Publications

Export 12 results:
Sort by: Author [ Title  (Asc)] Type Year
A B C [D] E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z   [Show ALL]
D
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.

Reverdin, G, Cayan D, Kushnir Y.  1997.  Decadal variability of hydrography in the upper northern North Atlantic in 1948-1990. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 102:8505-8531.   10.1029/96jc03943   AbstractWebsite

We investigate the variability of the North Atlantic subarctic gyre in recent decades from time series of station temperature and salinity. Decadal variability stronger at the surface is identified, which exhibits vertical coherence over a layer deeper than the late winter mixed layer. In the northwestern Atlantic, it corresponds to the layer with a component of water from the Arctic Ocean or from the Canadian Arctic. The spatial coherence of the signal is investigated. An empirical orthogonal function decomposition of lagged time series indicates that a single pattern explains 70% of the variance in upper ocean salt content, corresponding to a propagating signal from the west to the northeast in the subarctic gyre. The most likely interpretation is that the salinity signal originates in the slope currents of the Labrador Sea and is diffused/advected eastward of the Grand Banks over the near western Atlantic. In the northwestern Atlantic, temperature fluctuations are strongly correlated to salinity fluctuations and are aligned along the average T-S characteristics. This signal suggests large variations in the outflow of fresh, cold water in the slope current, and is strongly correlated with ice cover. A basin scale atmospheric circulation of weakened westerlies at 55 degrees N, weaker northwesterlies west of Greenland and weaker southerlies over the central and eastern North Atlantic is associated with the high salinity and warm water phase of the first principal component. This circulation pattern leads fluctuations in the northeast Atlantic and lags those in the northwestern part of the basin. The wind indices also suggest that the fluctuations of the fresh water outflow occur during intervals of anomalously northerly winds, either east of Greenland (1965, 1968-1969) or off the Canadian Archipelago (1983-1984).

Cayan, DR, Dettinger MD, Diaz HF, Graham NE.  1998.  Decadal variability of precipitation over western North America. Journal of Climate. 11:3148-3166.   10.1175/1520-0442(1998)011<3148:dvopow>2.0.co;2   AbstractWebsite

Decadal (>7- yr period) variations of precipitation over western North America account for 20%-50% of the variance of annual precipitation. Spatially, the decadal variability is broken into several regional [O(1000 km)] components. These decadal variations are contributed by fluctuations in precipitation from seasons of the year that vary from region to region and that are not necessarily concentrated in the wettest season(s) alone. The precipitation variations are linked to various decadal atmospheric circulation and SST anomaly patterns where scales range from regional to global scales and that emphasize tropical or extratropical connections, depending upon which precipitation region is considered. Further, wet or dry decades are associated with changes in frequency of at least a few shea-period circulation "modes" such as the pacific-North American pattern. precipitation fluctuations over the southwestern United States and the Saskatchewan region of western Canada are associated with extensive shifts of sea level pressure and SST anomalies, suggesting that they are components of low-frequency precipitation variability from global-scale climate processes. Consistent with the global scale of its pressure and SST connection, the Southwest decadal precipitation is aligned with opposing precipitation fluctuations in northern Africa.

Zhang, ZH, Pierce DW, Cayan DR.  2019.  A deficit of seasonal temperature forecast skill over west coast regions in NMME. Weather and Forecasting. 34:833-848.   10.1175/waf-d-18-0172.1   AbstractWebsite

This study investigates the forecast skill of seasonal-mean near-surface (2 m) air temperature in the North American Multimodel Ensemble (NMME) Phase 2, with a focus on the West Coast of the United States. Overall, 1-month lead time NMME forecasts exhibit skill superior or similar to persistence forecasts over many continental regions, and skill is generally higher over the ocean than the continent. However, forecast skill along most West Coast regions is markedly lower than in the adjacent ocean and interior, especially during the warm seasons. Results indicate that the poor forecast skill along the West Coast of the United States reflects deficiencies in their representation of multiple relevant physical processes. Analyses focusing on California find that summer forecast errors are spatially coherent over the coastal region and the inland region individually, but the correlation of forecast errors between the two regions is low. Variation in forecast performance over the coastal California region is associated with anomalous geopotential height over the lower middle latitudes and subtropics of the eastern Pacific, North America, and the western Atlantic. In contrast, variation in forecast performance over the inland California region is associated with the atmospheric circulation over the western United States. Further, it is found that forecast errors along the California coast are linked to anomalies of low cloudiness (stratus clouds) along the coastal region.

Biondi, F, Cayan DR, Berger WH.  1997.  Dendroclimatology of Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana Parry ex Carr.). American Midland Naturalist. 138:237-251.   10.2307/2426817   AbstractWebsite

Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana Parry ex Carr.) has one of the most limited geographical ranges and population size in the Pinus genus: it is present only on Santa Rosa Island and on the coast between San Diego and Del Mar. Because the survival of Torrey pine within its limited natural distribution depends on the health and climatic sensitivity of the adult tree population, we performed a dendroclimatological study to quantify the long-term response of dominant trees to climate. A 168-yr tree-ring chronology (1827-1994) was developed using a total of 28 increment cores extracted from 17 trees at Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California. Tree-ring samples were visually and numerically crossdated to assign accurate calendar years to each growth increment. Annual tree growth was highly and directly related to precipitation falling between the previous November and the current April. Temperature was not a significant predictor of tree growth. At seasonal scale, tree growth was highly and directly related to winter and spring precipitation, and was also significantly correlated to summer fog. However, when combined with winter and spring precipitation in multiple regression models, summer fog was not a significant predictor of tree growth. Total November through April precipitation explained a larger amount of variance after 1900 (64% in 1900-1949, 70% in 1950-1994) than before 1900 (48% in 1850-1899). The spatial correlation with western North America winter and spring precipitation, as well as with published tree-ring chronologies, reveals a link with the American Southwest. Global correlation maps with winter sea level pressure and sea surface temperature indicate that Torrey pine growth benefits from a southerly displaced North Pacific storm track and from warmer ocean water further south, suggesting a connection with increased transport of lower latitude moisture.

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.

Hidalgo, HG, Das T, Dettinger MD, Cayan DR, Pierce DW, Barnett TP, Bala G, Mirin A, Wood AW, Bonfils C, Santer BD, Nozawa T.  2009.  Detection and attribution of streamflow timing changes to climate change in the western United States. Journal of Climate. 22:3838-3855.   10.1175/2009jcli2470.1   AbstractWebsite

This article applies formal detection and attribution techniques to investigate the nature of observed shifts in the timing of streamflow in the western United States. Previous studies have shown that the snow hydrology of the western United States has changed in the second half of the twentieth century. Such changes manifest themselves in the form of more rain and less snow, in reductions in the snow water contents, and in earlier snowmelt and associated advances in streamflow "center'' timing (the day in the "water-year'' on average when half the water-year flow at a point has passed). However, with one exception over a more limited domain, no other study has attempted to formally attribute these changes to anthropogenic increases of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Using the observations together with a set of global climate model simulations and a hydrologic model (applied to three major hydrological regions of the western United States-the California region, the upper Colorado River basin, and the Columbia River basin), it is found that the observed trends toward earlier "center'' timing of snowmelt-driven streamflows in the western United States since 1950 are detectably different from natural variability (significant at the p < 0.05 level). Furthermore, the nonnatural parts of these changes can be attributed confidently to climate changes induced by anthropogenic greenhouse gases, aerosols, ozone, and land use. The signal from the Columbia dominates the analysis, and it is the only basin that showed a detectable signal when the analysis was performed on individual basins. It should be noted that although climate change is an important signal, other climatic processes have also contributed to the hydrologic variability of large basins in the western United States.

Bonfils, C, Santer BD, Pierce DW, Hidalgo HG, Bala G, Das T, Barnett TP, Cayan DR, Doutriaux C, Wood AW, Mirin A, Nozawa T.  2008.  Detection and attribution of temperature changes in the mountainous western United States. Journal of Climate. 21:6404-6424.   10.1175/2008jcli2397.1   AbstractWebsite

Large changes in the hydrology of the western United States have been observed since the mid-twentieth century. These include a reduction in the amount of precipitation arriving as snow, a decline in snowpack at low and midelevations, and a shift toward earlier arrival of both snowmelt and the centroid (center of mass) of streamflows. To project future water supply reliability, it is crucial to obtain a better understanding of the underlying cause or causes for these changes. A regional warming is often posited as the cause of these changes without formal testing of different competitive explanations for the warming. In this study, a rigorous detection and attribution analysis is performed to determine the causes of the late winter/early spring changes in hydrologically relevant temperature variables over mountain ranges of the western United States. Natural internal climate variability, as estimated from two long control climate model simulations, is insufficient to explain the rapid increase in daily minimum and maximum temperatures, the sharp decline in frost days, and the rise in degree-days above 0 degrees C (a simple proxy for temperature-driven snowmelt). These observed changes are also inconsistent with the model-predicted responses to variability in solar irradiance and volcanic activity. The observations are consistent with climate simulations that include the combined effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gases and aerosols. It is found that, for each temperature variable considered, an anthropogenic signal is identifiable in observational fields. The results are robust to uncertainties in model-estimated fingerprints and natural variability noise, to the choice of statistical down-scaling method, and to various processing options in the detection and attribution method.

Maurer, EP, Stewart IT, Bonfils C, Duffy PB, Cayan D.  2007.  Detection, attribution, and sensitivity of trends toward earlier streamflow in the Sierra Nevada. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 112   10.1029/2006jd008088   AbstractWebsite

[1] Observed changes in the timing of snowmelt dominated streamflow in the western United States are often linked to anthropogenic or other external causes. We assess whether observed streamflow timing changes can be statistically attributed to external forcing, or whether they still lie within the bounds of natural ( internal) variability for four large Sierra Nevada ( CA) basins, at inflow points to major reservoirs. Streamflow timing is measured by "center timing'' (CT), the day when half the annual flow has passed a given point. We use a physically based hydrology model driven by meteorological input from a global climate model to quantify the natural variability in CT trends. Estimated 50-year trends in CT due to natural climate variability often exceed estimated actual CT trends from 1950 to 1999. Thus, although observed trends in CT to date may be statistically significant, they cannot yet be statistically attributed to external influences on climate. We estimate that projected CT changes at the four major reservoir inflows will, with 90% confidence, exceed those from natural variability within 1 - 4 decades or 4 - 8 decades, depending on rates of future greenhouse gas emissions. To identify areas most likely to exhibit CT changes in response to rising temperatures, we calculate changes in CT under temperature increases from 1 to 5 degrees. We find that areas with average winter temperatures between -2 degrees C and -4 degrees C are most likely to respond with significant CT shifts. Correspondingly, elevations from 2000 to 2800 m are most sensitive to temperature increases, with CT changes exceeding 45 days ( earlier) relative to 1961 - 1990.

Steinemann, A, Iacobellis SF, Cayan DR.  2015.  Developing and evaluating drought indicators for decision-making. Journal of Hydrometeorology. 16:1793-1803.   10.1175/jhm-d-14-0234.1   AbstractWebsite

Drought indicators can help to detect, assess, and reduce impacts of drought. However, existing indicators often have deficiencies that limit their effectiveness, such as statistical inconsistency, noncomparability, arbitrary metrics, and lack of historic context. Further, indicators selected for drought plans may be only marginally useful, and relatively little prior work has investigated ways to design operationally practical indicators. This study devises a generalizable approach, based on feedback from users, to develop and evaluate indicators for decision-making. This approach employs a percentile-based framework that offers clarity, consistency, and comparability among different indicators, drought levels, time periods, and spatial scales. In addition, it characterizes the evolution of droughts and quantifies their severity, duration, and frequency. User preferences are incorporated into the framework's parameters, which include percentile thresholds for drought onset and recovery, severity levels, anomalies, and consecutive time periods for triggering. To illustrate the approach and decision-making implications, the framework is applied to California Climate Division 2 and is used with decision-makers, water managers, and other participants in the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) California Pilot. Stakeholders report that the framework provides an easily understood and beneficial way to assess and communicate drought conditions, validly compare multiple indicators across different locations and time scales, quantify risks relative to historic droughts, and determine indicators that would be valuable for decision-making.

Lundquist, J, Cayan DR.  2003.  Diurnal cycles in streamflow in the Western United States. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 84:16-17. Abstract
n/a
Pierce, DW, Cayan DR.  2016.  Downscaling humidity with Localized Constructed Analogs (LOCA) over the conterminous United States. Climate Dynamics. 47:411-431.   10.1007/s00382-015-2845-1   AbstractWebsite

Humidity is important to climate impacts in hydrology, agriculture, ecology, energy demand, and human health and comfort. Nonetheless humidity is not available in some widely-used archives of statistically downscaled climate projections for the western U.S. In this work the Localized Constructed Analogs (LOCA) statistical downscaling method is used to downscale specific humidity to a 1 degrees/16 degrees grid over the conterminous U.S. and the results compared to observations. LOCA reproduces observed monthly climatological values with a mean error of similar to 0.5 % and RMS error of similar to 2 %. Extreme (1-day in 1- and 20-years) maximum values (relevant to human health and energy demand) are within similar to 5 % of observed, while extreme minimum values (relevant to agriculture and wildfire) are within similar to 15 %. The asymmetry between extreme maximum and minimum errors is largely due to residual errors in the bias correction of extreme minimum values. The temporal standard deviations of downscaled daily specific humidity values have a mean error of similar to 1 % and RMS error of similar to 3 %. LOCA increases spatial coherence in the final downscaled field by similar to 13 %, but the downscaled coherence depends on the spatial coherence in the data being downscaled, which is not addressed by bias correction. Temporal correlations between daily, monthly, and annual time series of the original and downscaled data typically yield values >0.98. LOCA captures the observed correlations between temperature and specific humidity even when the two are downscaled independently.