The fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) will produce a state-of-the- art multimodel dataset designed to advance our knowledge of climate variability and climate change. Researchers worldwide are analyzing the model output and will produce results likely to underlie the forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Unprecedented in scale and attracting interest from all major climate modeling groups, CMIP5 includes “long term” simulations of twentieth-century climate and projections for the twenty-first century and beyond. Conventional atmosphere–ocean global climate models and Earth system models of intermediate complexity are for the first time being joined by more recently developed Earth system models under an experiment design that allows both types of models to be compared to observations on an equal footing. Besides the longterm experiments, CMIP5 calls for an entirely new suite of “near term” simulations focusing on recent decades and the future to year 2035. These “decadal predictions” are initialized based on observations and will be used to explore the predictability of climate and to assess the forecast system's predictive skill. The CMIP5 experiment design also allows for participation of stand-alone atmospheric models and includes a variety of idealized experiments that will improve understanding of the range of model responses found in the more complex and realistic simulations. An exceptionally comprehensive set of model output is being collected and made freely available to researchers through an integrated but distributed data archive. For researchers unfamiliar with climate models, the limitations of the models and experiment design are described.
The Community Earth System Model (CESM) is a flexible and extensible community tool used to investigate a diverse set of Earth system interactions across multiple time and space scales. This global coupled model significantly extends its predecessor, the Community Climate System Model, by incorporating new Earth system simulation capabilities. These comprise the ability to simulate biogeochemical cycles, including those of carbon and nitrogen, a variety of atmospheric chemistry options, the Greenland Ice Sheet, and an atmosphere that extends to the lower thermosphere. These and other new model capabilities are enabling investigations into a wide range of pressing scientific questions, providing new foresight into possible future climates and increasing our collective knowledge about the behavior and interactions of the Earth system. Simulations with numerous configurations of the CESM have been provided to phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) and are being analyzed by the broad community of scientists. Additionally, the model source code and associated documentation are freely available to the scientific community to use for Earth system studies, making it a true community tool. This article describes this Earth system model and its various possible configurations, and highlights a number of its scientific capabilities.
The Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory model (HYSPLIT), developed by NOAA's Air Resources Laboratory, is one of the most widely used models for atmospheric trajectory and dispersion calculations. We present the model's historical evolution over the last 30 years from simple hand-drawn back trajectories to very sophisticated computations of transport, mixing, chemical transformation, and deposition of pollutants and hazardous materials. We highlight recent applications of the HYSPLIT modeling system, including the simulation of atmospheric tracer release experiments, radionuclides, smoke originated from wild fires, volcanic ash, mercury, and wind-blown dust.
The effect of urban development on local thermal climate is widely documented in scientific literature. Observations of urban–rural air temperature differences—or urban heat islands (UHIs)—have been reported for cities and regions worldwide, often with local field sites that are extremely diverse in their physical and climatological characteristics. These sites are usually described only as “urban” or “rural,” leaving much uncertainty about the actual exposure and land cover of the sites. To address the inadequacies of urban–rural description, the “local climate zone” (LCZ) classification system has been developed. The LCZ system comprises 17 zone types at the local scale (10² to 10⁴ m). Each type is unique in its combination of surface structure, cover, and human activity. Classification of sites into appropriate LCZs requires basic metadata and surface characterization. The zone definitions provide a standard framework for reporting and comparing field sites and their temperature observations. The LCZ system is designed primarily for urban heat island researchers, but it has derivative uses for city planners, landscape ecologists, and global climate change investigators.
A daily gridded precipitation dataset covering a period of more than 57 yr was created by collecting and analyzing rain gauge observation data across Asia through the activities of the Asian Precipitation—Highly Resolved Observational Data Integration Towards Evaluation of Water Resources (APHRODITE) project. APHRODITE's daily gridded precipitation is presently the only long-term, continental-scale, high-resolution daily product. The product is based on data collected at 5,000–12,000 stations, which represent 2.3–4.5 times the data made available through the Global Telecommunication System network and is used for most daily gridded precipitation products. Hence, the APHRODITE project has substantially improved the depiction of the areal distribution and variability of precipitation around the Himalayas, Southeast Asia, and mountainous regions of the Middle East. The APHRODITE project now contributes to studies such as the determination of Asian monsoon precipitation change, evaluation of water resources, verification of high-resolution model simulations and satellite precipitation estimates, and improvement of precipitation forecasts. The APHRODITE project carries out outreach activities with Asian countries, and communicates with national institutions and world data centers. We have released open-access APHRO_V1101 datasets for monsoon Asia, the Middle East, and northern Eurasia (at 0.5° × 0.5° and 0.25° × 0.25° resolution) and the APHRO_JP_V1005 dataset for Japan (at 0.05° × 0.05° resolution; see www.chikyu.ac.jp/precip/and http://aphrodite.suiri.tsukuba.ac.jp/). We welcome cooperation and feedback from users.
The NCEP Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) was completed for the 31-yr period from 1979 to 2009, in January 2010. The CFSR was designed and executed as a global, high-resolution coupled atmosphere–ocean–land surface–sea ice system to provide the best estimate of the state of these coupled domains over this period. The current CFSR will be extended as an operational, real-time product into the future. New features of the CFSR include 1) coupling of the atmosphere and ocean during the generation of the 6-h guess field, 2) an interactive sea ice model, and 3) assimilation of satellite radiances by the Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI) scheme over the entire period. The CFSR global atmosphere resolution is ~38 km (T382) with 64 levels extending from the surface to 0.26 hPa. The global ocean's latitudinal spacing is 0.25° at the equator, extending to a global 0.5° beyond the tropics, with 40 levels to a depth of 4737 m. The global land surface model has four soil levels and the global sea ice model has three layers. The CFSR atmospheric model has observed variations in carbon dioxide (CO₂) over the 1979–2009 period, together with changes in aerosols and other trace gases and solar variations. Most available in situ and satellite observations were included in the CFSR. Satellite observations were used in radiance form, rather than retrieved values, and were bias corrected with “spin up” runs at full resolution, taking into account variable CO₂ concentrations. This procedure enabled the smooth transitions of the climate record resulting from evolutionary changes in the satellite observing system. CFSR atmospheric, oceanic, and land surface output products are available at an hourly time resolution and a horizontal resolution of 0.5° latitude × 0.5° longitude. The CFSR data will be distributed by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and NCAR. This reanalysis will serve many purposes, including providing the basis for most of the NCEP Climate Prediction Center's operational climate products by defining the mean states of the atmosphere, ocean, land surface, and sea ice over the next 30-yr climate normal (1981–2010); providing initial conditions for historical forecasts that are required to calibrate operational NCEP climate forecasts (from week 2 to 9 months); and providing estimates and diagnoses of the Earth's climate state over the satellite data period for community climate research. Preliminary analysis of the CFSR output indicates a product that is far superior in most respects to the reanalysis of the mid-1990s. The previous NCEP–NCAR reanalyses have been among the most used NCEP products in history; there is every reason to believe the CFSR will supersede these older products both in scope and quality, because it is higher in time and space resolution, covers the atmosphere, ocean, sea ice, and land, and was executed in a coupled mode with a more modern data assimilation system and forecast model.
El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a naturally occurring mode of tropical Pacific variability, with global impacts on society and natural ecosystems. While it has long been known that El Niño events display a diverse range of amplitudes, triggers, spatial patterns, and life cycles, the realization that ENSO’s impacts can be highly sensitive to this event-to-event diversity is driving a renewed interest in the subject. This paper surveys our current state of knowledge of ENSO diversity, identifies key gaps in understanding, and outlines some promising future research directions.
The recent U.S. National Academies report, , was unequivocal in recommending the need for the development of a North American Multimodel Ensemble (NMME) operational predictive capability. Indeed, this effort is required to meet the specific tailored regional prediction and decision support needs of a large community of climate information users. The multimodel ensemble approach has proven extremely effective at quantifying prediction uncertainty due to uncertainty in model formulation and has proven to produce better prediction quality (on average) than any single model ensemble. This multimodel approach is the basis for several international collaborative prediction research efforts and an operational European system, and there are numerous examples of how this multimodel ensemble approach yields superior forecasts compared to any single model. Based on two NOAA Climate Test bed (CTB) NMME workshops (18 February and 8 April 2011), a collaborative and coordinated implementation strategy for a NMME prediction system has been developed and is currently delivering real-time seasonal-to-interannual predictions on the NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) operational schedule. The hindcast and real-time prediction data are readily available (e.g., http://iridl.ldeo.columbia.edu/SOURCES/.Models/.NMME/) and in graphical format from CPC (www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/NMME/). Moreover, the NMME forecast is already currently being used as guidance for operational forecasters. This paper describes the new NMME effort, and presents an overview of the multimodel forecast quality and the complementary skill associated with individual models.
While internal climate variability is known to affect climate projections, its influence is often underappreciated and confused with model error. Why? In general, modeling centers contribute a small number of realizations to international climate model assessments [e.g., phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5)]. As a result, model error and internal climate variability are difficult, and at times impossible, to disentangle. In response, the Community Earth System Model (CESM) community designed the CESM Large Ensemble (CESM-LE) with the explicit goal of enabling assessment of climate change in the presence of internal climate variability. All CESM-LE simulations use a single CMIP5 model (CESM with the Community Atmosphere Model, version 5). The core simulations replay the twenty to twenty-first century (1920–2100) 30 times under historical and representative concentration pathway 8.5 external forcing with small initial condition differences. Two companion 1000+-yr-long preindustrial control simulations (fully coupled, prognostic atmosphere and land only) allow assessment of internal climate variability in the absence of climate change. Comprehensive outputs, including many daily fields, are available as single-variable time series on the Earth System Grid for anyone to use. Early results demonstrate the substantial influence of internal climate variability on twentieth- to twenty-first-century climate trajectories. Global warming hiatus decades occur, similar to those recently observed. Internal climate variability alone can produce projection spread comparable to that in CMIP5. Scientists and stakeholders can use CESM-LE outputs to help interpret the observational record, to understand projection spread and to plan for a range of possible futures influenced by both internal climate variability and forced climate change.
This paper provides an update on research in the relatively new and fast-moving field of decadal climate prediction, and addresses the use of decadal climate predictions not only for potential users of such information but also for improving our understanding of processes in the climate system. External forcing influences the predictions throughout, but their contributions to predictive skill become dominant after most of the improved skill from initialization with observations vanishes after about 6–9 years. Recent multimodel results suggest that there is relatively more decadal predictive skill in the North Atlantic, western Pacific, and Indian Oceans than in other regions of the world oceans. Aspects of decadal variability of SSTs, like the mid-1970s shift in the Pacific, the mid-1990s shift in the northern North Atlantic and western Pacific, and the early-2000s hiatus, are better represented in initialized hindcasts compared to uninitialized simulations. There is evidence of higher skill in initialized multimodel ensemble decadal hindcasts than in single model results, with multimodel initialized predictions for near-term climate showing somewhat less global warming than uninitialized simulations. Some decadal hindcasts have shown statistically reliable predictions of surface temperature over various land and ocean regions for lead times of up to 6–9 years, but this needs to be investigated in a wider set of models. As in the early days of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) prediction, improvements to models will reduce the need for bias adjustment, and increase the reliability, and thus usefulness, of decadal climate predictions in the future.
Precipitation affects many aspects of our everyday life. It is the primary source of freshwater and has significant socioeconomic impacts resulting from natural hazards such as hurricanes, floods, droughts, and landslides. Fundamentally, precipitation is a critical component of the global water and energy cycle that governs the weather, climate, and ecological systems. Accurate and timely knowledge of when, where, and how much it rains or snows is essential for understanding how the Earth system functions and for improving the prediction of weather, climate, freshwater resources, and natural hazard events. The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission is an international satellite mission specifically designed to set a new standard for the measurement of precipitation from space and to provide a new generation of global rainfall and snowfall observations in all parts of the world every 3 h. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched the Core Observatory satellite on 28 February 2014 carrying advanced radar and radiometer systems to serve as a precipitation physics observatory. This will serve as a transfer standard for improving the accuracy and consistency of precipitation measurements from a constellation of research and operational satellites provided by a consortium of international partners. GPM will provide key measurements for understanding the global water and energy cycle in a changing climate as well as timely information useful for a range of regional and global societal applications such as numerical weather prediction, natural hazard monitoring, freshwater resource management, and crop forecasting.
Faced by the realities of a changing climate, decision makers in a wide variety of organizations are increasingly seeking quantitative predictions of regional and local climate. An important issue for these decision makers, and for organizations that fund climate research, is what is the potential for climate science to deliver improvements—especially reductions in uncertainty—in such predictions? Uncertainty in climate predictions arises from three distinct sources: internal variability, model uncertainty, and scenario uncertainty. Using data from a suite of climate models, we separate and quantify these sources. For predictions of changes in surface air temperature on decadal timescales and regional spatial scales, we show that uncertainty for the next few decades is dominated by sources (model uncertainty and internal variability) that are potentially reducible through progress in climate science. Furthermore, we find that model uncertainty is of greater importance than internal variability. Our findings have implications for managing adaptation to a changing climate. Because the costs of adaptation are very large, and greater uncertainty about future climate is likely to be associated with more expensive adaptation, reducing uncertainty in climate predictions is potentially of enormous economic value. We highlight the need for much more work to compare (a) the cost of various degrees of adaptation, given current levels of uncertainty and (b) the cost of new investments in climate science to reduce current levels of uncertainty. Our study also highlights the importance of targeting climate science investments on the most promising opportunities to reduce prediction uncertainty.
The goal of the International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship (IBTrACS) project is to collect the historical tropical cyclone best-track data from all available Regional Specialized Meteorological Centers (RSMCs) and other agencies, combine the disparate datasets into one product, and disseminate in formats used by the tropical cyclone community. Each RSMC forecasts and monitors storms for a specific region and annually archives best-track data, which consist of information on a storm's position, intensity, and other related parameters. IBTrACS is a new dataset based on the best-track data from numerous sources. Moreover, rather than preferentially selecting one track and intensity for each storm, the mean position, the original intensities from the agencies, and summary statistics are provided. This article discusses the dataset construction, explores the tropical cyclone climatology from IBTrACS, and concludes with an analysis of uncertainty in the tropical cyclone intensity record.
Climate research, monitoring, prediction, and related services rely on accurate observations of the atmosphere, land, and ocean, adequately sampled globally and over sufficiently long time periods. The Global Climate Observing System, set up under the auspices of United Nations organizations and the International Council for Science to help ensure the availability of systematic observations of climate, developed the concept of essential climate variables (ECVs). ECV data records are intended to provide reliable, traceable, observation-based evidence for a range of applications, including monitoring, mitigating, adapting to, and attributing climate changes, as well as the empirical basis required to understand past, current, and possible future climate variability. The ECV concept has been broadly adopted worldwide as the guiding basis for observing climate, including by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), WMO, and space agencies operating Earth observation satellites. This paper describes the rationale for these ECVs and their current selection, based on the principles of feasibility, relevance, and cost effectiveness. It also provides a view of how the ECV concept could evolve as a guide for rational and evidence-based monitoring of climate and environment. Selected examples are discussed to highlight the benefits, limitations, and future evolution of this approach. The article is intended to assist program managers to set priorities for climate observation, dataset generation and related research: for instance, within the emerging Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS). It also helps the observation community and individual researchers to contribute to systematic climate observation, by promoting understanding of ECV choices and the opportunities to influence their evolution.
The Mediterranean countries are experiencing important challenges related to the water cycle, including water shortages and floods, extreme winds, and ice/snow storms, that impact critically the socioeconomic vitality in the area (causing damage to property, threatening lives, affecting the energy and transportation sectors, etc.). There are gaps in our understanding of the Mediterranean water cycle and its dynamics that include the variability of the Mediterranean Sea water budget and its feedback on the variability of the continental precipitation through air–sea interactions, the impact of precipitation variability on aquifer recharge, river discharge, and soil water content and vegetation characteristics specific to the Mediterranean basin and the mechanisms that control the location and intensity of heavy precipitating systems that often produce floods. The Hydrological Cycle in Mediterranean Experiment (HyMeX) program is a 10-yr concerted experimental effort at the international level that aims to advance the scientific knowledge of the water cycle variability in all compartments (land, sea, and atmosphere) and at various time and spatial scales. It also aims to improve the processes-based models needed for forecasting hydrometeorological extremes and the models of the regional climate system for predicting regional climate variability and evolution. Finally, it aims to assess the social and economic vulnerability to hydrometeorological natural hazards in the Mediterranean and the adaptation capacity of the territories and populations therein to provide support to policy makers to cope with water-related problems under the influence of climate change, by linking scientific outcomes with related policy requirements.
Clouds cover about 70% of Earth's surface and play a dominant role in the energy and water cycle of our planet. Only satellite observations provide a continuous survey of the state of the atmosphere over the entire globe and across the wide range of spatial and temporal scales that compose weather and climate variability. Satellite cloud data records now exceed more than 25 years; however, climate data records must be compiled from different satellite datasets and can exhibit systematic biases. Questions therefore arise as to the accuracy and limitations of the various sensors and retrieval methods. The Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) Cloud Assessment, initiated in 2005 by the GEWEX Radiation Panel (GEWEX Data and Assessment Panel since 2011), provides the first coordinated intercomparison of publicly available, standard global cloud products (gridded monthly statistics) retrieved from measurements of multispectral imagers (some with multiangle view and polarization capabilities), IR sounders, and lidar. Cloud properties under study include cloud amount, cloud height (in terms of pressure, temperature, or altitude), cloud thermodynamic phase, and cloud radiative and bulk microphysical properties (optical depth or emissivity, effective particle radius, and water path). Differences in average cloud properties, especially in the amount of high-level clouds, are mostly explained by the inherent instrument measurement capability for detecting and/or identifying optically thin cirrus, especially when overlying low-level clouds. The study of long-term variations with these datasets requires consideration of many factors. The monthly gridded database presented here facilitates further assessments, climate studies, and the evaluation of climate models.
The ocean surface wind mediates exchanges between the ocean and the atmosphere. These air–sea exchange processes are critical for understanding and predicting atmosphere, ocean, and wave phenomena on many time and space scales. A cross-calibrated multiplatform (CCMP) long-term data record of satellite ocean surface winds is available from 1987 to 2008 with planned extensions through 2012. A variational analysis method (VAM) is used to combine surface wind data derived from conventional and in situ sources and multiple satellites into a consistent nearglobal analysis at 25-km resolution, every 6 h. The input data are cross-calibrated wind speeds derived from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I; ), the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Microwave Imager (TMI), and the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing System (AMSR-E), and wind vectors from SeaWinds on the NASA Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) and on the second Japanese Advanced Earth Observing Satellite ( ; i.e., the satellite). These are combined with ECMWF reanalyses and operational analyses by the VAM. VAM analyses and derived data are currently available for interested investigators through the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Physical Oceanography Distributed Active Archive Center (PO.DAAC). This paper describes the methodology used to assimilate the input data along with the validation and evaluation of the derived CCMP products.
The collective representation within global models of aerosol, cloud, precipitation, and their radiative properties remains unsatisfactory. They constitute the largest source of uncertainty in predictions of climatic change and hamper the ability of numerical weather prediction models to forecast high-impact weather events. The joint European Space Agency (ESA)–Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Earth Clouds, Aerosol and Radiation Explorer (EarthCARE) satellite mission, scheduled for launch in 2018, will help to resolve these weaknesses by providing global profiles of cloud, aerosol, precipitation, and associated radiative properties inferred from a combination of measurements made by its collocated active and passive sensors. EarthCARE will improve our understanding of cloud and aerosol processes by extending the invaluable dataset acquired by the A-Train satellites , and . Specifically, EarthCARE’s cloud profiling radar, with 7 dB more sensitivity than , will detect more thin clouds and its Doppler capability will provide novel information on convection, precipitating ice particle, and raindrop fall speeds. EarthCARE’s 355-nm high-spectral-resolution lidar will measure directly and accurately cloud and aerosol extinction and optical depth. Combining this with backscatter and polarization information should lead to an unprecedented ability to identify aerosol type. The multispectral imager will provide a context for, and the ability to construct, the cloud and aerosol distribution in 3D domains around the narrow 2D retrieved cross section. The consistency of the retrievals will be assessed to within a target of ±10 W m on the (10 km)² scale by comparing the multiview broadband radiometer observations to the top-of-atmosphere fluxes estimated by 3D radiative transfer models acting on retrieved 3D domains.
Aerosols and clouds have important effects on Earth's climate through their effects on the radiation budget and the cycling of water between the atmosphere and Earth's surface. Limitations in our understanding of the global distribution and properties of aerosols and clouds are partly responsible for the current uncertainties in modeling the global climate system and predicting climate change. The CALIPSO satellite was developed as a joint project between NASA and the French space agency CNES to provide needed capabilities to observe aerosols and clouds from space. CALIPSO carries CALIOP, a two-wavelength, polarization-sensitive lidar, along with two passive sensors operating in the visible and thermal infrared spectral regions. CALIOP is the first lidar to provide long-term atmospheric measurements from Earth's orbit. Its profiling and polarization capabilities offer unique measurement capabilities. Launched together with the CloudSat satellite in April 2006 and now flying in formation with the A-train satellite constellation, CALIPSO is now providing information on the distribution and properties of aerosols and clouds, which is fundamental to advancing our understanding and prediction of climate. This paper provides an overview of the CALIPSO mission and instruments, the data produced, and early results.
The state of knowledge regarding trends and an understanding of their causes is presented for a specific subset of extreme weather and climate types. For severe convective storms (tornadoes, hailstorms, and severe thunderstorms), differences in time and space of practices of collecting reports of events make using the reporting database to detect trends extremely difficult. Overall, changes in the frequency of environments favorable for severe thunderstorms have not been statistically significant. For extreme precipitation, there is strong evidence for a nationally averaged upward trend in the frequency and intensity of events. The causes of the observed trends have not been determined with certainty, although there is evidence that increasing atmospheric water vapor may be one factor. For hurricanes and typhoons, robust detection of trends in Atlantic and western North Pacific tropical cyclone (TC) activity is significantly constrained by data heterogeneity and deficient quantification of internal variability. Attribution of past TC changes is further challenged by a lack of consensus on the physical link- ages between climate forcing and TC activity. As a result, attribution of trends to anthropogenic forcing remains controversial. For severe snowstorms and ice storms, the number of severe regional snowstorms that occurred since 1960 was more than twice that of the preceding 60 years. There are no significant multidecadal trends in the areal percentage of the contiguous United States impacted by extreme seasonal snowfall amounts since 1900. There is no distinguishable trend in the frequency of ice storms for the United States as a whole since 1950.