Publications

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Book Chapter
Peterson, DH, Cayan DR, Festa JF, Nichols FH, Walters RA, Slack JV, Hager SE, Schemel LE.  1989.  Climate variability in an estuary: effects of reverflow on San Francisco Bay. Aspects of climate variability in the Pacific and the western Americas. ( Peterson DH, Ed.).:419-442., Washington, DC, U.S.A.: American Geophysical Union Abstract
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Cayan, DR, Webb RH.  1992.  El Nino Southern Oscillation and streamflow in the Western United States. El Nino: historical and paleoclimatic aspects of the southern oscillation. ( Diaz HF, Markgraf V, Eds.).:29-68., Cambridge [England]; New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press Abstract
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Cayan, DR, Peterson DH.  1989.  The influence of North Pacific atmospheric circulation on streamflow in the West. Aspects of climate variability in the Pacific and the western Americas. ( Peterson DH, Ed.).:375-397., Washington, DC, U.S.A.: American Geophysical Union Abstract
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Lundquist, JD, Cayan DR, Dettinger MD.  2003.  Meteorology and hydrology in Yosemite National Park: A sensor network application. Information Processing in Sensor Networks, Proceedings. 2634( Zhao F, Guibas L, Eds.).:518-528., Berlin: Springer-Verlag Berlin Abstract

Over half of California's water supply comes from high elevations in the snowmelt-dominated Sierra Nevada. Natural climate fluctuations, global warming, and the growing needs of water consumers demand intelligent management of this water resource. This requires a comprehensive monitoring system across and within the Sierra Nevada. Unfortunately, because of severe terrain and limited access, few measurements exist. Thus, meteorological and hydrologic processes are not well understood at high altitudes. However, new sensor and wireless communication technologies are beginning to provide sensor packages designed for low maintenance operation, low power consumption and unobtrusive footprints. A prototype network of meteorological and hydrological sensors has been deployed in Yosemite National Park, traversing elevation zones from 1,200 to 3,700 m. Communication techniques must be tailored to suit each location, resulting in a hybrid network of radio, cell-phone, land-line, and satellite transmissions. Results are showing how, in some years, snowmelt may occur quite uniformly over the Sierra, while in others it varies with elevation.

Dettinger, MD, Cayan DR, McCabe GM, Marengo JA.  2000.  Multiscale streamflow variability associated with El Nino/Southern Oscillation. El Nino and the southern oscillation: multiscale variability and global and regional impacts. ( Diaz HF, Markgraf V, Eds.).:113-146., Cambridge; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press Abstract
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Cayan, DR, Miller AJ, Barnett TP, Graham NE, Ritchie JN, Oberhuber JM.  1995.  Seasonal-interannual fluctuations in surface temperature over the Pacific: effects of monthly winds and heat fluxes. Natural climate variability on decade-to-century time scales. :133-150., Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press Abstract
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Cayan, DR, Dettinger MD, Redmond K, McGabe G, Knowles N, Peterson DH.  2003.  The transboundary setting of California's water and hydropower systems - linkages between the Sierra Nevada, Columbia, and Colorado hydroclimates. Climate and water: transboundary challenges in the Americas. ( Diaz HF, Morehouse BJ, Eds.).:26., Dordrecht; Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers Abstract
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Conference Paper
Peterson, DH, Cayan DR, Festa JF.  1986.  Interannual variability in biogeochemistry of partially-mixed estuaries: dissolved silicate cycles in northern San Francisco Bay. Estuarine variability : Proceedings of the Eighth biennial international estuarine research conference, University of New Hampshire, Durham, July 28-August 2, 1985. ( Wolfe DA, Ed.).:123-128., Orlando, Fla.: Academic Press Abstract
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Peterson, DH, Cayan DR, Dettinger MD, Noble M, Riddle LG, Schemel LE, Smith RE, Uncles R, Walters R.  1996.  San Francisco Bay: observations, numerical simulation and statistical models. San Francisco Bay: the ecosystem. Further investigations into the natural history of San Francisco Bay and Delta with reference to the influence of man. ( Hollibaugh JT, Ed.).:9-34., San Francisco, Calif.: Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Abstract
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Journal Article
Ely, LL, Enzel Y, Baker VR, Cayan DR.  1993.  A 5000-year record of extreme floods and climate change in the Southwestern United States. Science. 262:410-412.   10.1126/science.262.5132.410   AbstractWebsite

A 5000-year regional paleoflood chronology, based on flood deposits from 19 rivers in Arizona and Utah, reveals that the largest floods in the region cluster into distinct time intervals that coincide with periods of cool, moist climate and frequent El Nino events. The floods were most numerous from 4800 to 3600 years before present (B.P.), around 1000 years B.P., and after 500 years B.P., but decreased markedly from 3600 to 2200 and 800 to 600 years B.P. Analogous modern floods are associated with a specific set of anomalous atmospheric circulation conditions that were probably more prevalent during past flood epochs.

Bytnerowicz, A, Cayan D, Riggan P, Schilling S, Dawson P, Tyree M, Wolden L, Tissell R, Preisler H.  2010.  Analysis of the effects of combustion emissions and Santa Ana winds on ambient ozone during the October 2007 southern California wildfires. Atmospheric Environment. 44:678-687.   10.1016/j.atmosenv.2009.11.014   AbstractWebsite

Combustion emissions and strong Santa Ana winds had pronounced effects on patterns and levels of ambient ozone (O(3)) in southern California during the extensive wildland fires of October 2007. These changes are described in detail for a rural receptor site, the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve, located among large fires in San Diego and Orange counties. In addition, O(3) changes are also described for several other air quality monitoring sites in the general area of the fires. During the first phase of the fires, strong, dry and hot northeasterly Santa Ana winds brought into the area clean continental air masses, which resulted in minimal diurnal O(3) fluctuations and a 72-h average concentration of 36.8 ppb. During the- second phase of the fires, without Santa Ana winds present and air filled with smoke, daytime O(3) concentrations steadily increased and reached 95.2 ppb while the lowest nighttime levels returned to similar to 0 ppb. During that period the 8-h daytime average O(3) concentration reached 78.3 ppb, which exceeded the federal standard of 75 ppb. After six days of fires, O(3) diurnal concentrations returned to pre-fire patterns and levels. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Stahle, DW, Griffin RD, Therrell MD, Edmondson JR, Cleaveland MK, Stahle LN, Burnette DJ, Abatzoglou JT, Redmond KT, Meko DM, Dettinger MD, Cayan DR.  2009.  The ancient blue oak woodlands of California. Fremontia. 37:22. AbstractWebsite
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Stahle, DW, Griffin RD, Meko DM, Therrell MD, Edmondson JR, Cleaveland MK, Stahle LN, Burnette DJ, Abatzoglou JT, Redmond KT, Dettinger MD, Cayan DR.  2013.  The ancient blue oak woodlands of California: Longevity and hydroclimatic history. Earth Interactions. 17   10.1175/2013ei000518.1   AbstractWebsite

Ancient blue oak trees are still widespread across the foothills of the Coast Ranges, Cascades, and Sierra Nevada in California. The most extensive tracts of intact old-growth blue oak woodland appear to survive on rugged and remote terrain in the southern Coast Ranges and on the foothills west and southwest of Mt. Lassen. In the authors' sampling of old-growth stands, most blue oak appear to have recruited to the canopy in the middle to late nineteenth century. The oldest living blue oak tree sampled was over 459 years old, and several dead blue oak logs had over 500 annual rings. Precipitation sensitive tree-ring chronologies up to 700 years long have been developed from old blue oak trees and logs. Annual ring-width chronologies of blue oak are strongly correlated with cool season precipitation totals, streamflow in the major rivers of California, and the estuarine water quality of San Francisco Bay. A new network of 36 blue oak chronologies records spatial anomalies in growth that arise from latitudinal changes in the mean storm track and location of land-falling atmospheric rivers. These long, climate-sensitive blue oak chronologies have been used to reconstruct hydroclimatic history in California and will help to better understand and manage water resources. The environmental history embedded in blue oak growth chronologies may help justify efforts to conserve these authentic old-growth native woodlands.

Stahle, DW, Therrell MD, Cleaveland MK, Cayan DR, Dettinger MD, Knowles N.  2001.  Ancient Blue Oaks reveal human impact on San Francisco Bay salinity. EOS Trans. AGU. 82:141,144-145. Abstract
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Shukla, S, Steinemann A, Iacobellis SF, Cayan DR.  2015.  Annual drought in California: Association with monthly precipitation and climate phases. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology. 54:2273-2281.   10.1175/jamc-d-15-0167.1   AbstractWebsite

Annual precipitation in California is more variable than in any other state and is highly influenced by precipitation in winter months. A primary question among stakeholders is whether low precipitation in certain months is a harbinger of annual drought in California. Historical precipitation data from 1895 to 2013 are investigated to identify leading monthly indicators of annual drought in each of the seven climate divisions (CDs) as well as statewide. For this study, drought conditions are defined as monthly/annual (October-September) precipitation below the 20th/30th percentile, and a leading indicator is defined as a monthly drought preceding or during an annual drought that has the strongest association (i.e., joint probability of occurrence) with a statewide annual drought. Monthly precipitation variability and contributions to annual precipitation, along with joint probabilities of drought among the winter months, are first analyzed. Then the probabilities of annual drought and the variability in leading indicators are analyzed according to different climate phases and CDs. This study identified December within a water year as being the leading indicator that is most frequently associated with annual drought statewide (56%) and in most of the CDs (the highest was CD2 at 65%). Associated with its leading-indicator status, December drought was most frequently associated with drought in other winter months (joint probability > 30%). Results from this study can help stakeholders to understand and assess the likelihood of annual drought events given monthly precipitation preceding or early in the water year.

Ely, LL, Enzel Y, Cayan DR.  1994.  Anomalous North Pacific atmospheric circulation and large winter floods in the Southwestern United States. Journal of Climate. 7:977-987.   10.1175/1520-0442(1994)007<0977:anpaca>2.0.co;2   AbstractWebsite

Specific anomalous atmospheric circulation conditions over the North Pacific are conducive to the occurrence of the largest winter floods (greater-than-or-equal-to 10-yr return period) on rivers in six hydroclimatic subregions of Arizona and southern Utah, Nevada, and California. Composite maps of anomalies in daily 700-mb heights indicate that floods in all of the subregions are associated with a low pressure anomaly off the California coast and a high-pressure anomaly in the vicinity of either Alaska or the Aleutian Islands. Of these two major circulation features, the presence of the low is the controlling factor in determining whether large floods will occur. Shifts in the locations of the low and high pressure anomalies over the North Pacific appear to control which subregions experience floods, with high-elevation topographic features and proximity to air masses forming a major influence over the specific atmospheric circulation conditions that generate large floods in each hydroclimatic region. Concerning the interannual variability of flooding in the Southwest, there is an increased frequency of large winter floods during multiple-year periods dominated by negative SOI and a virtual absence of large floods during the intervening periods. This suggests that global-scale climatic anomalies exert a strong influence on the occurrence of severe regional winter floods.

Rodo, X, Ballester J, Cayan D, Melish ME, Nakamura Y, Uehara R, Burns JC.  2011.  Association of Kawasaki disease with tropospheric wind patterns. Scientific Reports. 1   10.1038/srep00152   AbstractWebsite

The causal agent of Kawasaki disease (KD) remains unknown after more than 40 years of intensive research. The number of cases continues to rise in many parts of the world and KD is the most common cause of acquired heart disease in childhood in developed countries. Analyses of the three major KD epidemics in Japan, major non-epidemic interannual fluctuations of KD cases in Japan and San Diego, and the seasonal variation of KD in Japan, Hawaii, and San Diego, reveals a consistent pattern wherein KD cases are often linked to large-scale wind currents originating in central Asia and traversing the north Pacific. Results suggest that the environmental trigger for KD could be wind-borne. Efforts to isolate the causative agent of KD should focus on the microbiology of aerosols.

Nemani, RR, White MA, Cayan DR, Jones GV, Running SW, Coughlan JC, Peterson DL.  2001.  Asymmetric warming over coastal California and its impact on the premium wine industry. Climate Research. 19:25-34.   10.3354/cr019025   AbstractWebsite

Climatic changes over coastal California from 1951 to 1997 may have benefited the premium wine industry, as seen in higher quality wines and larger grape yields. Observed temperature warming trends were asymmetric, with greatest warming at night and during spring. Warming was associated with large increases in eastern Pacific sea surface temperatures (SST) and amounts of atmospheric water vapor. Although the average annual temperature warming trend was modest (1.13degreesC/47 yr), there was a 20 d reduction in frost occurrence and a 65 d increase in frost-free growing season length. In the Napa and Sonoma valleys, warmer winter and spring temperatures advanced the start of the growing season by 18 to 24 d, and enhanced atmospheric water vapor resulted in a 7% reduction in evaporative demand. Given the strong coupling between Pacific SSTs and the coastal California climate, and because regional-scale SSTs persist for 6 to 12 mo, additional research may allow the possibility of predicting vintage quantity and quality from previous winter conditions.

Enzel, Y, Cayan DR, Anderson RY, Wells SG.  1989.  Atmospheric circulation during Holocene lake stands in the Mojave Desert: evidence of regional climate change. Nature. 341:44-47.   10.1038/341044a0   AbstractWebsite

IT is commonly thought that the climate conditions that supported lakes over a period of years in the Mojave Desert in southern California, only existed before 8,000 yr BP and that the environment has been arid since1,2. Here we look at a drill core in the Silver Lake playa at the terminus of the Mojave River and find Holocene lake deposits which indicate that shallow lakes existed for at least a few decades. These deposits were radiocarbon dated at 3620 ±70 and 390 ± 90 yr BP, corresponding to the early Neo-glacial and the 'little ice age' respectively3. To identify the conditions necessary to produce these Holocene lake events we have examined the modern climate and hydrological patterns that produce ephemeral lakes in this usually arid watershed. Available data indicate that there is a link between anomalous winter atmospheric conditions over the North Pacific and Mojave River floods that produced ephemeral lakes in the Silver Lake playa and that the Mojave River filters out small to medium floods and allows only the extreme floods to reach the terminal playa and leave a record of the anomalous conditions. We suggest that the late Holocene lakes may have resulted from persistent similar atmospheric circulation patterns and winter floods.

Pierce, DW, Barnett TP, Hidalgo HG, Das T, Bonfils C, Santer BD, Bala G, Dettinger MD, Cayan DR, Mirin A, Wood AW, Nozawa T.  2008.  Attribution of declining western US snowpack to human effects. Journal of Climate. 21:6425-6444.   10.1175/2008jcli2405.1   AbstractWebsite

Observations show snowpack has declined across much of the western United States over the period 1950-99. This reduction has important social and economic implications, as water retained in the snowpack from winter storms forms an important part of the hydrological cycle and water supply in the region. A formal model-based detection and attribution (D-A) study of these reductions is performed. The detection variable is the ratio of 1 April snow water equivalent (SWE) to water-year-to-date precipitation (P), chosen to reduce the effect of P variability on the results. Estimates of natural internal climate variability are obtained from 1600 years of two control simulations performed with fully coupled ocean-atmosphere climate models. Estimates of the SWE/P response to anthropogenic greenhouse gases, ozone, and some aerosols are taken from multiple-member ensembles of perturbation experiments run with two models. The D-A shows the observations and anthropogenically forced models have greater SWE/P reductions than can be explained by natural internal climate variability alone. Model-estimated effects of changes in solar and volcanic forcing likewise do not explain the SWE/P reductions. The mean model estimate is that about half of the SWE/P reductions observed in the west from 1950 to 1999 are the result of climate changes forced by anthropogenic greenhouse gases, ozone, and aerosols.

Ralph, FM, Prather KA, Cayan D, Spackman JR, DeMott P, Dettinger M, Fairall C, Leung R, Rosenfeld D, Rutledge S, Waliser D, White AB, Cordeira J, Martin A, Helly J, Intrieri J.  2016.  CalWater field studies designed to quantify the roles of atmospheric rivers and aerosols in modulating US West Coast precipitation in a changing climate. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 97:1209-1228.   10.1175/bams-d-14-00043.1   AbstractWebsite

The variability of precipitation and water supply along the U.S. West Coast creates major challenges to the region’s economy and environment, as evidenced by the recent California drought. This variability is strongly influenced by atmospheric rivers (ARs), which deliver much of the precipitation along the U.S. West Coast and can cause flooding, and by aerosols (from local sources and transported from remote continents and oceans) that modulate clouds and precipitation. A better understanding of these processes is needed to reduce uncertainties in weather predictions and climate projections of droughts and floods, both now and under changing climate conditions.To address these gaps, a group of meteorologists, hydrologists, climate scientists, atmospheric chemists, and oceanographers have created an interdisciplinary research effort, with support from multiple agencies. From 2009 to 2011 a series of field campaigns [California Water Service (CalWater) 1] collected atmospheric chemistry, cloud microphysics, and meteorological measurements in California and associated modeling and diagnostic studies were carried out. Based on the remaining gaps, a vision was developed to extend these studies offshore over the eastern North Pacific and to enhance land-based measurements from 2014 to 2018 (CalWater-2). The dataset and selected results from CalWater-1 are summarized here. The goals of CalWater-2, and measurements to date, are then described.CalWater is producing new findings and exploring new technologies to evaluate and improve global climate models and their regional performance and to develop tools supporting water and hydropower management. These advances also have potential to enhance hazard mitigation by improving near-term weather prediction and subseasonal and seasonal outlooks.

Stewart, IT, Cayan DR, Dettinger MD.  2004.  Changes in snowmelt runoff timing in western North America under a 'business as usual' climate change scenario. Climatic Change. 62:217-232.   10.1023/B:CLIM.0000013702.22656.e8   AbstractWebsite

Spring snowmelt is the most important contribution of many rivers in western North America. If climate changes, this contribution may change. A shift in the timing of springtime snowmelt towards earlier in the year already is observed during 1948 - 2000 in many western rivers. Streamflow timing changes for the 1995 - 2099 period are projected using regression relations between observed streamflow-timing responses in each river, measured by the temporal centroid of streamflow (CT) each year, and local temperature (TI) and precipitation ( PI) indices. Under 21st century warming trends predicted by the Parallel Climate Model (PCM) under business-as-usual greenhouse-gas emissions, streamflow timing trends across much of western North America suggest even earlier springtime snowmelt than observed to date. Projected CT changes are consistent with observed rates and directions of change during the past five decades, and are strongest in the Pacific Northwest, Sierra Nevada, and Rocky Mountains, where many rivers eventually run 30 - 40 days earlier. The modest PI changes projected by PCM yield minimal CT changes. The responses of CT to the simultaneous effects of projected TI and PI trends are dominated by the TI changes. Regression-based CT projections agree with those from physically-based simulations of rivers in the Pacific Northwest and Sierra Nevada.

Cayan, DR, Kammerdiener SA, Dettinger MD, Caprio JM, Peterson DH.  2001.  Changes in the onset of spring in the western United States. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 82:399-415.   10.1175/1520-0477(2001)082<0399:citoos>2.3.co;2   AbstractWebsite

Fluctuations in spring climate in the western United States over the last 4-5 decades are described by examining changes in the blooming of plants and the timing of snowmelt-runoff pulses. The two measures of spring's onset that are employed are the timing of first bloom of lilac and honeysuckle bushes from a long-term cooperative phenological network, and the timing of the first major pulse of snowmelt recorded from high-elevation streams. Both measures contain year-to-year fluctuations, with typical year-to year fluctuations at a given site of one to three weeks. These fluctuations are spatially coherent, forming regional patterns that cover most of the west. Fluctuations in lilac first bloom dates are highly correlated to those of honeysuckle, and both are significantly correlated with those of the spring snowmelt pulse. Each of these measures, then, probably respond to a common mechanism. Various analyses indicate that anomalous temperature exerts the greatest influence upon both interannual and secular changes in the onset of spring in these networks. Earlier spring onsets since the late 1970s are a remarkable feature of the records, and reflect the unusual spell of warmer-than-normal springs in western North America during this period. The warm episodes are clearly related to larger-scale atmospheric conditions across North America and the North Pacific, but whether this is predominantly an expression of natural variability or also a symptom of global warming is not certain.

Stewart, IT, Cayan DR, Dettinger MD.  2005.  Changes toward earlier streamflow timing across western North America. Journal of Climate. 18:1136-1155.   10.1175/jcli3321.1   AbstractWebsite

The highly variable timing of streamflow in snowmelt-dominated basins across western North America is an important consequence, and indicator, of climate fluctuations. Changes in the timing of snowmelt-derived streamflow from 1948 to 2002 were investigated in a network of 302 western North America gauges by examining the center of mass for flow, spring pulse onset dates, and seasonal fractional flows through trend and principal component analyses. Statistical analysis of the streamflow timing measures with Pacific climate indicators identified local and key large-scale processes that govern the regionally coherent parts of the changes and their relative importance. Widespread and regionally coherent trends toward earlier onsets of springtime snowmelt and streamflow have taken place across most of western North America, affecting an area that is much larger than previously recognized. These timing changes have resulted in increasing fractions of annual flow occurring earlier in the water year by 1-4 weeks. The immediate (or proximal) forcings for the spatially coherent parts of the year-to-year fluctuations and longer-term trends of streamflow timing have been higher winter and spring temperatures. Although these temperature changes are partly controlled by the decadal-scale Pacific climate mode [Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO)], a separate ani significant part of the variance is associated with a springtime warming trend that spans the PDO phases.

Venrick, EL, McGowan JA, Cayan DR, Hayward TL.  1987.  Climate and chlorophyll-a: long-term trends in the central North Pacific Ocean. Science. 238:70-72.   10.1126/science.238.4823.70   AbstractWebsite

Since 1968 a significant increase in total chlorophyll a in the water column during the summer in the central North Pacific Ocean has been observed. A concomitant increase in winter winds and a decrease in sea surface temperature suggest that long-period fluctuations in atmospheric characteristics have changed the carrying capacity of the central Pacific epipelagic ecosystem.