Publication Abstracts

Baek et al. 2019

Baek, S.H., J.E. Smerdon, R. Seager, A.P. Williams, and B.I. Cook, 2019: Pacific Ocean forcing and atmospheric variability are the dominant causes of spatially widespread droughts in the contiguous United States. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 124, no. 5, 2507-2524, doi:10.1029/2018JD029219.

The contributions of oceanic and atmospheric variability to spatially widespread summer droughts in the contiguous United States (hereafter, pan-CONUS droughts) are investigated using 16-member ensembles of the Community Climate Model version 3 (CCM3) forced with observed sea surface temperatures (SSTs) from 1856 to 2012. The employed SST forcing fields are either (i) global or restricted to the (ii) tropical Pacific or (iii) tropical Atlantic to isolate the impacts of these two ocean regions on pan-CONUS droughts. Model results show that SST forcing of pan-CONUS droughts originates almost entirely from the tropical Pacific because of atmospheric highs from the northern Pacific to eastern North America established by La Niña conditions, with little contribution from the tropical Atlantic. Notably, in all three model configurations, internal atmospheric variability influences pan-CONUS drought occurrence by as much or more than the ocean forcing and can alone cause pan-CONUS droughts by establishing a dominant high centered over the US montane West. Similar results are found for the Community Atmosphere Model version 5 (CAM5). Model results are compared to the observational record, which supports model-inferred contributions to pan-CONUS droughts from La Niñas and internal atmospheric variability. While there may be an additional association with warm Atlantic SSTs in the observational record, this association is ambiguous due to the limited number of observed pan-CONUS. The ambiguity thus opens the possibility that the observational results are limited by sampling over the 20th-century and not at odds with the suggested dominance of Pacific Ocean forcing in the model ensembles.

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BibTeX Citation

@article{ba07500f,
  author={Baek, S. H. and Smerdon, J. E. and Seager, R. and Williams, A. P. and Cook, B. I.},
  title={Pacific Ocean forcing and atmospheric variability are the dominant causes of spatially widespread droughts in the contiguous United States},
  year={2019},
  journal={J. Geophys. Res. Atmos.},
  volume={124},
  number={5},
  pages={2507--2524},
  doi={10.1029/2018JD029219},
}

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RIS Citation

TY  - JOUR
ID  - ba07500f
AU  - Baek, S. H.
AU  - Smerdon, J. E.
AU  - Seager, R.
AU  - Williams, A. P.
AU  - Cook, B. I.
PY  - 2019
TI  - Pacific Ocean forcing and atmospheric variability are the dominant causes of spatially widespread droughts in the contiguous United States
JA  - J. Geophys. Res. Atmos.
VL  - 124
IS  - 5
SP  - 2507
EP  - 2524
DO  - 10.1029/2018JD029219
ER  -

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