• Bacmeister, J., P. J. Pegion, S. D. Schubert, and M. J. Suarez, 2000: An atlas of seasonal means simulated by the NSIPP 1 atmospheric GCM. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Tech. Memo 104606, Vol. 17, 218 pp.

  • Bell, G. D., and W. Higgins, 2005: U.S. storms and flooding in the West and Midwest: Exceptional warmth in the Midwest and East. NOAA Climate Prediction Center/NWS/NCEP Rep., 10 pp. [Available online at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/california_assessment_2005.pdf.].

  • Cayan, D. R., K. T. Redmond, and L. G. Riddle, 1999: ENSO and hydrological extremes in the western United States. J. Climate, 12 , 28812893.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chou, M-D., and M. J. Suarez, 1994: An efficient thermal infrared radiation parameterization for use in general circulation models. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Tech. Memo 104606, Vol. 3, 85 pp.

  • Chou, M-D., and M. J. Suarez, 2000: A solar radiation parameterization for atmospheric studies. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Tech. Memo 104606, Vol. 11, 40 pp.

  • Coles, S., 2001: An Introduction to Statistical Modeling of Extreme Values. Springer-Verlag, 208 pp.

  • Gershunov, A., 1998: ENSO influence on intraseasonal extreme rainfall and temperature frequencies in the contiguous United States: Implications for long-range predictability. J. Climate, 11 , 31923203.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gershunov, A., and T. P. Barnett, 1998: ENSO influence on intraseasonal extreme rainfall and temperature frequencies in the contiguous United States: Observations and model results. J. Climate, 11 , 15751586.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Helfand, M., and S. D. Schubert, 1995: Climatology of the simulated Great Plains low-level jet and its contribution to the continental moisture budget of the United States. J. Climate, 8 , 784806.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Higgins, R. W., J. E. Janowiak, and Y. Yao, 1996: A Gridded Hourly Precipitation Database for the United States (1963–93). NOAA/NWS/NCEP/Climate Prediction Center Atlas No. 1, 47 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Higgins, R. W., Y. Yao, E. S. Yarosh, J. E. Janowiak, and K. C. Mo, 1997: Influence of the Great Plains low-level jet on the summertime precipitation and moisture transport over the central United States. J. Climate, 10 , 481507.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Higgins, R. W., J-K. Schemm, W. Shi, and A. Leetmaa, 2000: Extreme precipitation events in the western United States related to tropical forcing. J. Climate, 13 , 793820.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hoerling, M. P., and A. Kumar, 1997: Origins of extreme climate states during the 1982–83 ENSO winter. J. Climate, 10 , 28592870.

  • Houghton, J. T., Y. Ding, D. J. Griggs, M. Noguer, P. J. van der Linden, and D. Xiaosu, 2001: Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. Cambridge University Press, 881 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kalnay, E., and Coauthors, 1996: The NCEP/NCAR 40-Year Reanalysis Project. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 77 , 437471.

  • Katz, R. W., M. B. Parlange, and P. Naveau, 2002: Statistics of extremes in hydrology. Adv. Water Resour., 25 , 12871304.

  • Koster, R. D., and M. J. Suarez, 1996: Energy and water balance calculations in the Mosaic LSM. NASA Tech. Memo 104606, Vol. 9, 194 pp.

  • Louis, J., M. Tiedtke, and J. Geleyn, 1982: A short history of the PBL parameterization at ECMWF. Proc. ECMWF Workshop on Planetary Boundary Layer Parameterization, Reading, United Kingdom, ECMWF, 59–80.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mo, K., 1999: Alternating wet and dry episodes over California and intraseasonal oscillations. Mon. Wea. Rev., 127 , 27592776.

  • Mo, K., and R. W. Higgins, 1998: Tropical influences on California precipitation. J. Climate, 11 , 412430.

  • Moorthi, S., and M. J. Suarez, 1992: Relaxed Arakawa–Schubert: A parameterization of moist convection for general circulation models. Mon. Wea. Rev., 120 , 9781002.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Noel, J., and D. Changnon, 1998: A pilot study examining U.S. winter cyclone frequency patterns associated with three ENSO parameters. J. Climate, 11 , 21522159.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pegion, P. J., S. D. Schubert, and M. J. Suarez, 2000: An assessment of the predictability of northern winter seasonal means with the NSIPP 1 AGCM. Goddard Space Flight Center NASA Tech. Memo 104606, Vol. 18, 124 pp.

  • Reiss, R-D., and M. Thomas, 1997: Statistical Analysis of Extreme Values. Birkhäuser, 316 pp.

  • Schonher, T., and S. E. Nicholson, 1989: The relationship between California rainfall and the ENSO events. J. Climate, 2 , 12581269.

  • Schubert, S. D., H. M. Helfand, C-Y. Wu, and W. Min, 1998: Subseasonal variations in warm-season moisture transport and precipitation over the central and eastern United States. J. Climate, 11 , 25302555.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schubert, S. D., M. J. Suarez, P. J. Pegion, M. A. Kistler, and A. Kumer, 2002: Predictability of zonal means during boreal summer. J. Climate, 15 , 420434.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Suarez, M. J., and L. L. Takacs, 1995: Documentation of the Aries-GEOS Dynamical Core: Version 2. Goddard Space Flight Center NASA Tech. Memo 104606, Vol. 5, 56 pp.

  • Webb, R. H., and J. L. Betancourt, 1992: Climate variability and flood frequency of the Santa Cruz River, Pima County, Arizona. U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 2379, 40 pp.

  • Whittaker, L. M., and L. H. Horn, 1984: Northern Hemisphere extratropical cyclone activity for four mid-season months. J. Climatol., 4 , 297310.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yarnal, B., and H. F. Diaz, 1986: Relationships between extremes of the southern oscillation and the winter climate of the Anglo-American Pacific Coast. J. Climatol., 6 , 197219.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zwiers, F. W., and V. V. Kharin, 1998: Changes in the extremes of the climate simulated by CCC GCM2 under CO2 doubling. J. Climate, 11 , 22002222.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 265 140 5
PDF Downloads 210 114 2

ENSO and Wintertime Extreme Precipitation Events over the Contiguous United States

View More View Less
  • 1 Global Modeling and Assimilation Office, Earth–Sun Exploration Division, NASA GSFC, Greenbelt, Maryland
Restricted access

Abstract

In this study the authors examine the impact of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on precipitation events over the continental United States using 49 winters (1949/50–1997/98) of daily precipitation observations and NCEP–NCAR reanalyses. The results are compared with those from an ensemble of nine atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) simulations forced with observed SST for the same time period. Empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs) of the daily precipitation fields together with compositing techniques are used to identify and characterize the weather systems that dominate the winter precipitation variability. The time series of the principal components (PCs) associated with the leading EOFs are analyzed using generalized extreme value (GEV) distributions to quantify the impact of ENSO on the intensity of extreme precipitation events.

The six leading EOFs of the observations are associated with major winter storm systems and account for more than 50% of the daily precipitation variability along the West Coast and over much of the eastern part of the country. Two of the leading EOFs (designated GC for Gulf Coast and EC for East Coast) together represent cyclones that develop in the Gulf of Mexico and occasionally move and/or redevelop along the East Coast producing large amounts of precipitation over much of the southern and eastern United States. Three of the leading EOFs represent storms that hit different sections of the West Coast (designated SW for Southwest coast, WC for the central West Coast, and NW for northwest coast), while another represents storms that affect the Midwest (designated by MW). The winter maxima of several of the leading PCs are significantly impacted by ENSO such that extreme GC, EC, and SW storms that occur on average only once every 20 years (20-yr storms) would occur on average in half that time under sustained El Niño conditions. In contrast, under La Niña conditions, 20-yr GC and EC storms would occur on average about once in 30 years, while there is little impact of La Niña on the intensity of the SW storms. The leading EOFs from the model simulations and their connections to ENSO are for the most part quite realistic. The model, in particular, does very well in simulating the impact of ENSO on the intensity of EC and GC storms. The main model discrepancies are the lack of SW storms and an overall underestimate of the daily precipitation variance.

* Additional affiliation: Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology Center, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland

+ Additional affiliation: Science Applications International Corporation, Beltsville, Maryland

Corresponding author address: Siegfried D. Schubert, Global Modeling and Assimilation Office, Earth–Sun Exploration Division, NASA GSFC, Greenbelt, MD 20771. Email: siegfried.d.schubert@nasa.gov

Abstract

In this study the authors examine the impact of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on precipitation events over the continental United States using 49 winters (1949/50–1997/98) of daily precipitation observations and NCEP–NCAR reanalyses. The results are compared with those from an ensemble of nine atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) simulations forced with observed SST for the same time period. Empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs) of the daily precipitation fields together with compositing techniques are used to identify and characterize the weather systems that dominate the winter precipitation variability. The time series of the principal components (PCs) associated with the leading EOFs are analyzed using generalized extreme value (GEV) distributions to quantify the impact of ENSO on the intensity of extreme precipitation events.

The six leading EOFs of the observations are associated with major winter storm systems and account for more than 50% of the daily precipitation variability along the West Coast and over much of the eastern part of the country. Two of the leading EOFs (designated GC for Gulf Coast and EC for East Coast) together represent cyclones that develop in the Gulf of Mexico and occasionally move and/or redevelop along the East Coast producing large amounts of precipitation over much of the southern and eastern United States. Three of the leading EOFs represent storms that hit different sections of the West Coast (designated SW for Southwest coast, WC for the central West Coast, and NW for northwest coast), while another represents storms that affect the Midwest (designated by MW). The winter maxima of several of the leading PCs are significantly impacted by ENSO such that extreme GC, EC, and SW storms that occur on average only once every 20 years (20-yr storms) would occur on average in half that time under sustained El Niño conditions. In contrast, under La Niña conditions, 20-yr GC and EC storms would occur on average about once in 30 years, while there is little impact of La Niña on the intensity of the SW storms. The leading EOFs from the model simulations and their connections to ENSO are for the most part quite realistic. The model, in particular, does very well in simulating the impact of ENSO on the intensity of EC and GC storms. The main model discrepancies are the lack of SW storms and an overall underestimate of the daily precipitation variance.

* Additional affiliation: Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology Center, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland

+ Additional affiliation: Science Applications International Corporation, Beltsville, Maryland

Corresponding author address: Siegfried D. Schubert, Global Modeling and Assimilation Office, Earth–Sun Exploration Division, NASA GSFC, Greenbelt, MD 20771. Email: siegfried.d.schubert@nasa.gov

Save