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Moisture Transport and Other Hydrometeorological Features Associated with the Severe 2000/01 Drought over the Western and Central Canadian Prairies

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  • 1 Climate Processes and Earth Observation Division, Meteorological Service of Canada, Environment Canada, Downsview, Ontario, Canada
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Abstract

The 54-yr (1948–2001) NCEP–NCAR reanalysis data as well as other information were used to study the moisture transport and associated circulation features for the severe 2000/01 drought over the western and central Canadian Prairies. Most of the moisture for precipitation over the region is from the Pacific Ocean in winter (November–March) and from the Gulf of Mexico in summer (May–August). An analysis shows that the zonal moisture transport from the Pacific Ocean into both the North American continent and the western and central Canadian Prairies during the winter of the 2000/01 agricultural year was the least over the entire study period, and there was no significantly enhanced moisture influx from the Gulf of Mexico into the region to compensate. Very low winter precipitation was produced over the western and central Canadian Prairies as a consequence. During the ensuing summer period, moisture transport from the Gulf of Mexico was significantly less than normal and no significantly enhanced moisture transport from the Pacific Ocean occurred. These conditions collectively resulted in extremely dry surface conditions for the growing season.

These moisture transport features were mainly associated with prolonged and extraordinarily strong anomalously high pressures over western North America and their related stronger-than-normal air mass sinking over the western and central prairies and adjacent regions. The anomalous high pressures blocked the moisture from flowing into the western and central prairies and were also associated with the splitting of the jet stream that significantly reduced zonal moisture transport by changing the strength and incoming angle of the airflows from the Pacific Ocean during the winter of 2000/01.

Consequences of the stronger-than-normal subsidence were hot and dry surface air during the summer and less precipitation. Collectively, these dynamic factors are favorable for both the formation and the maintenance of droughts.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Jinliang (John) Liu, Environmental Monitoring and Reporting Branch, Ministry of Environment, 125 Resources Road, East Wing, Toronto, ON M9P 3V6, Canada. Email: Jinliang.Liu@ene.gov.on.ca

Abstract

The 54-yr (1948–2001) NCEP–NCAR reanalysis data as well as other information were used to study the moisture transport and associated circulation features for the severe 2000/01 drought over the western and central Canadian Prairies. Most of the moisture for precipitation over the region is from the Pacific Ocean in winter (November–March) and from the Gulf of Mexico in summer (May–August). An analysis shows that the zonal moisture transport from the Pacific Ocean into both the North American continent and the western and central Canadian Prairies during the winter of the 2000/01 agricultural year was the least over the entire study period, and there was no significantly enhanced moisture influx from the Gulf of Mexico into the region to compensate. Very low winter precipitation was produced over the western and central Canadian Prairies as a consequence. During the ensuing summer period, moisture transport from the Gulf of Mexico was significantly less than normal and no significantly enhanced moisture transport from the Pacific Ocean occurred. These conditions collectively resulted in extremely dry surface conditions for the growing season.

These moisture transport features were mainly associated with prolonged and extraordinarily strong anomalously high pressures over western North America and their related stronger-than-normal air mass sinking over the western and central prairies and adjacent regions. The anomalous high pressures blocked the moisture from flowing into the western and central prairies and were also associated with the splitting of the jet stream that significantly reduced zonal moisture transport by changing the strength and incoming angle of the airflows from the Pacific Ocean during the winter of 2000/01.

Consequences of the stronger-than-normal subsidence were hot and dry surface air during the summer and less precipitation. Collectively, these dynamic factors are favorable for both the formation and the maintenance of droughts.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Jinliang (John) Liu, Environmental Monitoring and Reporting Branch, Ministry of Environment, 125 Resources Road, East Wing, Toronto, ON M9P 3V6, Canada. Email: Jinliang.Liu@ene.gov.on.ca

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