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Polade, SD, Gershunov A, Cayan DR, Dettinger MD, Pierce DW.  2013.  Natural climate variability and teleconnections to precipitation over the Pacific-North American region in CMIP3 and CMIP5 models. Geophysical Research Letters. 40:2296-2301.   10.1002/grl.50491   AbstractWebsite

Natural climate variability will continue to be an important aspect of future regional climate even in the midst of long-term secular changes. Consequently, the ability of climate models to simulate major natural modes of variability and their teleconnections provides important context for the interpretation and use of climate change projections. Comparisons reported here indicate that the CMIP5 generation of global climate models shows significant improvements in simulations of key Pacific climate mode and their teleconnections to North America compared to earlier CMIP3 simulations. The performance of 14 models with simulations in both the CMIP3 and CMIP5 archives are assessed using singular value decomposition analysis of simulated and observed winter Pacific sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and concurrent precipitation over the contiguous United States and northwestern Mexico. Most of the models reproduce basic features of the key natural mode and their teleconnections, albeit with notable regional deviations from observations in both SST and precipitation. Increasing horizontal resolution in the CMIP5 simulations is an important, but not a necessary, factor in the improvement from CMIP3 to CMIP5.

OrtizBevia, MJ, Perez-Gonzalez I, Alvarez-Garcia FJ, Gershunov A.  2010.  Nonlinear estimation of El Nino impact on the North Atlantic winter. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 115   10.1029/2009jd013387   AbstractWebsite

The differences in the teleconnections forced by different El Nino events (Ninos) can be partly explained by the intrinsic nonlinearity of the atmospheric response. In the present study, we segregate the responses of the North Atlantic to strong from those to moderate Ninos and compare nonlinear and linear estimates. El Nino forcing is represented by the tropical Pacific sea surface temperature anomalies, and the North Atlantic atmospheric response is represented by sea level pressure anomalies in the region. To gain insight into the evolution of El Nino teleconnections in a future climate, linear and nonlinear analyses are carried out on the corresponding data fields in the control and scenario simulations of a climate model experiment. This experiment presents, in its control version, realistic teleconnections. In the observational analysis, the nonlinear method performs only slightly better than the linear one. However, in the analysis of the interannual variability by a long control experiment of a realistic climate simulation, the nonlinear estimate improves significantly with respect to the linear one. The analysis of the corresponding scenario experiment points to an intensification of the (negative) surface pressure anomalies associated with the Ninos in the west European sector in a future climate. This feature is related to the important stratospheric anomalies in the same region, revealed by previous studies.

Grotjahn, R, Black R, Leung R, Wehner MF, Barlow M, Bosilovich M, Gershunov A, Gutowski WJ, Gyakum JR, Katz RW, Lee YY, Lim YK, Prabhat.  2016.  North American extreme temperature events and related large scale meteorological patterns: a review of statistical methods, dynamics, modeling, and trends. Climate Dynamics. 46:1151-1184.   10.1007/s00382-015-2638-6   AbstractWebsite

The objective of this paper is to review statistical methods, dynamics, modeling efforts, and trends related to temperature extremes, with a focus upon extreme events of short duration that affect parts of North America. These events are associated with large scale meteorological patterns (LSMPs). The statistics, dynamics, and modeling sections of this paper are written to be autonomous and so can be read separately. Methods to define extreme events statistics and to identify and connect LSMPs to extreme temperature events are presented. Recent advances in statistical techniques connect LSMPs to extreme temperatures through appropriately defined covariates that supplement more straightforward analyses. Various LSMPs, ranging from synoptic to planetary scale structures, are associated with extreme temperature events. Current knowledge about the synoptics and the dynamical mechanisms leading to the associated LSMPs is incomplete. Systematic studies of: the physics of LSMP life cycles, comprehensive model assessment of LSMP-extreme temperature event linkages, and LSMP properties are needed. Generally, climate models capture observed properties of heat waves and cold air outbreaks with some fidelity. However they overestimate warm wave frequency and underestimate cold air outbreak frequency, and underestimate the collective influence of low-frequency modes on temperature extremes. Modeling studies have identified the impact of large-scale circulation anomalies and land-atmosphere interactions on changes in extreme temperatures. However, few studies have examined changes in LSMPs to more specifically understand the role of LSMPs on past and future extreme temperature changes. Even though LSMPs are resolvable by global and regional climate models, they are not necessarily well simulated. The paper concludes with unresolved issues and research questions.

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.  2009.  North Pacific cyclonic and anticyclonic transients in a global warming context: possible consequences for Western North American daily precipitation and temperature extremes. Climate Dynamics. 32:969-987.   10.1007/s00382-008-0417-3   AbstractWebsite

Trajectories of surface cyclones and anticyclones were constructed using an automated scheme by tracking local minima and maxima of mean daily sea level pressure data in the NCEP-NCAR reanalysis and the Centre National de Recherches M,t,orologiques coupled global climate Model (CNRM-CM3) SRES A2 integration. Mid-latitude lows and highs traveling in the North Pacific were tracked and daily frequencies were gridded. Transient activity in the CNRM-CM3 historical simulation (1950-1999) was validated against reanalysis. The GCM correctly reproduces winter trajectories as well as mean geographical distributions of cyclones and anticyclones over the North Pacific in spite of a general under-estimation of cyclones' frequency. On inter-annual time scales, frequencies of cyclones and anticyclones vary in accordance with the Aleutian Low (AL) strength. When the AL is stronger (weaker), cyclones are more (less) numerous over the central and eastern North Pacific, while anticyclones are significantly less (more) numerous over this region. The action of transient cyclones and anticyclones over the central and eastern North Pacific determines seasonal climate over the West Coast of North America, and specifically, winter weather over California. Relationships between winter cyclone/anticyclone behavior and daily precipitation/cold temperature extremes over Western North America (the West) were examined and yielded two simple indices summarizing North Pacific transient activity relevant to regional climates. These indices are strongly related to the observed inter-annual variability of daily precipitation and cold temperature extremes over the West as well as to large scale seasonally averaged near surface climate conditions (e.g., air temperature at 2 m and wind at 10 m). In fact, they represent the synoptic links that accomplish the teleconnections. Comparison of patterns derived from NCEP-NCAR and CNRM-CM3 revealed that the model reproduces links between cyclone/anticyclone frequencies over the Northeastern Pacific and extra-tropical climate conditions but is deficient in relation to tropical climate variability. The connections between these synoptic indices and Western weather are well reproduced by the model. Under advanced global warming conditions, that is, the last half of the century, the model predicts a significant reduction of cyclonic transients throughout the mid-latitude North Pacific with the exception of the far northern and northeastern domains. Anticyclonic transients respond somewhat more regionally but consistently to strong greenhouse forcing, with notably fewer anticyclones over the Okhotsk/Kamchatka sector and generally more anticyclones in the Northeastern Pacific. These modifications of synoptic weather result in regional feedbacks, that is, regional synoptic alterations of the anthropogenic warming signal around the North Pacific. In the eastern Pacific, for example, synoptic feedbacks, having to do especially with the northward shift of the eastern Pacific storm-track (responding, in turn, to a weaker equator-to-pole temperature gradient), are favorable to more anticyclonic conditions off the American mid-latitude west coast and more cyclonic conditions at higher latitudes. These circulation feedbacks further reduce the equator-to-pole temperature gradient by favoring high-latitude mean winter warming especially over a broad wedge of the Arctic north of the Bering Sea and moderating the warming along the mid-latitude west coast of north America while also reducing precipitation frequencies from California to Northern Mexio.

Biondi, F, Gershunov A, Cayan DR.  2001.  North Pacific decadal climate variability since 1661. Journal of Climate. 14:5-10.   10.1175/1520-0442(2001)014<0005:npdcvs>;2   AbstractWebsite

Climate in the North Pacific and North American sectors has experienced interdecadal shifts during the twentieth century. A network of recently developed tree-ring chronologies for Southern and Baja California extends the instrumental record and reveals decadal-scale variability back to 1661. The Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) is closely matched by the dominant mode of tree-ring variability that provides a preliminary view of multiannual climate fluctuations spanning the past four centuries. The reconstructed PDO index features a prominent bidecadal oscillation, whose amplitude weakened in the late 1700s to mid-1800s. A comparison with proxy records of ENSO suggests that the greatest decadal-scale oscillations in Pacific climate between 1706 and 1977 occurred around 1750, 1905, and 1947.

Gershunov, A, Barnett T, Cayan D.  1999.  North Pacific interdecadal oscillation seen as factor in ENSO-related North American climate anomalies. EOS Trans. AGU. 80:25-30.   10.1029/99EO00019   Abstract

The North Pacific Oscillation (NPO) may be a significant factor in how El Niño and La Niña affect North American weather. A cold NPO phase indeed may have been partially responsible for the uncommon strength and stability of the El Niño-induced North American climate anomalies of early 1998. On the other hand, the latest La Niña excursion, if NPO persists in its cold phase, would likely produce weaker, less stable, and less predictable climate anomalies.It is well known that the effects of interannual tropical forcing, or El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) influences, penetrate into middle latitudes to produce particular forms of climate anomalies, such as the relatively well-predicted temperature and precipitation patterns over North America during the great El Niño of 1997–1998. Evidence is now mounting that this ENSO effect accentuates certain types of synoptic scale events, so that the likelihood of extreme events is biased above or below its climatological normal over broad regions. Observations show that these ENSO effects over the United States are also affected by the phases of decadal-scale climate states such as the North Pacific Oscillation (NPO).The NPO influence can be seen in both the seasonal aggregate of various ENSO patterns and the distribution of extreme daily events.

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.