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Kingtse C. Mo, Lindsey N. Long, and Jae-Kyung E. Schemm

Abstract

Atmosphere–land–ocean coupled model simulations are examined to diagnose the ability of models to simulate drought and persistent wet spells over the United States. A total of seven models are selected for this study. They are three versions of the NCEP Climate Forecast System (CFS) coupled general circulation model (CGCM) with a T382, T126, and T62 horizontal resolution; GFDL Climate Model version 2.0 (CM2.0); GFDL CM2.1; Max Planck Institute (MPI) ECHAM5; and third climate configuration of the Met Office Unified Model (HadCM3) simulations from the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 3 (CMIP3) experiments.

Over the United States, drought and persistent wet spells are more likely to occur over the western interior region, while extreme events are less likely to persist over the eastern United States and the West Coast. For meteorological drought, which is defined by precipitation (P) deficit, the east–west contrast is well simulated by the CFS T382 and the T126 models. The HadCM3 captures the pattern but not the magnitudes of the frequency of occurrence of persistent extreme events. For agricultural drought, which is defined by soil moisture (SM) deficit, the CFS T382, CFS T126, MPI ECHAM5, and HadCM3 models capture the east–west contrast.

The models that capture the west–east contrast also have a realistic P climatology and seasonal cycle. ENSO is the dominant mode that modulates P over the United States. A model needs to have the ENSO mode and capture the mean P responses to ENSO in order to simulate realistic drought. To simulate realistic agricultural drought, the model needs to capture the persistence of SM anomalies over the western region.

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Anthony G. Barnston, Nicolas Vigaud, Lindsey N. Long, Michael K. Tippett, and Jae-Kyung E. Schemm

Abstract

The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is known to exert some control on the variations of North Atlantic tropical cyclone (TC) activity within a hurricane season. To explore the possibility of better TC predictions based on improved MJO forecasts, retrospective hindcast data on MJO and on TC activity are examined both in the current operational version of the CFSv2 model (T126 horizontal resolution) and a high-resolution (T382) experimental version of CFS. Goals are to determine how well each CFS version reproduces reality in 1) predicting MJO and 2) reproducing observed relationships between MJO phase and TC activity. For the operational CFSv2, skill of forecasts of TC activity is evaluated directly.

Both CFS versions reproduce MJO behavior realistically and also roughly approximate observed relationships between MJO phase and TC activity. Specific biases in the high-resolution CFS are identified and their causes explored. The high-resolution CFS partially reproduces an observed weak tendency for TC activity to propagate eastward during and following the high-activity MJO phases. The operational (T126) CFSv2 shows useful skill (correlation >0.5) in predicting the MJO phase and amplitude out to ~3 weeks. A systematic error of slightly too slow MJO propagation is detected in the operational CFSv2, which still shows usable skill (correlation >0.3) in predicting weekly variations in TC activity out to 10–14 days. A conclusion is that prediction of intraseasonal variations of TC activity by CFSv2 is already possible and implemented in real-time predictions. An advantage of the higher resolution in the T382 version is unable to be confirmed.

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Kingtse C. Mo, Lindsey N. Long, Youlong Xia, S. K. Yang, Jae E. Schemm, and Michael Ek

Abstract

Drought indices derived from the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) are compared with indices derived from the ensemble North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS) and the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) over the United States. Uncertainties in soil moisture, runoff, and evapotranspiration (E) from three systems are assessed by comparing them with limited observations, including E from the AmeriFlux data, soil moisture from the Oklahoma Mesonet and the Illinois State Water Survey, and streamflow data from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The CFSR has positive precipitation (P) biases over the western mountains, the Pacific Northwest, and the Ohio River valley in winter and spring. In summer, it has positive biases over the Southeast and large negative biases over the Great Plains. These errors limit the ability to use the standardized precipitation indices (SPIs) derived from the CFSR to measure the severity of meteorological droughts. To compare with the P analyses, the Heidke score for the 6-month SPI derived from the CFSR is on average about 0.5 for the three-category classification of drought, floods, and neutral months. The CFSR has positive E biases in spring because of positive biases in downward solar radiation and high potential evaporation. The negative E biases over the Great Plains in summer are due to less P and soil moisture in the root zone. The correlations of soil moisture percentile between the CFSR and the ensemble NLDAS are regionally dependent. The correlations are higher over the area east of 100°W and the West Coast. There is less agreement between them over the western interior region.

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Donald Wuebbles, Gerald Meehl, Katharine Hayhoe, Thomas R. Karl, Kenneth Kunkel, Benjamin Santer, Michael Wehner, Brian Colle, Erich M. Fischer, Rong Fu, Alex Goodman, Emily Janssen, Viatcheslav Kharin, Huikyo Lee, Wenhong Li, Lindsey N. Long, Seth C. Olsen, Zaitao Pan, Anji Seth, Justin Sheffield, and Liqiang Sun

This is the fourth in a series of four articles on historical and projected climate extremes in the United States. Here, we examine the results of historical and future climate model experiments from the phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) based on work presented at the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Workshop on CMIP5 Climate Model Analyses held in March 2012. Our analyses assess the ability of CMIP5 models to capture observed trends, and we also evaluate the projected future changes in extreme events over the contiguous Unites States. Consistent with the previous articles, here we focus on model-simulated historical trends and projections for temperature extremes, heavy precipitation, large-scale drivers of precipitation variability and drought, and extratropical storms. Comparing new CMIP5 model results with earlier CMIP3 simulations shows that in general CMIP5 simulations give similar patterns and magnitudes of future temperature and precipitation extremes in the United States relative to the projections from the earlier phase 3 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3) models. Specifically, projections presented here show significant changes in hot and cold temperature extremes, heavy precipitation, droughts, atmospheric patterns such as the North American monsoon and the North Atlantic subtropical high that affect interannual precipitation, and in extratropical storms over the twenty-first century. Most of these trends are consistent with, although in some cases (such as heavy precipitation) underestimate, observed trends.

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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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Eric D. Maloney, Suzana J. Camargo, Edmund Chang, Brian Colle, Rong Fu, Kerrie L. Geil, Qi Hu, Xianan Jiang, Nathaniel Johnson, Kristopher B. Karnauskas, James Kinter, Benjamin Kirtman, Sanjiv Kumar, Baird Langenbrunner, Kelly Lombardo, Lindsey N. Long, Annarita Mariotti, Joyce E. Meyerson, Kingtse C. Mo, J. David Neelin, Zaitao Pan, Richard Seager, Yolande Serra, Anji Seth, Justin Sheffield, Julienne Stroeve, Jeanne Thibeault, Shang-Ping Xie, Chunzai Wang, Bruce Wyman, and Ming Zhao

Abstract

In part III of a three-part study on North American climate in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) models, the authors examine projections of twenty-first-century climate in the representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) emission experiments. This paper summarizes and synthesizes results from several coordinated studies by the authors. Aspects of North American climate change that are examined include changes in continental-scale temperature and the hydrologic cycle, extremes events, and storm tracks, as well as regional manifestations of these climate variables. The authors also examine changes in the eastern North Pacific and North Atlantic tropical cyclone activity and North American intraseasonal to decadal variability, including changes in teleconnections to other regions of the globe. Projected changes are generally consistent with those previously published for CMIP3, although CMIP5 model projections differ importantly from those of CMIP3 in some aspects, including CMIP5 model agreement on increased central California precipitation. The paper also highlights uncertainties and limitations based on current results as priorities for further research. Although many projected changes in North American climate are consistent across CMIP5 models, substantial intermodel disagreement exists in other aspects. Areas of disagreement include projections of changes in snow water equivalent on a regional basis, summer Arctic sea ice extent, the magnitude and sign of regional precipitation changes, extreme heat events across the northern United States, and Atlantic and east Pacific tropical cyclone activity.

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Justin Sheffield, Andrew P. Barrett, Brian Colle, D. Nelun Fernando, Rong Fu, Kerrie L. Geil, Qi Hu, Jim Kinter, Sanjiv Kumar, Baird Langenbrunner, Kelly Lombardo, Lindsey N. Long, Eric Maloney, Annarita Mariotti, Joyce E. Meyerson, Kingtse C. Mo, J. David Neelin, Sumant Nigam, Zaitao Pan, Tong Ren, Alfredo Ruiz-Barradas, Yolande L. Serra, Anji Seth, Jeanne M. Thibeault, Julienne C. Stroeve, Ze Yang, and Lei Yin

Abstract

This is the first part of a three-part paper on North American climate in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) that evaluates the historical simulations of continental and regional climatology with a focus on a core set of 17 models. The authors evaluate the models for a set of basic surface climate and hydrological variables and their extremes for the continent. This is supplemented by evaluations for selected regional climate processes relevant to North American climate, including cool season western Atlantic cyclones, the North American monsoon, the U.S. Great Plains low-level jet, and Arctic sea ice. In general, the multimodel ensemble mean represents the observed spatial patterns of basic climate and hydrological variables but with large variability across models and regions in the magnitude and sign of errors. No single model stands out as being particularly better or worse across all analyses, although some models consistently outperform the others for certain variables across most regions and seasons and higher-resolution models tend to perform better for regional processes. The CMIP5 multimodel ensemble shows a slight improvement relative to CMIP3 models in representing basic climate variables, in terms of the mean and spread, although performance has decreased for some models. Improvements in CMIP5 model performance are noticeable for some regional climate processes analyzed, such as the timing of the North American monsoon. The results of this paper have implications for the robustness of future projections of climate and its associated impacts, which are examined in the third part of the paper.

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