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Jun Yang, Weitao Lu, Ying Ma, and Wen Yao

Abstract

Cloud detection is a basic research for achieving cloud-cover state and other cloud characteristics. Because of the influence of sunlight, the brightness of sky background on the ground-based cloud image is usually nonuniform, which increases the difficulty for cirrus cloud detection, and few detection methods perform well for thin cirrus clouds. This paper presents an effective background estimation method to eliminate the influence of variable illumination conditions and proposes a background subtraction adaptive threshold method (BSAT) to detect cirrus clouds in visible images for the small field of view and mixed clear–cloud scenes. The BSAT algorithm consists of red-to-blue band operation, background subtraction, adaptive threshold selection, and binarization. The experimental results show that the BSAT algorithm is robust for all types of cirrus clouds, and the quantitative evaluation results demonstrate that the BSAT algorithm outperforms the fixed threshold (FT) and adaptive threshold (AT) methods in cirrus cloud detection.

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Qin Wen, Jie Yao, Kristofer Döös, and Haijun Yang

Abstract

The global temperature changes under global warming result from two effects: one is the pure radiative heating effect caused by a change in greenhouse gases, and the other is the freshwater effect related to changes in precipitation, evaporation, and sea ice. The two effects are separated in a coupled climate model through sensitivity experiments in this study. It is indicated that freshwater change has a significant cooling effect that can mitigate the global surface warming by as much as ~30%. Two significant regional cooling centers occur: one in the subpolar Atlantic and one in the Southern Ocean. The subpolar Atlantic cooling, also known as the “warming hole,” is triggered by sea ice melting and the southward cold-water advection from the Arctic Ocean, and is sustained by the weakened Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. The Southern Ocean surface cooling is triggered by sea ice melting along the Antarctic and is maintained by the enhanced northward Ekman flow. In these two regions, the effect of freshwater flux change dominates over that of radiation flux change, controlling the sea surface temperature change in the warming climate. The freshwater flux change also results in the Bjerknes compensation, with the atmosphere heat transport change compensating the ocean heat transport change by about 80% during the transient stage of global warming. In terms of global temperature and Earth’s energy balance, the freshwater change plays a stabilizing role in a warming climate.

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Qianzi Yang, Yingying Zhao, Qin Wen, Jie Yao, and Haijun Yang

Abstract

The Bjerknes compensation (BJC) under global warming is studied using a simple box model and a coupled Earth system model. The BJC states the out-of-phase changes in the meridional atmosphere and ocean heat transports. Results suggest that the BJC can occur during the transient period of global warming. During the transient period, the sea ice melting in the high latitudes can cause a significant weakening of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), resulting in a cooling in the North Atlantic. The meridional contrast of sea surface temperature would be enhanced, and this can eventually enhance the Hadley cell and storm-track activities in the Northern Hemisphere. Accompanied by changes in both ocean and atmosphere circulations, the northward ocean heat transport in the Atlantic is decreased while the northward atmosphere heat transport is increased, and the BJC occurs in the Northern Hemisphere. Once the freshwater influx into the North Atlantic Ocean stops, or the ocean even loses freshwater because of strong heating in the high latitudes, the AMOC would recover. Both the atmosphere and ocean heat transports would be enhanced, and they can eventually recover to the state of the control run, leading to the BJC to become invalid. The above processes are clearly demonstrated in the coupled model CO2 experiment. Since it is difficult to separate the freshwater effect from the heating effect in the coupled model, a simple box model is used to understand the BJC mechanism and freshwater’s role under global warming. In a warming climate, the freshwater flux into the ocean can cool the global surface temperature, mitigating the temperature rise. Box model experiments indicate clearly that it is the freshwater flux into the North Atlantic that causes out-of-phase changes in the atmosphere and ocean heat transports, which eventually plays a stabilizing role in global climate change.

Open access
Shangfeng Chen, Renguang Wu, Wen Chen, and Shuailei Yao

Abstract

The present study reveals a marked enhancement in the relationship between Eurasian winter and spring atmospheric interannual variability since the early 1990s. Specifically, the dominant mode of winter Eurasian 500-hPa geopotential height anomalies, with same-sign anomalies over southern Europe and East Asia and opposite-sign anomalies over north-central Eurasia, is largely maintained to the following spring after the early 1990s, but not before the early 1990s. The maintenance of the dominant atmospheric circulation anomaly pattern after the early 1990s is associated with a triple sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly pattern in the North Atlantic that is sustained from winter to the subsequent spring. This triple SST anomaly pattern triggers an atmospheric wave train over the North Atlantic through Eurasia during winter through spring. Atmospheric model experiments verify the role of the triple SST anomaly in maintaining the Eurasian atmospheric circulation anomalies. By contrast, before the early 1990s, marked SST anomalies related to the winter dominant mode only occur in the tropical North Atlantic during winter and they disappear during the following spring. The triple SST anomaly pattern after the early 1990s forms in response to a meridional atmospheric dipole over the North Atlantic induced by a La Niña–like cooling over tropical Pacific, and its maintenance into the following spring may be via a positive air–sea interaction process over the North Atlantic. Results of this analysis suggest a potential source for the seasonal prediction of the Eurasian spring climate.

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Haijun Yang, Xingchen Shen, Jie Yao, and Qin Wen

Abstract

As the most extensive highland in the world, the Tibetan Plateau (TP) plays an important role in shaping the global climate. Quantifying the effect of the TP on global climate is the first step for a full understanding of the TP’s standing on planet Earth. Through coupled model sensitivity experiments, we draw a panorama of the TP’s global impact in this paper. Our model results show that the absence of the TP would result in a 4°C colder and 10% drier climate in the Northern Hemisphere (NH). The TP has a striking remote effect on the North Atlantic. Removing the TP would enhance the westerlies in the mid- to high latitudes of the NH and weaken the easterlies over the tropical Pacific. More moisture would be relocated from the tropical Pacific to the North Atlantic, shutting down the Atlantic thermohaline circulation, which would eventually result in more than 15°C colder and 20% drier climate over the North Atlantic. Our model results suggest that the presence of the TP may have contributed greatly to the hospitable modern climate in the NH, by promoting the establishment of the thermohaline circulation in the Atlantic, and therefore enhancing the northward ocean heat transport and atmosphere moisture transport across the equator.

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Haijun Yang, Qin Wen, Jie Yao, and Yuxing Wang

Abstract

Using a coupled Earth climate model, freshwater forcing experiments are performed to study the Bjerknes compensation (BJC) between meridional atmosphere heat transport (AHT) and meridional ocean heat transport (OHT). Freshwater hosing in the North Atlantic weakens the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) and thus reduces the northward OHT in the Atlantic significantly, leading to a cooling (warming) in the surface layer in the Northern (Southern) Hemisphere. This results in an enhanced Hadley cell and northward AHT. Meanwhile, the OHT in the Indo-Pacific is increased in response to the Hadley cell change, partially offsetting the reduced OHT in the Atlantic. Two compensations occur here: compensation between the AHT and the Atlantic OHT, and that between the Indo-Pacific OHT and the Atlantic OHT. The AHT change undercompensates the OHT change by about 60% in the extratropics, while the former overcompensates the latter by about 30% in the tropics due to the Indo-Pacific change. The BJC can be understood from the viewpoint of large-scale circulation change. However, the intrinsic mechanism of BJC is related to the climate feedback of the Earth system. The authors’ coupled model experiments confirm that the occurrence of BJC is an intrinsic requirement of local energy balance, and local climate feedback determines the extent of BJC, consistent with previous theoretical results. Even during the transient period of climate change, the BJC is well established when the ocean heat storage is slowly varying and its change is much weaker than the net local heat flux change at the ocean surface. The BJC can be deduced from the local climate feedback. Under the freshwater forcing, the overcompensation in the tropics is mainly caused by the positive longwave feedback related to clouds, and the undercompensation in the extratropics is due to the negative longwave feedback related to surface temperature change. Different dominant feedbacks determine different BJC scenarios in different regions, which are in essence constrained by local energy balance.

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Jun Yang, Weitao Lyu, Ying Ma, Yijun Zhang, Qingyong Li, Wen Yao, and Tianshu Lu

Abstract

The macroscopic characteristics of clouds in the Tibetan Plateau are crucial to understanding the local climatic conditions and their impact on the global climate and water vapor cycle. In this study, the variations of cloud cover and cloud types are analyzed by using total-sky images of two consecutive years in Shigatse, Tibetan Plateau. The results show that the cloud cover in Shigatse presents a distinct seasonal difference that is characterized by low cloud cover in autumn and winter and high cloud cover in summer and spring. July is the month with the largest cloud coverage, and its average cloud cover exceeds 75%. The probability of clouds in the sky is the lowest in November, with an average cloud cover of less than 20%. The diurnal variations of cloud cover in different months also have considerable differences. Specifically, cloud cover is higher in the afternoon than that in the morning in most months, whereas the cloud cover throughout the day varies little from July to September. The dominant cloud types in different months are also not the same. The proportion of clear sky is large in autumn and winter. Stratiform cloud occupies the highest percentage in March, April, July, and August. The probability of emergence of cirrus is highest in May and June. The Shigatse region has clear rainy and dry seasons, and correlation analysis between precipitation and clouds shows that the largest cumulative precipitation, the highest cloud cover, and the highest proportion of stratiform clouds occur simultaneously in July.

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Ruiyang Ma, Dong Zheng, Yijun Zhang, Wen Yao, Wenjuan Zhang, and Deqing Cuomu

Abstract

Herein, we compared data on the spatiotemporal distribution of lightning activity obtained from the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN) with that from the Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS). The WWLLN and LIS both suggest intense lightning activity over the central and southeastern Tibetan Plateau (TP) during May–September. Meanwhile, the WWLLN indicates relatively weak lightning activity over the northeastern TP, where the LIS suggests very intense lightning activity, and it also indicates a high-density lightning center over the southwestern TP, not suggested by the LIS. Furthermore, the WWLLN lightning peaks in August in terms of monthly variation and in late August in terms of ten-day variation, unlike the corresponding LIS lightning peaks of July and late June, respectively. Other observation data were also introduced into the comparison. The black body temperature (TBB) data from the Fengyun-2E geostationary satellite (as a proxy of deep convection) and thunderstorm day data support the spatial distribution of the WWLLN lightning more. Meanwhile, for seasonal variation, the TBB data is more analogous to the LIS data, while the cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning data from a local CG lightning location system is closer to the WWLLN data. It is speculated that the different WWLLN and LIS observation modes may cause their data to represent different dominant types of lightning, thereby leading to differences in the spatiotemporal distributions of their data. The results may further imply that there exist regional differences and seasonal variations in the electrical properties of thunderstorms over the TP.

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Penglei Fan, Dong Zheng, Yijun Zhang, Shanqiang Gu, Wenjuan Zhang, Wen Yao, Biwu Yan, and Yongbin Xu

Abstract

A systematic evaluation of the performance of the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN) over the Tibetan Plateau is conducted using data from the Cloud-to-Ground Lightning Location System (CGLLS) developed by the State Grid Corporation of China for 2013–15 and lightning data from the satellite-based Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) for 2014–15. The average spatial location separation magnitudes in the midsouthern Tibetan Plateau (MSTP) region between matched WWLLN and CGLLS strokes and over the whole Tibetan Plateau between matched WWLLN and LIS flashes were 9.97 and 10.93 km, respectively. The detection efficiency (DE) of the WWLLN rose markedly with increasing stroke peak current, and the mean stroke peak currents of positive and negative cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning detected by the WWLLN in the MSTP region were 62.43 and −56.74 kA, respectively. The duration, area, and radiance of the LIS flashes that were also detected by the WWLLN were 1.27, 2.65, and 4.38 times those not detected by the WWLLN. The DE of the WWLLN in the MSTP region was 9.37% for CG lightning and 2.58% for total lightning. Over the Tibetan Plateau, the DE of the WWLLN for total lightning was 2.03%. In the MSTP region, the CG flash data made up 71.98% of all WWLLN flash data. Based on the abovementioned results, the ratio of intracloud (IC) lightning to CG lightning in the MSTP region was estimated to be 4.05.

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Fan Yang, Qing He, Jianping Huang, Mamtimin Ali, Xinghua Yang, Wen Huo, Chenglong Zhou, Xinchun Liu, Wenshou Wei, Caixia Cui, Minzhong Wang, Hongjun Li, Lianmei Yang, Hongsheng Zhang, Yuzhi Liu, Xinqian Zheng, Honglin Pan, Lili Jin, Han Zou, Libo Zhou, Yongqiang Liu, Jiantao Zhang, Lu Meng, Yu Wang, Xiaolin Qin, Yongjun Yao, Houyong Liu, Fumin Xue, and Wei Zheng

CAPSULE

The Desert Environment and Climate Observation Network (DECON) could promote collaborative research on desert dust-storms, boundary-layer and land-atmosphere interactions to better understand the status and role of the Taklimakan desert.

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