Publications

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2017
Bromirski, PD, Flick RE, Miller AJ.  2017.  Storm surge along the Pacific coast of North America. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 122:441-457.   10.1002/2016jc012178   AbstractWebsite

Storm surge is an important factor that contributes to coastal flooding and erosion. Storm surge magnitude along eastern North Pacific coasts results primarily from low sea level pressure (SLP). Thus, coastal regions where high surge occurs identify the dominant locations where intense storms make landfall, controlled by storm track across the North Pacific. Here storm surge variability along the Pacific coast of North America is characterized by positive nontide residuals at a network of tide gauge stations from southern California to Alaska. The magnitudes of mean and extreme storm surge generally increase from south to north, with typically high amplitude surge north of Cape Mendocino and lower surge to the south. Correlation of mode 1 nontide principal component (PC1) during winter months (December-February) with anomalous SLP over the northeast Pacific indicates that the dominant storm landfall region is along the Cascadia/British Columbia coast. Although empirical orthogonal function spatial patterns show substantial interannual variability, similar correlation patterns of nontide PC1 over the 1948-1975 and 1983-2014 epochs with anomalous SLP suggest that, when considering decadal-scale time periods, storm surge and associated tracks have generally not changed appreciably since 1948. Nontide PC1 is well correlated with PC1 of both anomalous SLP and modeled wave height near the tide gauge stations, reflecting the interrelationship between storms, surge, and waves. Weaker surge south of Cape Mendocino during the 2015-2016 El Nino compared with 1982-1983 may result from changes in Hadley circulation. Importantly from a coastal impacts perspective, extreme storm surge events are often accompanied by high waves.

2014
Subramanian, A, Jochum M, Miller AJ, Neale R, Seo H, Waliser D, Murtugudde R.  2014.  The MJO and global warming: a study in CCSM4. Climate Dynamics. 42:2019-2031.   10.1007/s00382-013-1846-1   AbstractWebsite

The change in Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO) amplitude and variance in response to anthropogenic climate change is assessed in the 1A degrees nominal resolution community climate system model, version 4 (CCSM4), which has a reasonable representation of the MJO characteristics both dynamically and statistically. The twentieth century CCSM4 run is compared with the warmest twenty-first century projection (representative concentration pathway 8.5, or RCP8.5). The last 20 years of each simulation are compared in their MJO characteristics, including spatial variance distributions of winds, precipitation and outgoing longwave radiation, histograms of event amplitude, phase and duration, and composite maps of phases. The RCP8.5 run exhibits increased variance in intraseasonal precipitation, larger-amplitude MJO events, stronger MJO rainfall in the central and eastern tropical Pacific, and a greater frequency of MJO occurrence for phases corresponding to enhanced rainfall in the Indian Ocean sector. These features are consistent with the concept of an increased magnitude for the hydrological cycle under greenhouse warming conditions. Conversely, the number of active MJO days decreases and fewer weak MJO events occur in the future climate state. These results motivate further study of these changes since tropical rainfall variability plays such an important role in the region's socio-economic well being.

2010
Overland, JE, Alheit J, Bakun A, Hurrell JW, Mackas DL, Miller AJ.  2010.  Climate controls on marine ecosystems and fish populations. Journal of Marine Systems. 79:305-315.   10.1016/j.jmarsys.2008.12.009   AbstractWebsite

This paper discusses large-scale climate variability for several marine ecosystems and suggests types of ecosystem responses to climate change. Our analysis of observations and model results for the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans concludes that most climate variability is accounted for by the combination of intermittent 1-2 year duration events, e.g. the cumulative effect of monthly weather anomalies or the more organized El Nino/La Nina, plus broad-band "red noise" intrinsic variability operating at decadal and longer timescales. While ocean processes such as heat storage and lags due to ocean circulation provide some multi-year memory to the climate system, basic understanding of the mechanisms resulting in observed large decadal variability is lacking and forces the adoption of a "stochastic or red noise" conceptual model of low frequency variability at the present time. Thus we conclude that decadal events with rapid shifts and major departures from climatic means will occur, but their timing cannot be forecast. The responses to climate by biological systems are diverse in character because intervening processes introduce a variety of amplifications, time lags, feedbacks, and non-linearities. Decadal ecosystem variability can involve a variety of climate to ecosystem transfer functions. These can be expected to convert red noise of the physical system to redder (lower frequency) noise of the biological response, but can also convert climatic red noise to more abrupt and discontinuous biological shifts, transient climatic disturbance to prolonged ecosystem recovery, and perhaps transient disturbance to sustained ecosystem regimes. All of these ecosystem response characteristics are likely to be active for at least some locations and time periods, leading to a mix of slow fluctuations, prolonged trends, and step-like changes in ecosystems and fish populations in response to climate change. Climate variables such as temperatures and winds can have strong teleconnections (large spatial covariability) within individual ocean basins, but between-basin teleconnections, and potential climate-driven biological synchrony over several decades, are usually much weaker and a highly intermittent function of the conditions prevailing at the time within the adjoining basins. As noted in the recent IPCC 4th Assessment Report, a warming trend of ocean surface layers and loss of regional sea ice is likely before 2030, due to addition of greenhouse gases. Combined with large continuing natural climate variability, this will stress ecosystems in ways that they have not encountered for at least 100s of years. Published by Elsevier B.V.

2003
Auad, G, Kennett JP, Miller AJ.  2003.  North Pacific Intermediate Water response to a modern climate warming shift. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 108   10.1029/2003jc001987   AbstractWebsite

[ 1] Oceanic observations and an isopycnal ocean model simulation are used to investigate the response of North Pacific Intermediate Water ( NPIW) to atmospheric forcing associated with the well- known 1976 - 1977 climate regime shift to a warm regime. The model reproduces numerous features of NPIW including distribution, depth, temperature, and salinity. Changes in NPIW associated with the climate shift in the California coastal region were strongly influenced by an anomalous poleward flow at depth ( 300 - 1100 m). This current transports old, high salinity, low oxygen intermediate waters from the northern tropics to the midlatitudes. For depths below the mixed layer, the model reproduces observed changes in salinity, nitrates, and, to some extent, oxygen, thus suggesting that advective/ diffusive processes are dominant in determining their concentrations below 300 m, isolated from the surface effects of direct atmospheric forcing and biological processes. These changes are structurally similar to those induced by much larger, abrupt climate changes at the end of the last glacial episode.