Related Research Areas
Water & Energy Cycles, Weather

Midlatitude storm tracks play a key role in the Earth's climate system through their transport of momentum, heat and moisture in the troposphere. A better understanding of storm tracks' response to changing radiative forcing and the impact of this response on regional/global energy and hydrological cycle is essential for the evaluation and improvement of climate models and ultimately the success of climate prediction. Among the physical processes that are least understood is the dynamical control of the Pacific storm track on the occurrence of extreme hydrological events in the western United States. During the Northern Hemisphere winter, landfalling cyclones that are responsible for most flooding events in the Pacific Northwest and northern California originate from the Pacific storm track. In the southwest United States, mountain snowpack that accounts for the majority of the regional spring and summer water supply is highly correlated with winter snowfall brought in, or triggered by, cyclones exiting the Pacific storm track. How is climate change going to affect this picture? In the future, will there be more flooding events in the Pacific Northwest and more severe droughts in the Southwest? Can the latest NASA GISS and GSFC general circulation models (GCMs) correctly predict such potential changes? In particular, have the models accurately represented the mechanisms through which the Pacific storm track controls the occurrence of extreme hydrological events in the western United States? Fundamentally, how does the environmental moisture affect the overall activity of the Pacific storm track and how does the storm track anomalies lead to anomalous downstream eddy moisture transport and cyclone landfall at the west coast of the United States? This proposal will address the above questions through a combination of observational data diagnosis and numerical modeling. Specific research goals are to 1) identify the coupled modes between the Pacific storm track and environmental moisture using NASA Modern Era Retrospective-analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) data and satellite products; 2) investigate using MERRA the mechanisms through which the Pacific storm track influences the winter cyclone landfall and precipitation, as well as the occurrence of extreme hydrological events in the western United States; 3) examine the ability of NASA GCMs in simulating the various aspects of the storm-track-moisture interaction focusing on the predictability of extreme precipitation events related to cyclone landfall; and 4) diagnose the coupled-model output of NASA GCMs to infer the potential impacts of global-warming on both water resources and the characteristics of extreme hydrological events in the western United States. This project responds to the requested research topic - "the role of water and energy cycle in extreme events". It will investigate both water cycle observations and model simulations, evaluate the ability of climate models to capture the occurrence and intensity of extreme events, draw connections between the dynamics of the climate system and the predictability of extreme events and will ultimately contribute substantially to the NEWS program objective of "documenting and enabling improved, observationally based, predictions of water and energy cycle consequences of Earth system variability and change".

Projet PI: Yi Deng/Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Code 912 NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD 20771 USA

Phone: (301)614-6290

Fax: (301)614-5484



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Started: Aug 10, 2010

Last Activity: Dec 16, 2010


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