CA climate change

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By: alfacenchori (116 month(s) ago)

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Using a Super High Resolution Atmospheric Model to Simulate, Understand, and Predict Hydrologic Variability in Southern California Sebastien Conil, Alex Hall, UCLA Atm/Ocn Sci Dept ABSTRACT We examine the hydrologic variability in a super-high resolution regional atmospheric model of the southern third of California, a mountainous region that accounts for nearly a tenth of the economic output of the United States. The model was forced by reanalysis boundary conditions over the period 1995-2003. Though observations are more sparsely distributed than the 6-km resolution of the model, comparison with available point measurements reveals that the simulation faithfully captures local circulation variability. Through an objective analysis technique applied to the simulation, we find that all of Southern California's hydrologic variability can be accounted for by opposing moist "Onshore" and dry "Santa Ana" circulation regimes. Both the precipitation distribution during the Onshore regime and the depressed relative humidity distribution of the Santa Ana regime exhibit a large degree of spatial structure clearly related to the region's intense topography. This demonstrates the necessity of high resolution in simulating the region's hydrologic variability. The timing of these two regimes is surprisingly uncorrelated with classical large-scale patterns of atmospheric variability thought to dominate climate fluctuations of the Pacific--North American sector. Instead, the timing is closely tied to localized pressure variations over the Great Basin desert to the northeast of the region. Thus in trying to predict the sensitivity of this region's hydrologic variability to a global-scale external forcing such as an increase in greenhouse gases, attention should be focused on the response of the Great Basin pressure to the external forcing. These results demonstrate the utility of the simulation in providing information relevant to decision makers: The local perspective afforded by the high resolution model is necessary to understand and eventually predict both the geographical structure and timing of the region's hydrologic variability, including its downscaled response to global climate change. REGIONAL CLIMATE SIMULATION The asymmetries of the data distribution in figure 2 validate the use of cluster analysis for the identification of wind regimes. Three main clusters emerge, one corresponding to offshore flow (Santa Ana), another corresponding to onshore flow (Onshore), and a third and most common regime corresponding to mean conditions (Common Northwesterly). In figure 2, estimated centroids of the three clusters are indicated by the small colored circles. The extension of the clusters is indicated by the covariance ellipsoids, corresponding to semi axes equal to 1 (heavy colored lines) and 2 (light colored lines) times the st dev in each principal direction. Based on figure 2, days can be categorized as belonging to either the Santa Ana, Onshore, or Common Northwesterly regimes. Then circulation patterns associated with these regimes can be seen by generating surface wind composite maps, shown in figure 3. The blue contours show the wind speed (units: m/s). The topography is shown in black contours (intervals = 500 m). Every other grid point in both zonal and meridional directions is suppressed here for clarity. The composite wind pattern of the Santa Ana regime shows strong northeasterly flow reaching 10 m/s over the highest elevations of the coastal range throughout the entire domain. In the Onshore regime, the winds over the ocean develop a westerly component, so that an onshore component prevails along the coast. In the coastal zone between the shore and the coastal ranges, the wind anomalies are very small. Then on the eastern side of the coastal ranges the strong onshore component reappears. This pattern is consistent with the development of barrier jets parallel to the coastal mountain ranges in the coastal zone. The Common Northwesterly regime is dominated by strong northwesterly winds over the ocean. On land the surface wind anomalies of the Common Northwesterly regime are generally small. LOCAL WIND REGIMES RELATION TO LOCAL CLIMATE RELATION TO LARGE-SCALE CIRCULATION CONCLUSIONS The model covers the southern third of CA and was forced by the eta model reanalysis of the 1995-2003 period. The top panel of figure 1 shows the topography of the model’s 6-km resolution domain (contour intervals, 500m). The model coastline is shown to give an idea how well model discretization resolves the land-ocean boundary. The locations of the wind observations used for the model validation in the bottom panel are also shown. We computed correlations between daily-mean near-surface wind speed and direction anomalies observed at these stations and the daily-mean wind speed and direction anomalies simulated at the closest grid points during the 8 October-March wet seasons from 1995-2003. Stations Chi, Ful, and Lom, have fewer than 100 data points on wind direction, so wind direction correlations were not computed at these locations. Simulated and observed wind speed and direction are generally well-correlated, which gives confidence that the wind regimes we identify in this work are representative of the actual wind regimes in Southern California. We used a cluster analysis technique on daily-mean surface winds to identify the local circulation regimes. This involves first doing an EOF analysis of the winds to minimize the number of degrees of freedom in the data, and then identifying the data clusters in the space of the first two principal components, which together account for more than 70% of the variance. Figure 2 shows a scatterplot of the daily wind, near-surface anomalies in PC1--PC2 space for the 8 winters (black dots). The PDF estimate of the data distribution in PC1--PC2 space provided by the mixture model is shown with black lines. Figure 6 shows the composite 2-m relative humidity anomaly associated with the Santa Ana regime (Units: %), and gives a portrait of the spatial extent of the impact of the Santa Ana regime on hydrology. The anomaly is greatest in the urbanized coastal zone, reaching values greater than 20 percentage points below the mean. There is a secondary maximum adjacent to Point Conception, where RH typically falls about 15-20 percentage points below the mean. The anomaly is so large in these areas for two reasons: (1) As the desert air descends to the coast it is warmed adiabiatically, lowering its RH. (2) When the Santa Ana regime is not occurring, moist marine air often intrudes into this area, so that arrival of dry air from the desert interior implies a very large departure from the mean RH. In the extreme southwest corner of the domain, the RH anomaly is only 5 percentage points below the mean. This is the signature of oceanic moisture being rapidly entrained into the dry offshore flow. Figure 5 shows the composite precipitation distribution associated with the Onshore regime. (Units: mm/hr). Rain rates are largest on the coastal side of the coastal mountain ranges, being nearly an order of magnitude larger than the rates over the open ocean or the desert interior. This is consistent with moist onshore flow being forced over the coastal range, wringing out moisture as it ascends the mountains. A secondary maximum of rainfall is seen in the low-lying urbanized coastal zone to the south and west of the coastal range. The elevated rain rates in the coastal zone likely result from the development of blocked flow parallel to the coastal ranges as low-level air masses are forced toward the interior. Once this blocked flow is in place, the moisture-laden onshore flow must surmount it in addition to the topography, enhancing precipitation well in advance of the coastal ranges themselves. Figure 4 shows a scatterplots of the daily wind anomalies for the 8 wet seasons in PC1-PC2 space identical to figure 2, except that the points are now color-coded by the daily-mean domain-average rainfall rates averaged over the 6-km domain. Red points are non precipitating or very dry days (rain rate less than 0.00005 mm/hr), green points are moderately dry or slightly precipitating days (rain rates greater than 0.00005 mm/hr and less than 0.025 mm/hr), while blue points are precipitating days (rain rates greater than 0.025 mm/hr). The contours (every 0.1, beginning with 0.1 and ending with 0.9) show the probability given by the cluster analysis of belonging to the Santa Ana regime (red contours), the Onshore regime (blue contours) and to the Common Northwesterly regime (green contours). The local hydrologic conditions are very strongly associated with the three clusters, with the Santa Ana regime corresponding to dry conditions, the Onshore regime corresponding to precipitation, and the Common NW regime corresponding to moderately dry conditions. Figure 7 shows EOFs of the daily mean 500-hPa height (Z500) displayed as anomalies regressed on the four leading standardized PC's of daily mean Z500 anomalies over the North America and Pacific sector based on data for the 8 winters 1995-2003 (Units: m). These are the classical patterns of large-scale variability in the Pacific/N. American sector. For example, EOF 2 is the PNA. Figure 9 shows the percentage of daily occurrences of the local wind regimes depending on the large scale conditions. The four leading EOFs shown in 7 were used to define the large scale conditions, considering only significant departure (1.2 std dev) from the mean of the associated PC. This indicates the probability of occurrence of the local regimes when the large-scale regimes are in their extreme phases. In general the probability of occurrence of the local regimes is insensitive to the phase of the large-scale modes. Figure 8 shows composites of sea level pressure (SLP) anomalies associated with the 3 wind regimes (NCEP reanalysis Oct-Mar 1995 2003, Units: hPa). The Santa Ana (Onshore) regime is associated with a high (low) over the Great Basin, while the Common NW regime is associated with only very small SLP anomalies. These patterns differ from those in figure 7, which exhibit wave-like characteristics typical of mid-latitude Rossby waves. In the case of Southern California, the Great Basin pressure anomaly is the critical determinant of the local modes. Thus in trying to predict the sensitivity of this region's modes of variability to a global-scale external forcing such as a future increase in greenhouse gases, attention should be focused on the response of the Great Basin pressure to the external forcing. The unusual sensitivity of local climate to a feature as small as the Great Basin pressure anomaly and its insensitivity to variability elsewhere is also relevant to the interpretation of paleoclimate records of the region. These records may not reflect global or even hemispheric-scale climate variability, but may instead reflect the local impacts of variability over the American West. Our study highlights the potential role of topography in generating and shaping local modes of climate variability and their impacts. Figure 8 reveals that the flows of the Santa Ana and Onshore regimes cross the isobars of the large-scale pressure patterns associated with them. These flows may become ageostrophic because of turbulent dissipation of the large-scale flow by the region's mountain complexes. The Southern California region may be so sensitive to the pressure over the Great Basin because large pressure anomalies in this region align the geostrophic flow most favorably for turbulent dissipation by topography in Southern California. This is of course highly speculative, and is an area for further research. More certain is the role of topography in shaping the local modes once they develop: All of the patterns in figure 3 show a great deal of spatial structure clearly related to topography and account for large spatial gradients in windiness and circulation variability in Southern California. And finally, we note the role of topography in determining the spatial structure of the modes' climate impacts. This is particularly apparent in the modes' highly-localized temperature and hydrology signals in Southern California's urbanized coastal zone. Nestled against the coastal range, this low-lying area is caught in a tug-of-war between ocean and high desert air masses, causing wild swings between the warmth and extreme dryness of the Santa Ana regime and the coolness and rainfall of the Onshore regime. Because of the large role of topography in Southern California climate variability, we conclude that the local perspective we adopt here will be necessary to understand climate variability in other regions of intense topography. FIGURE 1 FIGURE 2 FIGURE 3 FIGURE 5 FIGURE 6 FIGURE 4 FIGURE 7 FIGURE 8 FIGURE 9

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