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Steven A. Mauget

Abstract

Using state-level monthly heating degree-day data, reconstructed per capita natural gas (NGr) consumption records for each state of the continental United States were calculated for 1895–2014 using linear regressions. The regressed monthly NGr values estimate the effects of twentieth- and early twenty-first-century climate variation on per capita natural gas usage, assuming a modern (1990–2013) consumption environment. Using these extended consumption records, the hypothetical effects of climate on past, current, and future natural gas (NG) use are estimated. By controlling for nonclimatic consumption effects, these extended reconstructions provide estimates of the sensitivity of NG consumption to historical climate variation, particularly long-term warming trends, occurring before the period of available consumption records. After detrending, the reconstructions are used to form improved estimates of interannual NG variation under current climate conditions. Given estimates of each state’s current consumption climatology and long-term trends in per capita consumption and current population trends, the net effect of warming and increasing population on future consumption is estimated. Significant long-term negative trends in per capita NG consumption are found in western and northeastern states and in Florida, while southeastern consumption effects reflect a multidecadal temperature cycle. Climate-related consumption effects found here are generally consistent with previous studies, with long-term trend effects limited to less than 12% and multidecadal regime effects limited to less than 9%. Given the stronger positive effects of increasing population on total state natural gas consumption, reduced per capita use associated with warming trends has a weak moderating effect on estimates of projected total consumption in 2043.

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Steven A. Mauget

Abstract

Trend analysis is used frequently in climate studies, but it is vulnerable to a number of conceptual shortcomings. This analysis of U.S. climate division data uses an alternate approach. The method used here subjects time series of annual average temperature and total precipitation to tests of Mann–Whitney U statistics over moving sampling windows of intra- to multidecadal (IMD) duration. In applying this method to time series of nationally averaged annual rainfall, a highly significant incidence of wet years is found after the early 1970s. When applied to individual climate divisions this test provides the basis for a climate survey method that is more robust than linear trend analysis, and capable of objectively isolating the timing and location of major IMD climate events over the United States. From this survey, four such periods emerge between 1932 and 1999: the droughts of the 1930s and 1950s, a cool 1964–79 period, and wet–warm time windows at the end of the century. More circumstantial consideration was also given here to the state of ENSO, the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO), the winter state of the North Atlantic Oscillation, and mean annual Northern Hemisphere surface temperature during those periods. Anecdotal evidence presented here suggests that wet years associated with warm-phase ENSO conditions and the positive phase of the PDO may have played a role in ending the drought periods of the 1930s and 1950s. Conversely, the La Niña–like climate impacts found here during the late 1940s to mid-1950s, and the increased incidence of cold phase ENSO and negative phase PDO conditions during that time, suggests connections between that ocean state and severe drought. Significant late-century warmth was found mainly in the western United States after the mid-1980s, but no evidence of a cooling trend was evident in the southeast, as reported elsewhere. The late-century wet regime appears to have occurred in two phases, with wetness confined to the east during 1972–79, and more concentrated in the southwest and central United States during 1982–99.

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Steven A. Mauget

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Intra- to multidecadal variation in annual streamflow, precipitation, and temperature over the continental United States are evaluated here through the calculation of Mann–Whitney U statistics over running-time windows of 6–30-yr duration. When this method is demonstrated on time series of nationally averaged annual precipitation and mean temperature during 1896–2001, it reveals that 8 of the 10 wettest years occurred during the last 29 yr of that 106-yr period, and 6 of the 10 warmest years during the last 16. Both of these results indicate highly significant departures from long-term stationarity in U.S. climate at the end of the twentieth century. The effects of increased wetness are primarily evident in the central and eastern United States, while evidence of warmth is found throughout the Rocky Mountain region and in the West. Analysis of annual streamflow records across the United States during 1939–98 shows broadly consistent effects. Initial evidence of the recent wet regime is most apparent in eastern streamflow, which shows a clear pattern of high-ranked mean annual values during the 1970s. Over the midwestern states, a coherent pattern of high-ranked annual flow is found during multidecadal periods beginning during the late 1960s and early 1970s and ending in either 1997 or 1998. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, a significant incidence of low-ranked annual flow conditions throughout the West was roughly coincident with the onset of western warmth during the mid-1980s. Evidence of highly significant transitions to wetter and warmer conditions nationally, and consistent variation in streamflow analyses, suggests that increased hydrological surplus in the central and eastern United States and increased hydrological deficit in the West may be representative of the initial stages of climate change over the continental United States.

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Steven A. Mauget

Abstract

The optimal ranking regime (ORR) method was applied to mean summer maximum (TMXS) and mean summer minimum (TMNS) temperature and to cumulative summer cooling degree-days (CDDS) calculated from U.S. climate-division data during 1895–2015. CDDS is proposed as a proxy for growing degree-days for summer corn given their high rank correlation in station data during 1950–2014. The TMXS and CDDS ORR analyses show similar climate-regime patterns. Western and northeastern divisions experienced multidecadal cool periods before 1930 and warm periods after 1990. The 1930s drought appears as decadal warm regimes over the Midwest and Great Plains. Multidecadal TMXS and CDDS temperature cycles are evident over the Southeast, but TMXS and CDDS variation over the Midwest’s Corn Belt agricultural region has been regime free since the early 1940s. By contrast, TMNS regimes consistent with centennial-scale warming trends are found over most divisions outside the Southeast. From the multidecadal regime patterns detected by the ORR analyses, the TMXS, TMNS, and CDDS series of each climate division were tested for significant linear trends during 1910–2015 and 1970–2015. Significant positive TMNS trends during 1910–2015 are found in 48 of the 102 divisions, with some western trend magnitudes being greater than 15% of the twentieth-century climatological mean. During 1970–2015, positive TMXS trends are detected over 39 western and northeastern divisions, but warming TMNS trends are evident nationally. In some cooler western divisions, positive 1970–2015 CDDS trend magnitudes exceed 90% of the climatological mean. Consistent with the ORR analyses, Corn Belt TMXS and CDDS trends are insignificant during 1970–2015.

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Steven A. Mauget and Jonghan Ko

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Simple phase schemes to predict seasonal climate based on leading ENSO indicators can be used to estimate the value of forecast information in agriculture and watershed management, but may be limited in predictive skill. Here, a simple two-tier statistical method is used to hindcast seasonal precipitation over the continental United States, and the resulting skill is compared with that of ENSO phase systems based on Niño-3 sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) and Southern Oscillation index (SOI) persistence. The two-tier approach first predicts Niño-3 winter season SSTA, and then converts those predictions to categorical precipitation hindcasts via a simple phase translation process. The hindcasting problem used to make these comparisons is relevant to winter wheat production over the central United States. Thus, given the state of seasonal SOI and Niño-3 indicators defined before August, the goal is to predict the tercile category of the following November–March precipitation. Generally, it was found that the methods based on either predicted or persisted winter Niño-3 conditions were skillful over areas where ENSO affects U.S. winter precipitation—that is, the Southeast and the Gulf Coast, Texas, the southern and central plains, the Southwest, Northwest, and the Ohio River valley—and that the two-tier approach based on predicted Niño-3 conditions was more likely to provide the best skill. Skill based on SOI persistence was generally lower over many of those regions and was insignificant over broad parts of the central and southwest United States, but did lead the other methods over the Ohio River valley and the northwest. A more restrictive test of leading hindcast skill showed that the skill advantages of the two-tier approach over the central and western United States were not substantial, and mainly highlighted SOI persistence’s lack of skill over the central United States and leading skill over the Ohio River valley. However, two-tier hindcasts based on neural-network-predicted Niño-3 SSTA were clearly more skillful than both ENSO phase methods over areas of the Southeast. It is suggested that the relative skill advantage of the two-tier approach may be due in part to the use of arbitrary thresholds in ENSO phase systems.

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Steven A. Mauget and Eugene C. Cordero

Abstract

In Part I of this paper, the optimal ranking regime (ORR) method was used to identify intradecadal to multidecadal (IMD) regimes in U.S. climate division temperature data during 1896–2012. Here, the method is used to test for annual and seasonal precipitation regimes during that same period. Water-year mean streamflow rankings at 125 U.S. Hydro-Climatic Data Network gauge stations are also evaluated during 1939–2011. The precipitation and streamflow regimes identified are compared with ORR-derived regimes in the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO), the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO), and indices derived from gridded SST anomaly (SSTA) analysis data. Using a graphic display approach that allows for the comparison of IMD climate regimes in multiple time series, an interdecadal cycle in western precipitation is apparent after 1980, as is a similar cycle in northwestern streamflow. Before 1980, IMD regimes in northwestern streamflow and annual precipitation are in approximate antiphase with the PDO. One of the clearest IMD climate signals found in this analysis are post-1970 wet regimes in eastern U.S streamflow and annual precipitation, as well as in fall [September–November (SON)] precipitation. Pearson correlations between time series of annual and seasonal precipitation averaged over the eastern United States and SSTA analysis data show relatively extensive positive correlations between warming tropical SSTA and increasing fall precipitation. The possible Pacific and northern Atlantic roots of the recent eastern U.S. wet regime, as well as the general characteristics of U.S. climate variability in recent decades that emerge from this analysis and that of Part I, are discussed.

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Steven A. Mauget and Eugene C. Cordero

Abstract

The optimal ranking regime (ORR) method was used to identify intradecadal to multidecadal (IMD) time windows containing significant ranking sequences in U.S. climate division temperature data. The simplicity of the ORR procedure’s output—a time series’ most significant nonoverlapping periods of high or low rankings—makes it possible to graphically identify common temporal breakpoints and spatial patterns of IMD variability in the analyses of 102 climate division temperature series. This approach is also applied to annual Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) and Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) climate indices, a Northern Hemisphere annual temperature (NHT) series, and divisional annual and seasonal temperature data during 1896–2012. In addition, Pearson correlations are calculated between PDO, AMO, and NHT series and the divisional temperature series. Although PDO phase seems to be an important influence on spring temperatures in the northwestern United States, eastern temperature regimes in annual, winter, summer, and fall temperatures are more coincident with cool and warm phase AMO regimes. Annual AMO values also correlate significantly with summer temperatures along the Eastern Seaboard and fall temperatures in the U.S. Southwest. Given evidence of the abrupt onset of cold winter temperatures in the eastern United States during 1957/58, possible climate mechanisms associated with the cause and duration of the eastern U.S. warming hole period—identified here as a cool temperature regime occurring between the late 1950s and late 1980s—are discussed.

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Steven A. Mauget, Eugene C. Cordero, and Patrick T. Brown

Abstract

An analysis method previously used to detect observed intra- to multidecadal (IMD) climate regimes was adapted to compare observed and modeled IMD climate variations. Pending the availability of the more appropriate phase 5 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP-5) simulations, the method is demonstrated using CMIP-3 model simulations. Although the CMIP-3 experimental design will almost certainly prevent these model runs from reproducing features of historical IMD climate variability, these simulations allow for the demonstration of the method and illustrate how the models and observations disagree. This method samples a time series’s data rankings over moving time windows, converts those ranking sets to a Mann–Whitney U statistic, and then normalizes the U statistic into a Z statistic. By detecting optimally significant IMD ranking regimes of arbitrary onset and varying duration, this process generates time series of Z values that are an adaptively low-passed and normalized transformation of the original time series. Principal component (PC) analysis of the Z series derived from observed annual temperatures at 92 U.S. grid locations during 1919–2008 shows two dominant modes: a PC1 mode with cool temperatures before the late 1960s and warm temperatures after the mid-1980s, and a PC2 mode indicating a multidecadal temperature cycle over the Southeast. Using a graphic analysis of a Z error metric that compares modeled and observed Z series, the three CMIP-3 model simulations tested here are shown to reproduce the PC1 mode but not the PC2 mode. By providing a way to compare grid-level IMD climate response patterns in observed and modeled data, this method can play a useful diagnostic role in future model development and decadal climate forecasting.

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