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Southeastern U.S. Daily Temperature Ranges Associated with the El Niño–Southern Oscillation

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  • 1 Center for Ocean–Atmospheric Prediction Studies, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
  • | 2 National Climatic Data Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Asheville, North Carolina
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Abstract

The daily temperature range (DTR; daily maximum temperature minus daily minimum temperature) at 290 southeastern U.S. stations is examined with respect to the warm and cold phases of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) for the period of 1948–2009. A comparison of El Niño and La Niña DTR distributions during 3-month seasons is conducted using various metrics. Histograms show each station’s particular distribution. To compare directly the normalized distributions of El Niño and La Niña, a new metric (herein called conditional ratio) is produced and results are evaluated for significance at 95% confidence with a bootstrapping technique. Results show that during 3-month winter, spring, and autumn seasons DTRs above 29°F (16.1°C) are significantly more frequent during La Niña events and that DTRs below 15°F (8.3°C) are significantly more frequent during El Niño events. It is hypothesized that these results are associated spatially with cloud cover and storm tracks during each season and ENSO phase. Relationships between DTRs and ENSO-related relative humidity are examined. These results are pertinent to the cattle industry in the Southeast, allowing ranchers to plan for and mitigate threats posed by periods of low DTRs associated with the predicted phase of ENSO.

Corresponding author address: Melissa L. Griffin, 2035 E. Paul Dirac Dr., 200 R. M. Johnson Bldg., Tallahassee, FL 32306-2840. E-mail: griffin@coaps.fsu.edu

Abstract

The daily temperature range (DTR; daily maximum temperature minus daily minimum temperature) at 290 southeastern U.S. stations is examined with respect to the warm and cold phases of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) for the period of 1948–2009. A comparison of El Niño and La Niña DTR distributions during 3-month seasons is conducted using various metrics. Histograms show each station’s particular distribution. To compare directly the normalized distributions of El Niño and La Niña, a new metric (herein called conditional ratio) is produced and results are evaluated for significance at 95% confidence with a bootstrapping technique. Results show that during 3-month winter, spring, and autumn seasons DTRs above 29°F (16.1°C) are significantly more frequent during La Niña events and that DTRs below 15°F (8.3°C) are significantly more frequent during El Niño events. It is hypothesized that these results are associated spatially with cloud cover and storm tracks during each season and ENSO phase. Relationships between DTRs and ENSO-related relative humidity are examined. These results are pertinent to the cattle industry in the Southeast, allowing ranchers to plan for and mitigate threats posed by periods of low DTRs associated with the predicted phase of ENSO.

Corresponding author address: Melissa L. Griffin, 2035 E. Paul Dirac Dr., 200 R. M. Johnson Bldg., Tallahassee, FL 32306-2840. E-mail: griffin@coaps.fsu.edu
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