CICS-NC at AMS 2015

CICS-NC at AMS 2015

The Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites-North Carolina (CICS-NC) will have a strong presence at the American Meteorological Society’s annual meeting, which takes place January 3–8, 2015, in Phoenix, Arizona.

CICS-NC scientists and affiliates are lead authors, co-authors, or co-chairs of more than 20 papers, posters, and panel discussions. CICS-NC will also be sharing a booth in the exhibit hall with the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville & Buncombe County.

We invite AMS 2015 attendees to stop by booth number 534 to learn more about CICS-NC and Asheville’s expanding array of climate- and weather-related public, private, and academic activities and opportunities.

Below are the scheduled presentations and posters at AMS 2015 featuring contributions from CICS-NC staff:

  • Natural Gas Prices and the Extreme Winters of 2011/12 and 2013/14: Causes, Indicators, and Interactions

Carl J. Schreck III with co-authors, including CICS-NC colleagues Jenny Dissen and Jared Rennie.

Room 224B (Phoenix Convention Center — West and North Buildings)

Day-to-day volatility in natural gas markets is driven largely by variations in heating demand, which are in turn driven by cool season temperatures over the northeastern quadrant of the United States (“Midwest-East”). This study examines the temperature and price fluctuations in recent years and explores some of the climate modes that energy meteorologists use for long-range forecasting. The warmth in 2011/12 was consistent with a positive Arctic Oscillation (AO). The associated enhanced zonal flow reduced the opportunities for intrusions of arctic air masses into the United States. March 2012 was a fitting exclamation point on the winter as it featured the largest warm anomaly for the United States above the 20th century climatology of any month since 1895. The resulting lack of heating demand spurred natural gas prices downward to an 11-year low in April 2012. In sharp contrast, an anomalous Alaskan ridge in 2013/14 led to the transport of cold air from Siberia into the United States, despite the AO generally being positive. The resulting demand exhausted surpluses of natural gas inventory and prices rose to their highest levels since the beginning of the global recession 6 years earlier. This study demonstrates how energy meteorologists use weather and climate data to anticipate these extremes and improve the overall market efficiency.

  • Science and Communication Issues Associated with Precipitation in the NCA

Kenneth E. Kunkel

Room 121BC (Phoenix Convention Center — West and North Buildings)

The Third United States National Climate Assessment (NCA3) included several key messages about precipitation. Extreme rainfall has been increasing and is expected to continue to increase in the future. Droughts have been increasing in some regions and are projected to become more intense in most areas due to increases in evaporation. On certain aspects of precipitation, strong statements were not made because of uncertainties in the science and the geographic location of the U.S. with respect to global change patterns. The U.S. straddles the transition zone between drier subtropics and wetter high latitudes. Projections of flooding are uncertain because of the complexities of seasonal timing of extreme rainfall increases, counteracting influence of decreased soil moisture, and the interactions of climate changes with watershed characteristics. While droughts may increase in intensity in most areas, there are uncertainties in northern areas where both precipitation and evaporation may increase. Communication of these complex science issues to the primary non-scientist audience of the NCA3 was a challenge. Both the science and communication challenges will be discussed in this talk.

  • Poster: Land surface albedo from a constellation of geostationary satellites compared and fused with polar-orbiting data

Jessica L. Matthews, with co-authors.

The WMO-led activity on Sustained and Coordinated Processing of Environmental Satellite Data for Climate Monitoring (SCOPE-CM) provides the infrastructure to ensure a continuous and sustained generation of climate data records (CDR) from satellite data in compliance with Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) principles and guidelines. SCOPE-CM represents a new partnership between operational space agencies to coordinate the generation of CDRs. The SCOPE-CM effort to generate a unique land surface albedo CDR involves 5 different geostationary satellite positions and approximately 3 decades of satellite data. The resultant albedo products are compared to polar-orbiting based albedo products (i.e. MODIS). Given the fine temporal resolution of the geostationary product, and the fine spatial resolution of the polar-orbiting product, a fused product leveraging the advantages of each is desirable. Several regions, collocated with in situ observations for validation, were selected to evaluate a spatial statistical data fusion algorithm. We will present the status of the international effort to produce a 30 year CDR of land surface albedo from geostationary satellites along with results demonstrating an approach to implement fusion with polar-orbiting data.

  • Poster: A Global Survey of Kelvin Waves and Tropical Cyclogenesis

Carl J. Schreck III


Convectively coupled atmospheric Kelvin waves are among the most prominent sources of synoptic scale rainfall variability in the tropics, but large uncertainties surround their role in tropical cyclogenesis. It is hypothesized that Kelvin waves may promote tropical cyclogenesis in four primary ways: 1) enhancing deep moist convection; 2) generating low-level cyclonic potential vorticity through diabatic heating; 3) decreasing the vertical wind shear through their vertical circulations; and 4) providing equatorial westerly anomalies that enhance the recirculation of moisture. Each of these pathways will be most prominent in different phases of the waves. This presentation will examine how tropical cyclone activity varies by Kelvin wave phase in each basin. Wave-relative composites will show how the basic ingredients for tropical cyclone genesis and intensification are affected by these waves. Because Kelvin waves often circumnavigate the globe over the course of 1–2 weeks, the results will have implications for long-range forecasting of tropical cyclone activity.

  • Poster: Computation, Analysis and Visualization of In-Situ and Remote Sensing Data using Python

Jared Rennie, Andrew Buddenberg, Kelly Gassert, Ronnie Leeper, Laura E. Stevens, and Scott E. Stevens.


The demand for weather, water, and climate information has been high, with an expectation of long, serially complete observational records spanning from minute to century timescales. The completeness of these data is essential to the assessment of Earth's climate in reports such as the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society's (BAMS) State of the Climate and the US Global Change Research Program's (USGCRP) National Climate Assessment. Over the next few years, the amount of in-situ and remote sensing data ingested by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) will reach the order of petabytes. In addition, there is a need for openness and transparency, to ensure the integrity and reproducibility of data from original observation to final product.

Scientists at the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites (CICS), located within NCEI, have begun to address these concerns using the Python open source language. Here we will present advancements and challenges of utilizing climate data through packages such as NumPy, SciPy, MPI, and matplotlib. Projects include time series analysis of surface temperature observations, visualization of weather and climate data to meet sector needs, storage of large datasets into user-friendly formats such as CF compliant netCDF, and traceability through metadata tracking. Performance will be compared with conventional languages to demonstrate Python's speed and efficiency. We hope these practices will create a center-wide awareness of utilizing the power of Python in NCEI processing.

  • Poster: Evaluating the Evolution of the California Drought and Monitoring Societal Risks with NOAA’s U.S. Climate Reference Network

Ronald D. Leeper and Jesse Bell.


The 2014 drought has been one of California’s most intense and widespread droughts in decades. For the western United States, drought conditions began to steadily amplify over 2013, while much of the U.S. was in the process of recovering from the historical drought of 2012. Drought conditions in California further intensified over the summer of 2014 with over 80% of the state in extreme drought conditions or worse. The societal impacts of such an extreme drought event range from a reduction of water resources, decreased agricultural productivity, elevating fuel availability for wild fires (dry vegetation), and negatively impacting human health. As drought is a slow evolving process, the ability to accurately characterize drought severity and recovery is an area of active research. NOAA’s U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) is a tool that can expand our understanding of drought and other climatic events, as the network is constructed to monitor both atmospheric climate and soil climate on a national level. The California drought provides an opportunity to use the network to systematically evaluate both above- and belowground changes from drought intensification to recovery in addition to exploring metrics to monitor societal risks.

  • Data Management and the National Climate Assessment: Best Practices, Lessons Learned, and Future Applications (Invited Presentation)

Sarah M. Champion and Kenneth E. Kunkel.

Room 121BC (Phoenix Convention Center — West and North Buildings)

The Third National Climate Assessment (NCA), anticipated for its authoritative climate change analysis, was also a vanguard in climate communication. From the cutting-edge website to the organization of information, the Assessment content appealed to, and could be accessed by, many demographics. One such pivotal presentation of information in the NCA was the availability of complex metadata directly connected to graphical products. While the basic metadata requirement is federally mandated through a series of federal guidelines as a part of the Information Quality Act, the NCA is also deemed a Highly Influential Scientific Assessment, which requires demonstration of the transparency and reproducibility of the content. To meet these requirements, the Technical Support Unit (TSU) for the NCA embarked on building a system for collecting and presenting metadata that not only met these requirements, but one that could also be sustained for future Assessments.

The metadata effort for this NCA proved invaluable for many reasons, one of which being that it showcased that there is a critical need for a culture change within the scientific community to support collection and transparency of data and methods to the level produced with the NCA. Irregardless of being federally mandated, it proves to simply be a good practice in science communication.

This presentation will detail the collection process the TSU executed and the supporting infrastructure being refined as we move forward, as well as illustrate the value of highly detailed metadata through examples from the NCA of successful transparency. Through this presentation, we hope to impel the discussion in support of detailed metadata becoming the cultural norm within the scientific community to support influential and highly policy-relevant documents such as the NCA.

  • Estimation of Broadband top-of-atmosphere and Surface Long Wave Radiation from MODIS

Anand K. Inamdar

Room 127ABC (Phoenix Convention Center – West and North Buildings)

NASA-operated Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) is the only instrument on board the EOS platform providing broadband measurements of top-of-atmosphere (TOA) and parameterized surface radiative fluxes in both the shortwave and long wave (LW) spectral regions. However, the CERES scanner’s nadir footprint resolution of 20 km has been found to be insufficient to resolve small targets such as small-scale fire plumes, estimating net surface radiative fluxes required at finer spatial scale for hydrological applications, etc. In this study an empirical scheme is developed to utilize the high spatial resolution (1 km) spectral imagery of Moderate Resolution Spectral Radiometer (MODIS) to derive broadband LW irradiance at TOA. The MODIS-CERES comparisons of broadband LW irradiance yield TOA flux estimates with a small RMS error of less than 5 W m-2 under all sky conditions. These TOA LW flux estimates will be employed in a simplified version of the CERES sub-system TOA-to-surface parameterizations to produce surface LW fluxes. Comparison with ground truth at several surface stations will be presented.

  • Development of a 30-Year Soil Moisture Climatology for Situational Awareness and Public Health Applications

Jesse Bell is a co-author.

Room 127ABC (Phoenix Convention Center — West and North Buildings)

The NASA Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) Center has been running a real-time configuration of the Noah land surface model (LSM) within the NASA Land Information System (LIS) framework. The LIS-Noah is run at 0.03° resolution for local numerical weather prediction (NWP) and situational awareness applications at NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) forecast offices over the southern and eastern Continental U.S. (CONUS). To enhance the practicality of the LIS-Noah output for drought monitoring and assessing flood potential, a 30-year soil moisture climatology is being developed over the full CONUS to place near real-time soil moisture values in historical context. The 0.03° LIS-Noah climatology is intended to help capture county- and watershed-scale soil moisture heterogeneity, thereby providing a higher-resolution complement to the current North American Land Data Assimilation System phase 2 (NLDAS-2) products, which are generated on a coarser 0.125° grid. Additionally, the soil moisture climatology and subsequent near real-time anomalies will be applied to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network to help monitor soil conditions favoring the development of certain vector-borne illnesses such as Valley Fever.

To construct the soil moisture climatology, LIS-Noah is configured for a 32+ year run, with the first two years used as a model spin-up. The climatology run is driven by NLDAS-2 forcing data and uses a new 30-arcsecond green vegetation fraction (GVF) monthly climatology found in version 3.5+ of the community Weather Research and Forecasting model, derived from fraction of photosynthetically active radiation data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument. The LIS-Noah spin-up occurs from 1979-1980, with the soil moisture climatology spanning 1 January 1981 to 31 December 2010, consistent with the official National Climate Data Center’s most recent 30-year climate averages. LIS-Noah fields are output once daily at 0000 UTC on the CONUS grid, and soil moisture histogram climatologies are then developed on a county-by-county basis for each day of the year. The LIS-Noah simulation is extended to near real-time using the same NLDAS-2 forcing, but with real-time MODIS GVF data. The daily soil moisture histograms will then be used to identify the real-time soil moisture percentiles at each grid point according to the county in which the grid point resides. Output will be compared to similar NLDAS-2 products at, with soil moisture validated against in situ observations as found in Texas A&M’s North American Soil Moisture Database. This presentation will highlight preliminary results from the 30-year LIS-Noah soil moisture climatology and present proposed applications at partnering NOAA/NWS forecast offices and in the CDC Public Health Tracking Network.

  • Town Hall Discussion: Communicating the State of Understanding of Climate and Climate Change

Jenny Dissen is a co-moderator with Robert Ryan (Retired, former broadcast meteorologist in Washington, DC)

Room 222A-C (Phoenix Convention Center – West and North Buildings)

Andrea Thompson, Climate Central, New York, NY
Don Wuebbles, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL
Jim Gandy, WLTX-TV, Columbia, SC
Susan Joslyn, Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Xubin Zeng, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Effective communication of climate and climate change information remains a challenging goal. The scientific terminology and public understanding of “climate” has changed significantly over the years. Scientific understanding of the “climate system” has made major advances in the past decades as the interdependency of the atmosphere, oceans, biosphere, land surfaces, ice, soil moisture , etc., have become part of “climate”. Human responses to climate and climate change have historically been driven by adaptation to relatively slow changes. Observations and research show climate and its many components now is changing at a rate not seen in human history. Can we more effectively communicate the certainty and the uncertainties of climate and climate change for both better public understanding and better decision making in a rapidly changing climate environment? A distinguished panel of science communicators, climate scientists, social scientists, decision makers and users of climate, climate and global change information will address a number of these questions and discuss pertinent issues with the attendees. It is the intent of the CECWCI that review/synopsis of the panel/town hall session will also be widely disseminated and published.

  • A New Daily OLR Dataset for Identifying the MJO and Tropical Waves

Carl J. Schreck III, with co-authors.

Room 224B (Phoenix Convention Center – West and North Buildings)

NOAA’s Climate Data Record Program has recently produced a new long-term dataset of daily outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) based on retrievals from the High-resolution Infrared Sounder (HIRS) and geostationary imagers (GridSat). This presentation will compare the new CDR of HIRS/GridSat OLR with another OLR dataset based on Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) retrievals that has been available from NOAA/ESRL. Some advantages of the new dataset include:

  • Elimination of aliasing from satellite orbital procession
  • Inter-satellite calibration for a consistent record from 1979 to the present
  • Higher spatial resolution (1.0°x1.0° as opposed to 2.5°x2.5°)
  • Eliminated minor geo-location errors
  • Increased sensitivity to subsidence

We will discuss how these improvements affect commonly used diagnostics for the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) and tropical waves. These diagnostics will be available in near-real time on in the coming months.

  • A New Approach to Climate Services at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information

Jenny Dissen is a co-author.

Room 222A-C (Phoenix Convention Center — West and North Buildings)

NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NC) has collected and stewarded irreplaceable environmental data and products for decades. It currently maintains more than 7 petabytes of data produced from in-situ, satellite, radar, and paleoclimate observations and numerical models. Each day, NCEI adds about 7 terabytes of new data and products. Although these data are publicly available, the scientific community and select other sectors (e.g., legal) were historically the most common users. In the past decade, as climate concerns have become more prominent, other sectors have been more aggressively tapping NCEI’s resources. To support this growth and in concert with the President’s Climate Action Plan (2013) and NOAA priorities, NCEI is overhauling its climate services activities. Specifically, NCEI recently began implementing a new strategic plan for engagement designed especially to expand private sector support and services. The plan harnesses NCEI’s current sectoral and regional climate service programs, as well as its customer services and communications activities, to provide a proactive and coordinated approach to growing user awareness, understanding, access and use of NCEI resources. Importantly, it also facilitates improved NOAA products and services through the purposeful capture of evolving user needs and requirements. In this presentation, we describe the drivers, approaches and expected outcomes of this new approach as NCEI supports the Nation’s growth in climate resilience, preparedness and environmental intelligence.

  • National Partnership for Resilience (NPfR) — Advancing the Application and Use of Climate Data and Information

Mary M. Glackin and Paula Hennon.

Room 222A-C (Phoenix Convention Center — West and North Buildings)

Businesses and communities need timely, credible, and actionable information to adapt to a changing climate, manage risks, and capitalize on emerging opportunities. Supporting these businesses and communities requires public, private, academic, and nonprofit organizations to work together to understand decision maker needs, exploit existing knowledge and information, expand the collective knowledge of climate and adaptation science, and develop new capabilities. The National Partnership for Resilience (“the Partnership”) is being designed to foster communication and collaboration among the many organizations working to enhance resilience of businesses and communities impacted by a changing climate. From individual decisions such as which house to buy, to multinational corporations’ investment strategies, the Partnership will strive to foster an accessible and capable marketplace for climate information and resources that is driven by the needs of the user.

The Partnership is employing strategies to enhance national resilience through improved access and use of data, tools and resources to address climate-related risks. In particular, increasing communication and opportunities to collaborate across the public-private sectors are considered essential to stimulate the market for climate services. Early collaborative opportunities being explored are developing and documenting solid business cases for actions promoting resilience. The Partnership’s unique role of promoting engagement across these sectors would result in a public-private-academic enterprise capable of supporting solid business investments in resilience; more effective data, information, and tools; and valuable feedback to scientists to guide research and development.

This presentation will provide a status of the Partnership, identify on-going efforts and highlight opportunities for engagement.

  • Panel Discussion 2 Mind the Gap — Building Bridges Between the Public and Private Sectors to Advance Climate Services

Mary Glackin is one of the panelists, along with Tom Karl and Stephanie Herring of NOAA, and Sascha Peterson of the Institute for Sustainable Communities/American Society of Adaptation Professionals, Austin, TX

Room 222A-C (Phoenix Convention Center — West and North Buildings)

  • Joint Session 4 Extratropical Interactions with the MJO

Carl J. Schreck III is one of the co-chairs.

Room 224B (Phoenix Convention Center – West and North Buildings)

  • Poster: Historical perspective on recent heat and cold extremes

Kenneth E. Kunkel


Several episodes of societally disruptive extreme heat and cold have occurred in recent years. These include extreme heat in the summers of 2011 and 2012 and extreme cold in the winter of 2013–2014. These particular examples represent persistent conditions of anomalously high or low temperatures. Imbedded in these persistent anomalous conditions are short periods of very extreme temperatures, which I will refer to as cold waves and heat waves. The question addressed in this paper is how these cold and heat waves compare with historical events. I use very simple metrics of extreme heat, defined by duration and recurrence interval. Spatial aggregation of results to the large regional and national scales provides a perspective on both the intensity and spatial extent of recent episodes. When averaged to a national scale, the heat wave number and intensity of the 2011 and 2012 summers was the worst since 1988, but less than the worst years of the 1930s Dust Bowl. The cold wave number and intensity of the 2013–2014 winter is quite notable when a moderate definition of extreme is used, perhaps the worst since the string of cold winters in the late 1970s, but when examining only the most extreme historical cold waves, it was only a little above average. Regional results are being developed and will be presented.

  • Poster: Cyclone Center: A Crowd Sourcing Application of the HURSAT-B1 Data Record

Christopher C. Hennon, of UNC Asheville and CICS-NC with co-authors, including Carl J. Schreck III and Scott E. Stevens of CICS-NC.


The Hurricane Satellite (HURSAT) data set is a 32-year (1978–2009) record of geostationary satellite data centered on tropical cyclones. The data consists of calibrated observations from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) B1 data set, available in 3-hourly increments at 8 km resolution. The continuity, homogeneity and global scope of HURSAT B1 make the data set a useful tool for investigating decadal- and climatic-scale changes in global tropical cyclones.

One unique project that uses HURSAT B1 data is Cyclone Center. The goal of Cyclone Center is to resolve inconsistencies in the global tropical cyclone intensity record that arise from sparse observational data and divergent analysis methods at respective tropical cyclone centers. Because the HURSAT B1 data contain nearly 300,000 images, Cyclone Center expedites the analysis process by using crowd sourcing. Non-experts from around the world perform “classifications” of HURSAT B1 brightness temperature data by answering simple questions on Citizen scientist responses are collected, quality controlled, and then used to determine a consistent global tropical cyclone intensity record.

Results based on the first year of Cyclone Center classifications will be presented. We will show that: 1) The HURSAT B1 data set is a useful tool for diagnosing tropical cyclone intensity, despite its relatively coarse horizontal resolution, 2) crowd sourcing by non-experts produces results comparable to an objective computer scheme used on HURSAT B1, and 3) our approach can resolve gross differences in tropical cyclone intensity. Work is underway to adopt a more comprehensive intensity analysis scheme, which we expect will further improve the performance of the approach. Classifications on continue and participation is open to anyone.

  • Poster: HIRS-Derived Temperature and Humidity Profiles and Comparisons with Radiosonde Observations and GPS RO Derived Profiles

Jessica L. Matthews is a co-author.


Temperature and humidity profiles are derived based on polar orbiting satellites’ High-resolution Infrared Sounder (HIRS) data. Global HIRS observations from more than a dozen satellites during the 1979–2013 time period are inter-calibrated to a base satellite to form a temporally homogeneous time series. A retrieval scheme is designed using a neural network technique to derive temperature profiles at standard pressure levels from the surface to lower stratosphere and humidity profiles from the surface to upper troposphere. The derived HIRS temperature and humidity profiles are compared to global radiosonde observations and profiles derived by Global Positioning System Radio Occultation (GPS RO), respectively. The results of the comparisons will be presented.

  • Joint Session 7 MJO Prediction and Impacts

Carl J. Schreck III is a co-chair.

Room 224B (Phoenix Convention Center — West and North Buildings)

  • Poster: Decadal and Long-Term U.S. Trends of Extreme Precipitation and Temperature Using CMIP5 Hindcast Data

Steve T. Stegall and Kenneth E. Kunkel.


An extreme index of monthly temperature and monthly precipitation is presented and analyzed using hindcast model output data from thirteen model ensembles from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5), including comparison to observations. An extreme index is constructed by calculating standardized monthly anomalies of temperature and precipitation. This index is then divided into two parts: a positive index for values that are >+1.5*σ (the standard deviation of the standardized monthly anomalies) and a negative index for values that are <-1.5*σ.

Since 1980, we find that the frequencies of both extreme heavy precipitation events and extreme high temperature episodes have been increasing over the continental U.S., while the frequency of extreme low temperature episodes has been decreasing. As such, the 1981–2010 30-year hindcast is an interesting period to analyze. The specific question is whether the 30-year hindcast simulations reproduce these observed trends, which are presumably driven by anthropogenically forced climate change. If so, then simulated information on the sub-30 year timescale may be applicable in decision-making and planning. The analysis is divided into regions of the US, i.e. the southwest, southeast, northeast, and midwest. Initial results suggest that the hindcasts reproduce the observed extreme temperature trends.

  • Monday, January 5
  • 1:30pm
  • 2:15pm
  • 2:30–4:00pm
  • 2:30–4:00pm
  • 2:30–4:00pm
  • 2:30–4:00pm
  • 4:45pm
  • Tuesday, January 6
  • 9:15am
  • 2:15pm
  • 1:30pm
  • Wednesday, January 7
  • 8:30am
  • 8:45am
  • 9:45am
  • 10:30AM–12:00PM
  • 10:30 AM–12:00 PM
  • 2:30–4:00pm
  • 2:30–4:00pm
  • 2:30–4:00pm
  • 4:00PM–5:30PM
  • Thursday, January 8
  • 9:45–11:00am