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Hugo G. Hidalgo and John A. Dracup

Abstract

Linkages between tropical Pacific Ocean monthly climatic variables and the Upper Colorado River basin (UCRB) hydroclimatic variations from 1909 to 1998 are analyzed at interseasonal timescales. A study of the changes in these linkages through the years and their relationship to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is also investigated. Tropical Pacific climate variations were represented by atmospheric/oceanic ENSO indicators. For the UCRB, warm season (April–September) streamflow totals at Lee's Ferry, Arizona, and precipitation averages at different periods (cold season: October–March; warm season: April–September; and annual: October–September) were used to study the UCRB's response to tropical Pacific climatic forcing. A basinwide ENSO signature was found in the significant correlations between warm season precipitation in the UCRB and warm season SST averages from the Niño-3 region in most of the stations around the UCRB. This link is more evident during the warm phase of ENSO (El Niño), which is associated with an increase in warm season precipitation. The analysis also showed a link between June to November ENSO conditions and cold season precipitation variations contained in a principal component representing the high-elevation precipitation stations, which are the main source of streamflow. However, the amplitude and coherence of the cold season ENSO signal is significantly smaller compared to the general precipitation variations found in stations around the UCRB. Only when very few stations in the high elevations are considered is the ENSO signal in cold season precipitation in the basin revealed. Interdecadal hydroclimatic variations in the UCRB related to possible PDO influences were also investigated. There are significant shifts in the mean of UCRB's moisture-controlled variables (precipitation and streamflow) coincident with the PDO shifts, suggesting a connection between the two processes. It has been suggested in other studies that this connection could be expressed as a modulation on the predominance of each ENSO phase; that is, strong and consistent winter El Niño (La Niña) patterns are associated with the positive (negative) phase of the PDO. In the UCRB this apparent modulation seems to be accompanied by a general change in the sign of the correlation between ENSO indicators and cold season precipitation in most stations of the basin around 1932/33. From 1909 to 1932 the basin has a predominantly cold season ENSO response characteristic of the northwestern United States (drier than normal associated with tropical SST warming and vice versa); from 1933 to 1998 the response of the basin is predominantly typical of the southwestern United States during winter (wetter than normal associated with tropical SST warming and vice versa). This apparent correlation sign reversal is suggested to be related to interdecadal changes in the boundary of the north–south bipolar response characteristic of the ENSO signal in the western United States during winter.

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Hugo G. Hidalgo, Daniel R. Cayan, and Michael D. Dettinger

Abstract

The variability (1990–2002) of potential evapotranspiration estimates (ETo) and related meteorological variables from a set of stations from the California Irrigation Management System (CIMIS) is studied. Data from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and from the Department of Energy from 1950 to 2001 were used to validate the results. The objective is to determine the characteristics of climatological ETo and to identify factors controlling its variability (including associated atmospheric circulations). Daily ETo anomalies are strongly correlated with net radiation (R n) anomalies, relative humidity (RH), and cloud cover, and less with average daily temperature (T avg). The highest intraseasonal variability of ETo daily anomalies occurs during the spring, mainly caused by anomalies below the high ETo seasonal values during cloudy days. A characteristic circulation pattern is associated with anomalies of ETo and its driving meteorological inputs, R n, RH, and T avg, at daily to seasonal time scales. This circulation pattern is dominated by 700-hPa geopotential height (Z 700) anomalies over a region off the west coast of North America, approximately between 32° and 44° latitude, referred to as the California Pressure Anomaly (CPA). High cloudiness and lower than normal ETo are associated with the low-height (pressure) phase of the CPA pattern. Higher than normal ETo anomalies are associated with clear skies maintained through anomalously high Z 700 anomalies offshore of the North American coast. Spring CPA, cloudiness, maximum temperature (T max), pan evaporation (E pan), and ETo conditions have not trended significantly or consistently during the second half of the twentieth century in California. Because it is not known how cloud cover and humidity will respond to climate change, the response of ETo in California to increased greenhouse-gas concentrations is essentially unknown; however, to retain the levels of ETo in the current climate, a decline of R n by about 6% would be required to compensate for a warming of +3°C.

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David W. Pierce, Tim P. Barnett, Hugo G. Hidalgo, Tapash Das, Céline Bonfils, Benjamin D. Santer, Govindasamy Bala, Michael D. Dettinger, Daniel R. Cayan, Art Mirin, Andrew W. Wood, and Toru Nozawa

Abstract

Observations show snowpack has declined across much of the western United States over the period 1950–99. This reduction has important social and economic implications, as water retained in the snowpack from winter storms forms an important part of the hydrological cycle and water supply in the region. A formal model-based detection and attribution (D–A) study of these reductions is performed. The detection variable is the ratio of 1 April snow water equivalent (SWE) to water-year-to-date precipitation (P), chosen to reduce the effect of P variability on the results. Estimates of natural internal climate variability are obtained from 1600 years of two control simulations performed with fully coupled ocean–atmosphere climate models. Estimates of the SWE/P response to anthropogenic greenhouse gases, ozone, and some aerosols are taken from multiple-member ensembles of perturbation experiments run with two models. The D–A shows the observations and anthropogenically forced models have greater SWE/P reductions than can be explained by natural internal climate variability alone. Model-estimated effects of changes in solar and volcanic forcing likewise do not explain the SWE/P reductions. The mean model estimate is that about half of the SWE/P reductions observed in the west from 1950 to 1999 are the result of climate changes forced by anthropogenic greenhouse gases, ozone, and aerosols.

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Céline Bonfils, Benjamin D. Santer, David W. Pierce, Hugo G. Hidalgo, Govindasamy Bala, Tapash Das, Tim P. Barnett, Daniel R. Cayan, Charles Doutriaux, Andrew W. Wood, Art Mirin, and Toru Nozawa

Abstract

Large changes in the hydrology of the western United States have been observed since the mid-twentieth century. These include a reduction in the amount of precipitation arriving as snow, a decline in snowpack at low and midelevations, and a shift toward earlier arrival of both snowmelt and the centroid (center of mass) of streamflows. To project future water supply reliability, it is crucial to obtain a better understanding of the underlying cause or causes for these changes. A regional warming is often posited as the cause of these changes without formal testing of different competitive explanations for the warming. In this study, a rigorous detection and attribution analysis is performed to determine the causes of the late winter/early spring changes in hydrologically relevant temperature variables over mountain ranges of the western United States. Natural internal climate variability, as estimated from two long control climate model simulations, is insufficient to explain the rapid increase in daily minimum and maximum temperatures, the sharp decline in frost days, and the rise in degree-days above 0°C (a simple proxy for temperature-driven snowmelt). These observed changes are also inconsistent with the model-predicted responses to variability in solar irradiance and volcanic activity. The observations are consistent with climate simulations that include the combined effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gases and aerosols. It is found that, for each temperature variable considered, an anthropogenic signal is identifiable in observational fields. The results are robust to uncertainties in model-estimated fingerprints and natural variability noise, to the choice of statistical downscaling method, and to various processing options in the detection and attribution method.

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Julie A. Vano, Bradley Udall, Daniel R. Cayan, Jonathan T. Overpeck, Levi D. Brekke, Tapash Das, Holly C. Hartmann, Hugo G. Hidalgo, Martin Hoerling, Gregory J. McCabe, Kiyomi Morino, Robert S. Webb, Kevin Werner, and Dennis P. Lettenmaier

The Colorado River is the primary water source for more than 30 million people in the United States and Mexico. Recent studies that project streamf low changes in the Colorado River all project annual declines, but the magnitude of the projected decreases range from less than 10% to 45% by the mid-twenty-first century. To understand these differences, we address the questions the management community has raised: Why is there such a wide range of projections of impacts of future climate change on Colorado River streamflow, and how should this uncertainty be interpreted? We identify four major sources of disparities among studies that arise from both methodological and model differences. In order of importance, these are differences in 1) the global climate models (GCMs) and emission scenarios used; 2) the ability of land surface and atmospheric models to simulate properly the high-elevation runoff source areas; 3) the sensitivities of land surface hydrology models to precipitation and temperature changes; and 4) the methods used to statistically downscale GCM scenarios. In accounting for these differences, there is substantial evidence across studies that future Colorado River streamflow will be reduced under the current trajectories of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions because of a combination of strong temperature-induced runoff curtailment and reduced annual precipitation. Reconstructions of preinstrumental streamflows provide additional insights; the greatest risk to Colorado River streamf lows is a multidecadal drought, like that observed in paleoreconstructions, exacerbated by a steady reduction in flows due to climate change. This could result in decades of sustained streamflows much lower than have been observed in the ~100 years of instrumental record.

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Peter Bissolli, Catherine Ganter, Tim Li, Ademe Mekonnen, Ahira Sánchez-Lugo, Eric J. Alfaro, Lincoln M. Alves, Jorge A. Amador, B. Andrade, Francisco Argeñalso, P. Asgarzadeh, Julian Baez, Reuben Barakiza, M. Yu. Bardin, Mikhail Bardin, Oliver Bochníček, Brandon Bukunt, Blanca Calderón, Jayaka D. Campbell, Elise Chandler, Ladislaus Chang’a, Vincent Y. S. Cheng, Leonardo A. Clarke, Kris Correa, Catalina Cortés, Felipe Costa, A.P.M.A. Cunha, Mesut Demircan, K. R. Dhurmea, A. Diawara, Sarah Diouf, Dashkhuu Dulamsuren, M. ElKharrim, Jhan-Carlo Espinoza, A. Fazl-Kazem, Chris Fenimore, Steven Fuhrman, Karin Gleason, Charles “Chip” P. Guard, Samson Hagos, Mizuki Hanafusa, H. R. Hasannezhad, Richard R. Heim Jr., Hugo G. Hidalgo, J. A. Ijampy, Gyo Soon Im, Annie C. Joseph, G. Jumaux, K. R. Kabidi, P-H. Kamsu-Tamo, John Kennedy, Valentina Khan, Mai Van Khiem, Philemon King’uza, Natalia N. Korshunova, A. C. Kruger, Hoang Phuc Lam, Mark A. Lander, Waldo Lavado-Casimiro, Tsz-Cheung Lee, Kinson H. Y. Leung, Gregor Macara, Jostein Mamen, José A. Marengo, Charlotte McBride, Noelia Misevicius, Aurel Moise, Jorge Molina-Carpio, Natali Mora, Awatif E. Mostafa, Habiba Mtongori, Charles Mutai, O. Ndiaye, Juan José Nieto, Latifa Nyembo, Patricia Nying’uro, Xiao Pan, Reynaldo Pascual Ramírez, David Phillips, Brad Pugh, Madhavan Rajeevan, M. L. Rakotonirina, Andrea M. Ramos, M. Robjhon, Camino Rodriguez, Guisado Rodriguez, Josyane Ronchail, Benjamin Rösner, Roberto Salinas, Hirotaka Sato, Hitoshi Sato, Amal Sayouri, Joseph Sebaziga, Serhat Sensoy, Sandra Spillane, Katja Trachte, Gerard van der Schrier, F. Sima, Adam Smith, Jacqueline M. Spence, O. P. Sreejith, A. K. Srivastava, José L. Stella, Kimberly A. Stephenson, Tannecia S. Stephenson, S. Supari, Sahar Tajbakhsh-Mosalman, Gerard Tamar, Michael A. Taylor, Asaminew Teshome, Wassila M. Thiaw, Skie Tobin, Adrian R. Trotman, Cedric J. Van Meerbeeck, A. Vazifeh, Shunya Wakamatsu, Wei Wang, Fei Xin, F. Zeng, Peiqun Zhang, and Zhiwei Zhu
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Tim Li, Abdallah Abida, Laura S. Aldeco, Eric J. Alfaro, Lincoln M. Alves, Jorge A. Amador, B. Andrade, Julian Baez, M. Yu. Bardin, Endalkachew Bekele, Eric Broedel, Brandon Bukunt, Blanca Calderón, Jayaka D. Campbell, Diego A. Campos Diaz, Gilma Carvajal, Elise Chandler, Vincent. Y. S. Cheng, Chulwoon Choi, Leonardo A. Clarke, Kris Correa, Felipe Costa, A. P. Cunha, Mesut Demircan, R. Dhurmea, Eliecer A. Díaz, M. ElKharrim, Bantwale D. Enyew, Jhan C. Espinoza, Amin Fazl-Kazem, Nava Fedaeff, Z. Feng, Chris Fenimore, S. D. Francis, Karin Gleason, Charles “Chip” P. Guard, Indra Gustari, S. Hagos, Richard R. Heim Jr., Rafael Hernández, Hugo G. Hidalgo, J. A. Ijampy, Annie C. Joseph, Guillaume Jumaux, Khadija Kabidi, Johannes W. Kaiser, Pierre-Honore Kamsu-Tamo, John Kennedy, Valentina Khan, Mai Van Khiem, Khatuna Kokosadze, Natalia N. Korshunova, Andries C. Kruger, Nato Kutaladze, L. Labbé, Mónika Lakatos, Hoang Phuc Lam, Mark A. Lander, Waldo Lavado-Casimiro, T. C. Lee, Kinson H. Y. Leung, Andrew D. Magee, Jostein Mamen, José A. Marengo, Dora Marín, Charlotte McBride, Lia Megrelidze, Noelia Misevicius, Y. Mochizuki, Aurel Moise, Jorge Molina-Carpio, Natali Mora, Awatif E. Mostafa, uan José Nieto, Lamjav Oyunjargal, Reynaldo Pascual Ramírez, Maria Asuncion Pastor Saavedra, Uwe Pfeifroth, David Phillips, Madhavan Rajeevan, Andrea M. Ramos, Jayashree V. Revadekar, Miliaritiana Robjhon, Ernesto Rodriguez Camino, Esteban Rodriguez Guisado, Josyane Ronchail, Benjamin Rösner, Roberto Salinas, Amal Sayouri, Carl J. Schreck III, Serhat Sensoy, A. Shimpo, Fatou Sima, Adam Smith, Jacqueline Spence, Sandra Spillane, Arne Spitzer, A. K. Srivastava, José L. Stella, Kimberly A. Stephenson, Tannecia S. Stephenson, Michael A. Taylor, Wassila Thiaw, Skie Tobin, Dennis Todey, Katja Trachte, Adrian R. Trotman, Gerard van der Schrier, Cedric J. Van Meerbeeck, Ahad Vazifeh, José Vicencio Veloso, Wei Wang, Fei Xin, Peiqun Zhang, Zhiwei Zhu, and Jonas Zucule
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