An Upper-Air Synoptic Climatology of the Western United States

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  • 1 Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
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Abstract

An automated, year-round synoptic climatology is developed for the western United States from rawinsonde observations from 1979 to 1988. The classification uses thermal, moisture, and flow parameters to characterize seasonal and interannual synoptic-scale variations in hydrodynamic and thermodynamic conditions. Based on twice daily observations for a network of 21 stations from the Pacific coast to the Rockies, a synoptic climatology is developed using air temperature, dewpoint temperature, geopotential height, and the east-west and north-south components of the wind vector at 800-, 700-, 500-, and 250-mb constant pressure surfaces. The 798 variable by 3620 day matrix is reduced to six orthogonal principal components, and the resulting component scores are grouped using a two-stage clustering technique. The 13 synoptic situations represent days experiencing homogeneous weather conditions. These synoptic situations exhibit marked seasonality and interannual variability and depict features observed in the general circulation of the atmosphere. Examples include both summer monsoonal and dry situations, zonal flow situations with a strong polar or subtropical jet, or both and strong ridging or troughing, and meridional flow.

Abstract

An automated, year-round synoptic climatology is developed for the western United States from rawinsonde observations from 1979 to 1988. The classification uses thermal, moisture, and flow parameters to characterize seasonal and interannual synoptic-scale variations in hydrodynamic and thermodynamic conditions. Based on twice daily observations for a network of 21 stations from the Pacific coast to the Rockies, a synoptic climatology is developed using air temperature, dewpoint temperature, geopotential height, and the east-west and north-south components of the wind vector at 800-, 700-, 500-, and 250-mb constant pressure surfaces. The 798 variable by 3620 day matrix is reduced to six orthogonal principal components, and the resulting component scores are grouped using a two-stage clustering technique. The 13 synoptic situations represent days experiencing homogeneous weather conditions. These synoptic situations exhibit marked seasonality and interannual variability and depict features observed in the general circulation of the atmosphere. Examples include both summer monsoonal and dry situations, zonal flow situations with a strong polar or subtropical jet, or both and strong ridging or troughing, and meridional flow.

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