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Michael S. Halpert

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Michael S. Halpert

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Michael S. Halpert
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Chester F. Ropelewski

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Vernon E. Kousky
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Michael S. Halpert

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Chester F. Ropelewski
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Michael S. Halpert

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A series of earlier studies has identified regions of the world in which precipitation appears to have a consistent relationship with the Southern Oscillation (SO). In this paper, the authors attempt to quantify this relationship based on shifts in the statistical distribution of precipitation amounts with emphasis on shifts in the median, which are associated with the warm (low SO index) and cold (high SO index) phases of the SO. This paper is partially an attempt to provide long-range forecasters with some guidance in making seasonal and multiseasonal predictions. Observed SO-related shifts in the median precipitation amounts, expressed as percentiles with respect to “climatological” conditions, can he used as a simple indication of the “typical” SO response for a given region. In general, the authors find that for many of the large areas identified in previous studies, median precipitation amounts shift on the order of 20 percentile points, that is, from the median to either the 30th percentile or the 70th percentile. The authors also find considerable spatial variations in the typical patterns of SO-related precipitation percentiles in some regions.

This study also provides empirically based estimates of SO-related precipitation anomalies in terms of precipitation rates for use in numerical model studies. For selected areas in the Tropics, the authors find empirically estimated anomalous precipitation rates ranging from 1 to 3.5 mm/day, that is, from 15% to 83% of the climatological median.

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Michael S. Halpert
and
Chester F. Ropelewski

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The “typical” global and large-scale regional temperature patterns associated with the low (warm) and high (cold) phases of the Southern Oscillation (SO) are investigated. A total of 12 separate regions were found to have consistent temperature patterns associated with low phase of the SO, while 11 areas were found to have temperature patterns associated with the high phase. Of these areas, 9 have expected temperature patterns during both phases of the SO. In the tropics, temperature anomalies are of the same sign as the SO-related sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly in all land regions except for one area in the west Pacific. Three extratropical responses to the low phase of the SO are found over North America and one is found in Japan. High SO-temperature patterns were found in the extratropies for Japan, western Europe, and northwestern North America. The identified temperature responses are more consistent in tropical regions than in the extratropies. The SO can influence the estimation of global surface temperature anomalies.

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Michael S. Halpert
and
Gerald D. Bell

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Michael S. Halpert
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Gerald D. Bell

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Michael S. Halpert
and
Thomas M. Smith

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Michael S. Halpert
and
Gerald D. Bell

The climate of 1996 can be characterized by several phenomena that reflect substantial deviations from the mean state of the atmosphere persisting from months to seasons. First, mature cold-episode conditions persisted across the tropical Pacific from November 1995 through May 1996 and contributed to large-scale anomalies of atmospheric circulation, temperature, and precipitation across the Tropics, the North Pacific and North America. These anomalies were in many respects opposite to those that had prevailed during the past several years in association with a prolonged period of tropical Pacific warm-episode conditions (ENSO). Second, strong tropical intraseasonal (Madden–Julian oscillations) activity was observed during most of the year. The impact of these oscillations on extratropical circulation variability was most evident late in the year in association with strong variations in the eastward extent of the East Asian jet and in the attendant downstream circulation, temperature, and precipitation patterns over the eastern North Pacific and central North America. Third, a return to the strong negative phase of the atmospheric North Atlantic oscillation (NAO) during November 1995–February 1996, following a nearly continuous 15-yr period of positive-phase NAO conditions, played a critical role in affecting temperature and precipitation patterns across the North Atlantic, Eurasia, and northern Africa. The NAO also contributed to a significant decrease in wintertime temperatures across large portions of Siberia and northern Russia from those that had prevailed during much of the 1980s and early 1990s.

Other regional aspects of the short-term climate during 1996 included severe drought across the southwestern United States and southern plains states during October 1995–May 1996, flooding in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States during the 1995/96 and 1996/97 winters, a cold and extremely snowy 1995/96 winter in the eastern United States, a second consecutive year of above-normal North Atlantic hurricane activity, near-normal rains in the African Sahel, above-normal rainfall across southeastern Africa during October 1995–April 1996, above-normal precipitation for most of the year across eastern and southeastern Australia following severe drought in these areas during 1995, and generally nearnormal monsoonal rains in India with significantly below-normal rainfall in Bangladesh and western Burma.

The global annual mean surface temperature for land and marine areas during 1996 averaged 0.21°C above the 1961–90 base period means. This is a decrease of 0.19°C from the record warm year of 1995 but was still among the 10 highest values observed since 1860. The global land-only temperature for 1996 was 0.06°C above normal and was the lowest anomaly observed since 1985 (−0.11°C). Much of this relative decrease in global temperatures occurred in the Northern Hemisphere extratropics, where land-only temperatures dropped from 0.42°C above normal in 1995 to 0.04°C below normal in 1996.

The year also witnessed a continuation of near-record low ozone amounts in the Southern Hemisphere stratosphere, along with an abnormally prolonged appearance of the “ozone hole” into early December. The areal extent of the ozone hole in November and early December exceeded that previously observed for any such period on record. However, its areal extent at peak amplitude during late September–early October was near that observed during the past several years.

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