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Tracy Ewen, Stefan Brönnimann, and Jeffrey Annis

Abstract

This paper presents a reconstruction of a Pacific–North America (PNA) index from historical upper-level data for the period 1922–47. The data have been compiled from a number of sources and cover the Pacific–North American sector relatively well over this time period. Temperature and geopotential height profiles from aircraft, kite, and radiosonde ascents back to 1922 have been digitized and validated. Wind speed and direction from pilot balloon data back to the early 1920s, provided by NCAR, have also been used. A statistical regression approach is used for the reconstruction and calibrated in the post-1948 period using NCEP–NCAR reanalysis data. Split-sample validation experiments were performed within the NCEP–NCAR period, and sensitivity experiments with different subsets of predictors were performed. Similar reconstructions and validation experiments were carried out using a 540-yr control run from the Community Climate System Model, version 3 (CCSM3). The reconstructed index series together with validation statistics for both the historical and model data are presented. Excellent reconstruction skill is found for the winter months, while the reconstructions are somewhat worse in summer. Compared with a reconstruction based only on surface data, the addition of the newly digitized upper-air stations improves the reconstruction skill in all seasons. The historical reconstruction is presented with respect to its imprint on hemispheric fields of surface air temperature, sea level pressure, and precipitation with a special focus on extreme cases. In addition, the extended PNA index is compared with indices of the North Atlantic Oscillation, the Pacific decadal oscillation, and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation. The relationship to these indices is found to be stationary over the analysis period.

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Tracy Ewen, Andrea Grant, and Stefan Brönnimann

Abstract

Upper-air observations with kites, aircraft, and radiosondes were performed in the United States operationally since the 1890s. In this paper, the authors present a reevaluation of newly digitized monthly mean values from the Monthly Weather Review back to 1922. Data from 46 U.S. weather stations are presented with a focus on early kite and aircraft observations during the 1922–38 period. A quality assessment of the data, based on reconstructed reference series, is carried out and the quality of the monthly mean data is found to be sufficient for analysis of variability in upper-level circulation. Anomalies of upper-level temperatures from the reevaluated station data, together with surface fields, are shown for selected periods.

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Andrea N. Grant, Stefan Brönnimann, Tracy Ewen, and Andrey Nagurny

Abstract

Historical radiosonde data are known to suffer from inhomogeneities. The first radiosonde intercomparison was made at Payerne, Switzerland, in 1954, and a major international effort to standardize the network, including launch times, was made for the International Geophysical Year (IGY) in 1957–58. Data from before this period, in some cases extending back as far as 1934, have been viewed with even more suspicion than recent data. These early data are scattered among numerous archives with a variety of station identifier schemes and quality-control procedures, and some of the data have only recently been digitized from paper records. Here, the first systematic compilation of pre-IGY data is made, and a novel quality-assessment technique is applied, which reveals that much of the early data have uncorrected radiation and lag errors, especially in the former Soviet Union. Incorrect geopotential height units and problematic time stamps were also found. The authors propose corrections and present corrected hemispheric fields that show large changes and improved internal consistency in height and temperature across Eurasia compared with uncorrected data. The corrections are important, especially as they have a clear spatial structure that interferes with the planetary wave structure. These corrected data are useful for climate studies and considerably enhance the length and quality of the upper-air record but may not be suitable for trend analysis. Assimilation of the uncorrected data has led to a widespread warm bias in NCEP–NCAR reanalysis in the 1950s.

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Thomas Griesser, Stefan Brönnimann, Andrea Grant, Tracy Ewen, Alexander Stickler, and Joey Comeaux

Abstract

This work presents statistically reconstructed global monthly mean fields of temperature and geopotential height (GPH) up to 100 hPa for the period 1880–1957. For the statistical model several thousand predictors were used, comprising a large amount of historical upper-air data as well as data from the earth’s surface. In the calibration period (1958–2001), the statistical models were fit using the 40-yr European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Re-Analysis (ERA-40) as the predictand. After the weighting of the predictors, principal component (PC) analyses were performed on both the predictand and predictor dataset. Multiple linear regression models relate each principal component time series from the predictand with an optimal subset of principal component time series from the predictor. To assess the quality of the reconstructions, statistical split-sample validation (SSV) experiments were performed within the calibration period. Furthermore, the reconstructions were compared with independent historical upper-air and total ozone data. Based on the SSV experiment, this study obtained good reconstructions for temperature and GPH in the Northern Hemisphere; however, the skill in the tropics and the Southern Hemisphere was much lower. The reconstruction skill shows a clear annual cycle with the highest values in January. The lower levels were better reconstructed except in the tropics where the highest levels showed the best skill. With the inclusion of a considerable amount of upper-air data after 1939 the skill increased substantially. The fields were analyzed for selected months in the 1920s and 1930s to demonstrate the usefulness of the reconstructions. It is shown that the reconstructions are able to capture regional-to-global dynamical features.

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Marco Rohrer, Stefan Brönnimann, Olivia Martius, Christoph C. Raible, Martin Wild, and Gilbert P. Compo

Abstract

Atmospheric circulation types, blockings, and cyclones are central features of the extratropical flow and key to understanding the climate system. This study intercompares the representation of these features in 10 reanalyses and in an ensemble of 30 climate model simulations between 1980 and 2005. Both modern, full-input reanalyses and century-long, surface-input reanalyses are examined. Modern full-input reanalyses agree well on key statistics of blockings, cyclones, and circulation types. However, the intensity and depth of cyclones vary among them. Reanalyses with higher horizontal resolution show higher cyclone center densities and more intense cyclones. For blockings, no strict relationship is found between frequency or intensity and horizontal resolution. Full-input reanalyses contain more intense blocking, compared to surface-input reanalyses. Circulation-type classifications over central Europe show that both versions of the Twentieth Century Reanalysis dataset contain more easterlies and fewer westerlies than any other reanalysis, owing to their high pressure bias over northeast Europe. The temporal correlation of annual circulation types over central Europe and blocking frequencies over the North Atlantic–European domain between reanalyses is high (around 0.8). The ensemble simulations capture the main characteristics of midlatitudinal atmospheric circulation. Circulation types of westerlies to northerlies over central Europe are overrepresented. There are too few blockings in the higher latitudes and an excess of cyclones in the midlatitudes. Other characteristics, such as blocking amplitude and cyclone intensity, are realistically represented, making the ensemble simulations a rich dataset to assess changes in climate variability.

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Martin Wegmann, Stefan Brönnimann, Jonas Bhend, Jörg Franke, Doris Folini, Martin Wild, and Jürg Luterbacher

Abstract

Strong tropical volcanic eruptions have significant effects on global and regional temperatures. Their effects on precipitation, however, are less well understood. Analyzing hydroclimatic anomalies after 14 strong eruptions during the last 400 years in climate reconstructions and model simulations, a reduction of the Asian and African summer monsoons and an increase of south-central European summer precipitation in the year following the eruption was found. The simulations provide evidence for a dynamical link between these phenomena. The weaker monsoon circulations weaken the northern branch of the Hadley circulation, alter the atmospheric circulation over the Atlantic–European sector, and increase precipitation over Europe. This mechanism is able to explain, for instance, the wet summer in parts of Europe during the “year without a summer” of 1816, which up to now has not been explained. This study underlines the importance of atmospheric teleconnections between the tropics and midlatitudes to better understand the regional climate response to stratospheric volcanic aerosols.

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Rob Allan, Philip Brohan, Gilbert P. Compo, Roger Stone, Juerg Luterbacher, and Stefan Brönnimann

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Peter Stucki, Stefan Brönnimann, Olivia Martius, Christoph Welker, Ralph Rickli, Silke Dierer, David N. Bresch, Gilbert P. Compo, and Prashant D. Sardeshmukh
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Ulf Büntgen, Miroslav Trnka, Paul J. Krusic, Tomáš Kyncl, Josef Kyncl, Jürg Luterbacher, Eduardo Zorita, Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist, Ingeborg Auer, Oliver Konter, Lea Schneider, Willy Tegel, Petr Štěpánek, Stefan Brönnimann, Lena Hellmann, Daniel Nievergelt, and Jan Esper

Abstract

Annually resolved and absolutely dated tree-ring chronologies are the most important proxy archives to reconstruct climate variability over centuries to millennia. However, the suitability of tree-ring chronologies to reflect the “true” spectral properties of past changes in temperature and hydroclimate has recently been debated. At issue is the accurate quantification of temperature differences between early nineteenth-century cooling and recent warming. In this regard, central Europe (CEU) offers the unique opportunity to compare evidence from instrumental measurements, paleomodel simulations, and proxy reconstructions covering both the exceptionally hot summer of 2003 and the year without summer in 1816. This study uses 565 Swiss stone pine (Pinus cembra) ring width samples from high-elevation sites in the Slovakian Tatra Mountains and Austrian Alps to reconstruct CEU summer temperatures over the past three centuries. This new temperature history is compared to different sets of instrumental measurements and state-of-the-art climate model simulations. All records independently reveal the coolest conditions in the 1810s and warmest after 1996, but the ring width–based reconstruction overestimates the intensity and duration of the early nineteenth-century summer cooling by approximately 1.5°C at decadal scales. This proxy-specific deviation is most likely triggered by inflated biological memory in response to reduced warm season temperature, together with changes in radiation and precipitation following the Tambora eruption in April 1815. While suggesting there exists a specific limitation in ring width chronologies to capture abrupt climate perturbations with increased climate system inertia, the results underline the importance of alternative dendrochronological and wood anatomical parameters, including stable isotopes and maximum density, to assess the frequency and severity of climatic extremes.

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Stefan Brönnimann, Rob Allan, Christopher Atkinson, Roberto Buizza, Olga Bulygina, Per Dahlgren, Dick Dee, Robert Dunn, Pedro Gomes, Viju O. John, Sylvie Jourdain, Leopold Haimberger, Hans Hersbach, John Kennedy, Paul Poli, Jouni Pulliainen, Nick Rayner, Roger Saunders, Jörg Schulz, Alexander Sterin, Alexander Stickler, Holly Titchner, Maria Antonia Valente, Clara Ventura, and Clive Wilkinson

Abstract

Global dynamical reanalyses of the atmosphere and ocean fundamentally rely on observations, not just for the assimilation (i.e., for the definition of the state of the Earth system components) but also in many other steps along the production chain. Observations are used to constrain the model boundary conditions, for the calibration or uncertainty determination of other observations, and for the evaluation of data products. This requires major efforts, including data rescue (for historical observations), data management (including metadatabases), compilation and quality control, and error estimation. The work on observations ideally occurs one cycle ahead of the generation cycle of reanalyses, allowing the reanalyses to make full use of it. In this paper we describe the activities within ERA-CLIM2, which range from surface, upper-air, and Southern Ocean data rescue to satellite data recalibration and from the generation of snow-cover products to the development of a global station data metadatabase. The project has not produced new data collections. Rather, the data generated has fed into global repositories and will serve future reanalysis projects. The continuation of this effort is first contingent upon the organization of data rescue and also upon a series of targeted research activities to address newly identified in situ and satellite records.

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