NOAA Research leads to a new milestone in improving operational predictions from weeks to seasons

Typically, the weather and climate have been known as separate communities — weather being the short-term state of the atmosphere (from minutes out to two weeks) and climate being the long-term pattern of atmospheric conditions (from a season and beyond). This leaves a weather-climate prediction gap (from two weeks to a season) that scientists call the subseasonal to seasonal (S2S) timescale.

Bridging this gap has remained challenging for scientists, but public demand and promising research has focused NOAA’s attention on this prediction problem. As an important milestone for NOAA’s ongoing efforts, researchers from universities, NOAA OAR research laboratories and the National Weather Service (NWS) recently met to discuss efforts to improve S2S predictions.

Participants at the NMME/SubX Science Meeting held September 13-15 at the National Center for Weather and Climate Prediction.

The meeting focused on the use of real-time forecasts and forecasts of past dates (called hindcasts) from two robust databases: the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME), a state-of-the-art seasonal prediction system combining forecasts from leading climate models; and the Subseasonal Experiment (SubX), an ongoing two-year project testing predictions 3-4 weeks in advance from individual and combinations of multiple global models.

“The SubX project bridges the gap between the NMME forecast and day-to-day weather forecasts,” said Ben Kirtman, lead of the SubX project team and University of Miami Rosenstiel School atmospheric scientist. “This is particularly important for hurricanes – we can use the NMME forecast to make seasonal hurricane outlooks and then update these outlooks within the season using the SubX data. Essentially we intend to predict the chances of enhanced (or reduced) hurricane potential 3-4 weeks in advance.”

More skillful on average than other seasonal forecast systems, the NMME system transitioned to operations last year and provides a 30-year set of hindcasts that have been used extensively for ongoing research. The SubX project’s data was publicly released this August and the system will be rigorously evaluated over the next year to determine whether the ensemble or any individual models should become operational. Both systems have been developed through OAR research projects as part of the Climate Program Office, Modeling, Analysis, Predictions and Projections Program and the NOAA Climate Test Bed in partnership with the NWS and U.S. other agencies.

Emily Becker, one of the meeting organizers and a research scientist at NOAA’s NWS Climate Prediction Center, saw this meeting as an opportunity to help make connections between different projects. “A lot of people are doing complimentary things,” said Becker. “We wanted to try to build some of those into collaborations going forward.”

Investigators included Paul Dermeyer, who is studying interactions between soil moisture and the atmosphere at George Mason University and co-leads the NOAA S2S Prediction Task Force, which addressing understanding and modeling of S2S predictability sources. He recognized the value of bringing the research teams together.

“There are a lot of different aspects of the Earth system that are addressable on these subseasonal timescales, and different people are working on different parts,” said Dermeyer. “We all want to improve the skill of the forecasts.”

The meeting also importantly brought together operational forecasters and representatives from the public who regularly use these forecasts to make decisions, such as private companies like The Weather Company and Accuweather. This fostered a direct trade of information, bringing new research findings to the forecasters and decision-maker/private sector needs to the scientists who can address them.

Poster sessions at the meeting provided ample time for participants from universities, labs, operational centers, and stakeholder communities to discuss research projects and exchange ideas.

“It’s feeding back. What they see and what we see from the inside are often very different,” said Becker regarding the collaboration between the users and scientists. “Knowing that they are using [the forecasts] and hearing how they are and what is useful is helpful to continue developing from the inside.”

Improving subseasonal to seasonal predictions could substantially help NOAA better prepare decision makers for hazards like heat waves, cold spells, and heavy rain. This meeting represents a milestone towards that mission.

“If the research we are doing leads to changes in operational forecasting that improve the skill of the forecasts, then we’ve done our job,” said Dermeyer.

The NMME/SubX Science Meeting was supported by the OAR CPO’s Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections Program and was held September 13-15 at the National Center for Weather and Climate Prediction in College Park, Maryland.

For more information and access to presentation presented at the meeting, go to: http://cola.gmu.edu/kpegion/nmmeworkshop2017/

Provided by NOAA Climate Program Office


 

Award-Winning Research Paper

P1070894A paper authored by Cassandra Gaston, UM Rosenstiel School assistant professor of atmospheric sciences, on emissions of sulfur compounds from the ocean to the atmosphere has been selected as the top environmental science paper of 2015 from the journal Environmental Science and Technology (ES&T).

“The unique sea spray particles described in this work were detected along the California coast, across the Pacific Ocean, and in the southern Indian Ocean suggesting that these particles represent a globally significant biogenic contribution to the atmosphere,” said Gaston about the paper. “This study reveals the complexity of air-sea interactions, which are important drivers of global climate.”

To highlight notable publications, each year ES&T‘s editors identify a pool of outstanding papers. The editorial advisory board works with the editor-in-chief to select best papers in four categories on the basis of quality, novelty, and impact.

“It is difficult but rewarding to select the best papers, and we appreciate the efforts of the chair of the selection committee, Dr. Jason White, and the board members who made the tough choices,” said ES&T’s Editor-in-Chief David Sedlak in an editorial. “We are also grateful to the thousands of authors and reviewers who made it possible for us to publish so many excellent papers during the past year.”

Gaston’s paper, titled “Direct Night-Time Ejection of Particle-Phase Reduced Biogenic Sulfur Compounds from the Ocean to the Atmosphere,” can be read here.

In 2015, ES&T received almost 6000 manuscripts and published 1643 articles. To see more of the award-winning papers, click here.

Coral Metabolism and Climate Change

A team of Rosenstiel School researchers and alumni published a new study on the intra-and inter-specific variation of metabolic factors of corals in Florida. Their study is important to better understand if some coral will be more resilient than others to climate change.

“Knowing which coral species will be ‘winners’ on reefs of the future will help people be aware of what reefs might look like in the coming decades,” said UM Rosenstiel School alumna Erica Towle.

Mustard hill coral. Credit: Johnmartindavies/wikicommons

Mustard hill coral. Credit: Johnmartindavies/wikicommons

For the experiment, Towle and her team from the UM Corals and Climate Change Lab collected three common species of corals from the Florida Reef Tract, which extends from the Florida Keys to Stuart in Martin County, during two seasonal points (winter and summer).

The species mustard hill coral (Porites astreoides) great star coral (Montastraea cavernosa) and mountainous star coral (Orbicella faveolata) were analyzed for growth rate, lipid content, algal symbiont density, and chlorophyll content. The surface area of the corals were also measured using a 3-D scanner supplied by UM Alumnus Derek Manzello at the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratories.

Great star coral. Credit NOAA

Great star coral. Credit NOAA

The team’s field data agreed with population-level trends that great star coral and mustard hill coral are doing well in the Florida Keys, and may be “winners” on reefs of the future. They point out that future work needed to understand factors driving resilience of “winner” species.

“It’s important for us to start to understand which corals will be dominant on reefs of the future so we can get a better sense of which species to focus stronger conservation efforts on,” said Towle.

regionalstudiesMSThe study, “In-situ measurement of metabolic status in three coral species from the Florida Reef Tract,” was published online in the journal Regional Studies in Marine Science. The work was supported by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program. The study’s authors include: Erica K. Towle; UM Rosenstiel School Professor Chris Landgon; and Renée Carlton and Derek P. Manzello of the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratories.

UM professor co-authors influential climate change paper

Professor Brian Soden

Professor Brian Soden

Professor Brian Soden’s 2006 paper is “one of most influential climate change papers of all time.

The Carbon Brief recently asked climate experts what they think are the most influential papers. In joint second place was a paper by Isaac Held (NOAA) and UM Rosenstiel School’s Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Brian Soden published in the Journal of Climate in 2006.

The paper, “Robust Responses of the Hydrological Cycle to Global Warming,” identified how rainfall from one place to another would be affected by climate change. Prof Sherwood, who nominated this paper, tells Carbon Brief why it represented an important step forward. He says:

“[This paper] advanced what is known as the “wet-get-wetter, dry-get-drier” paradigm for precipitation in global warming. This mantra has been widely misunderstood and misapplied, but was the first and perhaps still the only systematic conclusion about regional precipitation and global warming based on robust physical understanding of the atmosphere.”

The Carbon Brief reports on the latest developments and media coverage of climate science and energy policy, with a particular focus on the UK. They produce news coverage, analysis and factchecks. Read more

Marine Chemistry Pioneer Frank Millero Retires

Dr. Frank MilleroAfter 49 years world-renowned Marine Chemist Frank Millero is retiring as a full professor of ocean sciences from the UM Rosenstiel School. Millero will join the ranks as a professor emeritus while still maintaining his active ocean science research laboratory on campus.

During his academic tenure Millero was instrumental in helping shape current scientific knowledge on the chemistry of seawater, a fundamental component to understand the ocean’s role in global climate change. He has published over 500 works, including one of the premier textbooks on ocean chemistry, and developed the fundamental equation of state of seawater still in use today.

Millero and his research team have traveled the world ocean’s collecting data on carbon dioxide levels at different ocean depths as part of a large, collaborate National Science Foundation-funded project. The 20-year study is helping to understand the environmental effects of the 40 percent of human-generated CO2 that enter the world’s ocean. The next cruise is scheduled for August 2015.

Beyond his scientific accolades, Millero’s devotion to teaching the next generation of scientists and generous philanthropic contributions to the UM Rosenstiel School, athletics, and arts have helped advance the University in many ways.

Millero grew up in Ohio and earned his undergraduate degree at The Ohio State University and a doctorate in chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he tended bar for spending money and met his wife, Judith. They have three children: Marta Millero-Quincoses, B.B.A. ’95, a South Florida accountant; Frank III, who teaches at Pratt Institute in New York; and Anthony, who works in merchandising in New York.

We are happy that Frank’s good works and good humor will still be on campus for several more years!

Faculty, Student and Alumni Updates

Professor Amy Clement Named 2015 AMS Fellow

Amy Clement 1UM Rosenstiel School Professor Amy Clement has been elected a 2015 Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the nation’s leading professional society for scientists in the atmospheric and related sciences. The award was presented at a special reception on Jan. 4 2015 at the AMS annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.

Clement, an associate dean and professor of atmospheric sciences, leads a climate modeling research group at the UM Rosenstiel School, which aims to better understand various aspects of Earth’s climate, from Saharan dust and clouds to El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which is the largest mode of variability in the modern climate. Clement’s research focus is on fundamental aspects of the climate system, including understanding why the climate changed in the past, and predicting how it will change in the future.

Grad Student Gives Keynote at Sailing Symposium

waterlust-nsps-2 (1)Rosenstiel School Ph.D. student Patrick Rynne recently gave a keynote lecture at the National Sailing Programs Symposium in New Orleans. His talk focused on the inherent connection between sailing and the ocean and how decisions we make impact that relationship and how his cause-based organization, Waterlust, came to be and what small (or big) steps that organizations can take to help promote environmental awareness.

Patrick founded Waterlust, a student-run project aimed at inspiring the world to consider their relationship with water through online film and photography, while a student at RSMAS.

Alumna Joins MPS Program, Awarded Suncoast Emmy®

JulieHUM Rosenstiel School alumna Julie Hollenbeck recently joined the Master of Professional Science (MPS) Program team as associate director. Julie has extensive experience within and among the University of Miami community and has worked in TV broadcast journalism, communications, project management, and outreach and education.

Julie was honored in December 2014 with a Suncoast Emmy® for her work on Living Fossils, an episode from WPBT2’s original television series Changing Seas. Hollenbeck worked as an associate producer for Changing Seas.

The episode, Living Fossils, produced by Changing Seas series producer Alexa Elliott, features research on deep-sea crinoids, a flower-like animal related to starfish, urchins and other echinoderms. Crinoids can be traced back to the Paleozoic era yet very little is known about this enigmatic creature. Researchers featured in the episode explored the depths from a deep-sea submarine, filling in previously unknown details on the lives of crinoids.

Julie is also a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Exeter’s European Center for Environmental and Human Health program.