Publications

Export 31 results:
Sort by: Author Title Type [ Year  (Desc)]
2019
Corringham, TW, Cayan DR.  2019.  The effect of El Nino on flood damages in the western United States. Weather Climate and Society. 11:489-504.   10.1175/wcas-d-18-0071.1   AbstractWebsite

This paper quantifies insured flood losses across the western United States from 1978 to 2017, presenting a spatiotemporal analysis of National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) daily claims and losses over this period. While considerably lower (only 3.3%) than broader measures of direct damages measured by a National Weather Service (NWS) dataset, NFIP insured losses are highly correlated to the annual damages in the NWS dataset, and the NFIP data provide flood impacts at a fine degree of spatial resolution. The NFIP data reveal that 1% of extreme events, covering wide spatial areas, caused over 66% of total insured losses. Connections between extreme events and El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) that have been documented in past research are borne out in the insurance data. In coastal Southern California and across the Southwest, El Nino conditions have had a strong effect in producing more frequent and higher magnitudes of insured losses, while La Nina conditions significantly reduce both the frequency and magnitude of losses. In the Pacific Northwest, the opposite pattern appears, although the effect is weaker and less spatially coherent. The persistent evolution of ENSO offers the possibility for property owners, policy makers, and emergency planners and responders that unusually high or low flood damages could be predicted in advance of the primary winter storm period along the West Coast. Within the 40-yr NFIP history, it is found that the multivariate ENSO index would have provided an 8-month look-ahead for heightened damages in Southern California.

Gershunov, A, Shulgina T, Clemesha RES, Guirguis K, Pierce DW, Dettinger MD, Lavers DA, Cayan DR, Polade SD, Kalansky J, Ralph FM.  2019.  Precipitation regime change in Western North America: The role of atmospheric rivers. Scientific Reports. 9   10.1038/s41598-019-46169-w   AbstractWebsite

Daily precipitation in California has been projected to become less frequent even as precipitation extremes intensify, leading to uncertainty in the overall response to climate warming. Precipitation extremes are historically associated with Atmospheric Rivers (ARs). Sixteen global climate models are evaluated for realism in modeled historical AR behavior and contribution of the resulting daily precipitation to annual total precipitation over Western North America. The five most realistic models display consistent changes in future AR behavior, constraining the spread of the full ensemble. They, moreover, project increasing year-to-year variability of total annual precipitation, particularly over California, where change in total annual precipitation is not projected with confidence. Focusing on three representative river basins along the West Coast, we show that, while the decrease in precipitation frequency is mostly due to non-AR events, the increase in heavy and extreme precipitation is almost entirely due to ARs. This research demonstrates that examining meteorological causes of precipitation regime change can lead to better and more nuanced understanding of climate projections. It highlights the critical role of future changes in ARs to Western water resources, especially over California.

2018
Sumargo, E, Cayan DR.  2018.  The influence of cloudiness on hydrologic fluctuations in the mountains of the western United States. Water Resources Research. 54:8478-8499.   10.1029/2018wr022687   AbstractWebsite

This study investigates snowmelt and streamflow responses to cloudiness variability across the mountainous parts of the western United States. Twenty years (1996-2015) of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-derived cloud cover indices (CC) with 4-km spatial and daily temporal resolutions are used as a proxy for cloudiness. The primary driver of nonseasonal fluctuations in daily mean solar insolation is the fluctuating cloudiness. We find that CC fluctuations are related to snowmelt and snow-fed streamflow fluctuations, to some extent (correlations of <0.5). Multivariate linear regression models of daily snowmelt (MELT) and streamflow (AQ) variations are constructed for each month from February to July, when snowmelt is most active. Predictors include CC from five antecedent days up to the current day. The CC-MELT and CC-AQ associations vary with time and location. The results show the dominance of negative correlations between CC and MELT, exemplifying the cloud-shading (or clear-sky) effect on snowmelt. The magnitude of the CC-MELT association (R-2) amounts to 5-61%, typically peaking in May. These associations fade earlier in summer during dry years than wet years, indicating the differing responses of thicker versus thinner snowpack. The CC-AQ association displays a less consistent pattern, with R-2 amounting to 2-47%. Nevertheless, MELT and AQ fluctuations exhibit spatially extensive patterns of correlations with daily cloudiness anomalies, indicating that the effects of cloudiness often operate over regional spatial scales. Plain Language Summary Much of the water supply in the western United States originates as mountain streams, which derive much of their water from snowmelt. The primary driver of mountain snowmelt is solar energy, and cloud cover regulates how much solar energy can reach the snow surface. Despite this fact, how snowmelt and streamflow respond to cloud cover (or its absence) has not been thoroughly studied. In our study, we describe snowmelt and streamflow responses to cloud cover using satellite images of cloud cover and surface records of snowmelt and streamflow. We find significant snowmelt and daily streamflow rate responses to cloud cover. Importantly, during the peak snowmelt season, snowmelt and streamflow decrease when cloud cover increases, and vice versa, confirming the cloud-shading effect on the snow surface. However, this cause-and-effect process is not so simple. We also find that cloud cover (or its absence) in the previous few days can affect how much snow melts and the streamflow rate is in a day. Snowmelt and streamflow responses to cloud cover are stronger, albeit shorter-lived, in dry years than in wet years, highlighting the relative importance of cloud cover in drier years.

2017
Polade, SD, Gershunov A, Cayan DR, Dettinger MD, Pierce DW.  2017.  Precipitation in a warming world: Assessing projected hydro-climate changes in California and other Mediterranean climate regions. Scientific Reports. 7   10.1038/s41598-017-11285-y   AbstractWebsite

In most Mediterranean climate (MedClim) regions around the world, global climate models (GCMs) consistently project drier futures. In California, however, projections of changes in annual precipitation are inconsistent. Analysis of daily precipitation in 30 GCMs reveals patterns in projected hydrometeorology over each of the five MedClm regions globally and helps disentangle their causes. MedClim regions, except California, are expected to dry via decreased frequency of winter precipitation. Frequencies of extreme precipitation, however, are projected to increase over the two MedClim regions of the Northern Hemisphere where projected warming is strongest. The increase in heavy and extreme precipitation is particularly robust over California, where it is only partially offset by projected decreases in low-medium intensity precipitation. Over the Mediterranean Basin, however, losses from decreasing frequency of low-medium-intensity precipitation are projected to dominate gains from intensifying projected extreme precipitation. MedClim regions are projected to become more sub-tropical, i.e. made dryer via pole-ward expanding subtropical subsidence. California's more nuanced hydrological future reflects a precarious balance between the expanding subtropical high from the south and the south-eastward extending Aleutian low from the north-west. These dynamical mechanisms and thermodynamic moistening of the warming atmosphere result in increased horizontal water vapor transport, bolstering extreme precipitation events.

2016
Guzman-Morales, J, Gershunov A, Theiss J, Li HQ, Cayan D.  2016.  Santa Ana Winds of Southern California: Their climatology, extremes, and behavior spanning six and a half decades. Geophysical Research Letters. 43:2827-2834.   10.1002/2016gl067887   AbstractWebsite

Santa Ana Winds (SAWs) are an integral feature of the regional climate of Southern California/Northern Baja California region, but their climate-scale behavior is poorly understood. In the present work, we identify SAWs in mesoscale dynamical downscaling of a global reanalysis from 1948 to 2012. Model winds are validated with anemometer observations. SAWs exhibit an organized pattern with strongest easterly winds on westward facing downwind slopes and muted magnitudes at sea and over desert lowlands. We construct hourly local and regional SAW indices and analyze elements of their behavior on daily, annual, and multidecadal timescales. SAWs occurrences peak in winter, but some of the strongest winds have occurred in fall. Finally, we observe that SAW intensity is influenced by prominent large-scale low-frequency modes of climate variability rooted in the tropical and north Pacific ocean-atmosphere system.

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.

2015
Pierce, DW, Cayan DR, Maurer EP, Abatzoglou JT, Hegewisch KC.  2015.  Improved bias correction techniques for hydrological simulations of climate change. Journal of Hydrometeorology. 16:2421-2442.   10.1175/jhm-d-14-0236.1   AbstractWebsite

Global climate model (GCM) output typically needs to be bias corrected before it can be used for climate change impact studies. Three existing bias correction methods, and a new one developed here, are applied to daily maximum temperature and precipitation from 21 GCMs to investigate how different methods alter the climate change signal of the GCM. The quantile mapping (QM) and cumulative distribution function transform (CDF-t) bias correction methods can significantly alter the GCM's mean climate change signal, with differences of up to 2 degrees C and 30% points for monthly mean temperature and precipitation, respectively. Equidistant quantile matching (EDCDFm) bias correction preserves GCM changes in mean daily maximum temperature but not precipitation. An extension to EDCDFm termed PresRat is introduced, which generally preserves the GCM changes in mean precipitation. Another problem is that GCMs can have difficulty simulating variance as a function of frequency. To address this, a frequency-dependent bias correction method is introduced that is twice as effective as standard bias correction in reducing errors in the models' simulation of variance as a function of frequency, and it does so without making any locations worse, unlike standard bias correction. Last, a preconditioning technique is introduced that improves the simulation of the annual cycle while still allowing the bias correction to take account of an entire season's values at once.

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.

2014
Maurer, EP, Brekke L, Pruitt T, Thrasher B, Long J, Duffy P, Dettinger M, Cayan D, Arnold J.  2014.  An enhanced archive facilitating climate impacts and adaptation analysis. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 95:1011-+.   10.1175/bams-d-13-00126.1   AbstractWebsite

We describe the expansion of a publicly available archive of downscaled climate and hydrology projections for the United States. Those studying or planning to adapt to future climate impacts demand downscaled climate model output for local or regional use. The archive we describe attempts to fulfill this need by providing data in several formats, selectable to meet user needs. Our archive has served as a resource for climate impacts modelers, water managers, educators, and others. Over 1,400 individuals have transferred more than 50 TB of data from the archive. In response to user demands, the archive has expanded from monthly downscaled data to include daily data to facilitate investigations of phenomena sensitive to daily to monthly temperature and precipitation, including extremes in these quantities. New developments include downscaled output from the new Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) climate model simulations at both the monthly and daily time scales, as well as simulations of surface hydrological variables. The web interface allows the extraction of individual projections or ensemble statistics for user-defined regions, promoting the rapid assessment of model consensus and uncertainty for future projections of precipitation, temperature, and hydrology. The archive is accessible online (http://gdo-dcp.ucllnl.org/downscaled_cmip_projections).

Vano, JA, Udall B, Cayan DR, Overpeck JT, Brekke LD, Das T, Hartmann HC, Hidalgo HG, Hoerling M, McCabe GJ, Morino K, Webb RS, Werner K, Lettenmaier DP.  2014.  Understanding uncertainties in future Colorado River streamflow. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 95:59-78.   10.1175/bams-d-12-00228.1   AbstractWebsite

The Colorado River is the primary water source for more than 30 million people in the United States and Mexico. Recent studies that project streamf low changes in the Colorado River all project annual declines, but the magnitude of the projected decreases range from less than 10% to 45% by the mid-twenty-first century. To understand these differences, we address the questions the management community has raised: Why is there such a wide range of projections of impacts of future climate change on Colorado River streamflow, and how should this uncertainty be interpreted? We identify four major sources of disparities among studies that arise from both methodological and model differences. In order of importance, these are differences in 1) the global climate models (GCMs) and emission scenarios used; 2) the ability of land surface and atmospheric models to simulate properly the high-elevation runoff source areas; 3) the sensitivities of land surface hydrology models to precipitation and temperature changes; and 4) the methods used to statistically downscale GCM scenarios. In accounting for these differences, there is substantial evidence across studies that future Colorado River streamflow will be reduced under the current trajectories of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions because of a combination of strong temperature-induced runoff curtailment and reduced annual precipitation. Reconstructions of preinstrumental streamflows provide additional insights; the greatest risk to Colorado River streamf lows is a multidecadal drought, like that observed in paleoreconstructions, exacerbated by a steady reduction in flows due to climate change. This could result in decades of sustained streamflows much lower than have been observed in the ~100 years of instrumental record.

2013
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.

Pierce, DW, Cayan DR.  2013.  The uneven response of different snow measures to human-induced climate warming. Journal of Climate. 26:4148-4167.   10.1175/jcli-d-12-00534.1   AbstractWebsite

The effect of human-induced climate warming on different snow measures in the western United States is compared by calculating the time required to achieve a statistically significant linear trend in the different measures, using time series derived from regionally downscaled global climate models. The measures examined include the water content of the spring snowpack, total cold-season snowfall, fraction of winter precipitation that falls as snow, length of the snow season, and fraction of cold-season precipitation retained in the spring snowpack, as well as temperature and precipitation. Various stakeholders may be interested in different sets of these variables. It is found that temperature and the fraction of winter precipitation that falls as snow exhibit significant trends first, followed in 5-10 years by the fraction of cold-season precipitation retained in the spring snowpack, and later still by the water content of the spring snowpack. Change in total cold-season snowfall is least detectable of all the measures, since it is strongly linked to precipitation, which has large natural variability and only a weak anthropogenic trend in the western United States. Averaging over increasingly wider areas monotonically increases the signal-to-noise ratio of the 1950-2025 linear trend from 0.15 to 0.37, depending on the snow measure.

DeFlorio, MJ, Pierce DW, Cayan DR, Miller AJ.  2013.  Western US extreme precipitation events and their relation to ENSO and PDO in CCSM4. Journal of Climate. 26:4231-4243.   10.1175/jcli-d-12-00257.1   AbstractWebsite

Water resources and management over the western United States are heavily impacted by both local climate variability and the teleconnected responses of precipitation to the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO). In this work, regional precipitation patterns over the western United States and linkages to ENSO and the PDO are analyzed using output from a Community Climate System Model version 4 (CCSM4) preindustrial control run and observations, with emphasis on extreme precipitation events. CCSM4 produces realistic zonal gradients in precipitation intensity and duration over the western United States, with higher values on the windward side of the Cascade Mountains and Sierra Nevada and lower values on the leeward. Compared to its predecessor CCSM3, CCSM4 shows an improved teleconnected signal of both ENSO and the PDO to large-scale circulation patterns over the Pacific-North America region and also to the spatial pattern and other aspects of western U.S. precipitation. The so-called drizzle problem persists in CCSM4 but is significantly improved compared to CCSM3. In particular, it is found that CCSM4 has substantially less precipitation duration bias than is present in CCSM3. Both the overall and extreme intensity of wintertime precipitation over the western United States show statistically significant linkages with ENSO and PDO in CCSM4. This analysis provides a basis for future studies using greenhouse gas (GHG)-forced CCSM4 runs.

2009
Gershunov, A, Cayan DR, Iacobellis SF.  2009.  The great 2006 heat wave over California and Nevada: Signal of an increasing trend. Journal of Climate. 22:6181-6203.   10.1175/2009jcli2465.1   AbstractWebsite

Most of the great California-Nevada heat waves can be classified into primarily daytime or nighttime events depending on whether atmospheric conditions are dry or humid. A rash of nighttime-accentuated events in the last decade was punctuated by an unusually intense case in July 2006, which was the largest heat wave on record (1948-2006). Generally, there is a positive trend in heat wave activity over the entire region that is expressed most strongly and clearly in nighttime rather than daytime temperature extremes. This trend in nighttime heat wave activity has intensified markedly since the 1980s and especially since 2000. The two most recent nighttime heat waves were also strongly expressed in extreme daytime temperatures. Circulations associated with great regional heat waves advect hot air into the region. This air can be dry or moist, depending on whether a moisture source is available, causing heat waves to be expressed preferentially during day or night. A remote moisture source centered within a marine region west of Baja California has been increasing in prominence because of gradual sea surface warming and a related increase in atmospheric humidity. Adding to the very strong synoptic dynamics during the 2006 heat wave were a prolonged stream of moisture from this southwestern source and, despite the heightened humidity, an environment in which afternoon convection was suppressed, keeping cloudiness low and daytime temperatures high. The relative contributions of these factors and possible relations to global warming are discussed.

2008
Mahmud, A, Tyree M, Cayan D, Motallebi N, Kleeman MJ.  2008.  Statistical downscaling of climate change impacts on ozone concentrations in California. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 113   10.1029/2007jd009534   AbstractWebsite

The statistical relationship between the daily 1-hour maximum ozone (O(3)) concentrations and the daily maximum upper air temperature was explored for California's two most heavily polluted air basins: the South Coast Air Basin (SoCAB) and the San Joaquin Valley Air Basin (SJVAB). A coarse-scale analysis of the temperature at an elevation of 850-mbar pressure (T850) for the period 1980-2004 was obtained from the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP)/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Reanalysis data set for grid points near Upland (SoCAB) and Parlier (SJVAB). Daily 1-hour maximum ozone concentrations were obtained from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for these locations over the same time period. The ozone concentrations measured at any given value of the Reanalysis T850 were approximately normally distributed. The 25%, 50%, and 75% quartile ozone concentrations increased linearly with T850, reflecting the effect of temperature on emissions and chemical reaction rates. A 2D Lagrangian (trajectory) form of the UCD/CIT photochemical air quality model was used in a perturbation study to explain the variability of the ozone concentrations at each value of T850. Wind speed, wind direction, temperature, relative humidity, mixing height, initial concentrations for VOC concentrations, background ozone concentrations, time of year, and overall emissions were perturbed in a realistic fashion during this study. A total of 62 model simulations were performed, and the results were analyzed to show that long-term changes to emissions inventories were the largest sources of ozone variability at a fixed value of T850. Projections of future T850 values in California were obtained from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) model under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) A2 and B1 emissions scenarios for the years 2001 to 2100. The future temperature trends combined with the historical statistical relationships suggest that an additional 22-30 days year(-1) in California would experience O(3) >= 90 ppb under the A2 global emissions scenario, and an additional 6-13 days year(-1) would experience O(3) >= 90 ppb under the B1 global emissions scenario by the year 2050 (assuming the NO(x) and VOC emissions remained at 1990-2004 levels). These calculations help to quantify the climate "penalty" that must be overcome to improve air quality in California.

Cayan, DR, Bromirski PD, Hayhoe K, Tyree M, Dettinger MD, Flick RE.  2008.  Climate change projections of sea level extremes along the California coast. Climatic Change. 87:S57-S73.   10.1007/s10584-007-9376-7   AbstractWebsite

California's coastal observations and global model projections indicate that California's open coast and estuaries will experience rising sea levels over the next century. During the last several decades, the upward historical trends, quantified from a small set of California tide gages, have been approximately 20 cm/century, quite similar to that estimated for global mean sea level. In the next several decades, warming produced by climate model simulations indicates that sea level rise (SLR) could substantially exceed the rate experienced during modem human development along the California coast and estuaries. A range of future SLR is estimated from a set of climate simulations governed by lower (B1), middle-upper (A2), and higher (A1fi) GHG emission scenarios. Projecting SLR from the ocean warming in GCMs, observational evidence of SLR, and separate calculations using a simple climate model yields a range of potential sea level increases, from 11 to 72 cm, by the 2070-2099 period. The combination of predicted astronomical tides with projected weather forcing, El Nino related variability, and secular SLR, gives a series of hourly sea level projections for 2005-2100. Gradual sea level rise progressively worsens the impacts of high tides, surge and waves resulting from storms, and also freshwater floods from Sierra and coastal mountain catchments. The occurrence of extreme sea levels is pronounced when these factors coincide. The frequency and magnitude of extreme events, relative to current levels, follows a sharply escalating pattern as the magnitude of future sea level rise increases.

Reisen, WK, Cayan D, Tyree M, Barker CA, Eldridge B, Dettinger M.  2008.  Impact of climate variation on mosquito abundance in California. Journal of Vector Ecology. 33:89-98.   10.3376/1081-1710(2008)33[89:iocvom]2.0.co;2   AbstractWebsite

Temporal variation in the abundance of the encephalitis virus vector mosquito, Culex tarsalis Coquillet, was linked significantly with coincident and antecedent measures of regional climate, including temperature, precipitation, snow pack, and the El Nino/Southern Oscillation anomaly. Although variable among traps, historical records that spanned two to five decades revealed climate influences on spring and summer mosquito abundance as early as the previous fall through early summer. Correlations between winter and spring precipitation and snow pack and spring Cx. tarsalis abundance were stronger than correlations with summer abundance. Spring abundance was also correlated positively with winter and spring temperature, whereas summer abundance correlated negatively with spring temperature and not significantly with summer temperature. Correlations with antecedent climate provide the opportunity to forecast vector abundance and therefore encephalitis virus risk, a capability useful in intervention decision support systems at local and state levels.

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.

2006
Westerling, AL, Hidalgo HG, Cayan DR, Swetnam TW.  2006.  Warming and earlier spring increase western US forest wildfire activity. Science. 313:940-943.   10.1126/science.1128834   AbstractWebsite

Western United States forest wildfire activity is widely thought to have increased in recent decades, yet neither the extent of recent changes nor the degree to which climate may be driving regional changes in wildfire has been systematically documented. Much of the public and scientific discussion of changes in western United States wildfire has focused instead on the effects of 19th- and 20th-century land-use history. We compiled a comprehensive database of large wildfires in western United States forests since 1970 and compared it with hydroclimatic and land-surface data. Here, we show that large wildfire activity increased suddenly and markedly in the mid-1980s, with higher large-wildfire frequency, longer wildfire durations, and longer wildfire seasons. The greatest increases occurred in mid-elevation, Northern Rockies forests, where land-use histories have relatively little effect on fire risks and are strongly associated with increased spring and summer temperatures and an earlier spring snowmelt.

Alfaro, EJ, Gershunov A, Cayan D.  2006.  Prediction of summer maximum and minimum temperature over the central and western United States: The roles of soil moisture and sea surface temperature. Journal of Climate. 19:1407-1421.   10.1175/jcli3665.1   AbstractWebsite

A statistical model based on canonical correlation analysis (CCA) was used to explore climatic associations and predictability of June-August (JJA) maximum and minimum surface air temperatures (Tmax and Tmin) as well as the frequency of Tmax daily extremes (Tmax90) in the central and western United States (west of 90 degrees W). Explanatory variables are monthly and seasonal Pacific Ocean SST (PSST) and the Climate Division Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) during 1950-2001. Although there is a positive correlation between Tmax and Tmin, the two variables exhibit somewhat different patterns and dynamics. Both exhibit their lowest levels of variability in summer, but that of Tmax is greater than Tmin. The predictability of Tmax is mainly associated with local effects related to previous soil moisture conditions at short range (one month to one season), with PSST providing a secondary influence. Predictability of Tmin is more strongly influenced by large-scale (PSST) patterns, with PDSI acting as a short-range predictive influence. For both predictand variables (Tmax and Tmin), the PDSI influence falls off markedly at time leads beyond a few months, but a PSST influence remains for at least two seasons. The maximum predictive skill for JJA Tmin, Tmax, and Tmax90 is from May PSST and PDSI. Importantly. skills evaluated for various seasons and time leads undergo a seasonal cycle that has maximum levels in summer. At the seasonal time frame, summer Tmax prediction skills are greatest in the Midwest, northern and central California, Arizona, and Utah. Similar results were found for Tmax90. In contrast, Tmin skill is spread over most of the western region, except for clusters of low skill in the northern Midwest and southern Montana, Idaho, and northern Arizona.

2005
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.

White, WB, Cayan DR, Niiler PP, Moisan J, Lagerloef G, Bonjean F, Legler D.  2005.  The seasonal cycle of diabatic heat storage in the Pacific Ocean. Progress in Oceanography. 64:1-29.   10.1016/j.pocean.2004.06.012   AbstractWebsite

This study quantifies uncertainties in closing the seasonal cycle of diabatic heat storage (DHS) over the Pacific Ocean from 20 degrees S to 60 degrees N through the synthesis of World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) reanalysis products from 1993 to 1999. These products are DHS from Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO); near-surface geostrophic and Ekman currents from Earth and Space Research (ESR); and air-sea heat fluxes from Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (COADS), National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), and European Center for Mid-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). With these products, we compute residual heat budget components by differencing long-term monthly means from the long-term annual mean. This allows the seasonal cycle of the DHS tendency to be modeled. Everywhere latent heat flux residuals dominate sensible heat flux residuals, shortwave heat flux residuals dominate longwave heat flux residuals, and residual Ekman heat advection dominates residual geostrophic heat advection, with residual dissipation significant only in the Kuroshio-Oyashio current extension. The root-mean-square (RMS) of the differences between observed and model residual DHS tendencies (averaged over 10 degrees latitude-by-20 degrees longitude boxes) is < 20 W m(-2) in the interior ocean and < 100 W m(-2) in the Kuroshio-Oyashio current extension. This reveals that the residual DHS tendency is driven everywhere by some mix of residual latent heat flux, shortwave heat flux, and Ekman heat advection. Suppressing bias errors in residual air-sea turbulent heat fluxes and Ekman heat advection through minimization of the RMS differences reduces the latter to < 10 W m(-2) over the interior ocean and < 25 W m(-2) in the Kuroshio-Oyashio current extension. This reveals air-sea temperature and specific humidity differences from in situ surface marine weather observations to be a principal source of bias error, overestimated over most of ocean but underestimated near the Intertropical Convergence Zone. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

2003
White, WB, Dettinger MD, Cayan DR.  2003.  Sources of global warming of the upper ocean on decadal period scales. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 108   10.1029/2002jc001396   AbstractWebsite

[1] Recent studies find global climate variability in the upper ocean and lower atmosphere during the twentieth century dominated by quasi-biennial, interannual, quasi-decadal and interdecadal signals. The quasi-decadal signal in upper ocean temperature undergoes global warming/cooling of - 0.1degreesC, similar to that occurring with the interannual signal (i. e., El Nino-Southern Oscillation), both signals dominated by global warming/cooling in the tropics. From the National Centers for Environmental Prediction troposphere reanalysis and Scripps Institution of Oceanography upper ocean temperature reanalysis we examine the quasi-decadal global tropical diabatic heat storage (DHS) budget from 1975 to 2000. We find the anomalous DHS warming tendency of 0.3-0.9 W m(-2) driven principally by a downward global tropical latent-plus-sensible heat flux anomaly into the ocean, overwhelming the tendency by weaker upward shortwave-minus-longwave heat flux anomaly to drive an anomalous DHS cooling tendency. During the peak quasidecadal warming the estimated dissipation of DHS anomaly of 0.2-0.5 W m(-2) into the deep ocean and a similar loss to the overlying atmosphere through air-sea heat flux anomaly are balanced by a decrease in the net poleward Ekman heat advection out of the tropics of 0.4-0.7 W m(-2). This scenario is nearly the opposite of that accounting for global tropical warming during the El Nino. These diagnostics confirm that even though the global quasi-decadal signal is phase-locked to the 11-year signal in the Sun's surface radiative forcing of -0.1 W m(-2), the anomalous global tropical DHS tendency cannot be driven by it directly.

2001
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.

2000
White, WB, Cayan DR.  2000.  A global El Nino-Southern Oscillation wave in surface temperature and pressure and its interdecadal modulation from 1900 to 1997. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 105:11223-11242.   10.1029/1999jc900246   AbstractWebsite

Zonal wavenumber frequency spectra of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies along the equator in the Indo-Pacific basin For the 98 years from 1900 to 1997 and of surface temperature (ST) and sea level pressure (SLP) anomalies extending around the globe along 10 degrees N for the 48 years from 1950 to 1997 display significant peak spectral energy density for standing and eastward propagating waves of 3-7 year periods and 120 degrees-360 degrees zonal wavelengths, The global standing wave is the familiar Southern Oscillation, but the global propagating wave represents a new paradigm for the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Global distributions of the phase velocities for this global ENSO wave finds covarying SLP and ST anomalies propagating eastward along the mean path of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), with the global zonal wavenumber 1 (2) component taking similar to 4 (6) years to cross the tropical Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans at a zonal average speed of 90 degrees (60 degrees) longitude per year. Along this path the interannual SST acid SLP anomalies are directly out of phase. Since thermocline depth anomalies underneath the ITCZ in the Pacific Ocean propagate westward [White et al. 1985], we view the global ENSO wave as a slow coupled SST wave trapped onto the ITCZ. Separating the global ENSO wave from the Southern Oscillation using complex empirical orthogonal function analysis finds the amplitude of the propagating wave to be half that of the standing wave, with the former (latter) accounting for one third (two thirds) of the interannual variability in Nino-3 SST and SLP indices during the 1980s. The global ENSO wave is shown to be responsible for the eastward propagation of covarying zonal surface wind and thermocline depth anomalies across the equatorial Pacific Ocean and through this mechanism is able to influence both the phasing and intensity of El Nino. Examining the persistence of the global ENSO wave from 1900 to 1997 finds it and the intensity of El Nino in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean modulated by interdecadal change, Both were strong (weak or absent) during decades of global tropical cooling (warming).