Geophysical Reviews

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Wiley Online Library : Reviews of Geophysics
Updated: 1 year 9 weeks ago

The Big Picture: Imaging of the Global Geospace Environment by the TWINS Mission

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 18:01
Abstract

Encircling our planet at distances of 2.5 to 8 Earth radii is a dynamic plasma population known as the ring current (RC). During geomagnetic storms, the solar wind's interaction with Earth's magnetic field pumps petaJoules of energy into the RC, energizing and transporting particles. To measure the global geospace response, RC imaging is performed by capturing energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) created by charge exchange between geospace ions and the neutral exosphere. The H exosphere is itself imaged via its geocoronal Lyman-α glow. Two Wide-angle Imaging Neutral-atom Spectrometers (TWINS) is a stereoscopic ENA and Lyman-α imaging mission that has recorded the deep minimum of solar cycle (SC) 23 and the moderate maximum of SC 24, observing geospace conditions ranging from utterly quiet to major storms. This review covers TWINS studies of the geospace response published during 2013 to 2017. Stereo ENA imaging has revealed new dimensionality and structure of RC ions. Continuous coverage by two imagers has allowed monitoring storms from start to finish. Deconvolution of the low-altitude signal has extended ENA analysis and revealed causal connections between the trapped and precipitating ion populations. ENA-based temperature and composition analyses have been refined, validated, and applied to an unprecedented sequence of solar activity changes in SC 23 and SC 24. Geocoronal imaging has revealed a surprising amount of time variability and structure in the neutral H exosphere, driven by both Sun and solar wind. Global models have been measurably improved. Routine availability of simultaneous in situ measurements has fostered huge leaps forward in the areas of ENA validation and cross-scale studies.

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Methane Feedbacks to the Global Climate System in a Warmer World

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 09:31
Abstract

Methane (CH4) is produced in many natural systems that are vulnerable to change under a warming climate, yet current CH4 budgets, as well as future shifts in CH4 emissions, have high uncertainties. Climate change has the potential to increase CH4 emissions from critical systems such as wetlands, marine and freshwater systems, permafrost, and methane hydrates, through shifts in temperature, hydrology, vegetation, landscape disturbance, and sea level rise. Increased CH4 emissions from these systems would in turn induce further climate change, resulting in a positive climate feedback. Here we synthesize biological, geochemical, and physically focused CH4 climate feedback literature, bringing together the key findings of these disciplines. We discuss environment-specific feedback processes, including the microbial, physical, and geochemical interlinkages and the timescales on which they operate, and present the current state of knowledge of CH4 climate feedbacks in the immediate and distant future. The important linkages between microbial activity and climate warming are discussed with the aim to better constrain the sensitivity of the CH4 cycle to future climate predictions. We determine that wetlands will form the majority of the CH4 climate feedback up to 2100. Beyond this timescale, CH4 emissions from marine and freshwater systems and permafrost environments could become more important. Significant CH4 emissions to the atmosphere from the dissociation of methane hydrates are not expected in the near future. Our key findings highlight the importance of quantifying whether CH4 consumption can counterbalance CH4 production under future climate scenarios.

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Current Systems in the Earth's Magnetosphere

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 05:55
Abstract

The basic structure and dynamics of the primary electric current systems in the Earth's magnetosphere is presented and discussed. In geophysics, the word current is used to describe the flow of mass from one location to another, and its analogue of electric current is a flow of charge from one place to another. An electric current is associated with a magnetic field, and they combine with the Earth's internally-generated dipolar magnetic field to form the topology of the magnetosphere. The concept of an electric current is reviewed and compared with other approaches to investigating the physics of the magnetosphere. The implications of understanding magnetospheric current systems is discussed, including paths forward for new investigations with the robust set of observations being produced by the numerous scientific and commercial satellites orbiting Earth.

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ENSO Atmospheric Teleconnections and Their Response to Greenhouse Gas Forcing

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 22:27
Abstract

El Niño and Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the most prominent year-to-year climate fluctuation on Earth, alternating between anomalously warm (El Niño) and cold (La Niña) sea surface temperature (SST) conditions in the tropical Pacific. ENSO exerts its impacts on remote regions of the globe through atmospheric teleconnections, affecting extreme weather events worldwide. However, these teleconnections are inherently nonlinear and sensitive to ENSO SST anomaly patterns and amplitudes. In addition, teleconnections are modulated by variability in the oceanic and atmopsheric mean state outside the tropics and by land and sea ice extent. The character of ENSO as well as the ocean mean state have changed since the 1990s, which might be due to either natural variability or anthropogenic forcing, or their combined influences. This has resulted in changes in ENSO atmospheric teleconnections in terms of precipitation and temperature in various parts of the globe. In addition, changes in ENSO teleconnection patterns have affected their predictability and the statistics of extreme events. However, the short observational record does not allow us to clearly distinguish which changes are robust and which are not. Climate models suggest that ENSO teleconnections will change because the mean atmospheric circulation will change due to anthropogenic forcing in the 21st century, which is independent of whether ENSO properties change or not. However, future ENSO teleconnection changes do not currently show strong intermodel agreement from region to region, highlighting the importance of identifying factors that affect uncertainty in future model projections.

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The worldwide marine radiocarbon reservoir effect: Definitions, mechanisms and prospects

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 03:30
Abstract

When a carbon reservoir has a lower content of radiocarbon relative to the atmosphere, this is referred to as a reservoir effect. This is expressed as an offset between the radiocarbon ages of samples from the two reservoirs at a single point in time. The marine reservoir effect (MRE) has been a major concern in the radiocarbon community, as it introduces an additional source of error that is often difficult to accurately quantify. For this reason, researchers are often reluctant to date marine material where they have another option. The influence of this phenomenon makes the study of the MRE important for a broad range of applications. The advent of Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) has reduced sample size requirements and increased measurement precision, in turn increasing the number of studies seeking to measure marine samples. These studies rely on overcoming the influence of the MRE on marine radiocarbon dates through the worldwide quantification of the local parameter ΔR, i.e. the local variation from the global average MRE. Furthermore, the strong dependence on ocean dynamics makes the MRE a useful indicator for changes in oceanic circulation, carbon exchange between reservoirs and the fate of atmospheric CO2, as well as their impact on Earth's climate. This article explores data from the Marine Reservoir Database and reviews the place of natural radiocarbon in oceanic records, focusing on key questions (e.g., changes in ocean dynamics) that have been answered by MRE studies and on their application to different subjects.

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Ocean Tide Influences on the Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 00:56
Abstract

Ocean tides are the main source of high-frequency variability in the vertical and horizontal motion of ice sheets near their marine margins. Floating ice shelves, which occupy about three quarters of the perimeter of Antarctica and the termini of four outlet glaciers in northern Greenland, rise and fall in synchrony with the ocean tide. Lateral motion of floating and grounded portions of ice sheets near their marine margins can also include a tidal component. These tide-induced signals provide insight into the processes by which the oceans can affect ice sheet mass balance and dynamics. In this review, we summarize in situ and satellite-based measurements of the tidal response of ice shelves and grounded ice, and spatial variability of ocean tide heights and currents around the ice sheets. We review sensitivity of tide heights and currents as ocean geometry responds to variations in sea level, ice shelf thickness, and ice sheet mass and extent. We then describe coupled ice-ocean models and analytical glacier models that quantify the effect of ocean tides on lower-frequency ice sheet mass loss and motion. We suggest new observations and model developments to improve the representation of tides in coupled models that are used to predict future ice sheet mass loss and the associated contribution to sea level change. The most critical need is for new data to improve maps of bathymetry, ice shelf draft, spatial variability of the drag coefficient at the ice-ocean interface, and higher-resolution models with improved representation of tidal energy sinks.

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Seasonal Drought Prediction: Advances, Challenges, and Future Prospects

Sat, 01/27/2018 - 22:10
Abstract

Drought prediction is of critical importance to early warning for drought managements. This review provides a synthesis of drought prediction based on statistical, dynamical, and hybrid methods. Statistical drought prediction is achieved by modeling the relationship between drought indices of interest and a suite of potential predictors, including large-scale climate indices, local climate variables, and land initial conditions. Dynamical meteorological drought prediction relies on seasonal climate forecast from general circulation models (GCMs), which can be employed to drive hydrological models for agricultural and hydrological drought prediction with the predictability determined by both climate forcings and initial conditions. Challenges still exist in drought prediction at long lead time and under a changing environment resulting from natural and anthropogenic factors. Future research prospects to improve drought prediction include, but are not limited to, high-quality data assimilation, improved model development with key processes related to drought occurrence, optimal ensemble forecast to select or weight ensembles, and hybrid drought prediction to merge statistical and dynamical forecasts.

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Issue Information

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 22:09

No abstract is available for this article.

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A Review of Global Precipitation Data Sets: Data Sources, Estimation, and Intercomparisons

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 07:16
Abstract

In this paper, we present a comprehensive review of the data sources and estimation methods of 30 currently available global precipitation data sets, including gauge-based, satellite-related, and reanalysis data sets. We analyzed the discrepancies between the data sets from daily to annual timescales and found large differences in both the magnitude and the variability of precipitation estimates. The magnitude of annual precipitation estimates over global land deviated by as much as 300 mm/yr among the products. Reanalysis data sets had a larger degree of variability than the other types of data sets. The degree of variability in precipitation estimates also varied by region. Large differences in annual and seasonal estimates were found in tropical oceans, complex mountain areas, northern Africa, and some high-latitude regions. Overall, the variability associated with extreme precipitation estimates was slightly greater at lower latitudes than at higher latitudes. The reliability of precipitation data sets is mainly limited by the number and spatial coverage of surface stations, the satellite algorithms, and the data assimilation models. The inconsistencies described limit the capability of the products for climate monitoring, attribution, and model validation.

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Correlations Between Extreme Atmospheric Hazards and Global Teleconnections: Implications for Multihazard Resilience

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 07:00
Abstract

Occurrences of concurrent extreme atmospheric hazards represent a significant area of uncertainty for organizations involved in disaster mitigation and risk management. Understanding risks posed by natural disasters and their relationship with global climate drivers is crucial in preparing for extreme events. In this review we quantify the strength of the physical mechanisms linking hazards and atmosphere-ocean processes. We demonstrate how research from the science community may be used to support disaster risk reduction and global sustainable development efforts. We examine peer-reviewed literature connecting 16 regions affected by extreme atmospheric hazards and eight key global drivers of weather and climate. We summarize current understanding of multihazard disaster risk in each of these regions and identify aspects of the global climate system that require further investigation to strengthen our resilience in these areas. We show that some drivers can increase the risk of concurrent hazards across different regions. Organizations that support disaster risk reduction, or underwrite exposure, in multiple regions may have a heightened risk of facing multihazard losses. We find that 15 regional hazards share connections via the El Niño–Southern Oscillation, with the Indian Ocean Dipole, North Atlantic Oscillation, and the Southern Annular Mode being secondary sources of significant regional interconnectivity. From a hazard perspective, rainfall over China shares the most connections with global drivers and has links to both Northern and Southern Hemisphere modes of variability. We use these connections to assess the global likelihood of concurrent hazard occurrence in support of multihazard resilience and disaster risk reduction goals.

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The Geodetic Signature of the Earthquake Cycle at Subduction Zones: Model Constraints on the Deep Processes

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 06:48
Abstract

Recent megathrust events in Tohoku (Japan), Maule (Chile), and Sumatra (Indonesia) were well recorded. Much has been learned about the dominant physical processes in megathrust zones: (partial) locking of the plate interface, detailed coseismic slip, relocking, afterslip, viscoelastic mantle relaxation, and interseismic loading. These and older observations show complex spatial and temporal patterns in crustal deformation and displacement, and significant differences among different margins. A key question is whether these differences reflect variations in the underlying processes, like differences in locking, or the margin geometry, or whether they are a consequence of the stage in the earthquake cycle of the margin. Quantitative models can connect these plate boundary processes to surficial and far-field observations. We use relatively simple, cyclic geodynamic models to isolate the first-order geodetic signature of the megathrust cycle. Coseismic and subsequent slip on the subduction interface is dynamically (and consistently) driven. A review of global preseismic, coseismic, and postseismic geodetic observations, and of their fit to the model predictions, indicates that similar physical processes are active at different margins. Most of the observed variability between the individual margins appears to be controlled by their different stages in the earthquake cycle. The modeling results also provide a possible explanation for observations of tensile faulting aftershocks and tensile cracking of the overriding plate, which are puzzling in the context of convergence/compression. From the inversion of our synthetic GNSS velocities we find that geodetic observations may incorrectly suggest weak locking of some margins, for example, the west Aleutian margin.

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Pedotransfer Functions in Earth System Science: Challenges and Perspectives

Thu, 12/28/2017 - 23:06
Abstract

Soil, through its various functions, plays a vital role in the Earth's ecosystems and provides multiple ecosystem services to humanity. Pedotransfer functions (PTFs) are simple to complex knowledge rules that relate available soil information to soil properties and variables that are needed to parameterize soil processes. In this paper, we review the existing PTFs and document the new generation of PTFs developed in the different disciplines of Earth system science. To meet the methodological challenges for a successful application in Earth system modeling, we emphasize that PTF development has to go hand in hand with suitable extrapolation and upscaling techniques such that the PTFs correctly represent the spatial heterogeneity of soils. PTFs should encompass the variability of the estimated soil property or process, in such a way that the estimation of parameters allows for validation and can also confidently provide for extrapolation and upscaling purposes capturing the spatial variation in soils. Most actively pursued recent developments are related to parameterizations of solute transport, heat exchange, soil respiration, and organic carbon content, root density, and vegetation water uptake. Further challenges are to be addressed in parameterization of soil erosivity and land use change impacts at multiple scales. We argue that a comprehensive set of PTFs can be applied throughout a wide range of disciplines of Earth system science, with emphasis on land surface models. Novel sensing techniques provide a true breakthrough for this, yet further improvements are necessary for methods to deal with uncertainty and to validate applications at global scale.

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Probabilistic Tsunami Hazard Analysis: Multiple Sources and Global Applications

Wed, 12/27/2017 - 15:30
Abstract

Applying probabilistic methods to infrequent but devastating natural events is intrinsically challenging. For tsunami analyses, a suite of geophysical assessments should be in principle evaluated because of the different causes generating tsunamis (earthquakes, landslides, volcanic activity, meteorological events, and asteroid impacts) with varying mean recurrence rates. Probabilistic Tsunami Hazard Analyses (PTHAs) are conducted in different areas of the world at global, regional, and local scales with the aim of understanding tsunami hazard to inform tsunami risk reduction activities. PTHAs enhance knowledge of the potential tsunamigenic threat by estimating the probability of exceeding specific levels of tsunami intensity metrics (e.g., run-up or maximum inundation heights) within a certain period of time (exposure time) at given locations (target sites); these estimates can be summarized in hazard maps or hazard curves. This discussion presents a broad overview of PTHA, including (i) sources and mechanisms of tsunami generation, emphasizing the variety and complexity of the tsunami sources and their generation mechanisms, (ii) developments in modeling the propagation and impact of tsunami waves, and (iii) statistical procedures for tsunami hazard estimates that include the associated epistemic and aleatoric uncertainties. Key elements in understanding the potential tsunami hazard are discussed, in light of the rapid development of PTHA methods during the last decade and the globally distributed applications, including the importance of considering multiple sources, their relative intensities, probabilities of occurrence, and uncertainties in an integrated and consistent probabilistic framework.

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Formation, Fate, and Impacts of Microscopic and Macroscopic Oil-Sediment Residues in Nearshore Marine Environments: A Critical Review

Sat, 12/23/2017 - 22:16
Abstract

Crude oil that is spilled in marine environments often interacts with suspended sediments to form residues that can impact the recovery of the affected nearshore ecosystems. When spilled oil and sediment interact, they can form either small microscopic aggregates, commonly referred to as oil-particle aggregates, or large macroscopic agglomerates, referred to as sediment-oil agglomerates or sediment-oil mats. Although these different sized oil-sediment residues have similar compositions, they are formed under different conditions and have different fates in nearshore environments; the goal of this review is to synthesize our current understanding of these two types of residues. We believe that researchers who focus solely on studying either microscopic aggregates or macroscopic agglomerates could benefit from understanding the research findings available in the other field. In this study, we compare and contrast various processes that control the formation, fate, and impacts of these two types of residues in nearshore environments and point out some of the knowledge gaps in this field. Additionally, these residues have been referred to by many names in the past, leading to confusion and misconceptions at times. In this effort, we recommend a uniform nomenclature to distinguish them based on their physical size. Our overall aim is to bridge the gap between microscopic and macroscopic oil-sediment residue literature to foster a robust exchange of ideas, which we believe can lead to the development of efficient strategies for managing oil spills that affect nearshore environments.

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The Defining Characteristics of ENSO Extremes and the Strong 2015/2016 El Niño

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 01:32
Abstract

The year 2015 was special for climate scientists, particularly for the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) research community, as a major El Niño finally materialized after a long pause since the 1997/1998 extreme El Niño. It was scientifically exciting since, due to the short observational record, our knowledge of an extreme El Niño has been based only on the 1982/1983 and 1997/1998 events. The 2015/2016 El Niño was marked by many environmental disasters that are consistent with what is expected for an extreme El Niño. Considering the dramatic impacts of extreme El Niño, and the risk of a potential increase in frequency of ENSO extremes under greenhouse warming, it is timely to evaluate how the recent event fits into our understanding of ENSO extremes. Here we provide a review of ENSO, its nature and dynamics, and through analysis of various observed key variables, we outline the processes that characterize its extremes. The 2015/2016 El Niño brings a useful perspective into the state of understanding of these events and highlights areas for future research. While the 2015/2016 El Niño is characteristically distinct from the 1982/1983 and 1997/1998 events, it still can be considered as the first extreme El Niño of the 21st century. Its extremity can be attributed in part to unusually warm condition in 2014 and to long-term background warming. In effect, this study provides a list of physically meaningful indices that are straightforward to compute for identifying and tracking extreme ENSO events in observations and climate models.

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Flow, Transport, and Reaction in Porous Media: Percolation Scaling, Critical-Path Analysis, and Effective Medium Approximation

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 15:21
Abstract

We describe the most important developments in the application of three theoretical tools to modeling of the morphology of porous media and flow and transport processes in them. One tool is percolation theory. Although it was over 40 years ago that the possibility of using percolation theory to describe flow and transport processes in porous media was first raised, new models and concepts, as well as new variants of the original percolation model are still being developed for various applications to flow phenomena in porous media. The other two approaches, closely related to percolation theory, are the critical-path analysis, which is applicable when porous media are highly heterogeneous, and the effective medium approximation—poor man's percolation—that provide a simple and, under certain conditions, quantitatively correct description of transport in porous media in which percolation-type disorder is relevant. Applications to topics in geosciences include predictions of the hydraulic conductivity and air permeability, solute and gas diffusion that are particularly important in ecohydrological applications and land-surface interactions, and multiphase flow in porous media, as well as non-Gaussian solute transport, and flow morphologies associated with imbibition into unsaturated fractures. We describe new applications of percolation theory of solute transport to chemical weathering and soil formation, geomorphology, and elemental cycling through the terrestrial Earth surface. Wherever quantitatively accurate predictions of such quantities are relevant, so are the techniques presented here. Whenever possible, the theoretical predictions are compared with the relevant experimental data. In practically all the cases, the agreement between the theoretical predictions and the data is excellent. Also discussed are possible future directions in the application of such concepts to many other phenomena in geosciences.

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