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Maofeng Liu, James A. Smith, Long Yang, and Gabriel A. Vecchi

Abstract

The climatology of tropical cyclone flooding in the Carolinas is analyzed through annual flood peak observations from 411 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) stream gauging stations. Tropical cyclones (TCs) account for 28% of the top 10 annual flood peaks, 55% of record floods, and 91% of floods with peak magnitudes at least 5 times greater than the 10-yr floods, highlighting the prominent role of TCs for flood extremes in the Carolinas. Of all TC-related flood events, the top 10 storms account for nearly 1/3 of annual flood peaks and more than 2/3 of record floods, reflecting the dominant role of a small number of storms in determining the upper tail of flood peak distributions. Analyses of the 10 storms highlight both common elements and diversity in storm properties that are responsible for flood peaks. Extratropical transition and orographic enhancement are important elements of extreme TC flooding in the Carolinas. Analyses of the Great Flood of 1916 highlight the flood peak of 3115 m3 s−1 in French Broad River at Asheville, 2.6 times greater than the second-largest peak from a record of 124 years. We also examine the hydroclimatology, hydrometeorology, and hydrology of flooding from Hurricanes Matthew (2016) and Florence (2018). Results point to contrasting storm properties for the two events, including tracks as well as rainfall distribution and associated physical mechanisms. Climatological analyses of vertically integrated water vapor transport (IVT) highlight the critical role of anomalous moisture transport from the Atlantic Ocean in producing extreme rainfall and flooding over the Carolinas.

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Long Zhao, Zong-Liang Yang, and Timothy J. Hoar

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Very few frameworks exist that estimate global-scale soil moisture through microwave land data assimilation (DA). Toward this goal, such a framework has been developed by linking the Community Land Model, version 4 (CLM4), and a microwave radiative transfer model (RTM) with the Data Assimilation Research Testbed (DART). The deterministic ensemble adjustment Kalman filter (EAKF) within DART is utilized to estimate global multilayer soil moisture by assimilating brightness temperature observations from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing System (AMSR-E). A 40-member ensemble of Community Atmosphere Model, version 4.0 (CAM4.0), reanalysis is adopted to drive CLM4 simulations. Space-specific, time-invariant microwave parameters are precalibrated to minimize uncertainties in RTM. Besides, various methods are designed to upscale AMSR-E observations for computational efficiency and time shift CAM4.0 forcing to facilitate global daily assimilations. A series of experiments are conducted to quantify the DA sensitivity to microwave parameters, choice of assimilated observations, and different CLM4 updating schemes. Evaluation results indicate that the newly established CLM4–RTM–DART framework improves the open-loop CLM4-simulated soil moisture. Precalibrated microwave parameters, rather than their default values, can ensure a more robust global-scale performance. In addition, updating near-surface soil moisture is capable of improving soil moisture in deeper layers (0–30 cm), while simultaneously updating multilayer soil moisture fails to obtain intended improvements. Future work is needed to address the systematic bias in CLM4 that cannot be fully covered through the ensemble spread in CAM4.0 reanalysis.

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Long Yang, James Smith, Mary Lynn Baeck, and Efrat Morin

Abstract

Flash flooding in the arid/semiarid southwestern United States is frequently associated with convective rainfall during the North American monsoon. In this study, we examine flood-producing storms in central Arizona based on analyses of dense rain gauge observations and stream gauging records as well as North American Regional Reanalysis fields. Our storm catalog consists of 102 storm events during the period of 1988–2014. Synoptic conditions for flood-producing storms are characterized based on principal component analyses. Four dominant synoptic modes are identified, with the first two modes explaining approximately 50% of the variance of the 500-hPa geopotential height. The transitional synoptic pattern from the North American monsoon regime to midlatitude systems is a critical large-scale feature for extreme rainfall and flooding in central Arizona. Contrasting spatial rainfall organizations and storm environment under the four synoptic modes highlights the role of interactions among synoptic conditions, mesoscale processes, and complex terrains in determining space–time variability of convective activities and flash flood hazards in central Arizona. We characterize structure and evolution properties of flood-producing storms based on storm tracking algorithms and 3D radar reflectivity. Fast-moving storm elements can be important ingredients for flash floods in the arid/semiarid southwestern United States. Contrasting storm properties for cloudburst storms highlight the wide spectrum of convective intensities for extreme rain rates in the arid/semiarid southwestern United States and exhibit comparable vertical structures to their counterparts in the eastern United States.

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Long Yang, Maofeng Liu, James A. Smith, and Fuqiang Tian

Abstract

The August 1975 flood in central China was one of the most destructive floods in history. Catastrophic flooding was the product of extreme rainfall from Typhoon Nina over a 3-day period from 5 to 7 August 1975. Despite the prominence of the August 1975 flood, relatively little is known about the evolution of rainfall responsible for the flood. Details of extreme rainfall and flooding for the August 1975 event in central China are examined based on empirical analyses of rainfall and streamflow measurements and based on downscaling simulations using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model, driven by Twentieth Century Reanalysis (20CR) fields. Key hydrometeorological features of the flood event are placed in a climatological context through hydroclimatological analyses of 20CR fields. Results point to the complex evolution of rainfall over the 3-day period with distinctive periods of storm structure controlling rainfall distribution in the flood region. Blocking plays a central role in controlling anomalous storm motion of Typhoon Nina and extreme duration of heavy rainfall. Interaction of Typhoon Nina with a second tropical depression played a central role in creating a zone of anomalously large water vapor transport, a central feature of heavy rainfall during the critical storm period on 7 August. Analyses based on the quasigeostrophic omega equation identified the predominant role of warm air advection for synoptic-scale vertical motion. Back-trajectory analyses using a Lagrangian parcel tracking algorithm are used to assess and quantify water vapor transport for the flood. The analytical framework developed in this study is designed to improve hydrometeorological approaches for flood-control design.

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Guoqiang Tang, Ali Behrangi, Ziqiang Ma, Di Long, and Yang Hong

Abstract

Precipitation phase has an important influence on hydrological processes. The Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG) uses temperature data from reanalysis products to implement rain–snow classification. However, the coarse resolution of reanalysis data may not reveal the spatiotemporal variabilities of temperature, necessitating appropriate downscaling methods. This study compares the performance of eight air temperature T a downscaling methods in the contiguous United States and six mountain ranges using temperature from the Parameter-Elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) as the benchmark. ERA-Interim T a is downscaled from the original 0.75° to 0.1°. The results suggest that the two purely statistical downscaling methods [nearest neighbor (NN) and bilinear interpolation (BI)] show similar performance with each other. The five downscaling methods based on the free-air temperature lapse rate (TLR), which is calculated using temperature and geopotential heights at different pressure levels, notably improves the accuracy of T a. The improvement is particularly obvious in mountainous regions. We further calculated wet-bulb temperature T w, for rain–snow classification, using T a and dewpoint temperature from ERA-Interim and PRISM. TLR-based downscaling methods result in more accurate T w compared to NN and BI in the western United States, whereas the improvement is limited in the eastern United States. Rain–snow partitioning is conducted using a critical threshold of T w with Snow Data Assimilation System (SNODAS) snowfall data serving as the benchmark. ERA-Interim-based T w using TLR downscaling methods is better than that using NN/BI and IMERG precipitation phase. In conclusion, TLR-based downscaling methods show promising prospects in acquiring high-quality T a and T w with high resolution and improving rain–snow partitioning, particularly in mountainous regions.

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Fuqiang Tian, Shiyu Hou, Long Yang, Hongchang Hu, and Aizhong Hou

Abstract

This study investigates the dependency of the evaluation of the Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG) rainfall product on the gauge density of a ground-based rain gauge network as well as rainfall intensity over five subregions in mainland China. High-density rain gauges (1.5 gauges per 100 km2) provide exceptional resources for ground validation of satellite rainfall estimates over this region. Eight different gauge networks were derived with contrasting gauge densities ranging from 0.04 to 4 gauges per 100 km2. The evaluation focuses on two warm seasons (April–October) during 2014 and 2015. The results show a strong dependency of the evaluation metrics for the IMERG rainfall product on gauge density and rainfall intensity. A dense rain gauge network tends to provide better evaluation metrics, which implies that previous evaluations of the IMERG rainfall product based on a relatively low-density gauge network might have underestimated its performance. The decreasing trends of probability of detection with gauge density indicate a limited ability to capture light rainfall events in the IMERG rainfall product. However, IMERG tends to overestimate (underestimate) light (heavy) rainfall events, which is a consistent feature that does not show strong dependency on gauge densities. The results provide valuable insights for the improvement of a rainfall retrieval algorithm adopted in the IMERG rainfall product.

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Gang Chen, Kun Zhao, Guifu Zhang, Hao Huang, Su Liu, Long Wen, Zhonglin Yang, Zhengwei Yang, Lili Xu, and Wenjian Zhu

Abstract

In this study, the capability of using a C-band polarimetric Doppler radar and a two-dimensional video disdrometer (2DVD) to estimate monsoon-influenced summer rainfall during the Observation, Prediction and Analysis of Severe Convection of China (OPACC) field campaign in 2014 and 2015 in eastern China is investigated. Three different rainfall R estimators, for reflectivity at horizontal polarization [R(Z h)], for reflectivity at horizontal polarization and differential reflectivity factor [R(Z h, Z dr)], and for specific differential phase [R(K DP)], are derived from 2-yr 2DVD observations of summer precipitation systems. The radar-estimated rainfall is compared to gauge observations from eight rainfall episodes. Results show that the two polarimetric estimators, R(Z h, Z dr) and R(K DP), perform better than the traditional Z hR relation [i.e., R(Z h)]. The K DP-based estimator [i.e., R(K DP)] produces the best rainfall accumulations. The radar rainfall estimators perform differently across the three organized convective systems (mei-yu rainband, typhoon rainband, and squall line). Estimator R(Z h) overestimates rainfall in the mei-yu rainband and squall line, and R(Z h, Z dr) mitigates the overestimation in the mei-yu rainband but has a large bias in the squall line. QPE from R(K DP) is the most accurate among the three estimators, but it possesses a relatively large bias for the squall line compared to the mei-yu case. The high variability of drop size distribution (DSD) related to the precipitation microphysics in different types of rain is largely responsible for the case-dependent QPE performance using any single radar rainfall estimator. The squall line has a distinct ice-phase process with a large mean size of raindrops, while the mei-yu rainband and typhoon rainband are composed of smaller raindrops. Based on the statistical QPE error in the Z HZ DR space, a new composite rainfall estimator is constructed by combining R(Z h), R(Z h, Z dr), and R(K DP) and is proven to outperform any single rainfall estimator.

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Jing Sun, Yingying Chen, Kun Yang, Hui Lu, Long Zhao, and Donghai Zheng

Abstract

In the central-eastern Tibetan Plateau (TP) there is abundant organic matter in topsoils, which plays a crucial role in determining soil hydraulic properties that need to be properly described in land surface models. Limited soil parameterizations consider the impacts of soil organic matter (SOM), but they still show poor performance in the TP. A dedicated field campaign is therefore conducted by taking undisturbed soil samples in the central TP to obtain in situ soil hydraulic parameters and to advance SOM parameterizations. The observed findings are twofold: 1) The SOM pore-size distribution parameter, derived from measured soil water retention curves, has been demonstrated to be much underestimated in previous studies. 2) SOM saturated hydraulic conductivity is overestimated. Accordingly, a new soil hydraulic parameterization is established by modifying a commonly used one based on observations, which is then evaluated by incorporating it into Noah-MP. Compared with the original ones, the new parameterization significantly improves surface soil liquid water simulations at stations with high surface SOM content, especially in the warm season. A further application with the revised Noah-MP indicates that SOM can enhance sensible heat flux but decrease evaporation and subsurface soil temperature in the warm season and tends to have a much weak effect in the cold season. This study provides insights into the role of SOM in modulating soil state and surface energy budget. Note that, however, there are many other factors at play and the new parameterization is not necessarily applicable beyond the TP.

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Guoqiang Tang, Ziyue Zeng, Di Long, Xiaolin Guo, Bin Yong, Weihua Zhang, and Yang Hong

Abstract

The goal of this study is to quantitatively intercompare the standard products of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) and its successor, the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG), with a dense gauge network over the midlatitude Ganjiang River basin in southeast China. In general, direct comparisons of the TMPA 3B42V7, 3B42RT, and GPM Day-1 IMERG estimates with gauge observations over an extended period of the rainy season (from May through September 2014) at 0.25° and daily resolutions show that all three products demonstrate similarly acceptable (~0.63) and high (0.87) correlation at grid and basin scales, respectively, although 3B42RT shows much higher overestimation. Both of the post-real-time corrections effectively reduce the bias of Day-1 IMERG and 3B42V7 to single digits of underestimation from 20+% overestimation of 3B42RT. The Taylor diagram shows that Day-1 IMERG and 3B42V7 are comparable at grid and basin scales. Hydrologic assessment with the Coupled Routing and Excess Storage (CREST) hydrologic model indicates that the Day-1 IMERG product performs comparably to gauge reference data. In many cases, the IMERG product outperforms TMPA standard products, suggesting a promising prospect of hydrologic utility and a desirable hydrologic continuity from TRMM-era product heritages to GPM-era IMERG products. Overall, this early study highlights that the Day-1 IMERG product can adequately substitute TMPA products both statistically and hydrologically, even with its limited data availability to date, in this well-gauged midlatitude basin. As more IMERG data are released, more studies to explore the potential of GPM-era IMERG in water, weather, and climate research are urgently needed.

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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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