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Shida Gao, Pan Liu, and Upmanu Lall

Abstract

Integrated atmospheric water vapor transport (IVT) is a determinant of global precipitation. In this paper, using the CERA-20C climate reanalysis dataset, we explore three questions in Northern Hemisphere precipitation for four seasons: 1) What is the covariability between the leading spatiotemporal modes of seasonal sea surface temperature (SST), the seasonal IVT, and the seasonal precipitation for the Northern Hemisphere? 2) How well can the leading spatial modes of seasonal precipitation be reconstructed from the leading modes of IVT and SST for the same season? 3) How well can the leading modes of precipitation for the next season be predicted from the leading modes of the current season’s SST and IVT? Wavelet analyses identify covariation in the leading modes of seasonal precipitation and those of IVT and SST in the 2–8-yr band, with the highest amplitude in the March–May (MAM) season, and provide a firm physical explanation for the potential predictability. We find that a subset of the 10 leading principal components of the seasonal IVT and SST fields has significant trends in connections with seasonal precipitation modes, and provides an accurate statistical concurrent reconstruction and one-season-ahead forecast of the leading seasonal precipitation modes, thus providing a pathway to improving the understanding and prediction of precipitation extremes in the context of climate change attribution, seasonal and longer prediction, and climate change scenarios. The same-season reconstruction model can explain 76% of the variance, and the next-season forecast model can explain 58% variance of hemispheric precipitation on average.

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