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Creators/Authors contains: "Wehner, Michael F."

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  1. Abstract Assessing the role of anthropogenic warming from temporally inhomogeneous historical data in the presence of large natural variability is difficult and has caused conflicting conclusions on detection and attribution of tropical cyclone (TC) trends. Here, using a reconstructed long-term proxy of annual TC numbers together with high-resolution climate model experiments, we show robust declining trends in the annual number of TCs at global and regional scales during the twentieth century. The Twentieth Century Reanalysis (20CR) dataset is used for reconstruction because, compared with other reanalyses, it assimilates only sea-level pressure fields rather than utilize all available observations in the troposphere, making it less sensitive to temporal inhomogeneities in the observations. It can also capture TC signatures from the pre-satellite era reasonably well. The declining trends found are consistent with the twentieth century weakening of the Hadley and Walker circulations, which make conditions for TC formation less favourable.
  2. Abstract We propose a method for analyzing extremal behavior through the lens of a most efficient basis of vectors. The method is analogous to principal component analysis, but is based on methods from extreme value analysis. Specifically, rather than decomposing a covariance or correlation matrix, we obtain our basis vectors by performing an eigendecomposition of a matrix that describes pairwise extremal dependence. We apply the method to precipitation observations over the contiguous United States. We find that the time series of large coefficients associated with the leading eigenvector shows very strong evidence of a positive trend, and there is evidence that large coefficients of other eigenvectors have relationships with El Niño–Southern Oscillation.
  3. Abstract

    Tropical cyclone intensification processes are explored in six high-resolution climate models. The analysis framework employs process-oriented diagnostics that focus on how convection, moisture, clouds, and related processes are coupled. These diagnostics include budgets of column moist static energy and the spatial variance of column moist static energy, where the column integral is performed between fixed pressure levels. The latter allows for the quantification of the different feedback processes responsible for the amplification of moist static energy anomalies associated with the organization of convection and cyclone spinup, including surface flux feedbacks and cloud-radiative feedbacks. Tropical cyclones (TCs) are tracked in the climate model simulations and the analysis is applied along the individual tracks and composited over many TCs. Two methods of compositing are employed: a composite over all TC snapshots in a given intensity range, and a composite over all TC snapshots at the same stage in the TC life cycle (same time relative to the time of lifetime maximum intensity for each storm). The radiative feedback contributes to TC development in all models, especially in storms of weaker intensity or earlier stages of development. Notably, the surface flux feedback is stronger in models that simulate more intense TCs. Thismore »indicates that the representation of the interaction between spatially varying surface fluxes and the developing TC is responsible for at least part of the intermodel spread in TC simulation.

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  4. Abstract

    Characteristics of tropical cyclones (TCs) in global climate models (GCMs) are known to be influenced by details of the model configurations, including horizontal resolution and parameterization schemes. Understanding model-to-model differences in TC characteristics is a prerequisite for reducing uncertainty in future TC activity projections by GCMs. This study performs a process-level examination of TC structures in eight GCM simulations that span a range of horizontal resolutions from 1° to 0.25°. A recently developed set of process-oriented diagnostics is used to examine the azimuthally averaged wind and thermodynamic structures of the GCM-simulated TCs. Results indicate that the inner-core wind structures of simulated TCs are more strongly constrained by the horizontal resolutions of the models than are the thermodynamic structures of those TCs. As expected, the structures of TC circulations become more realistic with smaller horizontal grid spacing, such that the radii of maximum wind (RMW) become smaller, and the maximum vertical velocities occur off the center. However, the RMWs are still too large, especially at higher intensities, and there are rising motions occurring at the storm centers, inconsistently with observations. The distributions of precipitation, moisture, and radiative and surface turbulent heat fluxes around TCs are diverse, even across models withmore »similar horizontal resolutions. At the same horizontal resolution, models that produce greater rainfall in the inner-core regions tend to simulate stronger TCs. When TCs are weak, the radial gradient of net column radiative flux convergence is comparable to that of surface turbulent heat fluxes, emphasizing the importance of cloud–radiative feedbacks during the early developmental phases of TCs.

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