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Scott Applequist

Abstract

Wind rose summaries, which provide a basis for understanding and evaluating the climatological behavior of local wind, have a directional bias if a conventional method is used in their generation. Three techniques used to remove this bias are described and are compared for theoretical and observed wind distributions. All three techniques successfully remove the bias, with the simplest of the three performing as well as the more-complex techniques.

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Anthony Arguez and Scott Applequist

Abstract

NOAA released the new 1981–2010 climate normals in July 2011. These included monthly and daily normals of minimum and maximum temperature. Monthly normals were computed from monthly temperature values that were corrected for biases (i.e., homogenized) due to changes in observing practices over the course of the normals period (station moves, changes in observation time, and changes in instrumentation). Daily temperature observations, however, are not homogenized, which could lead to inconsistencies between the daily and monthly normals. This study offers a constrained harmonic technique that forces the daily temperature normals to be consistent with the monthly temperature normals. This approach replaces the cubic spline interpolation of monthly temperature normals that was used to compute earlier versions of NOAA's daily temperature normals. It effectively passes the homogenization applied at the monthly scale down to the daily scale, resulting in a smooth annual cycle devoid of day-to-day sampling variability and intermonth discontinuities.

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Gregory E. Gahrs, Scott Applequist, Richard L. Pfeffer, and Xu-Feng Niu

Abstract

As a follow-up to a recent paper by the authors in which various methodologies for probabilistic quantitative precipitation forecasting were compared, it is shown here that the skill scores for linear regression and logistic regression can be improved by the use of alternative methods to obtain the model order and the coefficients of the predictors. Moreover, it is found that an even simpler, and more computationally efficient, methodology, called binning, yields Brier skill scores that are comparable to those of logistic regression. The Brier skill scores for both logistic regression and binning are found to be significantly higher at the 99% confidence level than the ones for linear regression.

In response to questions that have arisen concerning the significance test used in the authors' previous study, an alternative method for determining the confidence level is used in this study and it is found that it yields results comparable to those obtained previously, thereby lending support to the conclusion that logistic regression is significantly more skillful than linear regression.

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Scott Applequist, Gregory E. Gahrs, Richard L. Pfeffer, and Xu-Feng Niu

Abstract

Twenty-four-hour probabilistic quantitative precipitation forecasts (PQPFs) for accumulations exceeding thresholds of 0.01, 0.05, and 0.10 in. are produced for 154 meteorological stations over the eastern and central regions of the United States. Comparisons of skill are made among forecasts generated using five different linear and nonlinear statistical methodologies, namely, linear regression, discriminant analysis, logistic regression, neural networks, and a classifier system. The predictors for the different statistical models were selected from a large pool of analyzed and predicted variables generated by the Nested Grid Model (NGM) during the four cool seasons (December–March) from 1992/93 to 1995/96. Because linear regression is the current method used by the National Weather Service, it is chosen as the benchmark by which the other methodologies are compared. The results indicate that logistic regression performs best among all methodologies. Most notable is that it performs significantly better at the 99% confidence limits than linear regression, attaining Brier skill scores of 0.413, 0.480, and 0.478 versus 0.378, 0.440, and 0.457 for linear regression, at thresholds of 0.01, 0.05, and 0.10 in., respectively. Attributes diagrams reveal that linear regression gives a greater number of forecast probabilities closer to climatology than does logistic regression at all three thresholds. Moreover, these forecasts are more biased toward lower-than-observed probabilities and are further from the “perfect reliability” line in almost all probability categories than are the forecasts made by logistic regression. For the other methodologies, the classifier system also showed significantly greater skill than did linear regression, and discriminant analysis and neural networks gave mixed results.

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Imke Durre, Michael F. Squires, Russell S. Vose, Xungang Yin, Anthony Arguez, and Scott Applequist

Abstract

The 1981–2010 “U.S. Climate Normals” released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center include a suite of monthly, seasonal, and annual statistics that are based on precipitation, snowfall, and snow-depth measurements. This paper describes the procedures used to calculate the average totals, frequencies of occurrence, and percentiles that constitute these normals. All parameters were calculated from a single, state-of-the-art dataset of daily observations, taking care to produce normals that were as representative as possible of the full 1981–2010 period, even when the underlying data records were incomplete. In the resulting product, average precipitation totals are available at approximately 9300 stations across the United States and parts of the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean islands. Snowfall and snow-depth statistics are provided for approximately 5300 of those stations, as compared with several hundred stations in the 1971–2000 normals. The 1981–2010 statistics exhibit the familiar climatological patterns across the contiguous United States. When compared with the same calculations for 1971–2000, the later period is characterized by a smaller number of days with snow on the ground and less total annual snowfall across much of the contiguous United States; wetter conditions over much of the Great Plains, Midwest, and northern California; and drier conditions over much of the Southeast and Pacific Northwest. These differences are a reflection of the removal of the 1970s and the addition of the 2000s to the 30-yr-normals period as part of this latest revision of the normals.

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Imke Durre, Xungang Yin, Russell S. Vose, Scott Applequist, and Jeff Arnfield

Abstract

The Integrated Global Radiosonde Archive (IGRA) is a collection of historical and near-real-time radiosonde and pilot balloon observations from around the globe. Consisting of a foundational dataset of individual soundings, a set of sounding-derived parameters, and monthly means, the collection is maintained and distributed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). It has been used in a variety of applications, including reanalysis projects, assessments of tropospheric and stratospheric temperature and moisture trends, a wide range of studies of atmospheric processes and structures, and as validation of observations from other observing platforms. In 2016, NCEI released version 2 of the dataset, IGRA 2, which incorporates data from a considerably greater number of data sources, thus increasing the data volume by 30%, extending the data back in time to as early as 1905, and improving the spatial coverage. To create IGRA 2, 40 data sources were converted into a common data format and merged into one coherent dataset using a newly designed suite of algorithms. Then, an overhauled version of the IGRA 1 quality-assurance system was applied to the integrated data. Last, monthly means and sounding-by-sounding moisture and stability parameters were derived from the new dataset. All of these components are updated on a regular basis and made available for download free of charge on the NCEI website.

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Scott Applequist, Anthony Arguez, Imke Durre, Michael F. Squires, Russell S. Vose, and Xungang Yin

The 1981–2010 U.S. Climate Normals released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) include a suite of descriptive statistics based on hourly observations. For each hour and day of the year, statistics of temperature, dew point, mean sea level pressure, wind, clouds, heat index, wind chill, and heating and cooling degree hours are provided as 30-year averages, frequencies of occurrence, and percentiles. These hourly normals are available for 262 locations, primarily major airports, from across the United States and its Pacific territories. We encourage use of these products specifically for examination of the diurnal cycle of a particular variable, and how that change may shift over the annual cycle.

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Anthony Arguez, Imke Durre, Scott Applequist, Russell S. Vose, Michael F. Squires, Xungang Yin, Richard R. Heim Jr., and Timothy W. Owen

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released the 1981–2010 U.S. Climate Normals in July 2011, representing the latest decadal installment of this long-standing product line. Climatic averages (and other statistics) of temperature, precipitation, snowfall, and numerous derived quantities were calculated for ~9,800 stations operated by the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS). They include estimated normals, or “quasi normals,” for approximately 2,000 active short-record stations such as those in the U.S. Climate Reference Network. The 1981–2010 installment features several new products and methodological enhancements: 1) state-of-the-art temperature homogenization at the monthly scale, 2) extensive utilization of quality-controlled daily climate data, 3) new statistical approaches for calculating daily temperature normals and heating and cooling degree days, and 4) a comprehensive suite of precipitation, snowfall, and snow depth statistics. This paper provides a general overview of this new suite of climate normals products.

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Russell S. Vose, Scott Applequist, Mike Squires, Imke Durre, Matthew J. Menne, Claude N. Williams Jr., Chris Fenimore, Karin Gleason, and Derek Arndt

Abstract

This paper describes an improved edition of the climate division dataset for the conterminous United States (i.e., version 2). The first improvement is to the input data, which now include additional station networks, quality assurance reviews, and temperature bias adjustments. The second improvement is to the suite of climatic elements, which now includes both maximum and minimum temperatures. The third improvement is to the computational approach, which now employs climatologically aided interpolation to address topographic and network variability. Version 2 exhibits substantial differences from version 1 over the period 1895–2012. For example, divisional averages in version 2 tend to be cooler and wetter, particularly in mountainous areas of the western United States. Division-level trends in temperature and precipitation display greater spatial consistency in version 2. National-scale temperature trends in version 2 are comparable to those in the U.S. Historical Climatology Network whereas version 1 exhibits less warming as a result of historical changes in observing practices. Divisional errors in version 2 are likely less than 0.5°C for temperature and 20 mm for precipitation at the start of the record, falling rapidly thereafter. Overall, these results indicate that version 2 can supersede version 1 in both operational climate monitoring and applied climatic research.

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Russell S. Vose, Scott Applequist, Mark A. Bourassa, Sara C. Pryor, Rebecca J. Barthelmie, Brian Blanton, Peter D. Bromirski, Harold E. Brooks, Arthur T. DeGaetano, Randall M. Dole, David R. Easterling, Robert E. Jensen, Thomas R. Karl, Richard W. Katz, Katherine Klink, Michael C. Kruk, Kenneth E. Kunkel, Michael C. MacCracken, Thomas C. Peterson, Karsten Shein, Bridget R. Thomas, John E. Walsh, Xiaolan L. Wang, Michael F. Wehner, Donald J. Wuebbles, and Robert S. Young

This scientific assessment examines changes in three climate extremes—extratropical storms, winds, and waves—with an emphasis on U.S. coastal regions during the cold season. There is moderate evidence of an increase in both extratropical storm frequency and intensity during the cold season in the Northern Hemisphere since 1950, with suggestive evidence of geographic shifts resulting in slight upward trends in offshore/coastal regions. There is also suggestive evidence of an increase in extreme winds (at least annually) over parts of the ocean since the early to mid-1980s, but the evidence over the U.S. land surface is inconclusive. Finally, there is moderate evidence of an increase in extreme waves in winter along the Pacific coast since the 1950s, but along other U.S. shorelines any tendencies are of modest magnitude compared with historical variability. The data for extratropical cyclones are considered to be of relatively high quality for trend detection, whereas the data for extreme winds and waves are judged to be of intermediate quality. In terms of physical causes leading to multidecadal changes, the level of understanding for both extratropical storms and extreme winds is considered to be relatively low, while that for extreme waves is judged to be intermediate. Since the ability to measure these changes with some confidence is relatively recent, understanding is expected to improve in the future for a variety of reasons, including increased periods of record and the development of “climate reanalysis” projects.

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