Publication Abstracts

Coats et al. 2016

Coats, S., J.E. Smerdon, B.I. Cook, R. Seager, E.R. Cook, and K.J. Anchukaitis, 2016: Internal ocean-atmosphere variability drives megadroughts in Western North America. Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, no. 18, 9886-9894, doi:10.1002/2016GL070105.

Multidecadal droughts that occurred during the Medieval Climate Anomaly represent an important target for validating the ability of climate models to adequately characterize drought risk over the near-term future. A prominent hypothesis is that these megadroughts were driven by a centuries-long radiatively forced shift in the mean state of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Here we use a novel combination of spatiotemporal tree ring reconstructions of Northern Hemisphere hydroclimate to infer the atmosphere-ocean dynamics that coincide with megadroughts over the American West and find that these features are consistently associated with 10-30 year periods of frequent cold El Niño-Southern Oscillation conditions and not a centuries-long shift in the mean of the tropical Pacific Ocean. These results suggest an important role for internal variability in driving past megadroughts. State-of-the-art climate models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5, however, do not simulate a consistent association between megadroughts and internal variability of the tropical Pacific Ocean, with implications for our confidence in megadrought risk projections.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={Coats, S. and Smerdon, J. E. and Cook, B. I. and Seager, R. and Cook, E. R. and Anchukaitis, K. J.},
  title={Internal ocean-atmosphere variability drives megadroughts in Western North America},
  journal={Geophys. Res. Lett.},

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RIS Citation

ID  - co07900t
AU  - Coats, S.
AU  - Smerdon, J. E.
AU  - Cook, B. I.
AU  - Seager, R.
AU  - Cook, E. R.
AU  - Anchukaitis, K. J.
PY  - 2016
TI  - Internal ocean-atmosphere variability drives megadroughts in Western North America
JA  - Geophys. Res. Lett.
VL  - 43
IS  - 18
SP  - 9886
EP  - 9894
DO  - 10.1002/2016GL070105
ER  -

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