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Covariabilities of Winter U.S. Precipitation and Pacific Sea Surface Temperatures

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign, Urbana, Illinois
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Abstract

The variability of winter average U.S. precipitation displays strong geographical dependence with large variability in the southeastern and northwestern United States. The covariance of the U.S. winter mean precipitation with Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) is examined in this study using the singular value decomposition (SVD) method. The first SVD mode indicates the U.S. precipitation pattern that is associated with the tropical El Niño/La Niña SST variation, while the second and third SVD modes relate the precipitation variability in the Pacific Northwest and southeast that is associated with the North Pacific SST variation. About 45% of the U.S. precipitation variabilities is related to the Pacific SST anomalies, among which, 35% is related to the North Pacific SST and 10% is related to the tropical Pacific SST. Each SVD precipitation pattern is associated with well-organized 500-mb height and zonal mean zonal wind anomalies. It is shown that the North Pacific SST anomalies associated with the U.S. precipitation are primarily driven by extratropical atmospheric circulation anomalies.

Corresponding author address: Hui Wang, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, 221 Bobby Dodd Way, Atlanta, GA 30332-0340.

Email: huiwang@eas.gatech.edu

Abstract

The variability of winter average U.S. precipitation displays strong geographical dependence with large variability in the southeastern and northwestern United States. The covariance of the U.S. winter mean precipitation with Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) is examined in this study using the singular value decomposition (SVD) method. The first SVD mode indicates the U.S. precipitation pattern that is associated with the tropical El Niño/La Niña SST variation, while the second and third SVD modes relate the precipitation variability in the Pacific Northwest and southeast that is associated with the North Pacific SST variation. About 45% of the U.S. precipitation variabilities is related to the Pacific SST anomalies, among which, 35% is related to the North Pacific SST and 10% is related to the tropical Pacific SST. Each SVD precipitation pattern is associated with well-organized 500-mb height and zonal mean zonal wind anomalies. It is shown that the North Pacific SST anomalies associated with the U.S. precipitation are primarily driven by extratropical atmospheric circulation anomalies.

Corresponding author address: Hui Wang, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, 221 Bobby Dodd Way, Atlanta, GA 30332-0340.

Email: huiwang@eas.gatech.edu

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