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Diandong Ren and Lance M. Leslie

Abstract

As a conveyor belt transferring inland ice to ocean, ice shelves shed mass through large, systematic tabular calving, which also plays a major role in the fluctuation of the buttressing forces. Tabular iceberg calving involves two stages: first is systematic cracking, which develops after the forward-slanting front reaches a limiting extension length determined by gravity–buoyancy imbalance; second is fatigue separation. The latter has greater variability, producing calving irregularity. Whereas ice flow vertical shear determines the timing of the systematic cracking, wave actions are decisive for ensuing viscoplastic fatigue. Because the frontal section has its own resonance frequency, it reverberates only to waves of similar frequency. With a flow-dependent, nonlocal attrition scheme, the present ice model [Scalable Extensible Geoflow Model for Environmental Research-Ice flow submodel (SEGMENT-Ice)] describes an entire ice-shelf life cycle. It is found that most East Antarctic ice shelves have higher resonance frequencies, and the fatigue of viscoplastic ice is significantly enhanced by shoaling waves from both storm surges and infragravity waves (~5 × 10−3 Hz). The two largest embayed ice shelves have resonance frequencies within the range of tsunami waves. When approaching critical extension lengths, perturbations from about four consecutive tsunami events can cause complete separation of tabular icebergs from shelves. For shelves with resonance frequencies matching storm surge waves, future reduction of sea ice may impose much larger deflections from shoaling, storm-generated ocean waves. Although the Ross Ice Shelf (RIS) total mass varies little in the twenty-first century, the mass turnover quickens and the ice conveyor belt is ~40% more efficient by the late twenty-first century, reaching 70 km3 yr−1. The mass distribution shifts oceanward, favoring future tabular calving.

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Diandong Ren and Lance M. Leslie

Abstract

In the first half of this research, this study examines the trend in tropical cyclone (TC) activity over the economically important northwest Western Australia (NWA) TC basin (equator–40°S, 80°–140°E) based on statistical analyses of the International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship (IBTrACS) and large-scale environmental variables, which are known to be closely linked to the formation and longevity of TCs, from NCEP–NCAR reanalyses. In the second half, changes in TC activity from climate model projections for 2000–60 are compared for (i) no scenario change (CNTRL) and (ii) the moderate IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES) A1B scenario (EGHG). The aims are to (i) determine differences in mean annual TC frequency and intensity trends, (ii) test for differences between genesis and decay positions of CNTRL and EGHG projections using a nonparametric permutation test, and (iii) use kernel density estimation (KDE) for a cluster analysis of CNTRL and EGHG genesis and decay positions and generate their probability distribution functions.

The main findings are there is little difference in the mean TC number over the period, but there is a difference in mean intensity; CNTRL and EGHG projections differ in mean genesis and decay positions in both latitude and longitude; and the KDE reveals just one cluster in both CNTRL and EGHG mean genesis and decay positions. The EGHG KDE is possibly disjoint, with a wider longitudinal spread. The results can be explained in terms of physical, meteorological, and sea surface temperature (SST) conditions, which provide natural limits to the spread of the genesis and decay points.

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Diandong Ren and Lance M. Leslie

Abstract

Factors affecting aviation fuel efficiency are thermal and propulsive efficiencies, and overall drag on aircraft. An along-the-route integration is made for all direct flights in a baseline year, 2010, under current and future atmospheric conditions obtained from 26 climate models under the representative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5 scenario. Thermal efficiency and propulsive efficiency are affected differently, with the former decreasing by 0.38% and the latter increasing by 0.35%. Consequently, the overall engine efficiency decrease is merely <0.02%. Over the same period, the skin frictional drag increases ~3.5% from the increased air viscosity. This component is only 5.7% of the total drag, and the ~3.5% increase in air viscosity accounts for a 0.2% inefficiency in fuel consumption. A t test is performed for the multiple-model ensemble mean time series of fuel efficiency decrease for two 20-yr periods centered on years 2010 and 2090, respectively. The trend is found to be statistically significant (p value = 0.0017). The total decrease in aircraft fuel efficiency is equivalent to ~0.68 billion gallons of additional fuel annually, a qualitatively robust conclusion, but quantitatively there is a large interclimate model spread.

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Lance M. Leslie and Klaus Fraedrich

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It is shown that an optimal linear combination of independent forecasts of tropical cyclone tracks significantly reduces the mean forecast-position errors. In this study the independent forecasts are provided by a statistical scheme (CLIPER) and a numerical weather prediction (NWP) model operating over the Australian tropics.

A comparison is made between the optimal linear combination and four other forecast techniques, over the five Australian tropical cyclone seasons 1984/85–1987/88. The combination method gave a mean position error of 157 km at 24 h using independent “best track” data, an improvement of 15% over the next most accurate method. At 48 h, the mean position error of 312 km was 17% less than the next most accurate scheme.

The combination method was assessed further in a real-time trial on operational data during the 1988/89 Australian tropical cyclone season. The results of this trial confirmed the superiority of the combination technique over the other methods. It will be used operationally in the next Australian tropical cyclone season (1989/90) either in its present form or as part of an integrated “expert” system being developed specifically for tropical cyclone motion prediction.

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Lance M. Leslie and Greg J. Holland

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The potential for predicting the skill of 36-h forecasts from the Australian region limited area model is investigated using three predictors of model forecast error (MFE) for mean sea level pressure. Two of the predictors utilize single forecasts: one is based on statistical regression of the MFE against the initial analysis and the forecast; and the other uses a measure of the degree of persistence in the forecast. The third predictor utilizes the divergence, or spread, of an ensemble of forecasts from other NWP centers.

Based on a 5-month period of daily 36-h forecasts, correlations were found between the above predictors and the MFE of 0.58, 0.18, and 0.40, respectively. Combining the three predictors in an optimal linear manner increased the correlation to 0.71. Further testing of the combined predictors on a 2-month independent dataset produced a correlation of 0.67. Thus, application of the technique to both dependent and independent datasets explained approximately 50% of the variance in the MFE. This demonstrates that the technique has operational utility for differentiating overall poor and good model forecasts. Using case studies concentrating on southeastern Australia, it is further demonstrated that the predictors can provide excellent differentiation of forecast skill across the forecast domain.

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Helen J. Reid and Lance M. Leslie

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During the spring and summer months, the southeast coast of Australia often experiences abrupt southerly wind changes, the leading edge being known locally as a “southerly buster.” The main characteristic of this phenomenon is the sudden shift in wind direction, usually from north or northwesterly to southerly. Associated with this wind surge is a significant temperature drop and sea level pressure rise. A severe southerly buster has wind speeds exceeding gale force (17 m s−1) and poses a threat to human safety.

Southerly busters have been the subject of a number of studies over several decades. These have focused on the development and propagation of the wind surge. The aims of this study are quite different, namely, to assess the ability of a real-time, high-resolution, numerical weather prediction (NWP) model to simulate some of the key features of the southerly buster, notably the time of passage and strength at various locations along the southeast coast and at two inland stations.

A large number (20) of case studies of southerly wind changes along the east coast of New South Wales has been selected to verify 40 simulations from the numerical model. The focus of the case studies was on quantifying the skill of the model in simulating the timing and speed of propagation of the southerly buster. The measure of skill adopted here was one based on a direct comparison of model predictions with observations. It was found that the performance of the model was good overall but was highly case dependent, particularly according to season and time of day, with some poor and some excellent simulations. This ability of the NWP model to provide predictions within an acceptable error has positive implications as a useful tool in real-time forecasting.

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Diandong Ren, Lance M. Leslie, and David Karoly

Abstract

In this study, landslide potential is investigated, using a new constitutive relationship for granular flow in a numerical model. Unique to this study is an original relationship between soil moisture and the inertial number for soil particles. This numerical model can be applied to arbitrary soil slab profile configurations and to the analysis of natural disasters, such as mudslides, glacier creeping, avalanches, landslips, and other pyroclastic flows. Here the focus is on mudslides.

The authors examine the effects of bed slope and soil slab thickness, soil layered profile configuration, soil moisture content, basal sliding, and the growth of vegetation, and show that increased soil moisture enhances instability primarily by decreasing soil strength, together with increasing loading. Moreover, clay soils generally require a smaller relative saturation than sandy soils for sliding to commence. For a stable configuration, such as a small slope and/or dry soil, the basal sliding is absorbed if the perturbation magnitude is small. However, large perturbations can trigger significant-scale mudslides by liquefying the soil slab.

The role of vegetation depends on the wet soil thickness and the spacing between vegetation roots. The thinner the saturated soil layer, the slower the flow, giving the vegetation additional time to extract soil moisture and slow down the flow. By analyzing the effect of the root system on the stress distribution, it is shown that closer tree spacing increases the drag effects on the velocity field, provided that the root system is deeper than the shearing zone.

Finally, the authors investigated a two-layer soil profile, namely, sand above clay. A significant stress jump occurs at the interface of the two media.

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Kevin H. Goebbert and Lance M. Leslie

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Tropical cyclone (TC) activity over the southeast Indian Ocean has been studied far less than other TC basins, such as the North Atlantic and northwest Pacific. The authors examine the interannual TC variability of the northwest Australian (NWAUS) subbasin (0°–35°S, 105°–135°E), using an Australian TC dataset for the 39-yr period of 1970–2008. Thirteen TC metrics are assessed, with emphasis on annual TC frequencies and total TC days.

Major findings are that for the NWAUS subbasin, there are annual means of 5.6 TCs and 42.4 TC days, with corresponding small standard deviations of 2.3 storms and 20.0 days. For intense TCs (WMO category 3 and higher), the annual mean TC frequency is 3.0, with a standard deviation of 1.6, and the annual average intense TC days is 7.6 days, with a standard deviation of 4.5 days. There are no significant linear trends in either mean annual TC frequencies or TC days. Notably, all 13 variability metrics show no trends over the 39-yr period and are less dependent upon standard El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variables than many other TC basins, including the rest of the Australian region basin. The largest correlations with TC frequency were geopotential heights for June–August at 925 hPa over the South Atlantic Ocean (r = −0.65) and for April–June at 700 hPa over North America (−0.64). For TC days the largest correlations are geopotential heights for July–September at 1000 hPa over the South Atlantic Ocean (−0.7) and for April–June at 850 hPa over North America (−0.58). Last, wavelet analyses of annual TC frequencies and TC days reveal periodicities at ENSO and decadal time scales. However, the TC dataset is too short for conclusive evidence of multidecadal periodicities.

Given the large correlations revealed by this study, developing and testing of a multivariate seasonal TC prediction scheme has commenced, with lead times up to 6 months.

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