Now showing items 21-40 of 59

    • Global and local contributors to the historical and projected regional climate change on the North Slope of Alaska

      Cai, Lei; Alexeev, Vladimir A.; Arp, Christopher D.; Bhatt, Uma S.; Liljedahl, Anna K. (2018-05)
      This thesis includes four studies that explore and compare the impacts of four contributing factors resulting in regional climate change on the North Slope of Alaska based on a numerical simulation approach. These four contributing factors include global warming due to changes in radiative forcing, sea ice decline, earlier Arctic lake ice-off, and atmospheric circulation change over the Arctic. A set of dynamically downscaled regional climate products has been developed for the North Slope of Alaska over the period from 1950 up to 2100. A fine grid spacing (10 km) is employed to develop products that resolve detailed mesoscale features in the temperature and precipitation fields on the North Slope of Alaska. Processes resolved include the effects of topography on regional climate and extreme precipitation events. The Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 scenario projects lower rates of precipitation and temperature increase than RCP8.5 compared to the historical product. The increases of precipitation and temperature trends in the RCP8.5 projection are higher in fall and winter compared to the historical product and the RCP4.5 projection. The impacts of sea ice decline are addressed by conducting sensitivity experiments employing both an atmospheric model and a permafrost model. The sea ice decline impacts are most pronounced in late fall and early winter. The near surface atmospheric warming in late spring and early summer due to sea ice decline are projected to be stronger in the 21st century. Such a warming effect also reduces the total cloud cover on the North Slope of Alaska in summer by destabilizing the atmospheric boundary layer. The sea ice decline warms the atmosphere and the permafrost on the North Slope of Alaska less strongly than the global warming does, while it primarily results in higher seasonal variability of the positive temperature trend that is bigger in late fall and early winter than in other seasons. The ongoing and projected earlier melt of the Arctic lake ice also contributes to regional climate change on the Northern coast of Alaska, though only on a local and seasonal scale. Heat and moisture released from the opened lake surface primarily propagate downwind of the lakes. The impacts of the earlier lake ice-off on both the atmosphere and the permafrost underneath are comparable to those of the sea ice decline in late spring and early summer, while they are roughly six times weaker than those of sea ice decline in late fall and early winter. The permafrost warming resulted from the earlier lake ice-off is speculated to be stronger with more snowfall expected in the 21st century, while the overall atmospheric warming of global origin is speculated to continue growing. Two major Arctic summer-time climatic variability patterns, the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and the Arctic Dipole (AD), are evaluated in 12 global climate models in Coupled Model Intercomparison Program Phase 5 (CMIP5). A combined metric ranking approach ranks the models by the Pattern Correlation Coefficients (PCCs) and explained variances calculated from the model-produced summer AO and AD over the historical period. Higher-ranked models more consistently project a positive trend of the summer AO index and a negative trend of summer AD index in their RCP8.5 projections. Such long-term trends of large-scale climate patterns will inhibit the increase in air temperature while favoring the increase in precipitation on the North Slope of Alaska. In summary, this thesis bridges the gaps by quantifying the relative importance of multiple contributing factors to the regional climate change on the North Slope of Alaska. Global warming is the leading contributing factor, while other factors primarily contribute to the spatial and temporal asymmetries of the regional climate change. The results of this thesis lead to a better understanding of the physical mechanisms behind the climatic impacts to the hydrological and ecological changes of the North Slope of Alaska that have been become more severe and more frequent. They, together with the developed downscaling data products, serve as the climatic background information in such fields of study.
    • 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.
    • Development of a parameterization for mesoscale hydrological modeling and application to landscape and climate change in the Interior Alaska boreal forest ecosystem

      Endalamaw, Abraham Melesse; Bolton, William R.; Young-Robertson, Jessica M.; Hinzman, Larry; Morton, Donald; Mölders, Nicole; Fochesatto, G. Javier (2017-08)
      The Interior Alaska boreal forest ecosystem is one of the largest ecosystems on Earth and lies between the warmer southerly temperate and colder Arctic regions. The ecosystem is underlain by discontinuous permafrost. The presence or absence of permafrost primarily controls water pathways and ecosystem composition. As a result, the region hosts two distinct ecotypes that transition over a very short spatial scale - often on the order of meters. Accurate mesoscale hydrological modeling of the region is critical as the region is experiencing unprecedented ecological and hydrological changes that have regional and global implications. However, accurate representation of the landscape heterogeneity and mesoscale hydrological processes has remained a big challenge. This study addressed this challenge by developing a simple landscape model from the hill-slope studies and in situ measurements over the past several decades. The new approach improves the mesoscale prediction of several hydrological processes including streamflow and evapotranspiration (ET). The impact of climate induced landscape change under a changing climate is also investigated. In the projected climate scenario, Interior Alaska is projected to undergo a major landscape shift including transitioning from a coniferous-dominated to deciduous-dominated ecosystem and from discontinuous permafrost to either a sporadic or isolated permafrost region. This major landscape shift is predicted to have a larger and complex impact in the predicted runoff, evapotranspiration, and moisture deficit (precipitation minus evapotranspiration). Overall, a large increase in runoff, evapotranspiration, and moisture deficit is predicted under future climate. Most hydrological climate change impact studies do not usually include the projected change in landscape into the model. In this study, we found that ignoring the projected ecosystem change could lead to an inaccurate conclusion. Hence, climate-induced vegetation and permafrost changes must be considered in order to fully account for the changes in hydrology.
    • Particle dynamics in the plasma sheet

      Wagner, John S. (1978-08)
      Trajectories of charged particles in the tail region of the earth's magnetosphere are studied using a model magnetic field. The particles form a thin sheet-like structure in the magnetotail called the plasma sheet. It is shown that most trajectories are categorized by two dimensionless parameters. One of them is equal to the ratio of the cross-tail electric force to the magnetic force in the midplane and determines the maximum particle energization. The other parameter is the ratio of the plasma sheet thickness to the particle gyroradius in the midplane and determines the degree to which the particle motion is adiabatic. All previous attempts at studying trajectories in the magnetotail are shown to be applicable only over limited ranges of the two parameters. Hence those studies are combined into a common framework, and those trajectories which have not been studied previously are added for completeness.
    • An improved method of ice nucleus measurement

      Shih, Chi-Fan G. (1982-09)
      Ice nuclei, which initiate the ice nucleation process at a higher temperature than the homogeneous nucleation temperature, are essential for the initiation of the ice phase in clouds. Unfortunately, no standard method has been established for the measurement of ice nucleus concentration. The filter technique is a promising candidate if the tendency for ice nucleus concentrations to decreases as the volume sampled increases can be explained. For this study, an improved ventilation method for the development of exposed filters was developed and tested. The results were compared with results obtained in a static diffusion chamber. The volume effect was observed to be less with the new dynamic system. Further work needs to be done to find the optimum flow rate in order to reduce the vapor depletion problem to a minimum. The ratio of total counts of dynamic and static system appears to be a promising evaluation index.
    • Ion dynamics in auroral potential structures and formation of ion conic distribution

      Yang, Wei-hong (1981-12)
      This thesis is concerned with the problem of how the positive ions are energized by the two-dimensional potential structures along auroral field lines; these auroral potential structures are known to be responsible for accelerating electrons into the ionosphere to produce discrete auroras. A systematic numerical study of the test ion dynamics in auroral potential structures, either V-shaped or S-shaped, has been carried out. Transverse ion accelerations occur if the width of the auroral potential structure (Lx ≤ ρi). This result shows that the conic distribution of upstreaming ions observed on auroral field lines can be generated by the same potential structures which produce the thin auroral arcs (Lx ≤ ρi). This transverse acceleration mechanism operates more effectively on heavier ions, resulting in O+ ions more energetic than H+ ions as indicated by observations.
    • Theoretical, experimental and numerical simulation study of a radially injected barium disk

      Sydora, Richard D. (1981-05)
      An Investigation of the dynamics and stability of a high-altitude radial barium plasma injection is performed using theoretical and numerical simulation methods. The barium plasma cloud, injection experiment was conducted on March 16, 1980 and produced several interesting phenomena: (1) Three distinct rings of barium containing irregularities exhibiting collective motion; (2) A region of plasma depletion at the location of injection; (3) A structure of approximately eighteen distinct barium ion rays emanating from the injection location. A collisionless, electrostatic particle simulation model is used to understand the behavior of the plasma, indicating that the initial plasma deformation develops due to an E x B azimuthal velocity shear instability. A theoretical model used for a stability analysis of the plasma is formulated based on the number density distributions of the electrons and ions obtained from the numerical simulation results. The linear stability analysis shows that the number of unstable azimuthal modes created by the velocity shear instability is dependent upon the amount of charge separation occurring in the expanding plasma.
    • Multi-decadal variability of Atlantic water heat transports as seen in the community climate systems model version 3.0

      Sterling, Kara (2006-05)
      Changes in oceanic heat transports from the North Atlantic to the Arctic, via Atlantic Water (AW), can have widespread impacts upon Arctic climate. Using a multi-century control simulation from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Climate Systems Model version 3.0 (CCSM3), the natural multi-decadal variability (MDV) of AW is characterized. Calculations of AW volume fluxes and heat transports into the Arctic are analyzed for the Svinøy transect, Fram Strait, and Barents Sea Opening (BSO), and compared with observations. Warm and cold phases of AW are examined through composite analysis, and quantified with respect to their effects on Arctic climate. The model captures several key features of AW, such as the overall circulation and depth of the AW core, but over-estimates AW temperatures by about 1 ⁰C. AW heat anomalies can be tracked from the Svinøy transect to the Arctic interior with a timescale of 13 years, which is comparable to observations. Composites reveal a deepening (shoaling) of the AW core during warm (cold) periods. Warm (cold) periods are also characterized by greater AW transports through the BSO (Fram Strait), implying the existence of an internal ocean feedback mechanism that helps to regulate oscillations of AW between warm/cold periods.
    • Rocket and lidar studies of waves and turbulence in the Arctic middle atmosphere

      Triplett, Colin Charles; Collins, Richard L.; Weingartner, Thomas; Newman, David; Lehmacher, Gerald; Bhatt, Uma S. (2016-08)
      This dissertation presents new studies of waves and turbulence in the Arctic middle atmosphere. The study has a primary focus on wintertime conditions when the largescale circulation of the middle atmosphere is disrupted by the breaking of planetary waves associated with sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) events. We used ongoing Rayleigh lidar measurements of density and temperature to conduct a multi-year study of gravity waves in the upper stratosphere-lower mesosphere (USLM) over Poker Flat Research Range (PFRR) at Chatanika, Alaska. We analyzed the night-to-night gravity wave activity in terms of the wind structure and the ageostrophy. We find that the weak winds during disturbed conditions block the vertical propagation of gravity waves into the mesosphere. The gravity wave activity is correlated with the altitudes where the winds are weakest. During periods of weak winds we find little correlation with ageostrophy. However, during periods of stronger winds we find the USLM gravity wave activity is correlated with the ageostrophy in the upper troposphere indicating that ageostrophy in this region is a source of the gravity waves. Inter-annually we find the wintertime gravity wave activity is correlated with the level of disturbance of the middle atmosphere, being reduced in those winters with a higher level of disturbance and weaker winds. We used rocket-borne ion gauges to measure turbulence in the wintertime middle atmosphere while documenting the larger meteorological context from Rayleigh lidar and satellites. This investigation of turbulence was called the Mesosphere-Lower Thermosphere Turbulence Experiment (MTeX). During MTeX we found a highly disturbed atmosphere associated with an SSW where winds were weak and gravity wave activity was low. We found low levels of turbulence in the upper mesosphere. The turbulence was primarily found in regions of convective instability in the topside of mesospheric inversion layers (MILs). The strongest and most persist turbulence was found in a MIL that is associated with the breaking of a monochromatic gravity wave. These MTeX observations indicate that turbulence is generated by gravity wave breaking as opposed to gravity wave saturation. These MTeX findings of low levels of turbulence are consistent with recent model studies of vertical transport during SSWs and support the view that eddy transport is not a dominant transport mechanism during SSWs.
    • Climatology and forcing mechanisms of funnel clouds in Alaska

      Edwin, Stanley G.; Mölders, Nicole; Bhatt, Uma S.; Collins, Richard L. (2016-08)
      There are no forecasting systems for funnel clouds for Alaska. The inability of forecasting is problematic because funnel clouds pose a threat to aviation, which serves as Alaska’s main form of transportation. Motivated by the lack of research on the formation of funnel clouds in Alaska, this research investigated characteristics of funnel clouds and atmospheric conditions under which funnel clouds form using operational Doppler weather radars and radiosonde soundings as well as synoptic weather maps. In Alaska, funnel clouds usually occur during the summer months May to September with a maximum of occurrence in July and around 1500 Alaska Daylight Time as shown in the funnel cloud observational data. The observed funnel clouds are usually not associated with severe thunderstorms and do not occur with strong synoptic scale forcing. As such, it was hypothesized that local effects from sea breeze fronts and orographic circulations might be the main forcing. Operational soundings indicate that some, but not all funnel cloud events occurred under large Convective Available Potential Energy (greater than 500 J) and strong lowlevel wind shear. Funnel clouds were difficult to identify in routine operational Doppler weather radars because the funnel clouds display small cross-sectional area compared to the radar resolution. An algorithm to retrieve similar vertical profiles from the entire radiosonde data than those observed during documented funnel cloud events was developed. By using similarity between radiosonde profiles of days of the observed funnel clouds and the similar radiosonde profiles scanned over the years, an idea of funnel cloud or severe storm occurrence can be ascertained. The mechanisms for funnel cloud formation differ by region. In Interior Alaska, the Alaska Range’s katabatic slope winds and the Tanana Valley wind create the needed vorticity. Along the west coast of Alaska, air-sea interaction plays a role. In Cook Inlet, topography and land-sea play a role. All funnel cloud events have weak synoptic scale forcing.
    • Investigation of North Pacific sea ice anomalies in the context of atmospheric and oceanic variability

      Tivy, Adrienne (2001-08)
      This study investigates the main mode of variability in North Pacific sea ice and examines the relationship between sea ice concentration and northern hemispheric climate variability for the period 1968-1997. Through empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis, correlations, and composite analysis, it was found that the seesaw pattern (first EOF of wintertime sea ice concentrations) between ice concentrations in the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk, generally used to characterize North Pacific sea ice, does not adequately address variability in the Sea of Okhotsk. Relationships between the sea ice dipole and the large-scale circulation were investigated and were found to change with the 1977 and 1989 regime shifts in the North Pacific climate. Before 1977 the sea ice dipole is strongly related to tropical variability while after 1977 the dipole is more strongly related to mid-latitude variability.
    • Single-column model simulations of Arctic cloudiness and surface radiative fluxes during the surface heat budget of Arctic (SHEBA) experiment

      Hannay, Cécile (2001-08)
      We evaluate the ability of a typical cloud parameterization from a global model (CCM3 from NCAR) to simulate the Arctic cloudiness and longwave radiative fluxes during wintertime. Simulations are conducted with a Single-Column model (SCM) forced with observations and reanalysis data from the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA) experiment. Typically, the SCM overestimates the Arctic cloud fraction and the downwelling longwave flux. Moreover, the SCM does not capture accurately the temperature and moisture profiles, and the surface flux fields. Relaxing temperature and moisture profiles to observed values dramatically improves the simulations. This suggests that the cloud parameterization of CCM3 is suitable for Arctic clouds, as long as the temperature and moisture fields are captured correctly. Sensitivities studies show that the cloud fraction is not very sensitive to cloud type, ice effective radius, ice liquid ratio amount and uncertainty of the advective forcing.
    • Radar studies of turbulence and lidar studies of the nickel layer in the Arctic mesosphere

      Li, Jintai; Collins, Richard L.; Simpson, William R.; Newman, David E. (2016-05)
      This thesis presents studies of the Arctic middle atmosphere using Incoherent Scatter Radar (ISR) and resonance lidar at Poker Flat Research Range (PFRR), Chatanika, Alaska. The Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar (PFISR) provides measurements of mesospheric turbulence and the resonance lidar provides measurements of mesospheric nickel layer. We develop retrieval and analysis techniques to determine the characteristics of the turbulence and the nickel layer. We present measurements of mesospheric turbulence with PFISR on 23 April 2008 and 18 February 2013. We characterize mesospheric turbulence in terms of the energy dissipation rate as a function of altitude and time on these days. We present an extensive analysis of the radar measurements to show that the use of high quality PFISR data and an accurate characterization of the geophysical conditions are essential to achieve accurate turbulent measurements. We find that the retrieved values of the energy dissipation rate vary significantly based on how the data is selected. We present measurements of mesospheric nickel layer with resonance lidar on the night of 27-28 November 2012 and 20-21 December 2012. We characterize the mesospheric nickel layer in terms of the nickel concentration as a function of altitude on these days. We find that our nickel concentrations are significantly higher than expected from studies of meteors. We present an extensive analysis of the lidar measurements to show that these measurements of unexpectedly high values of the nickel concentrations are accurate and not biased by the lidar measurements.
    • Late quaternary and future biome simulations for Alaska and eastern Russia

      Hendricks, Amy S.; Walsh, John; Saito, Kazuyuki; Bigelow, Nancy; Bhatt, Uma (2016-05)
      Arctic biomes across a region including Alaska and Eastern Russia were investigated using the BIOME4 biogeochemical and biogeography vegetation model. This study investigated past (the last 21,000 years), present, and future vegetation distributions in the study area, using climate forcing from five CMIP5 models (CCSM4, GISS-E2-R, MIROC-ESM, MPI-ESM, and MRI-CGCM3). The present-day BIOME4 simulations were generally consistent with current vegetation observations in the study region characterized by evergreen and deciduous taiga and shrub tundras. Paleoclimatological simulations were compared with pollen data samples collected in the study region. Pre-industrial biome simulations are generally similar to the modern reconstruction but differ by having more shrub tundra in both Russia and Alaska to the north, as well as less deciduous taiga in Alaska. Pre-industrial simulations were in good agreement with the pollen data. Mid-Holocene simulations place shrub tundras along the Arctic coast, and in some cases along the eastern coast of Russia. Simulations for the Mid-Holocene are in good agreement with pollen-based distributions of biomes. Simulations for the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) show that the Bering Land Bridge was covered almost entirely by cushion forb, lichen and moss tundra, shrub tundra, and graminoid tundra. Three out of the five models’ climate data produce evergreen and deciduous taiga in what is now southwestern Alaska, however the pollen data does not support this. The distributions of cushion forb, lichen, and moss tundra and graminoid tundra differ noticeably between models, while shrub tundra distributions are generally similar. Future simulations of BIOME4 based on the RCP8.5 climate scenario indicate a northward shift of the treeline and a significant areal decrease of shrub tundra and graminoid tundra regions in the 21st century. Intrusions of cool mixed, deciduous, and conifer forests above 60°N, especially in southwest Alaska, were notable. Across eastern Russia, deciduous taiga begins to overtake evergreen taiga, except along the coastal regions where evergreen taiga remains the favored biome.
    • Using self-organizing maps to detail synoptic connections between climate indices and Alaska weather

      Winnan, Reynir C.; Bhatt, Uma S.; Collins, Richard L.; Walsh, John E.; Wackerbauer, Renate A. (2015-12)
      Seasonal forecasts for Alaska strongly depend on the phases of Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and warm water in the North Pacific called the North Pacific Mode or more popularly the "Pacific blob." The canonical descriptions of these climate indices are based on seasonal averages, and anomalies that are based on a long-term mean. The patterns highlight general geographical placement and display a sharp contrast between opposing phases, but this may be misleading since seasonal averages hide much of the synoptic variability. Self-organizing maps (SOMs) are a way of grouping daily sea level pressure (SLP) patterns, over many time realizations into a specified set of maps (e.g. 35 maps) that describe commonly occurring patterns. This study uses the SOMs in the context of climate indices to describe the range of synoptic patterns that are relevant for Alaska. This study found that the patterns common during a given phase of the PDO include subtle differences that would result in Alaska weather that is very different from what is expected from the canonical PDO description, thus providing some explanation for recent studies that find the PDO link to Alaska climate is weakening. SOMs analysis is consistent with recent studies suggesting that the pattern responsible for the 2014 Pacific warm blob is linked to tropical sea-surface temperature (SST) forcing. An analysis of the summer SLP SOMs in the context of Alaska wildland fires was also conducted. This analysis identified several commonly occurring patterns during summers with large areas burned. These patterns are characterized by low pressure in the Bering Sea, which would be consistent with increased storm activity and thus an ignition source for the fires. Identifying synoptic patterns that occur during a particular phase of a teleconnection index contributes towards understanding the mechanisms of how these indices influence the weather and climate of Alaska.
    • Investigation of thin midlevel ice clouds in the Arctic using calipso data and radiative transfer modeling

      Kayetha, Vinay Kumar; Collins, Richard; Meyer, Franz; Prakash, Anupma; Bhatt, Uma (2015-08)
      In this research we investigate the global occurrence and properties of optically thin midlevel ice clouds. These clouds are difficult to detect with passive radiometric techniques and are under-represented in current studies. We use the Cloud Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) data set to identify thin midlevel ice clouds and determine their global occurrence and distribution. For the first time, we find that the global mean occurrence of these clouds is at least 4.5%, being at least 7.3% of all the tropospheric clouds detected at a horizontal scale of 10 km. Seasonally, these clouds are found most commonly in the polar regions. These clouds occur most commonly in the Arctic in winter and least commonly in the summer. In winter these clouds can occur up to 19% of the time. The occurrence of these clouds decreases with increasing spatial scale and are most commonly found at spatial scales of 25 km or less. We found five large distinct clouds over the Arctic and investigated them for their meteorological conditions and radiative effects. These thin midlevel ice clouds are formed along the frontal zones in weakly ascending air masses. Our model simulations show that thin midlevel ice clouds have a net warming effect on the surface of 23-48 W/m². We conclude that these clouds have a significant impact on the radiation budget in Arctic winters. Our study highlights the importance of active satellite-based remote sensing in globally detecting and characterizing optically thin clouds. Our estimates of occurrence and fraction of clouds represents a lower bound, as these clouds can be obscured by optically thicker clouds. The volume of measurements provided by the satellite allowed us to identify a small but consistent set of large clouds with which we could conduct a contemporary radiative analysis. These findings can be used to improve the representation of clouds and their impacts in regional and global climate models.
    • Theoretical investigations on strategies for sampling meteorological and chemical field quantities in smoke plumes using UAVs

      Butwin, Mary K.; Mölders, Nicole; Collins, Richard L.; Bhatt, Uma S. (2015-08)
      Wildfires emit large quantities of pollutants that decrease the air quality in the atmospheric boundary layer. Understanding the chemical makeup of a fire plume is beneficial for air quality studies and for air quality forecasting in communities. To be able to understand the chemical composition, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) should be flown into plumes with an air quality instrumental payload. Before such flights can be completed it is crucial that the flight paths will allow for a complete understanding of the chemical concentration distributions within the plume. To develop such a flight path, with respect to flight altitude, direction and speed the UAV should travel at for examining a wildfire plume in Interior Alaska, output from the Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled with Chemistry (WRF/Chem) was used and was considered to be the true atmospheric conditions over the UAV measurement domain. For this thesis simulations were for 3-10 August 2009 of the Alaska fire season, centered in Interior Alaska. Focus for the UAV study was on the smoke plumes from the Crazy Mountain Complex fires near Circle, AK. Based on the results from the comparison of different flight altitudes, sampling patterns, and speeds of the simulated UAV flights, recommendations can be made for the use of UAVs in a field campaign into a wildfire plume in Interior Alaska.
    • Evaluation of the hydro-thermodynamic soil-vegetation scheme on the basis of observations and a Galerkin type finite element numerical scheme

      Narapusetty, Balachandrudu (2005-08)
      The Hydro-Thermodynamic Soil- vegetation Scheme (HTSYS), coupled in a two-way mode with the PennState/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Mesoscale Meteorological Model generation 5 (MM5), has been evaluated for a 5 day typical snow-melt period using the Baltic Sea experiment meteorological data center's soil temperature, snow depth, and precipitation datasets. The HTSVS-MM5 evaluation investigates the coupled system's sensitivity to two cloud models and two radiation models, with their cross effects presented along with skill scores for snow depth changes. The coupled model satisfactorily predicts the soil temperature diurnal course cycles, changes in the snow depths, and accumulated precipitation. HTSVS's soil model has been further tested and evaluated in an offline mode for the advanced numerical treatment for the Partial Differential Equations (PDEs) using soil temperature datasets from three sites at Council, Alaska. A Galerkin Weak Finite Element (GWFE) method was tested and evaluated for the numerical treatment of PDEs and the predictions were compared against the existing Crank-Nicholson finite differences scheme (CNFD). GWFE solutions exhibit a remarkable soil temperature predictability, better capture the temperature peaks, and yield non-diffuse and non-oscillatory solutions for relatively high convection dominated regimes, while CNFD performs comparably well in diffusion dominated regimes with a lower computational burden.
    • Analysis of uncertainty in simulated exchange of heat and moisture at the land-atmosphere interface

      Jankov, Mihailo (2005-08)
      Land surface models (LSMs) serve to describe the atmosphere-land surface exchange in numerical weather prediction models (NWPMs) and global circulation models (GCMs). The use of empirical soil and vegetation parameters in LSMs introduces uncertainty that propagates and affects predictions of the lower boundary conditions. To statistically assess that uncertainty in predicted evapotranspiration (water transport by direct evaporation from bare ground and canopy and transpiration by the canopy) and ground heat flux for natural ranges of atmospheric soil and vegetation conditions, the Gaussian Error Propagation method is utilized. The assessed uncertainties in direct and canopy water evaporation, transpiration and ground heat flux display prominent diurnal cycles. Prediction of evapotranspiration in desert areas is limited by the uncertainty in the evaporation of water collected on the canopy and transpiration. To improve predictions of evapotranspiration the maximal canopy storage and shielding factor should be determined with higher accuracy. It is found that uncertainty in ground heat flux is particularly great in dry and warm areas covered with sandy clay loam. A better prediction of ground heat flux requires a better parameterization of thermal conductivity and a higher degree of accuracy of the pore size distribution index.
    • 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.