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A Census of Atmospheric Variability from Seconds to Decades

Last updated:
15 November 2017
The atmosphere varies naturally on all length scales from millimeters to thousands of kilometers, and on all time scales from seconds to decades and longer.  This special collection of Geophysical Research Letters synthesizes and summarizes that variability through a phenomenological census.  The collection brings together some of the most influential and definitive papers to have been published in this journal in recent years.  The topics covered include turbulence on time scales of seconds and minutes, gravity waves on time scales of hours, weather systems on time scales of days, atmospheric blocking on time scales of weeks, the Madden–Julian Oscillation on time scales of months, the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation and El Niño–Southern Oscillation on time scales of years, and the North Atlantic, Arctic, Antarctic, Pacific Decadal, and Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillations on time scales of decades.  The collection is accompanied by a Commentary article, which provides an authoritative, concise, and accessible point of reference for the most important modes of atmospheric variability.

Atmospheric Rivers

Last updated:
14 November 2017

This collection brings together papers about atmospheric rivers published in Geophysical Research Letters over the past three decades. Beginning with Newell et al’s seminal study – which termed these filamentary tropospheric water vapor fluxes “rivers” – research into the processes that govern atmospheric rivers has increased as their importance for moisture transport, extreme rainfall, and flooding have been recognized.  While much of this research has focused on the West Coast of the United States, atmospheric rivers are increasingly considered critical to understanding the climate and hydrology of other regions around the globe. The papers in this special collection have been hand-selected by the journal editors.

Atmospheric Linkages Between the Arctic and the Mid-Latitudes

Last updated:
22 August 2017
For seasonal forecasting and other purposes, the strongest geographic influence on the mid-latitudes was traditionally thought to be the tropics, because of strong teleconnections to the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO).  However, a newer and more controversial idea is that Arctic variability may be important for influencing mid-latitude weather.  Indeed, the Arctic region has undergone the most rapid surface warming observed globally in recent decades, and this amplified warming appears to have coincided with an observed increase in extreme weather in the extra-tropics.  Several studies have attributed the occurrence of these weather extremes to an amplified waviness of the upper-tropospheric jet stream.  However, other studies have concluded that the increased meridional extent of atmospheric planetary waves is likely to be a methodological artefact.  Furthermore, it remains unclear whether the recent Arctic warming and sea-ice loss have increased the likelihood of blocking events over the Northern Hemisphere.  This Geophysical Research Letters collection on linkages between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes brings together some of the most definitive papers in this rapidly evolving field of atmospheric research.

Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment

Published:
1 January 2005
SCISAT-1, also known as the Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (ACE), is a Canadian-led satellite mission for remote sensing of the Earth's atmosphere. It was launched by NASA into low Earth circular orbit on 12 August 2003. The primary ACE instrument is a high spectral resolution Fourier Transform Spectrometer (FTS) operating from 2.2 to 13.3 microns. The satellite also features a dual spectrophotometer known as MAESTRO with wavelength coverage of 285 nm. A pair of filtered CMOS detector arrays records images of the Sun at 0.525 and 1.02 microns. Working primarily in solar occultation, the satellite provides altitude profile information for temperature, pressure, and the volume mixing ratios for several dozen molecules of atmospheric interest, as well as atmospheric extinction profiles.

Stratospheric H2O

Published:
1 January 2000

SONEX and POLINAT-2 Airborne Missions

Published:
1 January 1999
The SASS (Subsonic Assessment) Ozone and NOx Experiment (SONEX) was an airborne field campaign conducted in October–November 1997 in the vicinity of the North Atlantic Flight Corridor to study the impact of aircraft emissions on NOx and ozone (O3). A fully instrumented NASA DC-8 aircraft was used as the primary SONEX platform. SONEX activities were closely coordinated with the European POLINAT-2 (Pollution from Aircraft Emissions in the North Atlantic Flight Corridor) program, which used a Falcon-20 aircraft. Both campaigns focused on the upper troposphere/“lowermost” stratosphere (UT/LS) as the region of greatest interest. Specific sampling goals were achieved with the aid of a state-of-the art modeling and meteorological support system, which allowed targeted sampling of air parcels with desired characteristics. A substantial impact of aircraft emissions on NOx, O3, and CN in the UT/LS of the study region is shown to be present. This mission provided direct support for the highly nonlinear nature of the NOx-O3 chemistry. The results are published in this special issue in Geophysical Research Letters.

SUCCESS, An Aircraft Mission to Study Clouds and Chemistry in the Upper Troposphere

Published:
1 January 1998
The Subsonic Aircraft: Contrail and Cloud Effects Special Study (SUCCESS) was a multi-aircraft field campaign which took place in April and May of 1996, over the Central and Western United States. The goal of SUCCESS was to learn more about Earth's radiative heat balance, cirrus clouds, aircraft exhaust, heterogeneous atmospheric chemistry and their interactions with each other. The SUCCESS results are addressed in this special issue in Geophysical Research Letters.

Tropospheric OH Sources

Published:
1 January 1997

ATLAS space shuttle missions

Published:
1 January 1996
The Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science (ATLAS) space shuttle missions were conducted in March 1992, April 1993, and November 1994. The ATLAS payload and companion instruments made measurements of solar irradiance and middle atmospheric temperatures and trace gas concentrations. The solar irradiance measurements included total and spectrally resolved solar irradiance. The atmospheric measurements included microwave, infrared, and ultraviolet limb sounding, nadir ultraviolet backscatter, and solar occultation techniques.

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Featured Special Collection

A Census of Atmospheric Variability from Seconds to Decades 

The atmosphere varies naturally on all length scales from millimeters to thousands of kilometers, and on all time scales from seconds to decades and longer.  This special collection of Geophysical Research Letters synthesizes and summarizes that variability through a phenomenological census.  The collection brings together some of the most influential and definitive papers to have been published in this journal in recent years.  The topics covered include turbulence on time scales of seconds and minutes, gravity waves on time scales of hours, weather systems on time scales of days, atmospheric blocking on time scales of weeks, the Madden–Julian Oscillation on time scales of months, the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation and El Niño–Southern Oscillation on time scales of years, and the North Atlantic, Arctic, Antarctic, Pacific Decadal, and Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillations on time scales of decades.  The collection is accompanied by a Commentary article, which provides an authoritative, concise, and accessible point of reference for the most important modes of atmospheric variability.

A Census of Atmospheric Variability from Seconds to Decades