Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 9 of 9 items for

  • Author or Editor: Taotao Qian x
  • All content x
Clear All Modify Search
Aiguo Dai, Kevin E. Trenberth, and Taotao Qian

Abstract

A monthly dataset of Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) from 1870 to 2002 is derived using historical precipitation and temperature data for global land areas on a 2.5° grid. Over Illinois, Mongolia, and parts of China and the former Soviet Union, where soil moisture data are available, the PDSI is significantly correlated (r = 0.5 to 0.7) with observed soil moisture content within the top 1-m depth during warm-season months. The strongest correlation is in late summer and autumn, and the weakest correlation is in spring, when snowmelt plays an important role. Basin-averaged annual PDSI covary closely (r = 0.6 to 0.8) with streamflow for seven of world's largest rivers and several smaller rivers examined. The results suggest that the PDSI is a good proxy of both surface moisture conditions and streamflow. An empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis of the PDSI reveals a fairly linear trend resulting from trends in precipitation and surface temperature and an El Niño– Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-induced mode of mostly interannual variations as the two leading patterns. The global very dry areas, defined as PDSI < −3.0, have more than doubled since the 1970s, with a large jump in the early 1980s due to an ENSO-induced precipitation decrease and a subsequent expansion primarily due to surface warming, while global very wet areas (PDSI > +3.0) declined slightly during the 1980s. Together, the global land areas in either very dry or very wet conditions have increased from ∼20% to 38% since 1972, with surface warming as the primary cause after the mid-1980s. These results provide observational evidence for the increasing risk of droughts as anthropogenic global warming progresses and produces both increased temperatures and increased drying.

Full access
Taotao Qian, Aiguo Dai, and Kevin E. Trenberth

Abstract

The trends of the surface water and energy budget components in the Mississippi River basin from 1948 to 2004 are investigated using a combination of hydrometeorological observations and observation-constrained simulations of the land surface conditions using the latest version of the Community Land Model version 3 (CLM3). The atmospheric forcing data for the CLM3 were constructed by adding the intramonthly variations from the 6-hourly National Centers for Environmental Prediction–National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP–NCAR) reanalysis to observation-based analyses of monthly precipitation, surface air temperature, and cloud cover. The model-based analysis suggests that, for the surface water budget, the observed increase in basin-averaged precipitation is compensated by increases in both runoff and evapotranspiration. For the surface energy budget, the decrease of net shortwave radiation associated with observed increases in cloudiness is compensated by decreases in both net longwave radiation and sensible heat flux, while the latent heat flux increases in association with wetter soil conditions. Both the simulated surface water and energy budgets support the view that evapotranspiration has increased in the Mississippi River basin from 1948 to 2004. Sensitivity experiments show that the precipitation change dominates the evapotranspiration trend, while the temperature and solar radiation changes have only small effects. Large spatial variations within the Mississippi River basin and the contiguous United States are also found. However, the increased evapotranspiration is ubiquitous despite spatial variations in hydrometeorology.

Full access
Jia-Lin Lin, Taotao Qian, and Toshiaki Shinoda

Abstract

This study examines the stratocumulus clouds and associated cloud feedback in the southeast Pacific (SEP) simulated by eight global climate models participating in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) and Cloud Feedback Model Intercomparison Project (CFMIP) using long-term observations of clouds, radiative fluxes, cloud radiative forcing (CRF), sea surface temperature (SST), and large-scale atmosphere environment. The results show that the state-of-the-art global climate models still have significant difficulty in simulating the SEP stratocumulus clouds and associated cloud feedback. Comparing with observations, the models tend to simulate significantly less cloud cover, higher cloud top, and a variety of unrealistic cloud albedo. The insufficient cloud cover leads to overly weak shortwave CRF and net CRF. Only two of the eight models capture the observed positive cloud feedback at subannual to decadal time scales. The cloud and radiation biases in the models are associated with 1) model biases in large-scale temperature structure including the lack of temperature inversion, insufficient lower troposphere stability (LTS), and insufficient reduction of LTS with local SST warming, and 2) improper model physics, especially insufficient increase of low cloud cover associated with larger LTS. The two models that arguably do best at simulating the stratocumulus clouds and associated cloud feedback are the only ones using cloud-top radiative cooling to drive boundary layer turbulence.

Full access
Jia-Lin Lin, Taotao Qian, Toshiaki Shinoda, and Shuanglin Li

Abstract

The hypothesis of convective quasi-equilibrium (CQE) has dominated thinking about the interaction between deep moist convection and the environment for at least two decades. In this view, deep convection develops or decays almost instantly to remove any changes of convective instability, making the tropospheric temperature always tied to the boundary layer moist static energy. The present study examines the validity of the CQE hypothesis at different vertical levels using long-term sounding data from tropical convection centers. The results show that the tropical atmosphere is far from the CQE with much weaker warming in the middle and upper troposphere associated with the increase of boundary layer moist static energy. This is true for all the time scales resolved by the observational data, ranging from hourly to interannual and decadal variability. It is possibly caused by the ubiquitous existence of shallow convection and stratiform precipitation, both leading to sign reversal of heating from lower to upper troposphere. The simulations by 42 global climate models from phases 3 and 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparsion Project (CMIP3 and CMIP5) are also analyzed and compared with the observations.

Full access
Taotao Qian, Aiguo Dai, Kevin E. Trenberth, and Keith W. Oleson

Abstract

Because of a lack of observations, historical simulations of land surface conditions using land surface models are needed for studying variability and changes in the continental water cycle and for providing initial conditions for seasonal climate predictions. Atmospheric forcing datasets are also needed for land surface model development. The quality of atmospheric forcing data greatly affects the ability of land surface models to realistically simulate land surface conditions. Here a carefully constructed global forcing dataset for 1948–2004 with 3-hourly and T62 (∼1.875°) resolution is described, and historical simulations using the latest version of the Community Land Model version 3.0 (CLM3) are evaluated using available observations of streamflow, continental freshwater discharge, surface runoff, and soil moisture. The forcing dataset was derived by combining observation-based analyses of monthly precipitation and surface air temperature with intramonthly variations from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction–National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP–NCAR) reanalysis, which is shown to have spurious trends and biases in surface temperature and precipitation. Surface downward solar radiation from the reanalysis was first adjusted for variations and trends using monthly station records of cloud cover anomaly and then for mean biases using satellite observations during recent decades. Surface specific humidity from the reanalysis was adjusted using the adjusted surface air temperature and reanalysis relative humidity. Surface wind speed and air pressure were interpolated directly from the 6-hourly reanalysis data. Sensitivity experiments show that the precipitation adjustment (to the reanalysis data) leads to the largest improvement, while the temperature and radiation adjustments have only small effects.

When forced by this dataset, the CLM3 reproduces many aspects of the long-term mean, annual cycle, interannual and decadal variations, and trends of streamflow for many large rivers (e.g., the Orinoco, Changjiang, Mississippi, etc.), although substantial biases exist. The simulated long-term-mean freshwater discharge into the global and individual oceans is comparable to 921 river-based observational estimates. Observed soil moisture variations over Illinois and parts of Eurasia are generally simulated well, with the dominant influence coming from precipitation. The results suggest that the CLM3 simulations are useful for climate change analysis. It is also shown that unrealistically low intensity and high frequency of precipitation, as in most model-simulated precipitation or observed time-averaged fields, result in too much evaporation and too little runoff, which leads to lower than observed river flows. This problem can be reduced by adjusting the precipitation rates using observed-precipitation frequency maps.

Full access
Aiguo Dai, Taotao Qian, Kevin E. Trenberth, and John D. Milliman

Abstract

A new dataset of historical monthly streamflow at the farthest downstream stations for the world’s 925 largest ocean-reaching rivers has been created for community use. Available new gauge records are added to a network of gauges that covers ∼80 × 106 km2 or ∼80% of global ocean-draining land areas and accounts for about 73% of global total runoff. For most of the large rivers, the record for 1948–2004 is fairly complete. Data gaps in the records are filled through linear regression using streamflow simulated by a land surface model [Community Land Model, version 3 (CLM3)] forced with observed precipitation and other atmospheric forcings that are significantly (and often strongly) correlated with the observed streamflow for most rivers. Compared with previous studies, the new dataset has improved homogeneity and enables more reliable assessments of decadal and long-term changes in continental freshwater discharge into the oceans. The model-simulated runoff ratio over drainage areas with and without gauge records is used to estimate the contribution from the areas not monitored by the gauges in deriving the total discharge into the global oceans.

Results reveal large variations in yearly streamflow for most of the world’s large rivers and for continental discharge, but only about one-third of the top 200 rivers (including the Congo, Mississippi, Yenisey, Paraná, Ganges, Columbia, Uruguay, and Niger) show statistically significant trends during 1948–2004, with the rivers having downward trends (45) outnumbering those with upward trends (19). The interannual variations are correlated with the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events for discharge into the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and global ocean as a whole. For ocean basins other than the Arctic, and for the global ocean as a whole, the discharge data show small or downward trends, which are statistically significant for the Pacific (−9.4 km3 yr−1). Precipitation is a major driver for the discharge trends and large interannual-to-decadal variations. Comparisons with the CLM3 simulation suggest that direct human influence on annual streamflow is likely small compared with climatic forcing during 1948–2004 for most of the world’s major rivers. For the Arctic drainage areas, upward trends in streamflow are not accompanied by increasing precipitation, especially over Siberia, based on available data, although recent surface warming and associated downward trends in snow cover and soil ice content over the northern high latitudes contribute to increased runoff in these regions. The results are qualitatively consistent with climate model projections but contradict an earlier report of increasing continental runoff during the recent decades based on limited records.

Full access
Kevin E. Trenberth, Lesley Smith, Taotao Qian, Aiguo Dai, and John Fasullo

Abstract

A brief review is given of research in the Climate Analysis Section at NCAR on the water cycle. Results are used to provide a new estimate of the global hydrological cycle for long-term annual means that includes estimates of the main reservoirs of water as well as the flows of water among them. For precipitation P over land a comparison among three datasets enables uncertainties to be estimated. In addition, results are presented for the mean annual cycle of the atmospheric hydrological cycle based on 1979–2000 data. These include monthly estimates of P, evapotranspiration E, atmospheric moisture convergence over land, and changes in atmospheric storage, for the major continental landmasses, zonal means over land, hemispheric land means, and global land means. The evapotranspiration is computed from the Community Land Model run with realistic atmospheric forcings, including precipitation that is constrained by observations for monthly means but with high-frequency information taken from atmospheric reanalyses. Results for EP are contrasted with those from atmospheric moisture budgets based on 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40) data. The latter show physically unrealistic results, because evaporation often exceeds precipitation over land, especially in the Tropics and subtropics.

Full access
Jia-Lin Lin, Toshiaki Shinoda, Taotao Qian, Weiqing Han, Paul Roundy, and Yangxing Zheng

Abstract

This study evaluates the intraseasonal variation of winter precipitation over the western United States in 14 coupled general circulation models (GCMs) participating in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). Eight years of each model’s twentieth-century climate simulation are analyzed. The focus is on the two dominant intraseasonal modes for the western U.S. precipitation: the 40-day mode and the 22-day mode.

The results show that the models tend to overestimate the northern winter (November–April) seasonal mean precipitation over the western United States and Canada. The models also tend to produce overly strong intraseasonal variability in western U.S. wintertime precipitation, in spite of the overly weak tropical intraseasonal variability in most of the models. All models capture both the 40-day mode and the 22-day mode, usually with overly large variances. For the 40-day mode, models tend to reproduce its deep barotropic vertical structure and three-cell horizontal structure, but only 5 of the 14 models capture its northward propagation, and only 2 models simulate its teleconnection with the Madden–Julian oscillation in the tropical Pacific. For the 22-day mode, 8 of the 14 models reproduce its coherent northward propagation, and 9 models capture its teleconnection with precipitation in the tropical Pacific.

Full access
Jia-Lin Lin, Toshiaki Shinoda, Brant Liebmann, Taotao Qian, Weiqing Han, Paul Roundy, Jiayu Zhou, and Yangxing Zheng

Abstract

This study evaluates the intraseasonal variability associated with summer precipitation over South America in 14 coupled general circulation models (GCMs) participating in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). Eight years of each model’s twentieth-century climate simulation are analyzed. Two dominant intraseasonal bands associated with summer precipitation over South America are focused on: the 40- and the 22-day band. The results show that in the southern summer (November–April), most of the models underestimate seasonal mean precipitation over central-east Brazil, northeast Brazil, and the South Atlantic convergence zone (SACZ), while the Atlantic intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) is shifted southward of its observed position. Most of the models capture both the 40- and 22-day band around Uruguay, but with less frequent active episodes than observed. The models also tend to underestimate the total intraseasonal (10–90 day), the 40-, and the 22-day band variances. For the 40-day band, 10 of the 14 models simulate to some extent the 3-cell pattern around South America, and 6 models reproduce its teleconnection with precipitation in the south-central Pacific, but only 1 model simulates the teleconnection with the MJO in the equatorial Pacific, and only 3 models capture its northward propagation from 50° to 32°S. For the 7 models with three-dimensional data available, only 1 model reproduces well the deep baroclinic vertical structure of the 40-day band. For the 22-day band, only 6 of the 14 models capture its northward propagation from the SACZ to the Atlantic ITCZ. It is found that models with some form of moisture convective trigger tend to produce large variances for the intraseasonal bands.

Full access