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Michael Horn, Kevin Walsh, Ming Zhao, Suzana J. Camargo, Enrico Scoccimarro, Hiroyuki Murakami, Hui Wang, Andrew Ballinger, Arun Kumar, Daniel A. Shaevitz, Jeffrey A. Jonas, and Kazuyoshi Oouchi

Abstract

Future tropical cyclone activity is a topic of great scientific and societal interest. In the absence of a climate theory of tropical cyclogenesis, general circulation models are the primary tool available for investigating the issue. However, the identification of tropical cyclones in model data at moderate resolution is complex, and numerous schemes have been developed for their detection.

The influence of different tracking schemes on detected tropical cyclone activity and responses in the Hurricane Working Group experiments is examined herein. These are idealized atmospheric general circulation model experiments aimed at determining and distinguishing the effects of increased sea surface temperature and other increased CO2 effects on tropical cyclone activity. Two tracking schemes are applied to these data and the tracks provided by each modeling group are analyzed.

The results herein indicate moderate agreement between the different tracking methods, with some models and experiments showing better agreement across schemes than others. When comparing responses between experiments, it is found that much of the disagreement between schemes is due to differences in duration, wind speed, and formation-latitude thresholds. After homogenization in these thresholds, agreement between different tracking methods is improved. However, much disagreement remains, accountable for by more fundamental differences between the tracking schemes. The results indicate that sensitivity testing and selection of objective thresholds are the key factors in obtaining meaningful, reproducible results when tracking tropical cyclones in climate model data at these resolutions, but that more fundamental differences between tracking methods can also have a significant impact on the responses in activity detected.

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Hui Wang, Lindsey Long, Arun Kumar, Wanqiu Wang, Jae-Kyung E. Schemm, Ming Zhao, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Timothy E. Larow, Young-Kwon Lim, Siegfried D. Schubert, Daniel A. Shaevitz, Suzana J. Camargo, Naomi Henderson, Daehyun Kim, Jeffrey A. Jonas, and Kevin J. E. Walsh

Abstract

The variability of Atlantic tropical cyclones (TCs) associated with El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in model simulations is assessed and compared with observations. The model experiments are 28-yr simulations forced with the observed sea surface temperature from 1982 to 2009. The simulations were coordinated by the U.S. Climate Variability and Predictability Research Program (CLIVAR) Hurricane Working Group and conducted with five global climate models (GCMs) with a total of 16 ensemble members. The model performance is evaluated based on both individual model ensemble means and multimodel ensemble mean. The latter has the highest anomaly correlation (0.86) for the interannual variability of TCs. Previous observational studies show a strong association between ENSO and Atlantic TC activity, as well as distinctions during eastern Pacific (EP) and central Pacific (CP) El Niño events. The analysis of track density and TC origin indicates that each model has different mean biases. Overall, the GCMs simulate the variability of Atlantic TCs well with weaker activity during EP El Niño and stronger activity during La Niña. For CP El Niño, there is a slight increase in the number of TCs as compared with EP El Niño. However, the spatial distribution of track density and TC origin is less consistent among the models. Particularly, there is no indication of increasing TC activity over the U.S. southeast coastal region during CP El Niño as in observations. The difference between the models and observations is likely due to the bias of the models in response to the shift of tropical heating associated with CP El Niño, as well as the model bias in the mean circulation.

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Rongqing Han, Hui Wang, Zeng-Zhen Hu, Arun Kumar, Weijing Li, Lindsey N. Long, Jae-Kyung E. Schemm, Peitao Peng, Wanqiu Wang, Dong Si, Xiaolong Jia, Ming Zhao, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Timothy E. LaRow, Young-Kwon Lim, Siegfried D. Schubert, Suzana J. Camargo, Naomi Henderson, Jeffrey A. Jonas, and Kevin J. E. Walsh

Abstract

An assessment of simulations of the interannual variability of tropical cyclones (TCs) over the western North Pacific (WNP) and its association with El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), as well as a subsequent diagnosis for possible causes of model biases generated from simulated large-scale climate conditions, are documented in the paper. The model experiments are carried out by the Hurricane Work Group under the U.S. Climate Variability and Predictability Research Program (CLIVAR) using five global climate models (GCMs) with a total of 16 ensemble members forced by the observed sea surface temperature and spanning the 28-yr period from 1982 to 2009. The results show GISS and GFDL model ensemble means best simulate the interannual variability of TCs, and the multimodel ensemble mean (MME) follows. Also, the MME has the closest climate mean annual number of WNP TCs and the smallest root-mean-square error to the observation.

Most GCMs can simulate the interannual variability of WNP TCs well, with stronger TC activities during two types of El Niño—namely, eastern Pacific (EP) and central Pacific (CP) El Niño—and weaker activity during La Niña. However, none of the models capture the differences in TC activity between EP and CP El Niño as are shown in observations. The inability of models to distinguish the differences in TC activities between the two types of El Niño events may be due to the bias of the models in response to the shift of tropical heating associated with CP El Niño.

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Kevin J. E. Walsh, Suzana J. Camargo, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Anne Sophie Daloz, James Elsner, Kerry Emanuel, Michael Horn, Young-Kwon Lim, Malcolm Roberts, Christina Patricola, Enrico Scoccimarro, Adam H. Sobel, Sarah Strazzo, Gabriele Villarini, Michael Wehner, Ming Zhao, James P. Kossin, Tim LaRow, Kazuyoshi Oouchi, Siegfried Schubert, Hui Wang, Julio Bacmeister, Ping Chang, Fabrice Chauvin, Christiane Jablonowski, Arun Kumar, Hiroyuki Murakami, Tomoaki Ose, Kevin A. Reed, Ramalingam Saravanan, Yohei Yamada, Colin M. Zarzycki, Pier Luigi Vidale, Jeffrey A. Jonas, and Naomi Henderson
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Kevin J. E. Walsh, Suzana J. Camargo, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Anne Sophie Daloz, James Elsner, Kerry Emanuel, Michael Horn, Young-Kwon Lim, Malcolm Roberts, Christina Patricola, Enrico Scoccimarro, Adam H. Sobel, Sarah Strazzo, Gabriele Villarini, Michael Wehner, Ming Zhao, James P. Kossin, Tim LaRow, Kazuyoshi Oouchi, Siegfried Schubert, Hui Wang, Julio Bacmeister, Ping Chang, Fabrice Chauvin, Christiane Jablonowski, Arun Kumar, Hiroyuki Murakami, Tomoaki Ose, Kevin A. Reed, Ramalingam Saravanan, Yohei Yamada, Colin M. Zarzycki, Pier Luigi Vidale, Jeffrey A. Jonas, and Naomi Henderson

Abstract

While a quantitative climate theory of tropical cyclone formation remains elusive, considerable progress has been made recently in our ability to simulate tropical cyclone climatologies and to understand the relationship between climate and tropical cyclone formation. Climate models are now able to simulate a realistic rate of global tropical cyclone formation, although simulation of the Atlantic tropical cyclone climatology remains challenging unless horizontal resolutions finer than 50 km are employed. This article summarizes published research from the idealized experiments of the Hurricane Working Group of U.S. Climate and Ocean: Variability, Predictability and Change (CLIVAR). This work, combined with results from other model simulations, has strengthened relationships between tropical cyclone formation rates and climate variables such as midtropospheric vertical velocity, with decreased climatological vertical velocities leading to decreased tropical cyclone formation. Systematic differences are shown between experiments in which only sea surface temperature is increased compared with experiments where only atmospheric carbon dioxide is increased. Experiments where only carbon dioxide is increased are more likely to demonstrate a decrease in tropical cyclone numbers, similar to the decreases simulated by many climate models for a future, warmer climate. Experiments where the two effects are combined also show decreases in numbers, but these tend to be less for models that demonstrate a strong tropical cyclone response to increased sea surface temperatures. Further experiments are proposed that may improve our understanding of the relationship between climate and tropical cyclone formation, including experiments with two-way interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere and variations in atmospheric aerosols.

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