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Paul A. Knapp, Peter T. Soulé, and Henri D. Grissino-Mayer


The occurrence of moderate and severe sustained droughts in the interior Pacific Northwest (PNW) from 1733 to 1980 was mapped using 18 western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis var. occidentalis Hook.) tree-ring chronologies. The frequency and duration of both moderate and severe sustained droughts are substantially greater in the northwest region of the interior PNW. Thus, this area is identified as a drought core region. These droughts are chiefly attributed to the presence of a Pacific blocking high off the NW coast that is associated with significant reductions in cool season precipitation. Specifically, the impacted northwest region lies within a transition zone between the fluxes of marine airflow during the cool season months and interior air during the warm season months. The waxing and waning of the boundaries of this transition zone particularly affect western juniper trees growing in this region. During years in which a blocking high is present, marine airflow is substantially reduced, exposing the trees in the transition zone to substantially drier springtime conditions that limit soil moisture and reduce radial growth. Although the most severe and persistent droughts were concentrated in the northwest region, four large-scale droughts also impacted the entire interior PNW during the study period. These droughts occurred principally during PDO warm phases, suggesting a regional-scale linkage to this climatic oscillation.

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Peter T. May, Charles N. Long, and Alain Protat


The diurnal variation of convection and associated cloud and radiative properties remains a significant issue in global NWP and climate models. This study analyzes observed diurnal variability of convection in a coastal monsoonal environment examining the interaction of convective rain clouds, their associated cloud properties, and the impact on the surface radiation and corresponding boundary layer structure during periods where convection is suppressed or active on the large scale. The analysis uses data from the Tropical Warm Pool International Cloud Experiment (TWP-ICE) as well as routine measurements from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program. Both active monsoonal and large-scale suppressed (buildup and break) conditions are examined and demonstrate that the diurnal variation of rainfall is much larger during the break periods and the spatial distribution of rainfall is very different between the monsoon and break regimes. During the active monsoon the total net radiative input to the surface is decreased by more than 3 times the amount than during the break regime—this total radiative cloud forcing is found to be dominated by the shortwave (SW) cloud effects because of the much larger optical thicknesses and persistence of long-lasting anvils and cirrus cloud decks associated with the monsoon regime. These differences in monsoon versus break surface radiative energy contribute to low-level air temperature differences in the boundary layer over the land surfaces.

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