from punched paper recording to digital recording was completed by NOAA’s National Weather Service in 2013. Subsequently, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) upgraded its quality assurance and data stewardship processes to accommodate the new digital record, better assure the quality of the data, and improve the timeliness by which hourly precipitation observations are made available to the user community. Automated methods for removing noise, detecting diurnal variations, and identifying malfunctioning gauges are described along with quality control algorithms that are applied on hourly and daily time scales. The quality of the hourly observations during the digital era is verified by comparison with hourly observations from the U.S. Climate Reference Network and summary of the day precipitation totals from the Global Historical Climatology Network dataset.

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Jay H. Lawrimore, Michael S. Halpert, Gerald D. Bell, Matthew J. Menne, Bradfield Lyon, Russell C. Schnell, Karin L. Gleason, David R. Easterling, Wasila Thiaw, William J. Wrightand, Richard R. Heim Jr., David A. Robinson, and Lisa Alexander

The global climate in 2000 was again influenced by the long-running Pacific cold episode (La Niña) that began in mid-1998. Consistent with past cold episodes, enhanced convection occurred across the climatologically convective regions of Indonesia and the western equatorial Pacific, while convection was suppressed in the central Pacific. The La Niña was also associated with a well-defined African easterly jet located north of its climatological mean position and low vertical wind shear in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean, both of which contributed to an active North Atlantic hurricane season. Precipitation patterns influenced by typical La Niña conditions included 1) above-average rainfall in southeastern Africa, 2) unusually heavy rainfall in northern and central regions of Australia, 3) enhanced precipitation in the tropical Indian Ocean and western tropical Pacific, 4) little rainfall in the central tropical Pacific, 5) below-normal precipitation over equatorial east Africa, and 6) drier-than-normal conditions along the Gulf coast of the United States.

Although no hurricanes made landfall in the United States in 2000, another active North Atlantic hurricane season featured 14 named storms, 8 of which became hurricanes, with 3 growing to major hurricane strength. All of the named storms over the North Atlantic formed during the August–October period with the first hurricane of the season, Hurricane Alberto, notable as the third-longest-lived tropical system since reliable records began in 1945. The primary human loss during the 2000 season occurred in Central America, where Hurricane Gordon killed 19 in Guatemala, and Hurricane Keith killed 19 in Belize and caused $200 million dollars of damage.

Other regional events included 1) record warm January–October temperatures followed by record cold November–December temperatures in the United States, 2) extreme drought and widespread wildfires in the southern and western Unites States, 3) continued long-term drought in the Hawaiian Islands throughout the year with record 24-h rainfall totals in November, 4) deadly storms and flooding in western Europe in October, 5) a summer heat wave and drought in southern Europe, 6) monsoon flooding in parts of Southeast Asia and India, 7) extreme winter conditions in Mongolia, 8) extreme long-term drought in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, and 9) severe flooding in southern Africa.

Global mean temperatures remained much above average in 2000. The average land and ocean temperature was 0.39°C above the 1880–1999 long-term mean, continuing a trend to warmer-than-average temperatures that made the 1990s the warmest decade on record. While the persistence of La Niña conditions in 2000 was associated with somewhat cooler temperatures in the Tropics, temperatures in the extratropics remained near record levels. Land surface temperatures in the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere were notably warmer than normal, with annually averaged anomalies greater than 2°C in parts of Alaska, Canada, Asia, and northern Europe.

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