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David S. Gutzler

Abstract

Geographical and seasonal variations of the variance and vertical structure of interannual anomalies of seasonally averaged zonal winds are calculated from rawinsonde records at tropical stations between 80°E and 140°W, the longitudes spanned by the “Walker Circulation.” Wind anomalies are negatively correlated in the upper and lower troposphere only in a latitude band within about 10° of the equator, defining the latitudinal extent of the Walker Circulation; about 70% of the interannual variance of tropospheric zonal winds is accounted for by a single vertical mode within this band. The band shifts seasonally north and south slightly, in conjunction with seasonal shifts in large-scale convection. The level of zonal overturning occurs between 300 and 500 mb, and is highest near the seasonal convective maximum. Other vertical structures, suggestive of interannual variability not associated with thermally forced circulations, are also found near the equator at some longitudes in the boreal winter season.

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David S. Gutzler

Abstract

The annual and semiannual harmonics of the wind field within 25° of the equator at six tropospheric pressure levels are described, based on data from a network of rawinsonde stations. The annual cycle in the zonal wind component is most prominent in the upper troposphere at subtropical latitude with maximum westerlies occurring late in each hemisphere's winter season. Significant amplitudes of the annual cycle in the meridional wind component are found to be confined to layers about 150 mb thick at the bottom and top of the troposphere. The semiannual cycle is significant only in the zonal wind component. At stations near the equator, the semiannual cycle in zonal wind has larger amplitude than the annual cycle.

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David S. Gutzler

Abstract

Oceanic and atmospheric data from the tropical western Pacific are analyzed to describe decadal-scale trends during the last 20 years, and these low-frequency trends are compared with shorter-term Southern Oscillation-related variations. Regional indices of western and central equatorial Pacific SST exhibit significant upward trends in recent decades. The decadal variability in the tropical Pacific is large enough relative to interannual variability to significantly affect the interpretation of standardized SST anomaly indices used to monitor Southern Oscillation phenomena. Specific humidity in the tropical western Pacific boundary layer exhibits a statistically significant upward trend consistent with previously published results based on a shorter data record. The convective instability of the tropical troposphere is increasing, but two indices related to precipitation show no evidence of a trend. These trends cannot be explained as an aggregate of the effects of more frequent El Niño warm events in recent years because the tropical western Pacific response to El Niño includes negative (i.e., dry) boundary-layer humidity anomalies and decreased convective instability. On interannual timescales there seems to be a distinct separation between the processes affecting tropospheric temperature within and above the tropical western Pacific boundary layer.

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David S. Gutzler

Abstract

Seasonal precipitation anomalies associated with the continental North American monsoon system are characterized using a land-based dataset derived from in situ observations across the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. Coherent regions of interannual continental precipitation variability are derived from principal component analysis, after defining separate “early” and “late” summer monsoon seasons. The gravest mode of late-season interannual variability captures precipitation anomalies in the core of the continental monsoon domain. A simple spatial average is developed as an index of this core variability. The seasonal separation allows examination of persistence of precipitation anomalies as an indicator of practical late-season predictability. Possible influences of large-scale oceanic interannual fluctuations [ENSO and Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO)] on core index precipitation anomalies are also considered. The core precipitation index exhibits considerably more early-to-late-season persistence than an ocean-centered precipitation index. Implications of these results for monthly/seasonal predictability of warm-season precipitation are discussed.

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David S. Gutzler

Abstract

Interannual fluctuations of observed summer rainfall across the monsoon region of the southwestern United States are analyzed to ascertain their spatial coherence and to test the hypothesis that antecedent spring snowpack anomalies may modulate the monsoon and exhibit an inverse correlation with summer rainfall anomalies. To characterize the spatial coherence of seasonal rainfall anomalies, an objective linear analysis of interannual variability is applied to climate divisional data across the Southwest. Three coherent subregions are identified, broadly representing rainfall anomalies across Arizona, eastern New Mexico/western Texas (the Southwest Plains), and most of New Mexico. Interannual fluctuations of summer rainfall in the New Mexico region exhibit a very significant negative correlation with a large-scale index of the antecedent 1 April snowpack over the southern U.S. Rocky Mountains during the 1961–90 climatic averaging period. This strong relationship seems to break down in the years before and after this period, possibly indicating a shift in climate associated with other forcing factors.

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David S. Gutzler and Jagadish Shukla

Abstract

A 15-winter sample of daily gridded values of Northern Hemisphere 500 mb heights is examined for the existence of recurrent flow patterns (“analogs”). The analog search is repeated several times after degrees of freedom are successively removed from the data by spatial filtering, temporal averaging, and consideration of smaller sectors of the hemisphere. The root mean square difference (or “rms error”) between the most closely analogous maps, defined over the middle latitudes (30–70°N), is slightly greater than half the average error between randomly chosen maps, with an estimated rms error doubling time of nearly 8 days. If the analog search is conducted using only the longwave component (zonal wavenumbers 0–4) of each map, the rms error between the best analog pairs is reduced to less than half of the rms error between long-wave anomalies on randomly chosen maps, but the doubling time is also reduced to less than 7 days. If the analog search is further restricted to a limited region over North America or Europe, the rms error between the best analog pairs is less than 40% of the rms error (for the sme region) between randomly chosen maps, but the error doubling time is further reduced to 4–5 days. In all cases, the degradation of analog quality is so rapid that a forecasting scheme based on the analogs would fail to produce more skillful forecasts than simple persistence.

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David A. Portman and David S. Gutzler

Abstract

A study was conducted to identify and separate possible signals of volcanic eruptions and of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in U.S. surface climate records. Anomalies of monthly mean surface air temperature and total precipitation taken from the U.S. Historical Climatology Network were composited (averaged) over years of major explosive volcanic eruptions. ENSO warm events, and ENSO cold events since the year 1900. It was assumed that volcanic eruptions and ENSO events occur independently of each other. All composite anomalies were assessed for significance with regard to several statistical and physical criteria. The composite ENSO-related anomalies were then subtracted from anomalies of temperature and precipitation associated with the volcanic eruptions.

Removal of large magnitude and highly significant anomalies associated with the ENSO warm and cold events is found to facilitate detection of volcanic signals in monthly records of U.S. temperature and precipitation. Volcanic signals are strongly suggested cast of the Continental Divide, for example, where positive monthly temperature anomalies exceeding 1°C occur during the first fall and winter after eruptions. Negative temperature anomalies occur west of the Continental Divide during the first winter and spring after eruptions and in the southern United States during the summer of the first post-eruption calendar year. Positive monthly precipitation anomalies exceeding 15 mm in magnitude are found in the southeastern United States during the first winter and spring after eruptions. Precipitation anomalies that are smaller in magnitude and yet significant, such as positive anomalies in the northwestern United States and negative anomalies in the central and eastern United States, are found during the summer of the first post-eruption calendar year.

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David S. Gutzler and Joshua S. Nims

Abstract

The effects of interannual climate variability on water demand in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are assessed. This city provides an ideal setting for examining the effects of climate on urban water demand, because at present the municipal water supply is derived entirely from groundwater, making supply insensitive to short-term climate variability. There is little correlation between interannual variability of climate and total water demand—a result that is consistent with several previous studies. However, summertime residential demand, which composes about one-quarter of total annual demand in Albuquerque, is significantly correlated with summer-season precipitation and average daily maximum temperature. Furthermore, regressions derived from year-to-year changes in these variables are shown to isolate the climatic modulation of residential water demand effectively. Over 60% of the variance of year-to-year changes in summer residential demand is accounted for by interannual temperature and precipitation changes when using a straightforward linear regression model, with precipitation being the primary correlate. Long-term trends in water demand follow population growth closely until 1994, after which time a major water conservation effort led to absolute decreases in demand in subsequent years. The effectiveness of the conservation efforts can be quantified by applying the regression model, thus removing the year-to-year variations associated with short-term climate fluctuations estimated from the preconservation period. The preconservation regression provides a good fit to interannual summer residential demand in subsequent years, demonstrating that the regression model has successfully isolated the climatic component of water demand. The quality of this fit during a period of sharply reduced demand suggests that the conservation program has effectively targeted the nonclimatically sensitive component of water demand and has sharpened the climatically sensitive component of demand to a level closer to the consumption that is “climatically needed.”

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John M. Wallace and David S. Gutzler

Abstract

Contemporaneous correlations between geopotential heights on a given pressure surface at widely separated points on earth, referred to as teleconnections in this paper, are studied in an attempt to identify and document recurrent spatial patterns which might be indicative of standing oscillations in the planetary waves during the Northern Hemisphere winter, with time scales on the order of a month or longer. A review of existing literature on the subject reveals the existence of at least four such patterns: the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oscillations identified by Walker and Bliss (1932). a zonally symmetric seesaw between sea level pressures in polar and temperature latitudes, first noted by Lorenz (1951), and what we will refer to as the Pacific/North American pattern, which has been known to operational long-range forecasters in this country since the 1950's.

A data set consisting of NMC monthly mean sea level pressure and 500 mb height analyses for a 15-year period is used as a basis for calculating the temporal correlation coefficients between all possible pairs of grid points. An objective method is used to identify and describe the strongest teleconnection patterns in this correlation matrix. The five leading patterns are compared with, and found to bear some similarity to, the leading eigenvectors of the correlation matrix. Certain of the above calculations are repeated on an independent data set in order to test the reproducibility of the patterns.

The North Atlantic Oscillation and the Pacific/North American patterns are strongly evident in both data acts. The former is associated with fluctuations in the strength of the climatological mean jet stream over the western Atlantic. The Pacific/North American pattern includes a north–south seesaw in the central Pacific somewhat reminiscent of the North Pacific Oscillation mentioned by Walker and Bliss (1932) and Bjerknes (1969), together with centers of action over western Canada and the southeastern United States. Several other teleconnection patterns are revealed by the analysis of the primary data set, but are not found to be as reproducible in the independent data set.

The sea level pressure statistics are dominated by negative correlations between the polar region and temperature latitudes, whereas the 500 mb statistics are dominated by patterns of a more regional scale, which display a nearly equivalent barotropic structure with amplitudes increasing with height. Most of the regional patterns have only one or two well-defined centers of action at the earth's surface, but at mid-tropospheric levels they are more wavelike in appearance and characterized by multiple centers of action; at these levels their structure resembles that of forced stationary wakes on a sphere.

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David S. Gutzler and Tamara M. Wood

Abstract

Geographical variations in the variance and cross-correlation of monthly mean sea surface temperature (SST), outgoing longwave radiation (OLR, a proxy for deep convection and vertical motion), and convergence of winds at the surface and at 850 mb across the tropical Indian and Pacific oceans are examined. Within about 10° of the equator at most longitudes the variance of these quantities associated with the seasonal cycle is less than the variance associated with anomalies from the seasonal cycle. Largest variances in the SST and surface convergence data occur across the eastern near-equatorial Pacific, whereas OLR and 850 mb convergence variances are largest across the western Pacific. OLR anomalies are significantly correlated with collocated SST and surface convergence anomalies from the date line eastward to the South American coast, but are uncorrelated west of the. date line. The OLR and 850 mb convergence anomalies are significantly correlated from about 120°W westward but are uncorrelated east of that longitude. The near-surface convergence field thus contains a complicated vertical structure that may not be adequately represented in models with a single lower layer.

These calculations suggest that the relative effectiveness of different mechanisms for large ocean ocean-atmosphere coupling varies considerably across the near-equatorial oceans. Direct thermodynamic linkage between SST and convection anomalies is consistent with the results only across the eastern near-equatorial Pacific. Surface gradients of SST are most effective at forcing low-level atmospheric circulation anomalies over the eastern Pacific, where SST and surface convergence have large variances and OLR and 850 mb convergence anomalies are small and not well correlated. West of the date line, forcing by midtropospheric latent heating seems most consistent with the observed relationships.

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