Alan M. Rhoades

and 15 more

The 1997 New Year’s flood event was the most costly in California’s history. This compound extreme event was driven by a category 5 atmospheric river that led to widespread snowmelt. Extreme precipitation, snowmelt, and saturated soils produced heavy runoff causing widespread inundation in the Sacramento Valley. This study recreates the 1997 flood using the Regionally Refined Mesh capabilities of the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (RRM-E3SM) under prescribed ocean conditions. Understanding the processes causing extreme events inform practical efforts to anticipate and prepare for such events in the future, and also provides a rich context to evaluate model skill in representing extremes. Three California-focused RRM grids, with horizontal resolution refinement of 14km down to 3.5km, and six forecast lead times, 28 December 1996 at 00Z through 30 December 1996 at 12Z, are assessed for their ability to recreate the 1997 flood. Planetary to synoptic scale atmospheric circulations and integrated vapor transport are weakly influenced by horizontal resolution refinement over California. Topography and mesoscale circulations, such as the Sierra barrier jet, are prominently influenced by horizontal resolution. The finest resolution RRM-E3SM simulation best represents storm total precipitation and storm duration snowpack changes. Traditional time-series and causal analysis frameworks are used to examine runoff sensitivities state-wide and above major reservoirs. These frameworks show that horizontal resolution plays a more prominent role in shaping reservoir inflows, namely the magnitude and time-series shape, than forecast lead time, 2-to-4 days prior to the 1997 flood onset.

Bryce E Harrop

and 12 more

The water cycle is an important component of the earth system and it plays a key role in many facets of society, including energy production, agriculture, and human health and safety. In this study, the Energy Exascale Earth System Model version 1 (E3SMv1) is run with low-resolution (roughly 110 km) and high-resolution (roughly 25 km) configurations — as established by the High Resolution Model Intercomparison Project protocol — to evaluate the atmospheric and terrestrial water budgets over the conterminous United States (CONUS) at the large watershed scale. The water cycle slows down in the HR experiment relative to the LR, with decreasing fluxes of precipitation, evapotranspiration, atmospheric moisture convergence, and runoff. The reductions in these terms exacerbate biases for some watersheds, while reducing them in others. For example, precipitation biases are exacerbated at HR over the Eastern and Central CONUS watersheds, while precipitation biases are reduced at HR over the Western CONUS watersheds. The most pronounced changes to the water cycle come from reductions in precipitation and evapotranspiration, the latter of which results from decreases in evaporative fraction. While the HR simulation is warmer than the LR, moisture convergence decreases despite the increased atmospheric water vapor, suggesting circulation biases are an important factor. Additional exploratory metrics show improvements to water cycle extremes (both in precipitation and streamflow), fractional contributions of different storm types to total precipitation, and mountain snowpack.

Yang Zhou

and 5 more

Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are long and narrow filaments of vapor transport responsible for most poleward moisture transport outside of the tropics. Many AR detection algorithms have been developed to automatically identify ARs in climate data. The diversity of these algorithms has introduced appreciable uncertainties in quantitative measures of AR properties and thereby impedes the construction of a unified and internally consistent climatology of ARs. This paper compares eight global AR detection algorithms from the perspective of AR life cycles following the propagation of ARs from origin to termination in the MERRA2 reanalysis over the period 1980-2017. Uncertainties related to lifecycle characteristics, including number, lifetime, intensity, and frequency distribution are discussed. Notably, the number of AR events per year in the Northern Hemisphere can vary by a factor of 5 with different algorithms. Although all algorithms show that the maximum origin (termination) frequency locates over the northwestern (northeastern) Pacific, significant disagreements occur in regional distribution. Spreads are large in AR lifetime and intensity. The number of landfalling AR events produced by the algorithms can vary from 16 to 78 events per cool season, i.e. by almost a factor of five, although the agreement improves for stronger ARs. By examining the AR’s connection with the Madden-Julian Oscillation and El Niño Southern Oscillation, we find that the overall responses of ARs (such as changes in AR frequency, origin, and landfalling activity) to low-frequency climate variabilities are consistent among algorithms.