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The Interannual Variability of the Haines Index over North America

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  • 1 Applied Hydrometeorological Research Institute, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, China
  • | 2 Department of Geography, and Center for Global Change and Earth Observations, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
  • | 3 Northern Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, East Lansing, Michigan
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Abstract

The Haines index (HI) is a fire-weather index that is widely used as an indicator of the potential for dry, low-static-stability air in the lower atmosphere to contribute to erratic fire behavior or large fire growth. This study examines the interannual variability of HI over North America and its relationship to indicators of large-scale circulation anomalies. The results show that the first three HI empirical orthogonal function modes are related respectively to El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the Arctic Oscillation (AO), and the interdecadal sea surface temperature variation over the tropical Pacific Ocean. During the negative ENSO phase, an anomalous ridge (trough) is evident over the western (eastern) United States, with warm/dry weather and more days with high HI values in the western and southeastern United States. During the negative phase of the AO, an anomalous trough is found over the western United States, with wet/cool weather and fewer days with high HI, while an anomalous ridge occurs over the southern United States–northern Mexico, with an increase in the number of days with high HI. After the early 1990s, the subtropical high over the eastern Pacific Ocean and the Bermuda high were strengthened by a wave train that was excited over the tropical western Pacific Ocean and resulted in warm/dry conditions over the southwestern United States and western Mexico and wet weather in the southeastern United States. The above conditions are reversed during the positive phase of ENSO and AO and before the early 1990s.

Corresponding author address: Shiyuan Zhong, Dept. of Geography, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824. E-mail: zhongs@msu.edu

Abstract

The Haines index (HI) is a fire-weather index that is widely used as an indicator of the potential for dry, low-static-stability air in the lower atmosphere to contribute to erratic fire behavior or large fire growth. This study examines the interannual variability of HI over North America and its relationship to indicators of large-scale circulation anomalies. The results show that the first three HI empirical orthogonal function modes are related respectively to El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the Arctic Oscillation (AO), and the interdecadal sea surface temperature variation over the tropical Pacific Ocean. During the negative ENSO phase, an anomalous ridge (trough) is evident over the western (eastern) United States, with warm/dry weather and more days with high HI values in the western and southeastern United States. During the negative phase of the AO, an anomalous trough is found over the western United States, with wet/cool weather and fewer days with high HI, while an anomalous ridge occurs over the southern United States–northern Mexico, with an increase in the number of days with high HI. After the early 1990s, the subtropical high over the eastern Pacific Ocean and the Bermuda high were strengthened by a wave train that was excited over the tropical western Pacific Ocean and resulted in warm/dry conditions over the southwestern United States and western Mexico and wet weather in the southeastern United States. The above conditions are reversed during the positive phase of ENSO and AO and before the early 1990s.

Corresponding author address: Shiyuan Zhong, Dept. of Geography, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824. E-mail: zhongs@msu.edu
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