Comparison between Sea Surface Temperature in the Equatorial Eastern Pacific and United States Surface Temperatures

J. K. Angell Air Resources Laboratories, ERL, NOAA, Silver Spring, MD 20910

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J. Korshover Air Resources Laboratories, ERL, NOAA, Silver Spring, MD 20910

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Abstract

The average sea surface temperature in the equatorial eastern Pacific (0–10°S, 180–90°W, and hereafter known as SST*) has been compared with United States surface temperatures for winter and summer (and to a lesser extent spring and autumn) and the year as a whole. Based on year-average temperatures during the period 1931-77, Pacific Coast temperatures have been in phase with SST*, but at other longitudes within the contiguous United States the temperature has tended to lag SST* by about one year, and in southeast and south-central United States the temperature has been nearly out-of-phase with SST*. However, none of these relations is significant at the 95% level taking into account the serial correlation in the data. Based on seasonal data (annual variation eliminated) between 1893 and 1979, the average United States temperature has lagged SST* by three seasons, with the correlation of 0.14 at this lag significant at the 95% level. At Washington, DC, for the period 1868-1979 the correlation at 0.21 at a lag of three seasons is significant at the 99% level. During the period 1895-1979 the relation between SST* and winter temperatures at major cities in the United States has varied from nearly out-of-phase in southeast and south-central regions to nearly in-phase in northwest and north-central regions, and with a 3-season lag in northeast and central regions. Absolute values of the maximum or minimum correlations at each site generally have ranged from 0.36 (significant at the 99% level) to 0.24 (significant at the 95% level). There is little evidence of a meaningful relation between SST* and spring and summer temperatures in the United States. However, the correlation of 0.36 between autumn temperature at Washington, DC, and SST* three seasons earlier is significant at the 99% level (based on years 1868–1979) and the correlation of 0.20 between average autumn temperature in the United States and SST* three seasons earlier is significant at the 95% level (based on years 1893–1979). In summary, while there undoubtedly is a relation between sea surface temperature in the region 0–10°S, 180–90°W, and United States surface temperatures for some seasons and locations, the lag correlation is usually too small to make the relation, in itself, very useful as a predictive tool.

Abstract

The average sea surface temperature in the equatorial eastern Pacific (0–10°S, 180–90°W, and hereafter known as SST*) has been compared with United States surface temperatures for winter and summer (and to a lesser extent spring and autumn) and the year as a whole. Based on year-average temperatures during the period 1931-77, Pacific Coast temperatures have been in phase with SST*, but at other longitudes within the contiguous United States the temperature has tended to lag SST* by about one year, and in southeast and south-central United States the temperature has been nearly out-of-phase with SST*. However, none of these relations is significant at the 95% level taking into account the serial correlation in the data. Based on seasonal data (annual variation eliminated) between 1893 and 1979, the average United States temperature has lagged SST* by three seasons, with the correlation of 0.14 at this lag significant at the 95% level. At Washington, DC, for the period 1868-1979 the correlation at 0.21 at a lag of three seasons is significant at the 99% level. During the period 1895-1979 the relation between SST* and winter temperatures at major cities in the United States has varied from nearly out-of-phase in southeast and south-central regions to nearly in-phase in northwest and north-central regions, and with a 3-season lag in northeast and central regions. Absolute values of the maximum or minimum correlations at each site generally have ranged from 0.36 (significant at the 99% level) to 0.24 (significant at the 95% level). There is little evidence of a meaningful relation between SST* and spring and summer temperatures in the United States. However, the correlation of 0.36 between autumn temperature at Washington, DC, and SST* three seasons earlier is significant at the 99% level (based on years 1868–1979) and the correlation of 0.20 between average autumn temperature in the United States and SST* three seasons earlier is significant at the 95% level (based on years 1893–1979). In summary, while there undoubtedly is a relation between sea surface temperature in the region 0–10°S, 180–90°W, and United States surface temperatures for some seasons and locations, the lag correlation is usually too small to make the relation, in itself, very useful as a predictive tool.

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