Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. 24/7 Space News .




WEATHER REPORT
Scientists eye longer-term forecasts of US heat waves
by Staff Writers
Boulder CO (SPX) Oct 28, 2013


This map of air flow a few miles above ground level in the Northern Hemisphere shows the type of wavenumber-5 pattern associated with US drought. This pattern includes alternating troughs (blue contours) and ridges (red contours), with an "H" symbol (for high pressure) shown at the center of each of the five ridges. High pressure tends to cause sinking air and suppress precipitation, which can allow a heat wave to develop and intensify over land areas. Credit: Image courtesy Haiyan Teng.

Scientists have fingerprinted a distinctive atmospheric wave pattern high above the Northern Hemisphere that can foreshadow the emergence of summertime heat waves in the United States more than two weeks in advance.

The new research, led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), could potentially enable forecasts of the likelihood of U.S. heat waves 15-20 days out, giving society more time to prepare for these often-deadly events.

The research team discerned the pattern by analyzing a 12,000-year simulation of the atmosphere over the Northern Hemisphere. During those times when a distinctive "wavenumber-5" pattern emerged, a major summertime heat wave became more likely to subsequently build over the United States.

"It may be useful to monitor the atmosphere, looking for this pattern, if we find that it precedes heat waves in a predictable way," says NCAR scientist Haiyan Teng, the lead author. "This gives us a potential source to predict heat waves beyond the typical range of weather forecasts."

The wavenumber-5 pattern refers to a sequence of alternating high- and low-pressure systems (five of each) that form a ring circling the northern midlatitudes, several miles above the surface. This pattern can lend itself to slow-moving weather features, raising the odds for stagnant conditions often associated with prolonged heat spells.

The study is being published next week in Nature Geoscience. It was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, NASA, and the National Science Foundation (NSF), which is NCAR's sponsor. NASA scientists helped guide the project and are involved in broader research in this area.

Predicting a lethal event
Heat waves are among the most deadly weather phenomena on Earth. A 2006 heat wave across much of the United States and Canada was blamed for more than 600 deaths in California alone, and a prolonged heat wave in Europe in 2003 may have killed more than 50,000 people.

To see if heat waves can be triggered by certain large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns, the scientists looked at data from relatively modern records dating back to 1948. They focused on summertime events in the United States in which daily temperatures reached the top 2.5 percent of weather readings for that date across roughly 10 percent or more of the contiguous United States.

However, since such extremes are rare by definition, the researchers could identify only 17 events that met such criteria -- not enough to tease out a reliable signal amid the noise of other atmospheric behavior.

The group then turned to an idealized simulation of the atmosphere spanning 12,000 years. The simulation had been created a couple of years before with a version of the NCAR-based Community Earth System Model, which is funded by NSF and the Department of Energy.

By analyzing more than 5,900 U.S. heat waves simulated in the computer model, they determined that the heat waves tended to be preceded by a wavenumber-5 pattern. This pattern is not caused by particular oceanic conditions or heating of Earth's surface, but instead arises from naturally varying conditions of the atmosphere. It was associated with an atmospheric phenomenon known as a Rossby wave train that encircles the Northern Hemisphere along the jet stream.

During the 20 days leading up to a heat wave in the model results, the five ridges and five troughs that make up a wavenumber-5 pattern tended to propagate very slowly westward around the globe, moving against the flow of the jet stream itself. Eventually, a high-pressure ridge moved from the North Atlantic into the United States, shutting down rainfall and setting the stage for a heat wave to emerge.

When wavenumber-5 patterns in the model were more amplified, U.S. heat waves became more likely to form 15 days later. In some cases, the probability of a heat wave was more than quadruple what would be expected by chance.

In follow-up work, the research team turned again to actual U.S. heat waves since 1948. They recognized that some historical heat wave events are indeed characterized by a large-scale circulation pattern that indicated a wavenumber-5 event.

Extending forecasts beyond 10 days

The research finding suggests that scientists are making progress on a key meteorological goal: forecasting the likelihood of extreme events more than 10 days in advance. At present, there is very limited skill in such long-term forecasts.

Previous research on extending weather forecasts has focused on conditions in the tropics. For example, scientists have found that El Nino and La Nina, the periodic warming and cooling of surface waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, are correlated with a higher probability of wet or dry conditions in different regions around the globe. In contrast, the wavenumber-5 pattern does not rely on conditions in the tropics. However, the study does not exclude the possibility that tropical rainfall could act to stimulate or strengthen the pattern.

Now that the new study has connected a planetary wave pattern to a particular type of extreme weather event, Teng and her colleagues will continue searching for other circulation patterns that may presage extreme weather events.

"There may be sources of predictability that we are not yet aware of," she says. "This brings us hope that the likelihood of extreme weather events that are damaging to society can be predicted further in advance."

Title: Probability of U.S. heat waves affected by subseasonal planetary wave pattern; Authors: Haiyan Teng, Grant Branstator, Hailan Wang, Gerald A. Meehl, and Warren M. Washington; Publication: Nature Geoscience.

.


Related Links
National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
Weather News at TerraDaily.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





WEATHER REPORT
Hottest days in some parts of Europe have warmed 4 times more than the global average
Warwick, UK (SPX) Sep 16, 2013
Some of the hottest days and coldest nights in parts of Europe have warmed more than four times the global average change since 1950, according to a new paper by researchers from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Warwick, which is published in the journal 'Environmental Research Lett ... read more


WEATHER REPORT
Crowdfunded Lunar Spacecraft Reaches Funding Milestone

LADEE Continues To Settle Into Operational Lunar Orbit

NASA's moon landing remembered as a promise of a 'future which never happened'

Russia could build manned lunar base

WEATHER REPORT
NASA to probe why Mars lost its atmosphere

Mars Crater May Actually Be Ancient Supervolcano

Scientists discover how the atmosphere of Mars turned to stone

Mars Rover Opportunity Heads Uphill

WEATHER REPORT
Incoming ISS Commander to Treat Crew to Sushi

NASA Partner SpaceX Completes Review of 2014 Commercial Crew Abort Test

Enough lying about

US firm offers 30 kilometer-high balloon ride

WEATHER REPORT
China launches experimental satellite Shijian-16

China Moon Rover A New Opportunity To Explore Our Nearest Neighbor

Is China Challenging Space Security

NASA's China policy faces mounting pressure

WEATHER REPORT
European cargo freighter to undock from ISS

Cygnus cargo craft leaves international space station

Cygnus cargo craft readies to leave space station

Aerojet Rocketdyne Thrusters Help Cygnus Spacecraft Berth at the International Space Station

WEATHER REPORT
ILS Proton Launches Sirius FM-6 Satellite

Boeing Finalizes Agreement for Kennedy Space Center Facility

Russia Plans to Spend $22M on Soyuz-2 Launch Pad

Ariane 5 arrives at the Spaceport's Final Assembly Building for payload installation

WEATHER REPORT
Carbon Worlds May be Waterless

Planets rich in carbon could be poor in water, reducing life chances

New planet found around distant star could be record-breaker

Count of discovered exoplanets passes the 1,000 mark

WEATHER REPORT
Zoomable Holograms Pave the Way for Versatile, Portable Projectors

Copper Shock: An Atomic-scale Stress Test

Study Finds Natural Compound Can Be Used for 3-D Printing of Medical Implants

NIST measures laser power with portable scale




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement