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Roger A. Pielke Sr.

Observations of the earth's heat budget provide a real-world constraint on the radiative forcing which is simulated in global climate change models. Assessments, such as the IPCC, would more effectively depict changes over time in the climate system by using a heat balance perspective in order to diagnose the earth's radiative imbalance. This commentary describes this approach and presents reasons such an assessment is valuable.

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Melville E. Nicholls and Roger A. Pielke Sr.

Abstract

A three-dimensional, fully compressible cloud model is used to simulate a convective storm in order to investigate the properties of compression waves and gravity waves induced by latent heat release. Time series of the low-level pressure perturbations caused by the propagating waves are examined at various distances from the storm. A compression wave that is close to hydrostatic balance and can be considered to be a Lamb wave, which propagates in the horizontal plane, emerges from the storm. This latter property gives the wave a distinctly two-dimensional character that is clarified by comparison with a linear model of a two-dimensional thermally induced compression wave. This has implications for its shape and results in a decay rate with distance propagated from the source of 1/(distance)1/2. The period of the Lamb wave is determined primarily by the time it takes for the storm to develop and decay. The fast-moving Lamb wave is trailed by slower-moving thermally induced gravity waves. It is found that the amplitude of the gravity waves decay with 1/distance. Distinct gravity wave modes can be identified. The first mode propagates the fastest and results in deep subsidence warming. The second mode propagates at half the speed of the first and causes weak low-level uplift, which in some convective situations might aid the development of new convection.

An analysis of the transfer of internal and gravitational potential energies showed that the net transfer by the Lamb wave was approximately equal to the net increase of total energy in the atmosphere brought about by the convective storm. This result suggests that physical interpretations of total energy transfer in the atmosphere need to take into account that it can be transferred in a wavelike manner at the speed of sound.

An interesting buoyancy oscillation occurred when the downdraft air overshot its buoyant equilibrium level, which resulted in a resurgence of convection. The convection was able to obtain moderate strength by feeding on moist environmental air that had been advected over the top of the cold pool. This mechanism may be a factor contributing to the early meso-β convective cycle that has been observed in many convective systems.

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Roger A. Pielke Sr. and Tomislava Vukicevic
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Rezaul Mahmood, Roger A. Pielke Sr., and Clive A. McAlpine

Abstract

Both observational and modeling studies clearly demonstrate that land-use and land-cover change (LULCC) play an important biogeophysical and biogeochemical role in the climate system from the landscape to regional and even continental scales. Without comprehensively considering these impacts, an adequate response to the threats posed by human intervention into the climate system will not be adequate.

Public policy plays an important role in shaping local- to national-scale land-use practices. An array of national policies has been developed to influence the nature and spatial extent of LULCC. Observational evidence suggests that these policies, in addition to international trade treaties and protocols, have direct effects on LULCC and thus the climate system.

However, these policies, agreements, and protocols fail to adequately recognize these impacts. To make these more effective and thus to minimize climatic impacts, we propose several recommendations: 1) translating international treaties and protocols into national policies and actions to ensure positive climate outcomes; 2) updating international protocols to reflect advancement in climate–LULCC science; 3) continuing to invest in the measurements, databases, reporting, and verification activities associated with LULCC and LULCC-relevant climate monitoring; and 4) reshaping Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation+ (REDD+) to fully account for the multiscale biogeophysical and biogeochemical impacts of LULCC on the climate system.

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Christopher L. Castro, Thomas B. McKee, and Roger A. Pielke Sr.

Abstract

The North American monsoon is a seasonal shift of upper- and low-level pressure and wind patterns that brings summertime moisture into the southwest United States and ends the late spring wet period in the Great Plains. The interannual variability of the North American monsoon is examined using the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis (1948–98). The diurnal and seasonal evolution of 500-mb geopotential height, integrated moisture flux, and integrated moisture flux convergence are constructed using a 5-day running mean for the months May through September. All of the years are used to calculate an average daily Z score that removes the diurnal, seasonal, and intraseasonal variability. The 30-day average Z score centered about the date is correlated with Pacific sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) indices associated with the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the North Pacific oscillation (NPO). These indices are Niño-3, a North Pacific index, and a Pacific index that combines the previous two. Regional time-evolving precipitation indices for the Southwest and Great Plains, which consider the total number of wet or dry stations in a region, are also correlated with the SSTA indices. The use of nonnormally distributed point source precipitation data is avoided.

Teleconnections are computed relative to the climatological evolution of the North American monsoon, rather than to calendar months, thus more accurately accounting for the climatological changes in the large-scale circulation. Tropical and North Pacific SSTs are related to the occurrence of the Pacific Transition and East Pacific teleconnection patterns, respectively, in June and July. A high (low) NPO phase and El Niño (La Niña) conditions favor a weaker (stronger) and southward (northward) displaced monsoon ridge. These teleconnection patterns affect the timing and large-scale distribution of monsoon moisture. In the Great Plains, the spring wet season is lengthened (shortened) and early summer rainfall and integrated moisture flux convergence are above (below) average. In the Southwest, monsoon onset is late (early) and early summer rainfall and integrated moisture flux convergence are below (above) average. Relationships with Pacific SSTA indices decay in the later part of the monsoon coincident with weakening of the jet stream across the Pacific and strengthening of the monsoon ridge over North America. The most coherent summer climate patterns occur over the entire western United States when the Pacific index is substantially high or low, such as during the Midwest flood of 1993 and drought of 1988. The Pacific index in spring is a good predictor of early summer height anomalies over the western United States when the time evolution of the North Pacific SST dipole is considered.

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Conrad L. Ziegler, Tsengdar J. Lee, and Roger A. Pielke Sr.

Abstract

A nonhydrostatic, three-dimensional version of the Colorado State University Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (CSU-RAMS) is used to deduce the processes responsible for the formation of drylines and the subsequent initiation of deep, moist dryline convection. A range of cumuliform cloud types are explicitly simulated along drylines on 15, 16, and 26 May 1991 in accordance with observations.

In the simulations, narrow convergence bands along the dryline provide the lift to initiate deep moist convection. The thermally direct secondary convective boundary layer (CBL) circulations along the dryline are frontogenetic and solenoidally forced. Maximum updrafts reach 5 m s−1 and the bands are 3–9 km wide and 10–100 km or more in length. The updrafts penetrate and are decelerated by the overlying stable air above the CBL, reaching depths of about 2000 m in the cases studied. Moisture convergence along the mesoscale updraft bands destabilizes the local sounding to deep convection, while simultaneously decreasing the CIN to zero where storms subsequently develop. The lapse rates of vapor mixing ratio and potential temperature in the mesoscale updrafts are rather small, indicating that increases of the lifted condensation level (LCL) and level of free convection (LFC) due to mixing following the parcel motion are also small. Simulated convective clouds of all modes, including shallow forced cumulus and storms, develop in regions where the CIN ranges from zero up to the order of the peak kinetic energy of the boundary layer updraft and moisture is sufficiently deep to permit water saturation to develop in the boundary layer.

The findings suggest that classic cloud models may not adequately simulate the early development of dryline storms due to their use of thermal bubbles to initiate convection and their assumption of a horizontally homogeneous environment. In contrast, cautious optimism may be warranted in regard to operational numerical prediction of drylines and the threat of attendant deep convection with mesoscale models.

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Christopher L. Castro, Roger A. Pielke Sr., and Jimmy O. Adegoke

Abstract

Fifty-three years of the NCEP–NCAR Reanalysis I are dynamically downscaled using the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) to generate a regional climate model (RCM) climatology of the contiguous United States and Mexico. Data from the RAMS simulations are compared to the recently released North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR), as well as observed precipitation and temperature data. The RAMS simulations show the value added by using a RCM in a process study framework to represent North American summer climate beyond the driving global atmospheric reanalysis. Because of its enhanced representation of the land surface topography, the diurnal cycle of convective rainfall is present. This diurnal cycle largely governs the transitions associated with the evolution of the North American monsoon with regards to rainfall, the surface energy budget, and surface temperature. The lower frequency modes of convective rainfall, though weaker, account for rainfall variability at a remote distance from elevated terrain. As in previous studies with other RCMs, RAMS precipitation is overestimated compared to observations. The Great Plains low-level jet (LLJ) is also well represented in both RAMS and NARR, but the Baja LLJ and associated gulf surges are not.

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John E. Strack, Roger A. Pielke Sr., and Jimmy Adegoke

Abstract

Snow cover can significantly suppress daytime temperatures by increasing the surface albedo and limiting the surface temperature to 0°C. The strength of this effect is dependent upon how well the snow can cover, or mask, the underlying surface. In regions where tall vegetation protrudes through a shallow layer of snow, the temperature-reducing effects of the snow will be suppressed since the protruding vegetation will absorb solar radiation and emit an upward turbulent heat flux. This means that an atmospheric model must have a reasonable representation of the land cover, as well as be able to correctly calculate snow depth, if an accurate simulation of surface heat fluxes, air temperatures, and boundary layer structure is to be made. If too much vegetation protrudes through the snow, then the surface sensible heat flux will be too large and the air temperatures will be too high.

In this study four simulations are run with the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS 4.30) for a snow event that occurred in 1988 over the Texas Panhandle. The first simulation, called the control, is run with the most realistic version of the current land cover and the results verified against both ground stations and aircraft data. Simulations 2 and 3 use the default methods of specifying land cover in RAMS 4.29 and RAMS 4.30, respectively. The significance of these variations in land-cover definition is then examined by comparing with the control run. Finally, the last simulation is run with the land cover defined as all short grass, the natural cover for the region. The results of this study indicate that variations in the land-cover specification can lead to differences in sensible heat flux over snow as large as 80 W m−2. These differences in sensible heat flux can then lead to differences in daytime temperatures of as much as 6°C. Also, the height of the afternoon boundary layer can vary by as much as 200–300 m.

In addition, the results suggest that daytime temperatures are cooler over snow in the regions where short grass has been converted to cropland, while they appear to be warmer over regions where shrubs have increased.

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Lisa S. Darby, Robert M. Banta, and Roger A. Pielke Sr.

Abstract

A NOAA/Environmental Technology Laboratory Doppler lidar measured the life cycle of the land- and sea-breeze system at Monterey Bay, California, in 1987, during the Land–Sea Breeze Experiment (LASBEX). On days with offshore synoptic flow, the transition to onshore flow (the sea breeze) was a distinct process easily detected by lidar. Finescale lidar measurements showed the reversal from offshore to onshore flow near the coast, its gradual vertical and horizontal expansion, and a dual structure to the sea-breeze flow in its early formative stages. Initially, a shallow (<500 m) sea breeze formed that later became embedded in a weaker onshore flow that was ∼1 km deep. Eventually these two flows blended together to form a mature sea breeze about 1 km deep.

Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) two-dimensional simulations successfully simulated this dual structure of the sea-breeze flow when both the coastal mountain range just east of Monterey Bay and the Sierra Nevada range, peaking 300 km east of the shore, were included in the domain. Various sensitivity simulations were conducted to isolate the roles played by the land–water contrast, the coastal mountain range, and the Sierra Nevada range. Notable results included the following: 1) the Sierra Nevada range greatly affected the winds above 1500 m at the shore, even though the peak of the mountain range was 300 km east of the shore; 2) the winds at the shore, below 1500 m, were most affected by the land–sea contrast and the coastal mountain range; and 3) the presence of the coastal mountain range enhanced the depth of the sea-breeze flow but not necessarily its speed.

A factor separation method was employed to further isolate the contributions of the terrain and land–water contrast to the vertical structure of the modeled u component of the wind. When both mountains were included in the domain, the interaction of the slope flows generated by these mountains acted to strongly enhance onshore flow early in the morning. In contrast, the interaction of flows generated by the land–water contrast and the sloping terrain had its strongest effect late in the afternoon and early evening, working to oppose the sea-breeze flow. The triple interaction of the flows generated by the coastal mountain, inland mountain, and the land–water contrast enhanced the sea-breeze flow from the surface to 500 m above the sea level throughout the day.

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