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  1. Abstract

    The presence of an aerosol layer in the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere (UT/LS) in South America was identified with the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications version 2 (MERRA-2). This layer, which we shall refer to as the South American tropopause aerosol layer (SATAL), was identified over the Amazon basin at altitudes between 11 and 14 km. It exhibits a seasonal behavior similar to the Asian tropopause aerosol layer (ATAL) and the North American tropopause aerosol layer (NATAL). The SATAL is observed from October to March, coinciding with the presence of the South American monsoon. It forms first in the eastern Amazon basin in October, then moves to the southern Amazon, where it weakens in December–January and finally dissipates in February–March. We hypothesize that two main factors influence the SATAL formation in the UT/LS: 1) the source of aerosols from Africa and 2) the updraft mass flux from deep convective systems during the active phase of the South American monsoon system that transports aerosols to the UT/LS. Further satellite observations of aerosols and field campaigns are needed to provide useful information to find the origin and composition of the aerosols in the UT/LS during the South American monsoon.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2025
  2. Abstract

    Northerly low-level jets (LLJ) along the eastern Andes are important conduits of moisture transport and play central roles in modulating precipitation in South America. This study further investigates the variability of the LLJ during extended austral summers. A new method characterizes the spatial extent of the LLJ and finds four distinct types: Central, Northern, Andes and Peru. We show the existence of specific evolutions such that the LLJ may initiate in the central region, expands along the Andes and terminates in the northern region. Conversely, the LLJ may propagate from north-to-south. The spatiotemporal evolution of the LLJ is remotely forced by Rossby wave trains propagating from the Pacific Ocean towards South America, and the different phases of the wave trains favor the occurrences of Central, Northern or Andes types. Occurrences of Central and Northern types are more frequent in El Niño and La Niña years, respectively. The persistence of precipitation is shown to be directly related to the persistence of the LLJ. Lastly, the Madden-Julian Oscillation plays an important role in generating wave trains modulating the frequency of LLJ, especially the Central type.

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  3. Surface winds over California can compound fire risk during autumn, yet their long-term trends in the face of decadal warming are less clear compared to other climate variables like temperature, drought, and snowmelt. To determine where and how surface winds are changing most, this article uses multiple reanalyses and Remote Automated Weather Stations (RAWS) to calculate autumn 10 m wind speed trends during 1979–2020. Reanalysis trends show statistically significant increases in autumn night-time easterlies on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. Although downslope windstorms are frequent to this region, trends instead appear to result from elevated gradients in warming between California and the interior continent. The result is a sharper horizontal temperature gradient over the Sierra crest and adjacent free atmosphere above the foothills, strengthening the climatological nocturnal katabatic wind. While RAWS records show broad agreement, their trend is likely influenced by year-to-year changes in the number of observations.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  4. Abstract

    Atmospheric rivers (ARs) reach High Mountain Asia (HMA) about 10 days per month during the winter and spring, resulting in about 20 mm day$$^{-1}$$-1of precipitation. However, a few events may exceed 100 mm day$$^{-1}$$-1, providing most of the total winter precipitation and increasing the risk of precipitation-triggered landslides and flooding, particularly when the height of the height of the 0 $$^{\circ }$$C isotherm, or freezing level is above-average. This study shows that from 1979 to 2015, integrated water vapor transport (IVT) during ARs that reach Western HMA has increased 16% while the freezing level has increased up to 35 m. HMA ARs that have an above-average freezing level result in 10–40% less frozen precipitation compared to ARs with a below-average freezing level. To evaluate the importance of these trends in the characteristics of ARs, we investigate mesoscale processes leading to orographic precipitation using Advanced Weather Research and Forecasting (ARW-WRF) simulations at 6.7 km spatial resolution. We contrast two above- and below- average freezing level AR events with otherwise broadly similar characteristics and show that with a 50–600 m increase in freezing level, the above-average AR resulted in 10–70% less frozen precipitation than the below-average event. This study contributes to a better understanding of climate change-related impacts within HMA’s hydrological cycle and the associated hazards to vulnerable communities living in the region.

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  5. The Brazilian Amazon provides important hydrological cycle functions, including precipitation regimes that bring water to the people and environment and are critical to moisture recycling and transport, and represents an important variable for climate models to simulate accurately. This paper evaluates the performance of 13 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) models. This is done by discussing results from spatial pattern mapping, Taylor diagram analysis and Taylor skill score, annual climatology comparison, cumulative distribution analysis, and empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis. Precipitation analysis shows: (1) This region displays higher rainfall in the north-northwest and drier conditions in the south. Models tend to underestimate northern values or overestimate the central to northwest averages. (2) The southern Amazon has a more defined dry season (June, July, and August) and wet season (December, January, and February) and models simulate this well. The northern Amazon dry season tends to occur in August, September, and October and the wet season occurs in March, April, and May, and models are not able to capture the climatology as well. Models tend to produce too much rainfall at the start of the wet season and tend to either over- or under-estimate the dry season, although ensemble means typically display the overall pattern more precisely. (3) Models struggle to capture extreme values of precipitation except when precipitation values are close to 0. (4) EOF analysis shows that models capture the dominant mode of variability, which was the annual cycle or South American Monsoon System. (5) When all evaluation metrics are considered, the models that perform best are CESM2, MIROC6, MRIESM20, SAM0UNICON, and the ensemble mean. This paper supports research in determining the most up-to-date CMIP6 model performance of precipitation regime for 1981–2014 for the Brazilian Amazon. Results will aid in understanding future projections of precipitation for the selected subset of global climate models and allow scientists to construct reliable model ensembles, as precipitation plays a role in many sectors of the economy, including the ecosystem, agriculture, energy, and water security. 
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  6. Rainfall in the Amazon is influenced by atmospheric circulation dynamics on multiple spatiotemporal scales. Anthropogenic influences such as deforestation, land-use changes, and global climate change are also critical factors in determining rainfall in South America. Modeling studies have projected a drier climate with the ongoing deforestation in the Amazon, but observational evaluation of the variability of rainfall and deforestation patterns has been limited. This study analyzes spatiotemporal trends in rainfall between 1981 and 2020 and relationships with deforestation age in the Brazilian Legal Amazon (BLA). An improved rainfall dataset is derived by calibrating the Climate Hazards Group Infrared Precipitation with Stations (CHIRPS) data with observations from a rain gauge network in the BLA. Trend analysis is employed to identify significant changes in precipitation over the BLA. Satellite-based land cover data Mapbiomas and ET datasets are used to evaluate similar trends. While large spatial variability is observed, the results show coherent relationships between negative dry-season rainfall trends and old-age deforested areas. Deforestation aged up to a decade enhanced rainfall and older deforested regions have reduced rainfall during the dry season. These results suggest substantial changes in the hydroclimate of the BLA and increased vulnerability to future land cover change. 
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  7. Each year, wildfires ravage the western U.S. and change the lives of millions of inhabitants. Situated in southern California, coastal Santa Barbara has witnessed devastating wildfires in the past decade, with nearly all ignitions started by humans. Therefore, estimating the risk imposed by unplanned ignitions in this fire-prone region will further increase resilience toward wildfires. Currently, a fire-risk map does not exist in this region. The main objective of this study is to provide a spatial analysis of regions at high risk of fast wildfire spread, particularly in the first two hours, considering varying scenarios of ignition locations and atmospheric conditions. To achieve this goal, multiple wildfire simulations were conducted using the FARSITE fire spread model with three ignition modeling methods and three wind scenarios. The first ignition method considers ignitions randomly distributed in 500 m buffers around previously observed ignition sites. Since these ignitions are mainly clustered around roads and trails, the second method considers a 50 m buffer around this built infrastructure, with ignition points randomly sampled from within this buffer. The third method assumes a Euclidean distance decay of ignition probability around roads and trails up to 1000 m, where the probability of selection linearly decreases further from the transportation paths. The ignition modeling methods were then employed in wildfire simulations with varying wind scenarios representing the climatological wind pattern and strong, downslope wind events. A large number of modeled ignitions were located near the major-exit highway running north–south (HWY 154), resulting in more simulated wildfires burning in that region. This could impact evacuation route planning and resource allocation under climatological wind conditions. The simulated fire areas were smaller, and the wildfires did not spread far from the ignition locations. In contrast, wildfires ignited during strong, northerly winds quickly spread into the wildland–urban interface (WUI) toward suburban and urban areas.

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  8. Abstract

    Long interspersed nuclear element 1 (L1) parasitized most vertebrates and constitutes ∼20% of the human genome. It encodes ORF1p and ORF2p which form an L1-ribonucleoprotein (RNP) with their encoding transcript that is copied into genomic DNA (retrotransposition). ORF1p binds single-stranded nucleic acid (ssNA) and exhibits NA chaperone activity. All vertebrate ORF1ps contain a coiled coil (CC) domain and we previously showed that a CC-retrotransposition null mutant prevented formation of stably bound ORF1p complexes on ssNA. Here, we compared CC variants using our recently improved method that measures ORF1p binding to ssDNA at different forces. Bound proteins decrease ssDNA contour length and at low force, retrotransposition-competent ORF1ps (111p and m14p) exhibit two shortening phases: the first is rapid, coincident with ORF1p binding; the second is slower, consistent with formation of tightly compacted complexes by NA-bound ORF1p. In contrast, two retrotransposition-null CC variants (151p and m15p) did not attain the second tightly compacted state. The C-terminal half of the ORF1p trimer (not the CC) contains the residues that mediate NA-binding. Our demonstrating that the CC governs the ability of NA-bound retrotransposition-competent trimers to form tightly compacted complexes reveals the biochemical phenotype of these coiled coil mutants.

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