• Investigation On Cirrus Clouds By The Cloud-Aerosol Lidar And Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation Data

      Zhu, Jiang; Sassen, Kenneth (2011)
      Understanding and describing the role of clouds in the climate system need intensive and extensive research on cloud properties. The albedo and greenhouse effects of clouds and their relations with the physical properties of clouds are analyzed. Cloud-top height and ice water content are key factors in impacting the longwave and shortwave radiation, respectively. Lidar and infrared radiometer measurement technologies are introduced. Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) level 1 Lidar profile, level 2 cloud layer, and level 2 Lidar/IIR track products are briefly reviewed. The algorithms for identification of cirrus clouds, Linear Depolarization Ratio (LDR), and effective diameter are presented. An average LDR profile is calculated by using the sum of total attenuated backscattering profiles and the sum of perpendicular attenuated backscattering profiles. A weight-average method is applied to calculate the average LDR. A split-window method is applied to estimate the effective diameters of clouds. A set of bulk ice crystal models and a radiative transfer model are applied to produce a look-up table that includes the radiative transfer simulation results. The macro-physical properties of cirrus clouds are analyzed. The frequency of occurrence of cirrus clouds varies with latitude, and strongly relates to the atmospheric circulation. Cirrus clouds are few in high-pressure zones and abundant where seasonal monsoonal circulation occurs. Cloud-top height decreases with increasing latitude. Cloud-top temperature is lower in the tropical regions than in the midlatutude and the polar regions. The measured cloud thickness shows a great diurnal variation.
    • Role of Arctic Sea Ice Variability in Climate Models

      Dammann, Dyre O.; Bhatt, Uma; Polyakov, Igor; Zhang, Xiang (2011-08)
      Arctic sea ice plays an important role in climate by influencing surface heat fluxes and albedo, so must be accurately represented in climate models. This study finds that the fully coupled ice-ocean-atmosphere-land Community Climate System Model (CCSM3.0) underestimates day-to-day ice variability compared to observations and employs the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM3.0) to investigate the atmospheric sensitivity to sea ice variability. Three 100-ensemble experiments are forced with climatological, daily-varying, and smoothly-varying sea ice conditions from an anomalously low ice period (September 2006-February 2007). Daily ice variability has a large local impact on the atmosphere when ice undergoes rapid changes, leading to local cooling and subsequent circulation changes. The most notable example of a large-scale atmospheric response occurs over Northern Europe during fall where daily ice variability forces reductions in the number and strength of cyclones, leading to positive sea level pressure anomalies, surface warming, and reduced cloud cover.
    • Mesoscale modeling study of a polar low in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas

      Moreira, Paula Doubrawa; Zhang, Xiangdong (2011-12)
      Polar lows are intense mesoscale maritime cyclones, often associated with strong winds that can damage high-latitude coastal environments and infrastructure. These systems have been historically infrequent in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, but this behavior is expected to change along with the amplified changes in Arctic climate. This study investigates the unusual occurrence of a polar low in this region on October 9-10, 2009. Sensitivity experiments with the Weather Research and Forecasting model indicate that using ERA-Interim as large-scale forcing and performing spectral nudging at all simulation hours yield the most realistic simulation. The simulations are highly sensitive to physical parameterizations, where Morrison rnicrophysics and Yonsei University boundary layer produce the smallest errors. Surface forcings were not important for the polar low development and their influence could not extend above 850 hPa due to a stable lower atmosphere. A convergence zone between the Aleutian Low and the Beaufort High established a southerly flow that created favorable conditions by continuously adverting heat and moisture from lower latitudes. The polar low had a hybrid development and was likely triggered by the interaction between a deep-penetrating upper-level potential vorticity anomaly and a low-level baroclinic zone, which were driven northward by the jet stream.
    • Atmospheric Forcing Of Wave States In The Southeast Chukchi Sea

      Francis, Oceana P.; Bhatt, Uma (2012)
      The objective of this study was to assess the impact that the ocean state, particularly ocean waves, have on coastal communities and operations in the Western Alaska region. In situ measurements and one-dimensional spectra models, were used to link observed wave activity -- wind-sea and swells -- to their synoptic drivers. Bottom-mounted Recording Doppler Current Profilers (RDCPs) were placed at offshore and nearshore locations in the southeast Chukchi Sea, Alaska, during 2007 and 2009-2010. The highest significant wave height (SWH) "events" were defined as wave heights above 2m and 3m for a duration of 6h or more. Results show that SWH events appeared to be driven by three types of systems, 1) cyclonic systems that moved into the eastern Bering Sea and then stalled there, 2) cyclonic systems that moved into the eastern Chukchi Sea and then loitered there, and 3) a cyclonic system over the Brooks Range, a less common occurrence. Results also show the offshore region having highest SWHs with an east wind and wave direction, and classified as a wind-sea state. For the nearshore region, highest SWHs with south and west wind and wave directions, generally showed a swell state. Agreement between one-dimensional spectral models and in situ measurements was greatest for the higher wind-sea state in the offshore region, while discrepancies arose for the lower swell state in the nearshore region. Cross-validation of in situ measurements with satellite altimeter radar measurements were also conducted. Good correlation was found for the offshore regions but not for the nearshore regions. Satellite observations were also used to assess wave conditions in the Arctic during the years 1993-2011. A 0.020m/year increase of SWH for the SE Chukchi Sea and a 0.025m/year increase for the Pacific-Arctic, was found which correlates well with diminishing sea ice and the heighted wind speed, also shown in this study.
    • Analysis Of Model And Observation Data For The Development Of A Public Pm2.5 Air-Quality Advisories Tool (Aquat)

      Tran, Huy Nguyen Quang; Molders, Nicole; Bhatt, Uma; Cahill, Catherine F.; Grell, Georg A.; Kramm, Gerhard (2012)
      An air-quality advisory tool (AQuAT) that combines mobile measurements of particulate matter less than or equal to 2.5mum in diameter (PM2.5) with air-quality simulations performed with the Alaska adapted version of the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model was developed to interpolate PM2.5-measurements into unmonitored neighborhoods in Fairbanks, Alaska. AQuAT was developed as traditional interpolation methods of interpolating the mobile measurements were unsuccessful. Such a spatially differentiated air-quality advisory is highly desired in Fairbanks due to health concerns of PM2.5, and the need to improve the quality of life. The accuracy of AQuAT depends on the accuracy of the air-quality simulations used for its database. Evaluation of these simulations showed that they captured the observed relationships between PM2.5-concentrations and major meteorological fields (e.g., wind-speed, temperature, and surface-inversions) well. Skill scores for simulated PM2.5-concentrations fell in the range of modern models. The AQuAT database can include information on the nonlinear impacts of various emission sources on PM2.5-concentrations. This benefit was illustrated by investigating the impacts of emissions from point sources, uncertified wood-burning devices, and traffic on the distribution of PM 2.5-concentrations in the neighborhoods. Sensitivity studies on the effects of wood-burning device changeouts on the PM2.5-concentrations suggested that the emission inventory should be updated as soon as possible to capture recent changes in the emission situation in response to the changeout program. The performance of AQuAT was evaluated with PM2.5-measurements from mobile and stationary sites, and with simulated PM2.5-concentrations of winter 2010/2011 which were assumed to be "grand-truth" data. These evaluations showed that AQuAT captured the magnitudes and temporal evolutions of the PM 2.5-measurements and the "grand-truth" data well. The inclusion of wind-speed, wind-direction, and temperature in AQuAT did not improve its accuracy. This result may be explained by the fact that the relationships between meteorology and PM2.5-concentrations were already captured by the database. AQuAT allows quick spatial interpolation after the mobile measurements were made and provides error bars. It also allows for any route within the area for which a database of simulated concentrations exists. It was shown that AQuAT can be easily transferred for applications in other regions.
    • Assessing River Ice Breakup Date, Coastal Tundra Vegetation And Climate Divisions In The Context Of Alaska Climate Variability

      Bieniek, Peter A.; Bhatt, Uma (2012)
      In Alaska, there exists a substantial knowledge gap of key climate drivers and filling these gaps is vital since life and the economy are inexorably linked with climate in the state. This thesis identifies and investigates three topics that advance the understanding of Alaska climate variability: the role of large-scale climate in Interior river ice breakup, the link between climate and arctic tundra vegetation, and climate divisions based on objective methods. River ice breakup in the Yukon-Kuskoswim watershed is occurring earlier by 1.3 days decade-1 1948-2008 and displays large year-to-year variability. April-May Interior Alaska air temperatures are the best predictor of river ice breakup and were linked to El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO). During the warm phase of ENSO, fewer storms track into the Gulf of Alaska during Boreal Spring, resulting in reduced April-May cloudiness over Alaska, increased solar insolation at the land surface, warmer air temperatures and consequently earlier breakup. Northern Alaska tundra vegetation productivity has increased 1982-2011, based on the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), a satellite measure of vegetation correlated with above ground biomass. Vegetation productivity was linked to the Beaufort High circulation as well as snowfall, in addition to land surface temperatures and coastal sea ice extent. NDVI has decreased from 1982-2011 over the coastal tundra along the Bering Sea and was correlated with delayed springtime warming due to enhanced coastal sea ice and a delayed snowmelt. Cluster analysis was applied to 2-meter air temperature data 1977-2010 at meteorological stations to construct climate divisions for Alaska. Stations were grouped together objectively based on similar homogeneous seasonal and annual climate variability and were refined using local expert knowledge to ultimately identify 13 divisions. Correlation analysis using gridded downscaled temperature and precipitation data validated the final division lines and documented that each division has similar a similar annual cycle in temperature and precipitation. Overall, this work documented substantial links and identified mechanisms joining the large-scale climate to that of Alaska. A better understanding of the role of large-scale climate variability in river ice breakup or tundra greening holds promise for developing seasonal and longer-term forecasts.
    • Atmospheric forcing of wave states in the southeast Chukchi Sea

      Francis, Oceana Puananilei; Atkinson, David; Bhatt, Uma; Metzger, Andrew; Walsh, John; Weingartner, Thomas (2012-05)
      The objective of this study was to assess the impact that the ocean state, particularly ocean waves, have on coastal communities and operations in the Western Alaska region. In situ measurements and one-dimensional spectra models, were used to link observed wave activity – wind-sea and swells – to their synoptic drivers. Bottommounted Recording Doppler Current Profilers (RDCPs) were placed at offshore and nearshore locations in the southeast Chukchi Sea, Alaska, during 2007 and 2009-2010. The highest significant wave height (SWH) “events” were defined as wave heights above 2m and 3m for a duration of 6h or more. Results show that SWH events appeared to be driven by three types of systems, 1) cyclonic systems that moved into the eastern Bering Sea and then stalled there, 2) cyclonic systems that moved into the eastern Chukchi Sea and then loitered there, and 3) a cyclonic system over the Brooks Range, a less common occurrence. Results also show the offshore region having highest SWHs with an east wind and wave direction, and classified as a wind-sea state. For the nearshore region, highest SWHs with south and west wind and wave directions, generally showed a swell state. Agreement between one-dimensional spectral models and in situ measurements was greatest for the higher wind-sea state in the offshore region, while discrepancies arose for the lower swell state in the nearshore region. Cross-validation of in situ measurements with satellite altimeter radar measurements were also conducted. Good correlation was found for the offshore regions iv but not for the nearshore regions. Satellite observations were also used to assess wave conditions in the Arctic during the years 1993-2011. A 0.020m/year increase of SWH for the SE Chukchi Sea and a 0.025m/year increase for the Pacific-Arctic, was found which correlates well with diminishing sea ice and the heighted wind speed, also shown in this study.
    • The relation of spring pollen release to weather in Fairbanks, Alaska

      Fathauer, Theodore F.; Mölders, Nicole; Bhat, Uma; Wendler, Gerd (2012-08)
      Twenty-three years of pollen data for Fairbanks have been analyzed and related to meteorological data (temperature, wind, relative humidity and precipitation). The purpose of this research is to develop quantitative statistical relationships between weather parameters and the timing and magnitude of pollen release for four taxa native to the Fairbanks area (birch, alder spruce and grass). During the spring and early summer in Fairbanks, dry, sunny and breezy days are common. These conditions are ideal for establishing an unstable boundary layer and its accompanying convective circulation, which can loft large quantities of pollen into the atmosphere. The timing of pollen release varies from season to season by as many as 24 days. Growing degree days based upon daily maximum temperatures and daily minimum relative humidity are the parameters which best define the timing of the onset of significant pollen release. The day-to-day concentration of pollen and the seasonal totals of pollen released can vary by more than an order of magnitude. Weather plays an important part in this because the release of pollen is a result of a drying process accompanied by turbulent circulation, which disperses the pollen.
    • Rayleigh lidar studies of mesospheric inversion layers at Poker Flat Research Range, Chatanika, Alaska

      Irving, Brita K. (2012-08)
      Rayleigh lidar observations at Poker Flat Research Range, Chatanika, Alaska (65°N, 213°E), have yielded density and temperature measurements from 40-80 km. These measurements have been made under clear nighttime skies since November 1997. This thesis presents a study of Mesospheric Inversion Layers (MILs) and lidar performance at Chatanika. MILs are identified and characterized in the 40-70 km altitude region on 55 of the 149 wintertime observations over two periods, November 1997-April 2005 and November 2007-March 2009, using a new detection algorithm. Investigation of the MILs compared with planetary wave activity as observed by satellite finds a strong correlation between the presence of MILs and the structure of the planetary waves. These two periods are marked by strong planetary wave activity and sudden stratospheric warming events. MILs are found to occur more frequently than previously reported at Arctic sites, but less frequently than at lower latitudes. In spring 2012 the existing lidar system was extended by incorporating a larger aperture telescope and higher power laser and field trials were conducted. The results from these field trails are presented and the ability of the new lidar system to extend the scope of future studies at Chatanika is assessed.
    • A new sensitivity analysis and solution method for scintillometer measurements of area-average turbulent fluxes

      Gruber, Matthew; Fochesatto, Gilberto J.; Zhang, Xiangdong; Collins, Richard L. (2013-08)
      Scintillometer measurements of the turbulence inner-scale length l₀ and refractive index structure function C²n allow for the retrieval of large-scale area-averaged turbulent fluxes in the atmospheric surface layer. This retrieval involves the solution of the non-linear set of equations defined by the Monin-Obukhov similarity hypothesis. A new method that uses an analytic solution to the set of equations is presented, which leads to a stable and efficient numerical method of computation that has the potential of eliminating computational error. Mathematical expressions are derived that map out the sensitivity of the turbulent flux measurements to uncertainties in source measurements such as l₀. These sensitivity functions differ from results in the previous literature; the reasons for the differences are explored.
    • Investigation on the impacts of low-sulfur fuel used in residential heating and oil-fired power plants on PM₂.₅₋ concentrations and its composition in Fairbanks, Alaska

      Leelasakultum, Ketsiri; Mölders, Nicole; Bhatt, Uma; Collins, Richard (2013-08)
      The effects of using low-sulfur fuel for oil-heating and oil-burning facilities on the PM₂.₅-concentrations at breathing level in an Alaska city surrounded by vast forested areas were examined with the Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled with chemistry packages that were modified for the subarctic. Simulations were performed in forecast mode for a cold season using the National Emission Inventory 2008 and alternatively emissions that represent the use of low-sulfur fuel for oil-heating and oil-burning facilities while keeping the emissions of other sources the same as in the reference simulation. The simulations suggest that introducing low-sulfur fuel would decrease the monthly mean 24h-averaged PM₂.₅-concentrations over the city's PM₂.₅-nonattainment area by 4%, 9%, 8%, 6%, 5% and 7% in October, November, December, January, February and March, respectively. The quarterly mean relative response factors for PM₂.₅ of 0.96 indicate that with a design value of 44.7 µg/m³ introducing low-sulfur fuel would lead to a new design value of 42 .9µg/m³ that still exceeds the US National Ambient Air Quality Standard of 35µg/m³ . The magnitude of the relation between the relative response of sulfate and nitrate changes differs with temperature. The simulations suggest that in the city, PM₂.₅-concentrations would decrease more on days with low atmospheric boundary layer heights, low hydrometeor mixing ratio, low downward shortwave radiation and low temperatures. Furthermore, a literature review of other emission control measure studies is given, and recommendations for future studies are made based on the findings.
    • Exploration of mesospheric metal layers from Chatanika, Alaska

      Martus, Cameron M.; Collins, Richard L.; Mölders, Nicole; Sassen, Kenneth (2013-08)
      Layers of free metal atoms exist in the mesopause region of the atmosphere, generally between 80 and 100 km altitude. Resonance fluorescence lidar provides the best way to measure the structure and dynamics of these metal layers. Resonance lidar observations using tunable dye lasers are conducted at the Lidar Research Laboratory (LRL) of Poker Flat Research Range (PFRR), Chatanika, Alaska (65°N, 147°W). In this thesis, we present three fundamental aspects of mesospheric resonance lidar studies: lidar system commissioning and operation, analysis of temporal variations in the metal layers based on observations, and observations of the nickel layer. An excimer-pumped dye laser system has been used in the past for observations at LRL-PFRR, and we report on the alignment and testing of this system as well as the deployment of a new Nd:YAG-pumped dye laser system. Both of these systems are tested with observations of the sodium layer at 589 nm. Through an analysis of simultaneous observations of the sodium and iron layers taken in the past at LRL-PFRR, we study the common motion of the two layers and suggest an external forcing mechanism for the motions. We find that the motion of the layers is, in most of the observations, consistent with downward propagating gravity waves. Based on elemental abundances in meteors, the most likely source of mesospheric metal layers, we expect to find a nickel layer, yet such a layer has not been reported. We attempt to detect the layer using resonance lidar at the 337 nm nickel absorption line. We make several likely detections of the layer and present an initial estimate of the nickel profile. Signals received in the nickel measurements are as expected from a simulation based on signals received in past observations of sodium and iron.
    • Atmospheric moisture transport and its impact on the water cycle over Alaska and Hawaii: the roles of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and El Nino

      Borries, Cecilia J.; Zhang, Xiangdong; Bhatt, Uma; Mölders, Nicole (2014-05)
      Precipitation over the North Pacific can fluctuate under climate patterns such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). In order to better understand the role which these climatic patterns play in the North Pacific water budgets and pathways, we employed the Community Atmosphere Model 5.0 (CAM) and conducted sensitivity experiments to examine how atmospheric moisture convergence and moisture transport respond to sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies associated with the PDO and ENSO phase transitions. We have found that changes in transient moisture transport, as the PDO phase shifts from cool to warm, are due to increases in specific humidity and decreases in wind speeds over Alaska and the North Pacific. Additionally, increases in moisture convergence, specific humidity, and wind speeds and decreases in transient moisture transport are seen over the North Pacific during El Niño events compared to La Niña events.
    • Assessment of particulate accumulation climatology under inversions in Glacier Bay for the 2008 tourist season using WRF/Chem data

      Pirhalla, Michael A.; Mölders, Nicole; Bhatt, Uma; Polyakov, Igor; Gende, Scott (2014-05)
      Each summer, roughly one million tourists come to Southeast Alaska aboard cruise ships to see the pristine landscape and wildlife. Tourism is an integral component in the economy for most of the towns and villages on the Alaska Panhandle. With ship emissions only modestly regulated, there have been some concerns regarding the potential environmental impacts that cruise ships have on air quality, wildlife, and visitor experience. Cruise ships travel to remote regions, and are frequently the only anthropogenic emissions source in federally protected parks, such as Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. In the absence of winds and synoptic scale storm systems common in the Gulf of Alaska, temperature inversions frequently develop inside Glacier Bay due to radiative cooling influenced by the complex topography inside the park. Inversions act as a lid, and may trap pollutants from cruise-ship emissions depending on the meteorological conditions present. Since meteorological observations are sparse and frequently skewed to easily accessible locations, data from the Weather Research and Forecasting Model, coupled with a chemistry package (WRF/Chem), were used to examine the physical and chemical processes that are impossible to determine through direct observations. Model simulation data for 124 days during the 2008 tourist season (May 15 to September 15), including a cruise-ship emission inventory for all 225 cruise ship entries in Glacier Bay, was analyzed. Evaluation of WRF/Chem through meteorological observations reveals that the model accurately captures the synoptic conditions for most of the summer, despite problems with complex topography. WRF/Chem simulated quasi-multi-day inversion events, with strengths as high as 6.7 K (100 m)⁻¹. Inversions were present in all grid-cell locations in Glacier Bay, with inversions occurring on average of 42% of the days during the tourist season. WRF/Chem was able to model PM₁₀ (particulate matter with diameter less than 10 μm) concentrations from cruise ships, but the absence of aerosol monitoring sites does not allow us to confirm the results. However, no simulated particulates ever exceed the daily average National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) of 150 μg m⁻³. The high variability of particle concentrations in Glacier Bay suggests the need for an air quality observational network to further assess local air quality issues.
    • Modeling investigation of northern hemisphere extratropical storm variability and changes in a warming climate

      Basu, Soumik; Zhang, Xiangdong; Bhatt, Uma; Mölders, Nicole; Polyakov, Igor (2014-05)
      Extratropical cyclones are fundamental elements for shaping weather patterns, causing fluctuations of temperatures, bringing rain or snow, and carrying winds to impact daily life. The intensity and number of North Hemisphere extratropical cyclones have demonstrated large interannual variability and long-term changes. To understand the variability and changes, we conducted a modeling investigation using the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)'s Community Atmosphere Model. Specifically, we examined the effects of two surface forcing factors, including sea surface temperature (SST) associated with El Niño and Arctic sea-ice cover, which represent a major source of natural variability and climate changes. Our modeling investigation indicates that the tropical Pacific SST and Arctic sea ice have significant impacts on Northern Hemisphere mid-latitude and Arctic cyclone activities. The elevated tropical Pacific SST leads to more numerous intense storms over southwestern, southeastern, and northwestern North America, but fewer weaker storms over the northeast. The underlying physical mechanism is enhanced lower tropospheric baroclinicity, which is attributable to a southward shift and an intensification of the subtropical jet. The decreased Arctic sea-ice cover leads to an increased storm activity over the Arctic but a decrease in the mid-latitudes. A corresponding examination of surface climate shows anomalously higher surface air temperature and precipitation when low Arctic sea-ice cover occurs, due to an integrative contribution from an increase in surface sensible and latent heat fluxes and horizontal heat advection. In contrast, reduced Arctic sea ice weakens storm activity and intensifies anticyclones over Eurasia, giving rise to decreased surface air temperature and precipitation. Unlike many other parameters, the Arctic sea ice has shown a dramatic decline in addition to interannual fluctuations. We therefore conducted further modeling experiments to identify the role of this long term sea-ice trend on storm activity. The results show that the long-term decline causes a weakening of overall storm activity but an increase in extreme storm events over the Northern Hemisphere. The atmospheric energetic analysis suggests that the increased conversion rate between transient available potential energy and transient kinetic energy is a leading factor in supporting the increased frequency of extreme storms. Over Eurasia, changes in storm activity are mainly governed by the mean kinetic energy of the atmospheric circulation and its conversion to the transient kinetic energy.
    • Arctic spring transition in a warming climate: analysis by using a reanalysis dataset

      De, Bithi; Zhang, Xiangdong; Collins, Richard; Fochesatto, Javier (2014-05)
      An increased warming trend over the Arctic in recent years has been documented using observations, and is expected to continue by climate model projections. This increase may shift the springtime transition time, causing an earlier onset of summer and resulting in a longer sea-ice melt and vegetation growing period over the Arctic. In this study, we investigated variability of and changes in the spring transition in a warming climate and examined attributions of various dynamic and thermodynamic processes. The results demonstrate a dramatic increase in springtime surface air temperature (SAT) over the Arctic since 1979. Physical analysis reveals an increase in poleward moisture and latent heat transport accompanied by an enhancement of cloud cover, which result in positive downward longwave radiation. A persistent increase in poleward warm air advection is also found; leading to sensible heat flux from the warmer atmosphere to the surface furthering the surface warming. Retreat of sea ice cover reduces surface albedo, making an additional contribution to the surface warming. In addition to the overall evaluation of these physical processes, composite analysis suggests that relative contributions from these processes to the increased springtime SAT vary across different geographic subregions.
    • Ice clouds over Fairbanks, Alaska

      Kayetha, Vinay Kumar; Sassen, Kenneth; Mölders, Nicole; Collins, Richard (2014-05)
      Arctic clouds have been recognized long ago as one of the key elements modulating the global climate system. They have gained much interest in recent years because the availability of new continuous datasets is opening doors to explore cloud and aerosol properties as never before. This is particularly important in the light of current climate change studies that predict changing weather scenarios around the world. This research investigates the occurrence and properties of a few types of ice clouds over the Arctic region with datasets available through the Arctic Facility for Atmospheric Remote Sensing (AFARS; 64.86° N, 147.84° W). This study exclusively focuses on ice clouds that form in the upper (cirrus clouds) and midlevels of the troposphere, and that are transparent to laser pulses (visible optical depth τ< 3.0 - 4.0). Cirrus clouds are icedominated clouds that are formed in the upper levels of the troposphere and are relatively thin such that their visual appearances range from bluish to gray in color. Mid-level ice clouds are those clouds primarily composed of ice crystals forming in the midlevels of the troposphere. It is hypothesized that unlike the basic midlevel cloud type (altostratus), other varieties of midlevel ice clouds exist at times over the Arctic region. The midlevel ice clouds studied here are also transparent to laser pulses and sometimes appear as a family of cirrus clouds to a surface observer. Because of their intermediate heights of occurrence in the troposphere, these could have microphysical properties and radiative effects that are distinct from those associated with upper level ice clouds in the troposphere. A ground-based lidar dataset with visual observations for identifying cloud types collected at AFARS over eight years is used to investigate this hypothesis. Cloud types over AFARS have been identified by a surface observer (Professor Kenneth Sassen) using established characteristics traits. Essential macrophysical properties of the clouds are derived from the lidar data, which serves as a climatological representation for the visually identified cirrus and mid-level ice clouds over a typical sub-Arctic location. Synoptic-scale weather patterns conducive for such cloud type formations are derived using a clustering technique applied to a re-analysis dataset. The cloud properties derived from ground-based lidar over AFARS are used to assess the cloud observations from the CALIPSO satellite.
    • Using WRF/Chem, in-situ observations, and Calipso data to simulate smoke plume signatures on high-latitude pixels

      Madden, James Michael; Mölders, Nicole; Sassen, Kenneth; Prakash, Anupma; Grell, Georg (2014-05)
      The transport of wildfire aerosols provides concerns to people at or near downwind propagation. Concerns include the health effects of inhalation by inhabitants of surrounding communities and fire crews, the environmental effects of the wet and dry deposition of acids and particles, and the effects on the atmosphere through the scattering and absorption of solar radiation. Therefore, as the population density increases in Arctic and sub-Arctic areas, improving wildfire detection increasingly becomes necessary. Efforts to improve wildfire detection and forecasting would be helped if additional focus was directed toward the distortion of pixel geometry that occurs near the boundaries of a geostationary satellite's field of view. At higher latitudes, resolution becomes coarse due to the curvature of the Earth, and pixels toward the boundaries of the field of view become difficult to analyze. To assess whether it is possible to detect smoke plumes in pixels at the edge of a geostationary satellite's field of view, several analyses were performed. First, a realistic, fourdimensional dataset was created from Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled with Chemistry (WRF/Chem) output. WRF/Chem output was statistically compared to ground observations through the use of skill scores. Output was also qualitatively compared to vertical backscatter and depolarization products from the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellite. After the quantitative and qualitative examinations deemed the model output to be realistic, synthetic pixels were constructed, appropriately sized, and used with the realistic dataset to examine the characteristic signatures of a wildfire plume. After establishing a threshold value, the synthetic pixels could distinguish between clean and smoke-polluted areas. Thus, specialized retrieval algorithms could be developed for smoke detection in strongly distorted pixels at the edge of a geostationary satellite's field of view.
    • Assessment of high latitude variability and extreme events in the Bering Sea as simulated by a global climate model

      Walston, Joshua M.; Walsh, John E.; Gibson, Georgina A.; Bhatt, Uma S. (2014-08)
      Atmospheric and Oceanic observations of the Arctic and Subarctic are relatively sparse and hinder our ability to analyze short term variability and long-duration anomalies of physical and biological variables over decadal time scales. Earth System Models (ESM's), such as the Community Earth System Model (CESM1), represent a useful tool to advance the understanding and the predictive potential of large-scale shifts in the climate and climate related impacts. This thesis initially focuses on assessing the skill of the Community Climate System Model (CCSM4), to capture natural variability of the climate system. Subsequently, I examine the impacts of variability and seasonal-scale extremes of the physical environment on the marine ecosystem of the eastern Bering Sea as simulated by an earth system model, the CESM1, which includes the CCSM4 and earth system elements. A performance assessment of key atmospheric components (air temperature, sea level pressure, wind speed and direction) simulated by the CCSM4 over the Bering Sea and Arctic domains suggests a general improvement in model predictions at high latitudes relative to the model's predecessor, the CCSM3. However, several shortcomings, with possible implications for marine ecosystem modeling, still remain in this version of the CCSM. The most important of which includes an under-simulated Siberian High and a large northwest displacement of the Aleutian Low resulting in a negative bias of up to 8 hPa over the Bering Sea. The simulated inter-annual variability of surface air temperature and sea level pressure over the Bering Sea was found to exceed observed variability by ~1.5 to 2 times. The displaced pressure systems and increased variability could have important ramifications for modeling efforts that use CCSM atmospheric output as drivers for marine ecosystem studies.
    • An evaluation of reanalysis products for Alaska to facilitate climate impact studies

      Lader, Rick T.; Bhatt, Uma; Walsh, John E.; Polyakov, Igor V.; Rupp, T. Scott (2014-08)
      Alaska is experiencing effects of global climate change due, in large part, to the positive feedback mechanisms associated with polar amplification. The major risk factors include loss of sea ice, glaciers, thawing permafrost, increased wildfires, and ocean acidification. Reanalyses, which are weather forecast models that assimilate observations, are integral to understanding mechanisms of Alaska's past climate and to help calibrate future modeling efforts. This study evaluates five reanalyses using monthly gridded datasets of temperature, precipitation, and snowwater equivalent, as well as daily station data of maximum and minimum temperature, precipitation, and snow depth across six climate regions in Alaska, and at eight stations from 1979-2009. The reanalyses evaluated in this study include the: NCEP-NCAR Reanalysis (NCEP-R1), North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR), Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR), ERA-Interim, and Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA). MERRA was the top-performing reanalysis for the station-based assessment, has the lowest statewide precipitation bias, and is the most reliable model for snow-water equivalent. NARR and ERA-Interim have the lowest near-surface air temperature biases across Alaska. The quality of reanalysis data varies by region, season, and variable. This thesis provides guidance for reanalysis users to make informed decisions.