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Michael G. Bosilovich

Abstract

Reanalyses have increasingly improved resolution and physical representation of regional climate and so may provide useful data in many regional applications. These data are not observations, however, and their limitations and uncertainties need to be closely investigated. The ability of reanalyses to reproduce the seasonal variations of precipitation and temperature over the United States during summer, when model forecasts have characteristically weak forecast skill, is assessed. Precipitation variations are reproduced well over much of the United States, especially in the Northwest, where ENSO contributes to the large-scale circulation. Some significant biases in the seasonal mean do exist. The weakest regions are the Midwest and Southeast, where land–atmosphere interactions strongly affect the physical parameterizations in the forecast model. In particular, the variance of the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) is too low (extreme seasonal averages are weak), and the variability of the Interim ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim) is affected by spurious low-frequency trends. Surface temperature is generally robust among the reanalyses examined, though; reanalyses that assimilate near-surface observations have distinct advantages. Observations and forecast error from MERRA are used to assess the reanalysis uncertainty across U.S. regions. These data help to show where the reanalysis is realistically replicating physical processes, and they provide guidance on the quality of the data and needs for further development.

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Richard I. Cullather and Michael G. Bosilovich

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The atmospheric moisture budget from the Modern Era Retrospective-Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) is evaluated in polar regions for the period 1979–2005 and compared with previous estimates, accumulation syntheses over polar ice sheets, and in situ Arctic precipitation observations. The system is based on a nonspectral background model and utilizes the incremental analysis update scheme. The annual moisture convergence from MERRA for the north polar cap is comparable to previous estimates using 40-yr European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Re-Analysis (ERA-40) and earlier reanalyses but it is more than 50% larger than MERRA precipitation minus evaporation (PE) computed from physics output fields. This imbalance is comparable to earlier reanalyses for the Arctic. For the south polar cap, the imbalance is 20%. The MERRA physics output fields are also found to be overly sensitive to changes in the satellite observing system, particularly over data-sparse regions of the Southern Ocean. Comparisons between MERRA and prognostic fields from two contemporary reanalyses yield a spread of values from 6% of the mean over the Antarctic Ice Sheet to 61% over a domain of the Arctic Ocean. These issues highlight continued problems associated with the representation of cold-climate physical processes in global data assimilation models. The distribution of MERRA surface fluxes over the major polar ice sheets emphasizes larger values along the coastal escarpments, which agrees more closely with recent assessments of ice sheet accumulation using regional models. Differences between these results and earlier assessments illustrate a continued ambiguity in the surface moisture flux distribution over Greenland and Antarctica. The higher spatial and temporal resolution as well as the availability of all budget components, including analysis increments in MERRA, offer prospects for an improved representation of the high-latitude water cycle in reanalyses.

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Michael G. Bosilovich and Wen-yih Sun

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During the summer of 1993, persistent and heavy precipitation caused a long-lived, catastrophic flood in the midwestern United States. In this paper, Midwest hydrology, atmospheric circulation of the 1993 summer, and feedback between the surface and precipitating systems were investigated using the Purdue Regional Model (PRM). The 30-day PRM control simulations reproduced the large-scale atmospheric features that characterized the summer of 1993. Specifically, the upper-level jet stream and trough over the northwestern United States are present in control cases, as well as the Great Plains low-level jet, general pattern of moisture transport, and heavy precipitation in the Midwest. The daily precipitation record (area averaged over the heaviest rainfall) indicates that the model also reproduces the evolution and periodicity of precipitation events comparable with the observations and correctly depicts the differences between June and July.

The sensitivity of the low-level jet, planetary boundary layer, and heavy precipitation were examined by imposing various soil moisture and surface anomalies in the model simulation. The increased surface heating, caused by a strong dry anomaly, induced a large-scale surface pressure perturbation, centered in the southeastern United States, that weakened the low-level jet and moisture convergence within the flood region. Separate cases considering both wet and dry regional anomalies in the southern Great Plains caused less precipitation in the flood region. The uniform soil moisture of both anomalies leads to a reduction of the differential heating, surface pressure gradient, and the low-level jet.

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Michael G. Bosilovich and Wen-yih Sun

Abstract

Global change and regional climate experiments with atmospheric numerical models rely on the parameterization of the surface boundary in order to evaluate impact on society and agriculture. In this paper, several surface modeling strategies have been examined in order to test their ability to simulate for a period of one month, and hence, their impact on short-term and regional climate modeling. The interaction between vegetation and soil models is also discussed. The resolution of a multiple-level soil model, the method of computing moisture availability, the Force–Restore Method, and vegetation parameterization were studied by comparing model-simulated soil temperature, soil moisture, and surface energy budget with observations and intercomparison of the simulations.

The increase of model soil resolution improved both the simulation of daytime ground heat flux and latent heat. Evaporation from the soil surface with more coarse resolution soil was larger than the higher resolution simulation, but transpiration and the simulation of soil water were similar for each case. The Alpha method of moisture availability allowed less soil evaporation under stressed conditions than the Beta method. The soil water became larger than the observations, and more transpiration occurred. The Force–Restore Method simulations produced reasonable results, when coupled with the vegetation model. Eliminating the vegetation model from several of the previous cases, however, produced significant variability between different soil models. It is possible that this variability could affect long-term GCM sensitivity simulations.

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Michael G. Bosilovich and Siegfried D. Schubert

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Precipitation recycling has been computed for 15 yr of reanalysis data from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS-1) Data Assimilation System using monthly mean hydrological data and a bulk diagnostic recycling model. This study focuses on the central United States and the extreme summers of 1988 (drought) and 1993 (flood). It is found that the 1988 summer recycling ratio is larger than that of 1993, and that the 1988 recycling ratio is much larger than average. The 1993 recycling ratio was less than average during the summer, but it was larger than average during the springtime, when the soil was being primed for flooding. In addition, the magnitude of summertime recycled precipitation was smaller than average in both 1988 and 1993. During the summer of 1993, the extremely large moisture transport dominates evaporation as the source of water for the extreme summer precipitation. The diagnosed recycling data show that the recycled precipitation is large when moisture transport is weak and convergence and evaporation are large. The analysis identifies the summer of 1989 as having the largest magnitude of recycled precipitation, resulting from a combination of low moisture transport and high moisture convergence.

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Michael G. Bosilovich and Jiun-Dar Chern

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An atmospheric general circulation model simulation for 1948–97 of the water budgets for the MacKenzie, Mississippi, and Amazon River basins is presented. In addition to the water budget, passive tracers are included to identify the geographic sources of water for the basins, and the analysis focuses on the mechanisms contributing to precipitation recycling in each basin. While each basin’s precipitation recycling has a strong dependency on evaporation during the mean annual cycle, the interannual variability of the recycling shows important relationships with the atmospheric circulation. The MacKenzie River basin recycling has only a weak interannual correspondence with evaporation, where the variations in zonal moisture transport from the Pacific Ocean can affect the basin water cycle. On the other hand, the Mississippi River basin precipitation and recycling have strong interannual correlation on evaporation. The evaporation is related to the moist and shallow planetary boundary layer that provides moisture for convection at the cloud base. At global scales, high precipitation recycling is also found to be partly correlated to warm SSTs in the tropical Pacific Ocean. The Amazon River basin evaporation exhibits small interannual variations, so the interannual variations of precipitation recycling are related to atmospheric moisture transport from the tropical South Atlantic Ocean. Increasing SSTs over the 50-yr period are causing increased easterly transport across the basin. As moisture transport increases, the Amazon precipitation recycling decreases (without real-time varying vegetation changes). In addition, precipitation recycling from a bulk diagnostic method is compared to the passive tracer method used in the analysis. While the mean values of the different recycling methods are different, the interannual variations are comparable between each method. The methods also exhibit similar relationships to the terms of the basin-scale water budgets.

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Michael G. Bosilovich and Siegfried D. Schubert

Abstract

Numerous studies suggest that local feedback of surface evaporation on precipitation, known recycling, is a significant source of water for precipitation. Quantitative results on the exact amount of recycling have been difficult to obtain in view of the inherent limitations of diagnostic recycling calculations. The current study describes a calculation of the amount of local and remote geographic sources of surface evaporation for precipitation, based on the implementation of three-dimensional constituent tracers of regional water vapor sources [termed “water vapor tracers” (WVTs)] in a general circulation model. The major limitation on the accuracy of the recycling estimates is the veracity of the numerically simulated hydrological cycle, though it is noted that this approach also can be implemented within the context of a data assimilation system. In the WVT approach, each tracer is associated with an evaporative source region for a prognostic three-dimensional variable that represents a partial amount of the total atmospheric water vapor. The physical processes that act on a WVT are determined in proportion to those that act on the model's prognostic water vapor. In this way, the local and remote sources of water for precipitation can be predicted within the model simulation and validated against the model's prognostic water vapor. As a demonstration of the method, the regional hydrologic cycles for North America and India are evaluated for six summers (June, July, and August) of model simulation. More than 50% of the precipitation in the midwestern United States came from continental regional sources, and the local source was the largest of the regional tracers (14%). The Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic regions contributed 18% of the water for midwestern precipitation, but further analysis suggests that the greater region of the tropical Atlantic Ocean may also contribute significantly. In most North American continental regions, the local source of precipitation is correlated with total precipitation. There is a general positive correlation between local evaporation and local precipitation, but it can be weaker because large evaporation can occur when precipitation is inhibited. In India, the local source of precipitation is a small percentage of the precipitation, owing to the dominance of the atmospheric transport of oceanic water. The southern Indian Ocean provides a key source of water for both the Indian continent and the Sahelian region.

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Susan Stillman, Xubin Zeng, and Michael G. Bosilovich

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Precipitation and soil moisture are rigorously measured or estimated from a variety of sources. Here, 22 precipitation and 23 soil moisture products are evaluated against long-term daily observed precipitation (Pobs) and July–September daily observationally constrained soil moisture (SM) datasets over a densely monitored 150 km2 watershed in southeastern Arizona, United States. Gauge–radar precipitation products perform best, followed by reanalysis and satellite products, and the median correlations of annual precipitation from these three categories with Pobs are 0.83, 0.68, and 0.46, respectively. Precipitation results from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) are the worst, including an overestimate of cold season precipitation and a lack of significant correlation of annual precipitation with Pobs from all (except one) models. Satellite soil moisture products perform best, followed by land data assimilation systems and reanalyses, and the CMIP5 results are the worst. For instance, the median unbiased root-mean-square difference (RMSD) values of July–September soil moisture compared with SM are 0.0070, 0.011, 0.014, and 0.029 m3 m−3 for these four product categories, respectively. All 17 (except 3) precipitation [17 (except 2) soil moisture] products with at least 20 years of data agree with Pobs (SM) without significant trends. The uncertainties associated with the scale mismatch between Pobs and coarser-resolution products are addressed using two 4-km gauge–radar precipitation products, and their impact on the results presented in this study is overall small. These results identify strengths and weaknesses of each product for future improvement; they also emphasize the importance of using multiple gauge–radar and satellite products along with their uncertainties in evaluating reanalyses and models.

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Richard I. Cullather and Michael G. Bosilovich

Abstract

Components of the atmospheric energy budget from the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) are evaluated in polar regions for the period 1979–2005 and compared with previous estimates, in situ observations, and contemporary reanalyses. Closure of the budget is reflected by the analysis increments term, which indicates an energy surplus of 11 W m−2 over the North Polar cap (70°–90°N) and 22 W m−2 over the South Polar cap (70°–90°S). Total atmospheric energy convergence from MERRA compares favorably with previous studies for northern high latitudes but exceeds the available previous estimate for the South Polar cap by 46%. Discrepancies with the Southern Hemisphere energy transport are largest in autumn and may be related to differences in topography with earlier reanalyses. For the Arctic, differences between MERRA and other sources in top of atmosphere (TOA) and surface radiative fluxes are largest in May. These differences are concurrent with the largest discrepancies between MERRA parameterized and observed surface albedo. For May, in situ observations of the upwelling shortwave flux in the Arctic are 80 W m−2 larger than MERRA, while the MERRA downwelling longwave flux is underestimated by 12 W m−2 throughout the year. Over grounded ice sheets, the annual mean net surface energy flux in MERRA is erroneously nonzero. Contemporary reanalyses from the Climate Forecast Center (CFSR) and the Interim Re-Analyses of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ERA-I) are found to have better surface parameterizations; however, these reanalyses also disagree with observed surface and TOA energy fluxes. Discrepancies among available reanalyses underscore the challenge of reproducing credible estimates of the atmospheric energy budget in polar regions.

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Michael G. Bosilovich, Ayan H. Chaudhuri, and Michel Rixen
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