Publications

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2017
Clemesha, RES, Gershunov A, Iacobellis SF, Cayan DR.  2017.  Daily variability of California coastal low cloudiness: A balancing act between stability and subsidence. Geophysical Research Letters. 44:3330-3338.   10.1002/2017gl073075   AbstractWebsite

We examine mechanisms driving daily variability of summer coastal low cloudiness (CLC) along the California coast. Daily CLC is derived from a satellite record from 1996 to 2014. Atmospheric rather than oceanic processes are mostly responsible for daily fluctuations in vertical stability that dictate short-period variation in CLC structure. Daily CLC anomalies are most strongly correlated to lower tropospheric stability anomalies to the north. The spatially offset nature of the cloud-stability relationship is a result of the balancing act that affects low cloudiness wherein subsidence drives increased stability, which promotes cloudiness, but too much subsidence limits cloudiness. Lay explanations claim that high inland temperatures pull in CLC, but such a process presumably would have the high temperatures directly inland. Rather, we find that the spatially offset associations between CLC and atmospheric circulation result in positive correlations between CLC and inland surface temperature anomalies to the north.

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.

2014
Li, HQ, Kanamitsu M, Hong SY, Yoshimura K, Cayan DR, Misra V, Sun LQ.  2014.  Projected climate change scenario over California by a regional ocean-atmosphere coupled model system. Climatic Change. 122:609-619.   10.1007/s10584-013-1025-8   AbstractWebsite

This study examines a future climate change scenario over California in a 10-km coupled regional downscaling system of the Regional Spectral Model for the atmosphere and the Regional Ocean Modeling System for the ocean forced by the global Community Climate System Model version 3.0 (CCSM3). In summer, the coupled and uncoupled downscaled experiments capture the warming trend of surface air temperature, consistent with the driving CCSM3 forcing. However, the surface warming change along the California coast is weaker in the coupled downscaled experiment than it is in the uncoupled downscaling. Atmospheric cooling due to upwelling along the coast commonly appears in both the present and future climates, but the effect of upwelling is not fully compensated for by the projected large-scale warming in the coupled downscaling experiment. The projected change of extreme warm events is quite different between the coupled and uncoupled downscaling experiments, with the former projecting a more moderate change. The projected future change in precipitation is not significantly different between coupled and uncoupled downscaling. Both the coupled and uncoupled downscaling integrations predict increased onshore sea breeze change in summer daytime and reduced offshore land breeze change in summer nighttime along the coast from the Bay area to Point Conception. Compared to the simulation of present climate, the coupled and uncoupled downscaling experiments predict 17.5 % and 27.5 % fewer Catalina eddy hours in future climate respectively.

2013
Graham, NE, Cayan DR, Bromirski PD, Flick RE.  2013.  Multi-model projections of twenty-first century North Pacific winter wave climate under the IPCC A2 scenario. Climate Dynamics. 40:1335-1360.   10.1007/s00382-012-1435-8   AbstractWebsite

A dynamical wave model implemented over the North Pacific Ocean was forced with winds from three coupled global climate models (CGCMs) run under a medium-to-high scenario for greenhouse gas emissions through the twenty-first century. The results are analyzed with respect to changes in upper quantiles of significant wave height (90th and 99th percentile H-S) during boreal winter. The three CGCMs produce surprisingly similar patterns of change in winter wave climate during the century, with waves becoming 10-15 % smaller over the lower mid-latitudes of the North Pacific, particularly in the central and western ocean. These decreases are closely associated with decreasing windspeeds along the southern flank of the main core of the westerlies. At higher latitudes, 99th percentile wave heights generally increase, though the patterns of change are less uniform than at lower latitudes. The increased wave heights at high latitudes appear to be due a variety of wind-related factors including both increased windspeeds and changes in the structure of the wind field, these varying from model to model. For one of the CGCMs, a commonly used statistical approach for estimating seasonal quantiles of H-S on the basis of seasonal mean sea level pressure (SLP) is used to develop a regression model from 60 years of twentieth century data as a training set, and then applied using twenty-first century SLP data. The statistical model reproduces the general pattern of decreasing twenty-first century wave heights south of similar to 40 N, but underestimates the magnitude of the changes by similar to 50-70 %, reflecting relatively weak coupling between sea level pressure and wave heights in the CGCM data and loss of variability in the statistically projected wave heights.

Bromirski, PD, Cayan DR, Helly J, Wittmann P.  2013.  Wave power variability and trends across the North Pacific. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 118:6329-6348.   10.1002/2013jc009189   AbstractWebsite

Multiyear climate variations influence North Pacific storm intensity and resultant variations in wave energy levels. The timing of these decadal fluctuations and strong El Nino's have had a strong influence on long-term trends. Here we investigate variations in the North Pacific wave power, P-W, determined from WAVEWATCH III (WW3) wave model significant wave height, Hs, and peak period data forced by NRA-1 winds spanning the 1948-2008 epoch. Over the entire hindcast, upward trends in Hs and P-W, especially in winter, are observed over much of the North Pacific, strongly influenced by an apparent storm intensification after the mid-1970s regime shift. Heightened P-W is concentrated in particular regions of the basin, and is associated with increased wave activity during the warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Wave power events, P-E, defined as episodes when Hs exceeded the 90th percentile threshold for at least 12 h, exhibit significant upward trends along much of the U.S. Pacific coast during winter months. Importantly, the hindcast exhibits a recent decrease in P-W across much of the North Pacific, in contrast to the long-term increase of P-W and Hs. This recent decrease is associated with the prevalent PDO cool phase that developed after the late 1990s. Variability and intensification of coastal P-W and P-E have important practical implications for shoreline and beach erosion, coastal wetlands inundation, storm-surge flooding, and coastal planning. These considerations will become increasingly important as sea level rises.

2012
Dettinger, MD, Ralph FM, Hughes M, Das T, Neiman P, Cox D, Estes G, Reynolds D, Hartman R, Cayan D, Jones L.  2012.  Design and quantification of an extreme winter storm scenario for emergency preparedness and planning exercises in California. Natural Hazards. 60:1085-1111.   10.1007/s11069-011-9894-5   AbstractWebsite

The USGS Multihazards Project is working with numerous agencies to evaluate and plan for hazards and damages that could be caused by extreme winter storms impacting California. Atmospheric and hydrological aspects of a hypothetical storm scenario have been quantified as a basis for estimation of human, infrastructure, economic, and environmental impacts for emergency-preparedness and flood-planning exercises. In order to ensure scientific defensibility and necessary levels of detail in the scenario description, selected historical storm episodes were concatentated to describe a rapid arrival of several major storms over the state, yielding precipitation totals and runoff rates beyond those occurring during the individual historical storms. This concatenation allowed the scenario designers to avoid arbitrary scalings and is based on historical occasions from the 19th and 20th Centuries when storms have stalled over the state and when extreme storms have arrived in rapid succession. Dynamically consistent, hourly precipitation, temperatures, barometric pressures (for consideration of storm surges and coastal erosion), and winds over California were developed for the so-called ARkStorm scenario by downscaling the concatenated global records of the historical storm sequences onto 6- and 2-km grids using a regional weather model of January 1969 and February 1986 storm conditions. The weather model outputs were then used to force a hydrologic model to simulate ARkStorm runoff, to better understand resulting flooding risks. Methods used to build this scenario can be applied to other emergency, nonemergency and non-California applications.

2011
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.

2010
Maurer, EP, Hidalgo HG, Das T, Dettinger MD, Cayan DR.  2010.  The utility of daily large-scale climate data in the assessment of climate change impacts on daily streamflow in California. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. 14:1125-1138.   10.5194/hess-14-1125-2010   AbstractWebsite

Three statistical downscaling methods were applied to NCEP/NCAR reanalysis (used as a surrogate for the best possible general circulation model), and the downscaled meteorology was used to drive a hydrologic model over California. The historic record was divided into an 'observed' period of 1950-1976 to provide the basis for downscaling, and a 'projected' period of 1977-1999 for assessing skill. The downscaling methods included a bias-correction/spatial downscaling method (BCSD), which relies solely on monthly large scale meteorology and resamples the historical record to obtain daily sequences, a constructed analogues approach (CA), which uses daily large-scale anomalies, and a hybrid method (BCCA) using a quantile-mapping bias correction on the large-scale data prior to the CA approach. At 11 sites we compared three simulated daily flow statistics: streamflow timing, 3-day peak flow, and 7-day low flow. While all downscaling methods produced reasonable streamflow statistics at most locations, the BCCA method consistently outperformed the other methods, capturing the daily large-scale skill and translating it to simulated streamflows that more skillfully reproduced observationally-driven streamflows.

2008
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.

2005
Hidalgo, HG, Cayan DR, Dettinger MD.  2005.  Sources of variability of evapotranspiration in California. Journal of Hydrometeorology. 6:3-19.   10.1175/jhm-398.1   AbstractWebsite

The variability (1990-2002) of potential evapotranspiration estimates (ETo) and related meteorological variables from a set of stations from the California Irrigation Management System (CIMIS) is studied. Data from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and from the Department of Energy from 1950 to 2001 were used to validate the results. The objective is to determine the characteristics of climatological ETo and to identify factors controlling its variability (including associated atmospheric circulations). Daily ETo anomalies are strongly correlated with net radiation (R-n) anomalies, relative humidity (RH), and cloud cover, and less with average daily temperature (T-avg). The highest intraseasonal variability of ETo daily anomalies occurs during the spring, mainly caused by anomalies below the high ETo seasonal values during cloudy days. A characteristic circulation pattern is associated with anomalies of ETo and its driving meteorological inputs, R-n, RH, and T-avg, at daily to seasonal time scales. This circulation pattern is dominated by 700-hPa geopotential height (Z(700)) anomalies over a region off the west coast of North America, approximately between 32degrees and 44degrees latitude, referred to as the California Pressure Anomaly (CPA). High cloudiness and lower than normal ETo are associated with the low-height (pressure) phase of the CPA pattern. Higher than normal ETo anomalies are associated with clear skies maintained through anomalously high Z(700) anomalies offshore of the North American coast. Spring CPA, cloudiness, maximum temperature (T-max), pan evaporation (E-pan), and ETo conditions have not trended significantly or consistently during the second half of the twentieth century in California. Because it is not known how cloud cover and humidity will respond to climate change, the response of ETo in California to increased greenhouse-gas concentrations is essentially unknown; however to retain the levels of ETo in the current climate, a decline of R-n by about 6% would be required to compensate for a warming of +3degreesC.