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Li-Ling Chang
and
Guo-Yue Niu

Abstract

The Tigris–Euphrates dryland river basin has experienced a declining trend in terrestrial water storage (TWS) from April 2002 to June 2017. Using satellite observations and a process-based land surface model, we find that climate variations and direct human interventions explain ∼61% (−0.57 mm month−1) and ∼39% (−0.36 mm month−1) of the negative trend, respectively. We further disaggregate the effects of climate variations and find that interannual climate variability contributes substantially (−0.27 mm month−1) to the negative TWS trend, slightly greater than the decadal climate change (−0.25 mm month−1). Interannual climate variability affects TWS mainly through the nonlinear relationship between monthly TWS dynamics and aridity. Slow recovery of TWS during short wetting periods does not compensate for rapid depletion of TWS through transpiration during prolonged drying periods. Despite enhanced water stress, the dryland ecosystems show slightly enhanced resilience to water stress through greater partitioning of evapotranspiration into transpiration and weak surface “greening” effects. However, the dryland ecosystems are vulnerable to drought impacts. The basin shows straining ecosystem functioning after experiencing a severe drought event. In addition, after the onset of the drought, the dryland ecosystem becomes more sensitive to variations in climate conditions.

Significance Statement

The purpose of the research is to better understand climate impacts on terrestrial water storage over dryland regions with declining water storage. In our study, we disaggregate three components of climate impacts, namely, decadal climate change, interannual variability, and intra-annual variability. We then use observational datasets and a process-based model to quantify their individual effects on water storage. We find that interannual variability is the most significant climatic contributor to the declining water storage, mainly caused by prolonged drought periods and corresponding quick drying rates due to plant transpiration. We also find that the dryland ecosystem is sensitive and vulnerable to severe drought events. This study is important because 1) it provides a framework to investigate climate impacts on water fluxes and storages, 2) it highlights the importance of vegetation dynamics on dryland hydrology, and 3) it emphasizes the negative impacts of extreme hydroclimatological events on ecosystem functioning.

Free access
Qian-Jin Zhou
,
Lei Li
,
Pak-Wai Chan
,
Xue-Ling Cheng
,
Chang-Xing Lan
,
Jia-Chen Su
,
Yu-Qing He
, and
Hong-Long Yang

Abstract

Supertyphoons (STs) and strong convection gales (SCGs) are extremely hazardous weather events over land. Knowledge of their processes is crucial for various applications, such as intensity forecasts of gales and the design of high-rise construction and infrastructure. Here, an observational analysis of two strong SCGs and two STs is presented based on data from the Shenzhen meteorological gradient tower, the tallest in Asia. Differences in the intrinsic physical characteristics measured at each event can be associated with different disaster-causing mechanisms. Wind speeds during STs are comparatively much larger but feature slower variations, while those of SCGs are more abrupt. Unlike that observed during STs, the vertical distribution of wind speeds during SCGs obeys a power law or exponential distribution only within 1-h maximum wind speed windows. In comparison with a Gaussian distribution, a generalized extreme value distribution can better characterize the statistical characteristics of the gusts of both STs and SCGs events. Deviations from Kolmogorov’s −5/3 power law were observed in the energy spectra of both phenomena at upper levels, albeit with differences. Different from what is seen in the ST energy spectrum distribution, a clear process of energy increase and decrease could be seen in SCGs during gale evolution. Nonetheless, both SCGs and STs exhibited a high downward transfer of turbulent momentum flux at a 320 m height, which could be attributed to the pulsation of the gusts rather than to the large-scale base flow.

Significance Statement

Strong gales induced by typhoons and severe convection have potential serious impacts on human society. The current study compares and analyzes the characteristics of the gales induced by the two different weather systems using the data observed by a 356-m-tall tower in South China. This paper also shows the relationship between gusts of the near-surface wind and the turbulent momentum fluxes, thus suggesting a possible mechanism leading to destructive forces in surface winds. In terms of social value, this study would contribute to increase the awareness of gales (the instantaneous wind speed over 17 m s−1) and improve the prediction and prevention of different types of gales, as well as the wind-resistant design of high-rise buildings.

Free access
Wan-Ling Tseng
,
Huang-Hsiung Hsu
,
Noel Keenlyside
,
Chiung-Wen June Chang
,
Ben-Jei Tsuang
,
Chia-Ying Tu
, and
Li-Chiang Jiang

Abstract

This study uses the atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) ECHAM5 coupled with the newly developed Snow–Ice–Thermocline model (ECHAM5-SIT) to examine the effects of orography and land–sea contrast on the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) in the Maritime Continent (MC) during boreal winter. The ECHAM5-SIT is one of the few AGCMs that realistically simulate the major characteristics of the MJO. Three experiments are conducted with realistic topography, without orography, and with oceans only in the MC region to evaluate the relative effects of orography and land–sea contrast. Orography and land–sea contrast have the following effects on the MJO in the MC: 1) a larger amplitude, 2) a smaller zonal scale, 3) more realistic periodicity and stronger eastward-propagating signals, 4) a stronger southward detour during the eastward propagation, 5) a distorted coupled Kelvin–Rossby wave structure, and 6) larger low-level moisture convergence. The existence of mountainous islands also enhances the mean westerly in the eastern Indian Ocean and the western MC, as well as the moisture content over the MC. This enhancement of mean states contributes to the stronger eastward-propagating MJO. The findings herein suggest that theoretical and empirical studies, which are largely derived from an aquaplanet framework, have likely provided an oversimplified view of the MJO. The effects of mountainous islands should be considered for better understanding and more accurate forecast of the MJO.

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