Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 7 of 7 items for

  • Author or Editor: Zhenhai Zhang x
  • All content x
Clear All Modify Search
Zhenhai Zhang and Brian A. Colle

Abstract

This study investigates the impact of dynamical downscaling on historical and future projections of winter extratropical cyclones over eastern North America and the western Atlantic Ocean. Six-hourly output from two global circulation models (GCMs), CCSM4 and GFDL-ESM2M, from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) are used to create the initial and boundary conditions for 20 historical (1986–2005) and 20 future (2080–99) winter simulations using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. Two sets of WRF grid spacing (1.0° and 0.2°) are examined to determine the impact of model resolution. Although the cyclone frequency in the WRF runs is largely determined by the GCM predictions, the higher-resolution WRF reduces the underprediction in cyclone intensity. There is an increase in late-twenty-first-century cyclone activity over the east coast of North America in CCSM4 and its WRF, whereas there is little change in GFDL-ESM2M and WRF given that there is a larger decrease in the temperature gradient in this region. There is a future increase in relatively deep cyclones over the East Coast in the high-resolution WRF forced by CCSM4. These storms are weaker than the historical cases early in their life cycle, but then because of latent heating they rapidly develop and become stronger than the historical events. This increase does not occur in the low-resolution WRF or the high-resolution WRF forced by GFDL since the latent heat increase is relatively small. This implies that the diabatic processes during cyclogenesis may become more important in a warmer climate, and these processes may be too weak in existing coarse-resolution GCMs.

Full access
Zhenhai Zhang and Brian A. Colle

Abstract

This study investigates the future change in precipitation associated with extratropical cyclones over eastern North America and the western Atlantic during the cool season (November–March) through the twenty-first century. A cyclone-relative approach is applied to 10 models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) in order to isolate precipitation changes for different cyclone intensities and storm life cycle, as well as determine the relevant physical processes associated with these changes. The historical analysis suggests that models with better performance in predicting extratropical cyclones tend to have smaller precipitation errors, and the ensemble mean has a smaller mean absolute error than the individual models. By the late-twenty-first century, the precipitation amount associated with cyclones increases by 5%–25% over the U.S. East Coast, with about 90% of the increase from the relatively strong (<990 hPa) and moderate (990–1005 hPa) cyclones. Meanwhile, the precipitation rate increases by 15%–25% over the U.S. East Coast for the strong cyclone centers, which is larger than the moderate and weak cyclones. The relatively strong cyclones just inland of the U.S. East Coast have the largest increase (~30%) in precipitation rate, since these centers over land have the largest increase in low-level temperature (and moisture), a decrease (5%–13%) in the static stability, and an increase (~5%) in upward motion during the late-twenty-first century. This east coast region also has an increase in cyclone intensity in the future even though there is a decrease in low-level baroclinicity, which suggests that the latent heat release from heavier precipitation contributes to this storm deepening.

Full access
Zhenhai Zhang and F. Martin Ralph

Abstract

Some extratropical cyclones (ETC) begin their development in close proximity to a pre-existing atmospheric river (AR). This study investigates the differences in the cyclogenesis stage between these cyclogenesis events and those that begin without an AR nearby. Well-established ETC and AR detection methods are applied to reanalysis over the North Pacific during the 1979-2009 cool seasons (November-March). Of the 3137 cyclogenesis cases detected, 35% are associated with a nearby AR at the time of initial cyclogenesis. Of all 448 cyclones that deepened explosively in the 24 h after their initiation, 60% began with a pre-existing AR nearby.

The roles of both dry and diabatic processes that contribute to cyclogenesis are examined, specifically, low-level baroclinicity, upper-level forcing, water vapor inflow and latent heating. ETCs that develop associated with a pre-existing AR receive nearly 80% more water vapor inflow on average, enhancing latent heating and intensifying cyclone deepening in the genesis stage. In contrast, neither low-level baroclinicity nor upper-level potential vorticity exhibit statistically significant differences between cyclogenesis events with and without an AR. Cyclogenesis events associated with an exceptionally strong AR at the ETC initial time deepen even more rapidly in the genesis stage, indicating that the intensity of an antecedent AR can modulate cyclogenesis. About half of the cyclogenesis cases off the U.S. West Coast are associated with ARs at their initial time.

These results imply that errors in initial conditions related to ARs can contribute to errors in both AR and ETC predictions, as well as their concomitant impacts.

Restricted access
Kelly Lombardo, Brian A. Colle, and Zhenhai Zhang

Abstract

This study analyzed the contribution of cyclones to projected changes in cool season (1 November–31 March) precipitation over the eastern United States and western North Atlantic Ocean. First, global climate model simulations from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) were compared to Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) and Climate Prediction Center (CPC) precipitation analyses for the period 1979–2004. The CMIP5 ensemble mean realistically reproduced the historical distribution of regional precipitation with no discernable effect because of model spatial resolution. Subsequently, the projected changes in precipitation on cyclone and noncyclone days under the representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) scenario were quantified. While precipitation on both types of days was projected to increase, the increase on noncyclone days (23%) was greater than the increase on cyclone days (12%). The increase in precipitation on cyclone days occurred despite a decrease in the number of cyclone days. This increase can be attributed primarily to a shift toward more frequent extreme precipitation events coupled with a decline in light precipitation events.

Full access
Zhenhai Zhang, David W. Pierce, and Daniel R. Cayan

Abstract

This study investigates the forecast skill of seasonal-mean near-surface (2 m) air temperature in the North American Multimodel Ensemble (NMME) Phase 2, with a focus on the West Coast of the United States. Overall, 1-month lead time NMME forecasts exhibit skill superior or similar to persistence forecasts over many continental regions, and skill is generally higher over the ocean than the continent. However, forecast skill along most West Coast regions is markedly lower than in the adjacent ocean and interior, especially during the warm seasons. Results indicate that the poor forecast skill along the West Coast of the United States reflects deficiencies in their representation of multiple relevant physical processes. Analyses focusing on California find that summer forecast errors are spatially coherent over the coastal region and the inland region individually, but the correlation of forecast errors between the two regions is low. Variation in forecast performance over the coastal California region is associated with anomalous geopotential height over the lower middle latitudes and subtropics of the eastern Pacific, North America, and the western Atlantic. In contrast, variation in forecast performance over the inland California region is associated with the atmospheric circulation over the western United States. Further, it is found that forecast errors along the California coast are linked to anomalies of low cloudiness (stratus clouds) along the coastal region.

Full access
Brian A. Colle, Zhenhai Zhang, Kelly A. Lombardo, Edmund Chang, Ping Liu, and Minghua Zhang

Abstract

Extratropical cyclone track density, genesis frequency, deepening rate, and maximum intensity distributions over eastern North America and the western North Atlantic were analyzed for 15 models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) for the historical period (1979–2004) and three future periods (2009–38, 2039–68, and 2069–98). The cyclones were identified using an automated tracking algorithm applied to sea level pressure every 6 h. The CMIP5 results for the historical period were evaluated using the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR). The CMIP5 models were ranked given their track density, intensity, and overall performance for the historical period. It was found that six of the top seven CMIP5 models with the highest spatial resolution were ranked the best overall. These models had less underprediction of cyclone track density, more realistic distribution of intense cyclones along the U.S. East Coast, and more realistic cyclogenesis and deepening rates. The best seven models were used to determine projected future changes in cyclones, which included a 10%–30% decrease in cyclone track density and weakening of cyclones over the western Atlantic storm track, while in contrast there is a 10%–20% increase in cyclone track density over the eastern United States, including 10%–40% more intense (<980 hPa) cyclones and 20%–40% more rapid deepening rates just inland of the U.S. East Coast. Some of the reasons for these CMIP5 model differences were explored for the selected models based on model generated Eady growth rate, upper-level jet, surface baroclinicity, and precipitation.

Full access
Travis A. O’Brien, Ashley E. Payne, Christine A. Shields, Jonathan Rutz, Swen Brands, Christopher Castellano, Jiayi Chen, William Cleveland, Michael J. DeFlorio, Naomi Goldenson, Irina V. Gorodetskaya, Héctor Inda Díaz, Karthik Kashinath, Brian Kawzenuk, Sol Kim, Mikhail Krinitskiy, Juan M. Lora, Beth McClenny, Allison Michaelis, John P. O’Brien, Christina M. Patricola, Alexandre M. Ramos, Eric J. Shearer, Wen-Wen Tung, Paul A. Ullrich, Michael F. Wehner, Kevin Yang, Rudong Zhang, Zhenhai Zhang, and Yang Zhou
Full access