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Clemesha, RES, Gershunov A, Iacobellis SF, Williams AP, Cayan DR.  2016.  The northward march of summer low cloudiness along the California coast. Geophysical Research Letters. 43:1287-1295.   10.1002/2015gl067081   AbstractWebsite

A new satellite-derived low cloud retrieval reveals rich spatial texture and coherent space-time propagation in summertime California coastal low cloudiness (CLC). Throughout the region, CLC is greatest during May-September but has considerable monthly variability within this summer season. On average, June is cloudiest along the coast of southern California and northern Baja, Mexico, while July is cloudiest along northern California's coast. Over the course of the summer, the core of peak CLC migrates northward along coastal California, reaching its northernmost extent in late July/early August, then recedes while weakening. The timing and movement of the CLC climatological structure is related to the summer evolution of lower tropospheric stability and both its component parts, sea surface temperature and potential temperature at 700hPa. The roughly coincident seasonal timing of peak CLC with peak summertime temperatures translates into the strongest heat-modulating capacity of CLC along California's north coast.

Schwartz, RE, Gershunov A, Iacobellis SF, Cayan DR.  2014.  North American west coast summer low cloudiness: Broadscale variability associated with sea surface temperature. Geophysical Research Letters. 41:3307-3314.   10.1002/2014gl059825   AbstractWebsite

Six decades of observations at 20 coastal airports, from Alaska to southern California, reveal coherent interannual to interdecadal variation of coastal low cloudiness (CLC) from summer to summer over this broad region. The leading mode of CLC variability represents coherent variation, accounting for nearly 40% of the total CLC variance spanning 1950-2012. This leading mode and the majority of individual airports exhibit decreased low cloudiness from the earlier to the later part of the record. Exploring climatic controls on CLC, we identify North Pacific Sea Surface Temperature anomalies, largely in the form of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) as well correlated with, and evidently helping to organize, the coherent patterns of summer coastal cloud variability. Links from the PDO to summer CLC appear a few months in advance of the summer. These associations hold up consistently in interannual and interdecadal frequencies.

Favre, A, Gershunov A.  2006.  Extra-tropical cyclonic/anticyclonic activity in North-Eastern Pacific and air temperature extremes in Western North America. Climate Dynamics. 26:617-629.   10.1007/s00382-005-0101-9   AbstractWebsite

Synoptic extra-tropical cyclone and anticyclone trajectories have been constructed from mean daily sea level pressure (SLP) data using a new automated scheme. Frequency, intensity and trajectory characteristics of these transients have been summarized to form indices describing wintertime cyclonic and anticyclonic activity over the North-Eastern Pacific (east of 170 degrees W) during 1950-2001. During this period, the strength of anticyclones gradually diminished and their frequency became more variable, while cyclones intensified in a discrete shift with deeper lows and further southerly trajectories occurring since the mid-1970s. These changes in synoptic transients translate into anomalously low seasonal mean SLP in the Aleutian Low, a low-level circulation anomaly consistent with the positive phase of the North Pacific Decadal Oscillation, with positive sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies along the west coast of North America and negative in the central North Pacific Ocean. A link between cyclonic/anticyclonic activity and tropical SST anomalies also exists, but this link only becomes significant after the mid-1970s, a period that coincides with more southerly cyclone trajectories. Southward excursions of mid-latitude cyclones during El Ni (n) over tildeo/positive NPO winters accomplish the northward advection of tropical air and discourage the southward penetration of polar air masses associated with transient anticyclones. Naturally, these changes in cyclonic/anticyclonic activity directly impact surface air temperatures, especially at night. We document these profound impacts on observed wintertime minimum temperatures over Western North America.

Gershunov, A, Michaelsen J, Gautier C.  1998.  Large-scale coupling between the tropical greenhouse effect and latent heat flux via atmospheric dynamics. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 103:6017-6031.   10.1029/97jd03520   AbstractWebsite

The clear-sky greenhouse effect (GE) is determined primarily by the amount and vertical distribution of water vapor in the atmospheric column. GE hampers surface radiative cooling and is maintained through surface evaporative cooling. This paper examines the intimate space-time relationships between the patterns of radiative heating of the atmosphere and sui-face evaporative cooling. We use data derived from satellite and in situ observations to show that tropical maritime GE is decoupled in space and time from latent heat flux (LHF), its source of water vapor. Large scale transport of atmospheric water vapor responsible for the observed relationships between GE and LHF is discussed. The spatial patterns of average GE and LHF are imbedded in the Walker and Hadley circulations and reinforce these circulations with strong evaporative cooling in the subtropical highs and greenhouse warning in the equatorial trough zones. Throughout tropical areas characterized by strong seasonality, the seasonal cycles of GE and LHF are out of phase. Much of the moisture that feeds GE in these off equatorial regions is advected by the Hadley circulation from tropical moisture Source regions of the opposite hemisphere. An out-of-phase relationship between GE and LHF also turns up on El Nino-Southern Oscillation timescales, most notably in the central tropical Pacific. The "super" greenhouse effect (SGE), a situation when GE absorption increases more than colocated surface longwave emission, is a seasonal feature of extensive tropical off-equatorial areas where it is maintained by moisture convergence and convection. On interannual timescales, the same dynamical processes appear to assert the SGE in the central equatorial Pacific. GE and LHF regimes are also described for the equatorial cold tongue and warm pool regions.