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Wanli Wu, Amanda H. Lynch, Sheldon Drobot, James Maslanik, A. David McGuire, and Ute Herzfeld

Abstract

Accurate estimates of the spatial and temporal variation in terrestrial water and energy fluxes and mean states are important for simulating regional hydrology and biogeochemistry in high-latitude regions. Furthermore, it is necessary to develop high-resolution hydroclimatological datasets at finer spatial resolutions than are currently available from global analyses. This study uses a regional climate model (RCM) to develop a hydroclimatological dataset for hydrologic and ecological application in the Western Arctic. The fifth-generation Penn State–NCAR Mesoscale Model (MM5) forced by global reanalysis products at the boundaries is used to perform 12 yr of simulation (1990 through 2001) over the Western Arctic. An analysis that compares the RCM simulations with independent observationally derived data sources is conducted to evaluate the temporal and spatial distribution of the mean states, variability, and trends during the period of simulation. The RCM simulation of sea level pressure agrees well with the reanalysis in terms of mean states, seasonality, and interannual variability. The RCM also simulates major spatial patterns of the observed climatology of surface air temperature (SAT), but RCM SAT is generally colder in the summertime and warmer in the wintertime in comparison with other datasets. Although there are biases in the mean state of SAT, the RCM simulations of the seasonal and interannual variability of SAT are similar to variability in observationally derived datasets. The RCM also simulates general spatial patterns of observed rainfall, but the modeled mean state of precipitation is characterized by large biases relative to observationally derived datasets. In particular, the RCM tends to overestimate coastal region precipitation but underestimates precipitation in the interior of the Western Arctic. The Arctic terrestrial surface climate trends for the period of 1992 to 2001 of the RCM are similar to those derived from observations, with sea level pressure decreasing 0.15 hPa decade−1, SAT increasing 0.10°C decade−1, and precipitation decreasing slightly in the RCM simulations. In summary, the RCM dataset produced in this study represents an improvement over data currently available from large-scale global reanalysis and provides a consistent meteorological forcing dataset for hydrologic and ecological applications.

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Sheldon Drobot, James Maslanik, Ute Christina Herzfeld, Charles Fowler, and Wanli Wu

Abstract

A better understanding of the interannual variability in temperature and precipitation datasets used as forcing fields for hydrologic models will lead to a more complete description of hydrologic model uncertainty, in turn helping scientists study the larger goal of how the Arctic terrestrial system is responding to global change. Accordingly, this paper investigates temporal and spatial variability in monthly mean (1992–2000) temperature and precipitation datasets over the Western Arctic Linkage Experiment (WALE) study region. The six temperature datasets include 1) the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5); 2) the 40-yr European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Re-Analysis (ERA-40); 3) the Advanced Polar Pathfinder all-sky temperatures (APP); 4) National Centers for Environmental Prediction– National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP–NCAR) reanalyses (NCEP1); 5) the Climatic Research Unit/University of East Anglia CRUTEM2v (CRU); and 6) the Matsuura and Wilmott 0.5° × 0.5° Global Surface Air Temperature and Precipitation (MW). Comparisons of monthly precipitation are examined for MM5, ERA-40, NCEP1, CRU, and MW. Results of the temporal analyses indicate significant differences between at least two datasets (for either temperature or precipitation) in almost every month. The largest number of significant differences for temperature occurs in October, when there are five separate groupings; for precipitation, there are four significantly different groupings from March through June, and again in December. Spatial analyses of June temperatures indicate that the greatest dissimilarity is concentrated in the central portion of the study region, with the NCEP1 and APP datasets showing the greatest differences. In comparison, the spatial analysis of June precipitation datasets suggests that the largest dissimilarity is concentrated in the eastern portion of the study region. These results indicate that the choice of forcing datasets likely will have a significant effect on the output from hydrologic models, and several different datasets should be used for a robust hydrologic assessment.

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Ute C. Herzfeld, Sheldon Drobot, Wanli Wu, Charles Fowler, and James Maslanik

Abstract

The Western Arctic Linkage Experiment (WALE) is aimed at understanding the role of high-latitude terrestrial ecosystems in the response of the Arctic system to global change through collection and comparison of climate datasets and model results. In this paper, a spatiotemporal approach is taken to compare and validate model results from the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5) with commonly used analysis and reanalysis datasets for monthly averages of temperature and precipitation in 1992–2000 and for a study area at 55°–65°N, 160°–110°W in northwestern Canada and Alaska.

Objectives include a quantitative assessment of similarity between datasets and climate model fields, and identification of geographic areas and seasons that are problematic in modeling, with potential causes that may aid in model improvement. These are achieved by application of algebraic similarity mapping, a simple yet effective method for synoptic analysis of many (here, 45) different spatial datasets, maps, and models. Results indicate a dependence of model–data similarity on seasonality, on climate variable, and on geographic location. In summary, 1) similarity of data and models is better for temperature than for precipitation; and 2) modeling of summer precipitation fields, and to a lesser extent, temperature fields, appears more problematic than that of winter fields. The geographic distribution of areas with best and worst agreement shifts throughout the year, with generally better agreement between maps and models in the northeastern and northern inland areas than in topographically complex and near-coastal areas. The study contributes to an understanding of the geographic complexity of the Arctic system and modeling its diverse climate.

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