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  1. Abstract Tropical areas with mean upward motion—and as such the zonal-mean intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ)—are projected to contract under global warming. To understand this process, a simple model based on dry static energy and moisture equations is introduced for zonally symmetric overturning driven by sea surface temperature (SST). Processes governing ascent area fraction and zonal mean precipitation are examined for insight into Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP) simulations. Bulk parameters governing radiative feedbacks and moist static energy transport in the simple model are estimated from the AMIP ensemble. Uniform warming in the simple model produces ascent area contraction and precipitation intensification—similar to observations and climate models. Contributing effects include stronger water vapor radiative feedbacks, weaker cloud-radiative feedbacks, stronger convection-circulation feedbacks, and greater poleward moisture export. The simple model identifies parameters consequential for the inter-AMIP-model spread; an ensemble generated by perturbing parameters governing shortwave water vapor feedbacks and gross moist stability changes under warming tracks inter-AMIP-model variations with a correlation coefficient ∼0.46. The simple model also predicts the multimodel mean changes in tropical ascent area and precipitation with reasonable accuracy. Furthermore, the simple model reproduces relationships among ascent area precipitation, ascent strength, and ascent area fraction observed in AMIP models. A substantial portion of the inter-AMIP-model spread is traced to the spread in how moist static energy and vertical velocity profiles change under warming, which in turn impact the gross moist stability in deep convective regions—highlighting the need for observational constraints on these quantities. Significance Statement A large rainband straddles Earth’s tropics. Most, but not all, climate models predict that this rainband will shrink under global warming; a few models predict an expansion of the rainband. To mitigate some of this uncertainty among climate models, we build a simpler model that only contains the essential physics of rainband narrowing. We find several interconnected processes that are important. For climate models, the most important process is the efficiency with which clouds move heat and humidity out of rainy regions. This efficiency varies among climate models and appears to be a primary reason for why climate models do not agree on the rate of rainband narrowing. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    A large spread in model estimates of the equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), defined as the global mean near-surface air-temperature increase following a doubling of atmospheric CO2concentration, leaves us greatly disadvantaged in guiding policy-making for climate change adaptation and mitigation. In this study, we show that the projected ECS in the latest generation of climate models is highly related to seasonal variations of extratropical low-cloud fraction (LCF) in historical simulations. Marked reduction of extratropical LCF from winter to summer is found in models with ECS > 4.75 K, in accordance with the significant reduction of extratropical LCF under a warming climate in these models. In contrast, a pronounced seasonal cycle of extratropical LCF, as supported by satellite observations, is largely absent in models with ECS < 3.3 K. The distinct seasonality in extratropical LCF in climate models is ascribed to their different prevailing cloud regimes governing the extratropical LCF variability.

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  3. Regarded as one of the most dangerous types of natural disaster, tropical cyclones threaten the life and health of human beings and often cause enormous economic loss. However, intensity forecasting of tropical cyclones, especially rapid intensification forecasting, remains a scientific challenge due to limited understanding regarding the intensity change process. We propose an automatic knowledge discovery framework to identify potential spatiotemporal precursors to tropical cyclone rapid intensification from a set of tropical cyclone environmental fields. Specifically, this framework includes (1) formulating RI and non-RI composite environmental fields from historical tropical cyclones using NASA MERRA2 data; (2) utilizing the shared nearest neighbor-based clustering algorithm to detect regions representing relatively homogeneous behavior around tropical cyclone centers; (3) determining candidate precursors from significantly different regions in RI and non-RI groups using a spatiotemporal statistical method; and (4) comparing candidates to existing predictors to select potential precursors. The proposed knowledge discovery framework is applied separately to different factors, including 200 hPa zonal wind, 850–700 hPa relative humidity, and 850–200 hPa vertical shear, to detect potential precursors. Compared to the existing predictors manually labeled, i.e., U200 and U20C, RHLO, and SHRD in the Statistical Hurricane Intensity Prediction Scheme, our automatically discovered precursors have a comparable or better capability for estimating the probability of rapid intensification. 
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  4. We introduce temporal multimodal multivariate learning, a new family of decision making models that can indirectly learn and transfer online information from simultaneous observations of a probability distribution with more than one peak or more than one outcome variable from one time stage to another. We approximate the posterior by sequentially removing additional uncertainties across different variables and time, based on data-physics driven correlation, to address a broader class of challenging time-dependent decision-making problems under uncertainty. Extensive experiments on real-world datasets ( i.e., urban traffic data and hurricane ensemble forecasting data) demonstrate the superior performance of the proposed targeted decision-making over the state-of-the-art baseline prediction methods across various settings. 
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  5. Abstract

    With widespread influence on global climate and weather extremes, the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) plays a crucial role in subseasonal prediction. Our latest global climate models (GCMs), however, have great difficulty in realistically simulating the MJO. This model inability is largely due to problems in representation of MJO’s cumulus organization. This study, based on a series of idealized aqua-planet model experiments using an atmospheric-only GCM, clearly demonstrates that MJO propagation is strongly modulated by the large-scale background state in which the lower-tropospheric mean moisture gradient and zonal winds are critical. Therefore, when tuning climate models to achieve improved MJO simulations, particular attention needs to be placed on the model large-scale mean state that is also significantly affected by cumulus parameterizations. This study indicates that model biases in representing MJO propagation may be related to the widely reported double-ITCZ (intertropical convergence zone) problem in climate models.

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  6. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Using multiple independent satellite and reanalysis datasets, we compare relationships between mesoscale convective system (MCS) precipitation intensity P max , environmental moisture, large-scale vertical velocity, and system radius among tropical continental and oceanic regions. A sharp, nonlinear relationship between column water vapor and P max emerges, consistent with nonlinear increases in estimated plume buoyancy. MCS P max increases sharply with increasing boundary layer and lower free tropospheric (LFT) moisture, with the highest P max values originating from MCSs in environments exhibiting a peak in LFT moisture near 750 hPa. MCS P max exhibits strikingly similar behavior as a function of water vapor among tropical land and ocean regions. Yet, while the moisture– P max relationship depends strongly on mean tropospheric temperature, it does not depend on sea surface temperature over ocean or surface air temperature over land. Other P max -dependent factors include system radius, the number of convective cores, and the large-scale vertical velocity. Larger systems typically contain wider convective cores and higher P max , consistent with increased protection from dilution due to dry air entrainment and reduced reevaporation of precipitation. In addition, stronger large-scale ascent generally supports greater precipitation production. Last, temporal lead–lag analysis suggests that anomalous moisture in the lower–middle troposphere favors convective organization over most regions. Overall, these statistics provide a physical basis for understanding environmental factors controlling heavy precipitation events in the tropics, providing metrics for model diagnosis and guiding physical intuition regarding expected changes to precipitation extremes with anthropogenic warming. 
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  7. Abstract

    Lack of high‐resolution observations in the inner‐core of tropical cyclones remains a key issue when constructing an accurate initial state of the storm structure. The major implication of an improper initial state is the poor predictability of the future state of the storm. The size and associated hazard from strong winds at the inner‐core make it impossible to sample this region entirely. However, targeting regions of the inner‐core where forecasted atmospheric measurements have high uncertainty can significantly improve the accuracy of measurements for the initial state of the storm. This study provides a scheme for targeted high‐resolution observations for small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) platforms (e.g., Coyote sUAS) to improve the estimates of the atmospheric measurement in the inner‐core structure. The benefit of observation is calculated based on the high‐fidelity state‐of‐the‐art hurricane ensemble data assimilation system. Potential locations with the mostinformativemeasurements are identified through exploration of various simulation‐based solutions depending on the state variables (e.g., pressure, temperature, wind speed, relative humidity) and a combined representation of those variables. A sampling‐based sUAS path planning algorithm considers energy usage when locating the regions of highly uncertain prediction of measurements, allowing sUAS to maximize the benefit of observation. Robustness analysis of our algorithm for multiple scenarios of sUAS drop and goal locations shows satisfactory performance against benchmark similar to current NOAA field campaign. With optimized sUAS observations, a data assimilation analysis shows significant improvements of up to 4% in the tropical cyclone structure estimates after resolving uncertainties at targeted locations.

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  8. Abstract

    Simulations of tropical atmospheric circulation response to surface warming vary substantially across models, causing large uncertainties in projections of regional precipitation change. Understanding the physical processes that drive the model spread in tropical circulation changes is critically needed. Here we employ the basic mass balance and energetic constraints on tropical circulation to identify the dominant factors that determine multidecadal circulation strength and area changes in climate models. We show that the models produce a robust weakening of descent rate under warming regardless of surface warming patterns; however, ascent rate change exhibits inter-model spread twice as large as descent rate because of diverse model responses in the radiative effects of clouds, water vapor, and aerosols. As ascent area change is dictated by the disparate descent and ascent rate changes due to the mass budget and the inter-model spread in descent rate change is small, the model spread in ascent area change is dominated by that of ascent rate change, resulting in a strong anti-correlation of –0.85 between the fractional changes of ascent strength and area across 77 climate model simulations. This anti-correlation leads to a corresponding inverse relationship between the rates of precipitation intensifying and narrowing of the inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ), suggesting tropical ascent area change can be potentially used to constrain the ITCZ precipitation change. Longwave cloud radiative effect at the top-of-atmosphere (TOA) in the convective region is identified to be a major source of uncertainties for tropical ascent rate change and thus for regional precipitation change.

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