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Stanley David Gedzelman
and
Michael Vollmer

Abstract

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Stanley David Gedzelman
and
Michael Vollmer

We present simple radiative transfer models for the radiance and color of atmospheric optical phenomena. Skylight, halos, and rainbows are treated as singly scattered sunlight that is depleted by scattering as it passes through a plane-parallel atmosphere and a vertical rain shaft or a geometrically thin cloud layer. Skylight in a molecular atmosphere grades from deep blue at the zenith to pale blue near the horizon whenever the solar zenith angle φ sun ≤ 80°. Skylight near the horizon is orange resulting from wavelength-dependent scattering by air molecules and aerosol particles through a long oblique path through the atmosphere when the sun is low in the sky (φ sun ≥ 85°). Halos (and coronas) seen through clouds facing the sun are brightest for cloud optical depth τ cld ≈ cos(φ sun), and fade to obscurity for τ cld ≥ 5. Rainbows (and glories), seen by light that is backscattered from clouds, also appear most dramatic when 0.2 ≤ τ cld ≤ 1, but remain visible even in the thickest clouds.

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Feng Ding
,
Andrey Savtchenko
,
Thomas Hearty
,
Jennifer Wei
,
Michael Theobald
,
Bruce Vollmer
,
Baijun Tian
, and
Eric Fetzer

Abstract

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on board NASA’s Aqua satellite provides more than 16 years of data. Its monthly gridded (Level 3) product has been widely used for climate research and applications. Since counts of successful soundings in a grid cell are used to derive monthly averages, this averaged by observations (ABO) approach effectively gives equal importance to all participating soundings within a month. It is conceivable then that days with more observations due to day-to-day orbit shift and regimes with better retrieval skills will contribute disproportionately to the monthly average within a cell. Alternatively, the AIRS Level 3 monthly product can be produced through an averaged by days (ABD) approach, where the monthly mean in a grid cell is a simple average of the daily means. The effects of these averaging methods on the AIRS version 6 monthly product are assessed quantitatively using temperature and water vapor at the surface and 500 hPa. The ABO method results in a warmer (slightly colder) global mean temperature at the surface (500 hPa) and a drier global mean water vapor than ABD method. The AIRS multiyear monthly mean temperature and water vapor from both methods are also compared with the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications version 2 (MERRA-2) product and evaluated with a simulation experiment, indicating the ABD method has lower error and is more closely correlated with MERRA-2. In summary, the ABD method is recommended for future versions of the AIRS Level 3 monthly product and more data services supporting Level 3 aggregation are needed.

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Michael F. Jasinski
,
Jordan S. Borak
,
Sujay V. Kumar
,
David M. Mocko
,
Christa D. Peters-Lidard
,
Matthew Rodell
,
Hualan Rui
,
Hiroko K. Beaudoing
,
Bruce E. Vollmer
,
Kristi R. Arsenault
,
Bailing Li
,
John D. Bolten
, and
Natthachet Tangdamrongsub

Abstract

Terrestrial hydrologic trends over the conterminous United States are estimated for 1980–2015 using the National Climate Assessment Land Data Assimilation System (NCA-LDAS) reanalysis. NCA-LDAS employs the uncoupled Noah version 3.3 land surface model at 0.125° × 0.125° forced with NLDAS-2 meteorology, rescaled Climate Prediction Center precipitation, and assimilated satellite-based soil moisture, snow depth, and irrigation products. Mean annual trends are reported using the nonparametric Mann–Kendall test at p < 0.1 significance. Results illustrate the interrelationship between regional gradients in forcing trends and trends in other land energy and water stores and fluxes. Mean precipitation trends range from +3 to +9 mm yr−1 in the upper Great Plains and Northeast to −1 to −9 mm yr−1 in the West and South, net radiation flux trends range from +0.05 to +0.20 W m−2 yr−1 in the East to −0.05 to −0.20 W m−2 yr−1 in the West, and U.S.-wide temperature trends average about +0.03 K yr−1. Trends in soil moisture, snow cover, latent and sensible heat fluxes, and runoff are consistent with forcings, contributing to increasing evaporative fraction trends from west to east. Evaluation of NCA-LDAS trends compared to independent data indicates mixed results. The RMSE of U.S.-wide trends in number of snow cover days improved from 3.13 to 2.89 days yr−1 while trend detection increased 11%. Trends in latent heat flux were hardly affected, with RMSE decreasing only from 0.17 to 0.16 W m−2 yr−1, while trend detection increased 2%. NCA-LDAS runoff trends degraded significantly from 2.6 to 16.1 mm yr−1 while trend detection was unaffected. Analysis also indicated that NCA-LDAS exhibits relatively more skill in low precipitation station density areas, suggesting there are limits to the effectiveness of satellite data assimilation in densely gauged regions. Overall, NCA-LDAS demonstrates capability for quantifying physically consistent, U.S. hydrologic climate trends over the satellite era.

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