Atmospheric & Oceanic Science Theses and Dissertations

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    High Resolution Remote Sensing Observations of Summer Sea Ice
    (2022) Buckley, Ellen Margaret; Farrell, Sinéad L; Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    During the Arctic summer melt season, the sea ice transitions from a consolidated ice pack with a highly reflective snow-covered surface to a disintegrating unconsolidated pack with melt ponds spotting the ice surface. The albedo of the Arctic decreases by up to 50%, resulting in increased absorption of solar radiation, triggering the positive sea ice albedo feedback that further enhances melting. Summer melt processes occur at a small scale and are required for melt pond parameterization in models and quantifying albedo change. Arctic-wide observations of melt features were however not available until recently. In this work we develop original techniques for the analysis of high-resolution remote sensing observations of summer sea ice. By applying novel algorithms to data acquired from airborne and satellite sensors onboard IceBridge, Sentinel-2, WorldView and ICESat-2, we derive a set of parameters that describe melt conditions on Arctic sea ice in summer. We present a new, pixel-based classification scheme to identify melt features in high-resolution summer imagery. We apply the classification algorithm to IceBridge Digital Mapping System data and find a greater melt pond fraction (25%) on sea ice in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, a region consisting of predominantly first year ice, compared to the Central Arctic, where the melt pond fraction is 14% on predominantly multiyear ice. Expanding the study to observations acquired by the Sentinel-2 Multispectral Instrument, we track the variability in melt pond fraction and sea ice concentration with time, focusing on the anomalously warm summer of 2020. So as to obtain a three-dimensional view of the evolution of summer melt we also exploit ICESat-2 surface elevation measurements. We develop and apply the Melt Pond Algorithm to track ponds in ICESat-2 photon cloud data and derive their depth. Pond depth measurements in conjunction with melt pond fraction and sea ice concentration provide insights into the regional patterns and temporal evolution of melt on summer sea ice. We found mean melt pond fraction increased rapidly in the beginning of the melt season, peaking at 16% on 24 June 2020, while median pond depths increased steadily from 0.4 m at the beginning of the melt season, to peaking at 0.97 m on 16 July, even as melt pond fraction had begun to decrease. Our findings may be used to improve parameterization of melt processes in models, quantify freshwater storage, and study the partitioning of under ice light.
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    (2022) Zhou, Lihang; Warner, Juying; Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Atmospheric Methane (CH4) is the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide (CO2), and accounts for approximately 20% of the global warming produced by all well-mixed greenhouse gases. Thus, its spatiotemporal distributions and relevant long-term trends are critical to understanding the sources, sinks, and global budget of atmospheric composition, as well as the associated climate impacts. The current suite of hyperspectral thermal infrared sounders has provided continuous global methane data records since 2002, starting with the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) onboard the NASA EOS/Aqua satellite launched on 2 May 2002. The Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) was launched onboard the Suomi National Polar Orbiting Partnership (SNPP) on 28 October 2011 and then on NOAA-20 on 18 November 2017. The Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) was launched onboard the EUMETSAT MetOp-A on 19 October 2006, followed by MetOp-B on 17 September 2012, then Metop-C on 7 November 2018. In this study, nearly two decades of global CH4 concentrations retrieved from the AIRS and CrIS sensors were analyzed. Results indicate that the global mid-upper tropospheric CH4 concentrations (centered around 400 hPa) increased significantly from 2003 to 2020, i.e., with an annual average of ~1754 ppbv in 2003 and ~1839 ppbv in 2020. The total increase is approximately 85 ppbv representing a +4.8% change in 18 years. More importantly, the rate of increase was derived using satellite measurements and shown to be consistent with the rate of increase previously reported only from in-situ observational measurements. It further confirmed that there was a steady increase starting in 2007 that became stronger since 2014, as also reported from the in-situ observations. In addition, comparisons of the methane retrieved from the AIRS and CrIS against in situ measurements from NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory (GML) were conducted. One of the key findings of this comparative study is that there are phase shifts in the seasonal cycles between satellite thermal infrared measurements and ground measurements, especially in the middle to high latitudes in the northern hemisphere. Through this, an issue common in the hyperspectral thermal sensor retrievals were discovered that was unknown previously and offered potential solutions. We also conducted research on some applications of the retrieval products in monitoring the changes of CH4 over the selected regions (the Arctic and South America). Detailed analyses based on local geographic changes related to CH4 concentration increases were discussed. The results of this study concluded that while the atmospheric CH4 concentration over the Arctic region has been increasing since the early 2000s, there were no catastrophic sudden jumps during the period of 2008-2012, as indicated by the earlier studies using pre-validated retrieval products. From our study of CH4 climatology using hyperspectral infrared sounders, it has been proved that the CH4 from hyperspectral sounders provide valuable information on CH4 for the mid-upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. Future approaches are suggested that include: 1) Utilizing extended data records for CH4 monitoring using AIRS, CrIS, and other potential new generation hyperspectral infrared sensors; 2). Improving the algorithms for trace gas retrievals; and 3). Enhancing the capacity to detect CH4 changes and anomalies with radiance signals from hyperspectral infrared sounders.
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    Assimilation of Precipitation and Nonlocal Observations in the LETKF, and Comparison of Coupled Data Assimilation Strategies with a Coupled Quasi-geostrophic Atmosphere-Ocean Model
    (2022) Da, Cheng; Eugenia, Kalnay; Tse-chun, Chen; Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Among the data assimilation methods, the Ensemble Kalman Filter (EnKF) has gained popularity due to its ease of implementation and incorporation of the “errors of the day” [Kalnay, 2003]. While the EnKF can successfully assimilate a wide range of observations, it encounters difficulty handling two types of observations: a) observations with non-Gaussian errors such as hydrometeors and precipitation, and b) nonlocal (i.e., path-integrated) observations such as radiance, both of which are vital for weather monitoring and forecasting, since non-Gaussian observations are often associated with severe weather, and nonlocal observations contribute the most to the improved weather forecast skill in the modern assimilation systems. The satellite mission, the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM), provides several products belonging to these two types of observations since its launch in 2014. Different strategies are developed in this dissertation to assimilate these two types of observations in the EnKF system. To assimilate GPM surface precipitation with non-Gaussian errors, we extended the Gaussian transformation approach developed by Lien et al. [2013, 2016a, b] to a regional model. We transformed the observed and modeled precipitation into Gaussian variables, whose errors also become more Gaussian. We then allowed the transformed precipitation to adjust the dynamic variables and hydrometeors directly through the ensemble error covariance in the EnKF so that the model could “remember” the correct dynamics. Four typhoon cases in 2015 were studied to investigate the impact of GPM precipitation assimilation on typhoon forecast. Results show that model analysis by additional precipitation assimilation agrees more favorably with various independent observations, which leads to an improved typhoon forecast up to 72 hours. Localizing nonlocal observations in the EnKF is another challenging problem. Observation localization is needed in the EnKF to reduce sampling errors caused by the small ensemble size. Unlike conventional observations with single observed locations, those nonlocal observations such as radiance are path-integrated measurements and do not have single observed locations. One common empirical single-layer vertical localization (SLVL) approach localizes nonlocal observations at their weighting function (WF) peaks with symmetric Gaussian-shape localization functions. While the SLVL approach is appropriate for observations with symmetric Gaussian-shaped WFs, it might have difficulty handling observations properly with broad asymmetric WFs or multiple WF peaks, which are typical for clear-sky radiance from sounding or trace-gas sensitive channels of hyperspectral infrared sensors. A multi-layer vertical localization (MLVL) method is developed as an extension of the SLVL, which explicitly considers the WF shape in the formulation and generates the localization value based on the cumulative influences from all components that constitute the nonlocal observations. Observing system simulation experiments assimilating 1-D and 3-D nonlocal observations show that the MLVL has comparable or better performance than the SLVL when assimilating narrow-WF observations, and superior performance than the SLVL when assimilating observations with broad WFs or multiple WF peaks. In the last part, we switch our focus to coupled data assimilation in preparation for assimilating GPM precipitation into different earth components through strongly-coupled data assimilation. Few studies have systematically compared ensemble and variational methods with different coupled data assimilation (CDA) strategies (i.e., uncoupled DA (UCDA), weakly-coupled DA (WCDA), and strongly-coupled DA (SCDA)) for coupled models, though such comparison are essential to understand different methods and have been extensively conducted for uncoupled models. We developed a coupled data assimilation testbed for a coupled quasi-geostrophic atmosphere-ocean model that allows systematic comparison between ensemble and variational methods under different CDA strategies. Results show that WCDA and SCDA improve the coupled analysis compared with UCDA for both 3D-Var and ETKF. It is found that the ocean analysis by SC ETKF is consistently better than the one by WC ETKF, a phenomenon not observed for the 3D-Var method. Different SCDA methods are then compared together under different observation networks. When both atmosphere and ocean observations are assimilated, the SC incremental 4D-Var and ETKF share a similar analysis RMSE smaller than SC 3D-Var, for both atmosphere and ocean. An ECMWF CERA-like assimilation system, which adopts the outer-loop-coupling approach instead of utilizing the coupled-state background error covariance, achieves a similar RMSE as the SC 4D-Var and ETKF. When only atmospheric observations are assimilated, all variational-based DA methods using static background error covariance fail to stabilize the RMSE for the ocean within the experiment periods (about 27.4 years), while the flow-dependent ETKF does stabilize the analysis after about 10 years. Among all the variational systems, CERA shows larger ocean analysis RMSE than SC 3D-Var and 4D-Var, which indicates the outer-loop-coupling alone is not enough to replace the role of a coupled-state background error covariance.
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    (2022) Hall-Quinlan, Dolly; Dickerson, Russell R; Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Air pollution adversely affects human health and climate at both local and regional scales. With vehicles representing the dominant source of several important air pollutants, more work is needed to improve our understanding of the factors impacting vehicular emissions to further reduce pollution levels. In this dissertation, I use ambient, near-road (NR) observations of nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), black carbon (BC), carbon dioxide (CO2), and traffic to characterize vehicular emissions and the influence of weather and traffic patterns. The first part focuses on how vehicular emissions respond to ambient temperature. The second part investigates traffic pattern changes resulting from COVID-19 travel restrictions and the effects on mobile emissions.Chapter 2 discusses the temperature and specific humidity sensitivity of vehicular NOx, CO, and CO2 emissions. Using NR (along Interstate 95) observations during the cold season, I calculated hourly ΔCO/ΔNOx, ΔCO2/ΔNOx, and ΔCO2/ΔCO ratios to infer emissions ratios from vehicular exhaust. Chapter 3 builds on this work by extending the temperature analysis to BC emissions using ∆BC/∆CO and ∆BC/∆CO2. Results show a factor of two decrease in NOx (−5°C to 25°C) and a ~50% increase in BC emissions (−5°C to 20°C). Combined with traffic observations, we trace this effect to diesel-powered trucks. The observed trends are then used to evaluate the temperature sensitivity in modeled mobile emissions. Important public policy decisions regarding air quality often depend on models that generate accurate emissions estimates from various sectors, including mobile sources. The US EPA estimates vehicular emissions for air quality models using the MOtor Vehicle Emissions Simulator (MOVES). Our analysis shows that MOVES underestimates the temperature effect in NOx emissions and does not adjust BC emissions, indicating that more work is needed to improve the temperature sensitivity in the model. Chapter 4 examines the impact of changing traffic patterns on I-95 in April 2020 on mobile emissions revealing ~60% fewer on-road cars and ~10% fewer trucks, resulting in faster highway speeds and less stop-and-go traffic. Coupled with an analysis of emission ratios, the results of this study suggest a significant decrease in BC emissions from diesel-powered trucks attributable to improved traffic flow.