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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  2. Abstract Increasing severity of extreme heat is a hallmark of climate change. Its impacts depend on temperature but also on moisture and solar radiation, each with distinct spatial patterns and vertical profiles. Here, we consider these variables’ combined effect on extreme heat stress, as measured by the environmental stress index, using a suite of high-resolution climate simulations for historical (1980–2005) and future (2074–2099, Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5)) periods. We find that observed extreme heat stress drops off nearly linearly with elevation above a coastal zone, at a rate that is larger in more humid regions. Future projections indicate dramatic relative increases whereby the historical top 1% summer heat stress value may occur on about 25%–50% of future summer days under the RCP8.5 scenario. Heat stress increases tend to be larger at higher latitudes and in areas of greater temperature increase, although in the southern and eastern US moisture increases are nearly as important. Imprinted on top of this dominant pattern we find secondary effects of smaller heat stress increases near ocean coastlines, notably along the Pacific coast, and larger increases in mountains, notably the Sierra Nevada and southern Appalachians. This differential warming is attributable to the greater warming of land relative to ocean, and to larger temperature increases at higher elevations outweighing larger water-vapor increases at lower elevations. All together, our results aid in furthering knowledge about drivers and characteristics that shape future extreme heat stress at scales difficult to capture in global assessments. 
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  3. Abstract

    Variability in atmospheric river (AR) frequency can drive hydrometeorological extremes with broad societal impacts. Mitigating the impacts of increased or decreased AR frequency requires forewarning weeks to months ahead. A key driver of Northern Hemisphere wintertime mid‐latitude subseasonal‐to‐seasonal climate variability is the stratospheric polar vortex. Here, we quantify AR frequency, landfall, genesis, and termination depending on the strength of the lower stratospheric polar vortex. We find large differences between weak and strong vortex states consistent with a latitudinal shift of the eddy‐driven jet, with the greatest differences over the British Isles, Scandinavia, and Iberia. Significant differences are also found for the Pacific Northwest of North America. Most of the seasonal‐scale stratospheric modulation of precipitation over Europe is explained by modulation of ARs. Our results provide potentially useful statistics for extended‐range prediction, and highlight the importance of ARs in bringing about the precipitation response to anomalous vortex states.

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  4. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Statistical relationships between atmospheric rivers (ARs) and extratropical cyclones and anticyclones are investigated on a global scale using objectively identified ARs, cyclones, and anticyclones during 1979–2014. Composites of circulation and moisture fields around the ARs show that a strong cyclone is located poleward and westward of the AR centroid, which confirms the close link between the AR and extratropical cyclone. In addition, a pronounced anticyclone is found to be located equatorward and eastward of the AR, whose presence together with the cyclone leads to strong horizontal pressure gradient that forces moisture to be transported along a narrow corridor within the warm sector of the cyclone. This anticyclone located toward the downstream equatorward side of the cyclone is found to be missing for cyclones not associated with ARs. These key features are robust in composites performed in different hemispheres, over different ocean basins, and with respect to different AR intensities. Furthermore, correlation analysis shows that the AR intensity is much better correlated with the pressure gradient between the cyclone and anticyclone than with the cyclone/anticyclone intensity alone, although stronger cyclones favor the occurrence of AR. The importance of the horizontal pressure gradient in the formation of the AR is also consistent with the fact that climatologically ARs are frequently found over the region between the polar lows and subtropical highs in all seasons. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
    How homeodomain proteins gain sufficient specificity to control different cell fates has been a long-standing problem in developmental biology. The conserved Gsx homeodomain proteins regulate specific aspects of neural development in animals from flies to mammals, and yet they belong to a large transcription factor family that bind nearly identical DNA sequences in vitro. Here, we show that the mouse and fly Gsx factors unexpectedly gain DNA binding specificity by forming cooperative homodimers on precisely spaced and oriented DNA sites. High-resolution genomic binding assays revealed that Gsx2 binds both monomer and homodimer sites in the developing mouse ventral telencephalon. Importantly, reporter assays showed that Gsx2 mediates opposing outcomes in a DNA binding site-dependent manner: Monomer Gsx2 binding represses transcription, whereas homodimer binding stimulates gene expression. In Drosophila , the Gsx homolog, Ind, similarly represses or stimulates transcription in a site-dependent manner via an autoregulatory enhancer containing a combination of monomer and homodimer sites. Integrating these findings, we test a model showing how the homodimer to monomer site ratio and the Gsx protein levels defines gene up-regulation versus down-regulation. Altogether, these data serve as a new paradigm for how cooperative homeodomain transcription factor binding can increase target specificity and alter regulatory outcomes. 
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  6. Abstract

    The atmospheric river (AR) frequency trends over the Southern Hemisphere are investigated using three reanalyses and two Community Earth System Model (CESM) ensembles. The results show that AR frequency has been increasing over the Southern Ocean and decreasing over lower latitudes in the past four decades and that ARs have been shifting poleward. While the observed trends are mostly driven by the poleward shift of the westerly jet, fully coupled CESM experiments indicate anthropogenic forcing would result in positive AR frequency trends over the Southern Ocean due mostly to moisture changes. The difference between the observed trends and anthropogenically driven trends can be largely reconciled by the atmosphere‐only CESM simulations forced by observed sea surface temperatures: Sea surface temperature variability characteristic of the negative phase of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation strongly suppresses the moisture‐driven trends while enhances the circulation‐induced trends over the Southern Ocean, thus bringing the simulated trends into closer agreement with the observed trends.

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  7. Abstract

    We characterize the sensitivity of atmospheric river (AR)‐derived seasonal snowfall estimates to their atmospheric reanalysis‐based detection over Sierra Nevada, USA. We use an independent snow data set and the ARs identified with a single detection method applied to multiple atmospheric reanalyses of varying horizontal resolutions, to evaluate orographic relationships and contributions of individual ARs to the seasonal cumulative snowfall (CS). Spatial resolution differences have relatively minor effects on the number of ARs diagnosed, with higher‐resolution data sets identifying four more AR days per year, on average, during the 1985–2015 winters. However, this can lead to ~10% difference in AR attribution to the mean domain‐wide seasonal CS and differences up to 47% snowfall attribution at the seasonal scale. We show that identifying snow‐bearing ARs provides more information about the seasonal CS than simply knowing how many ARs occurred. Overall, we find that higher‐resolution atmospheric reanalyses imply greater attribution of seasonal CS to ARs.

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