Publications

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2005
Bromirski, PD, Cayan DR, Flick RE.  2005.  Wave spectral energy variability in the northeast Pacific. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 110   10.1029/2004jc002398   AbstractWebsite

The dominant characteristics of wave energy variability in the eastern North Pacific are described from NOAA National Data Buoy Center ( NDBC) buoy data collected from 1981 to 2003. Ten buoys at distributed locations were selected for comparison based on record duration and data continuity. Long- period ( LP) [ T > 12] s, intermediate- period [ 6 <= T <= 12] s, and short- period [ T < 6] s wave spectral energy components are considered separately. Empirical orthogonal function ( EOF) analyses of monthly wave energy anomalies reveal that all three wave energy components exhibit similar patterns of spatial variability. The dominant mode represents coherent heightened ( or diminished) wave energy along the West Coast from Alaska to southern California, as indicated by composites of the 700 hPa height field. The second EOF mode reveals a distinct El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-associated spatial distribution of wave energy, which occurs when the North Pacific storm track is extended unusually far south or has receded to the north. Monthly means and principal components (PCs) of wave energy levels indicate that the 1997 - 1998 El Nino- winter had the highest basin- wide wave energy within this record, substantially higher than the 1982 - 1983 El Nino. An increasing trend in the dominant PC of LP wave energy suggests that storminess has increased in the northeast Pacific since 1980. This trend is emphasized at central eastern North Pacific locations. Patterns of storminess variability are consistent with increasing activity in the central North Pacific as well as the tendency for more extreme waves in the south during El Nino episodes and in the north during La Nina.

2011
Bromirski, PD, Miller AJ, Flick RE, Auad G.  2011.  Dynamical suppression of sea level rise along the Pacific coast of North America: Indications for imminent acceleration. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 116   10.1029/2010jc006759   AbstractWebsite

Long-term changes in global mean sea level (MSL) rise have important practical implications for shoreline and beach erosion, coastal wetlands inundation, storm surge flooding, and coastal development. Altimetry since 1993 indicates that global MSL rise has increased about 50% above the 20th century rise rate, from 2 to 3 mm yr(-1). At the same time, both tide gauge measurements and altimetry indicate virtually no increase along the Pacific coast of North America during the satellite epoch. Here we show that the dynamical steric response of North Pacific eastern boundary ocean circulation to a dramatic change in wind stress curl, tau(xy), which occurred after the mid-1970s regime shift, can account for the suppression of regional sea level rise along this coast since 1980. Alarmingly, mean tau(xy) over the North Pacific recently reached levels not observed since before the mid-1970s regime shift. This change in wind stress patterns may be foreshadowing a Pacific Decadal Oscillation regime shift, causing an associated persistent change in basin-scale tau(xy) that may result in a concomitant resumption of sea level rise along the U.S. West Coast to global or even higher rates.

2013
Moon, JH, Song YT, Bromirski PD, Miller AJ.  2013.  Multidecadal regional sea level shifts in the Pacific over 1958-2008. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 118:7024-7035.   10.1002/2013jc009297   AbstractWebsite

Altimeter data have significantly improved our understanding of regional sea level variability and trends, but their relatively short records do not allow either evaluation of the ocean state prior to 1993 or multidecadal low-frequency signals in the ocean. Here we characterize and quantify the multidecadal regional sea level rise (rSLR) and related ocean heat content in the Pacific from a non-Boussinesq ocean circulation model in comparison with data sets from altimeters, two sea level reconstructions, and in situ ocean profiles from 1958 to 2008. We show that the rSLR trends have undergone two shifts, during the mid-1970s and in the early 1990s, with an east-west dipole pattern in the tropical Pacific. In each of these phases, rSLR accelerated on one side of the Pacific, but decelerated on the other side. The multidecadal sea level shifts can be explained by the dynamical (steric) upper-ocean responses to the surface wind forcing associated with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), with negligible contributions from internal (depth-integrated) ocean mass changes. Additional model experimentation further confirms that the Pacific wind stress trend over the recent two decades has played an important role in strengthening the rSLR in the western Pacific while suppressing the rSLR in the eastern Pacific. The climate-forced large-scale rSLR variability is likely to impose a long-term and uneven impact on coastal communities.

2014
Vose, RS, Applequist S, Bourassa MKA, Pryor SC, Barthelmie RJ, Blanton B, Bromirski PD, Brooks HOE, DeGaetano AT, Dole RM, Easterling DR, Jensen RE, Karl TR, Katz RW, Klink K, Kruk MC, Kunkel KE, MacCracken MC, Peterson TSC, Shein K, Thomas BR, Walsh JE, Wang XLL, Wehner MF, Wuebbles DJ, Young RS.  2014.  Monitoring and understanding changes in extremes: Extratropical storms, winds, and waves. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 95:377-386.   10.1175/bams-d-12-00162.1   AbstractWebsite

This scientific assessment examines changes in three climate extremesextratropical storms, winds, and waveswith an emphasis on U.S. coastal regions during the cold season. There is moderate evidence of an increase in both extratropical storm frequency and intensity during the cold season in the Northern Hemisphere since 1950, with suggestive evidence of geographic shifts resulting in slight upward trends in offshore/coastal regions. There is also suggestive evidence of an increase in extreme winds (at least annually) over parts of the ocean since the early to mid-1980s, but the evidence over the U.S. land surface is inconclusive. Finally, there is moderate evidence of an increase in extreme waves in winter along the Pacific coast since the 1950s, but along other U.S. shorelines any tendencies are of modest magnitude compared with historical variability. The data for extratropical cyclones are considered to be of relatively high quality for trend detection, whereas the data for extreme winds and waves are judged to be of intermediate quality. In terms of physical causes leading to multidecadal changes, the level of understanding for both extratropical storms and extreme winds is considered to be relatively low, while that for extreme waves is judged to be intermediate. Since the ability to measure these changes with some confidence is relatively recent, understanding is expected to improve in the future for a variety of reasons, including increased periods of record and the development of climate reanalysis projects.

2016
Costa-Cabral, M, Rath JS, Mills WB, Roy SB, Bromirski PD, Milesi C.  2016.  Projecting and forecasting winter precipitation extremes and meteorological drought in California using the North Pacific high sea level pressure anomaly. Journal of Climate. 29:5009-5026.   10.1175/jcli-d-15-0525.1   AbstractWebsite

Large-scale climatic indices have been used as predictors of precipitation totals and extremes in many studies and are used operationally in weather forecasts to circumvent the difficulty in obtaining robust dynamical simulations of precipitation. The authors show that the sea level pressure North Pacific high (NPH) wintertime anomaly, a component of the Northern Oscillation index (NOI), provides a superior covariate of interannual precipitation variability in Northern California, including seasonal precipitation totals, drought, and extreme precipitation intensity, compared to traditional ENSO indices such as the Southern Oscillation index (SOI), the multivariate ENSO index (MEI), NiNo-3.4, and others. Furthermore, the authors show that the NPH anomaly more closely reflects the influence of Pacific basin conditions over California in general, over groups of stations used to characterize statewide precipitation in the Sierra Nevada range, and over the southern San Francisco Bay region (NASA Ames Research Center). This paper uses the term prediction to refer to the estimation of precipitation (the predictand) from a climate covariate (the predictor), such as a climate index, or atmospheric moisture. In this sense, predictor and predictand are simultaneous in time. Statistical models employed show the effectiveness of the NPH winter anomaly as a predictor of total winter precipitation and daily precipitation extremes at the Moffett Field station. NPH projected by global climate models is also used in conjunction with atmospheric humidity [atmospheric specific humidity (HUS) at the 850-hPa level] to obtain projections of mean and extreme precipitation. The authors show that future development of accurate forecasts of NPH anomalies issued several months in advance is important for forecasting total winter precipitation and is expected to directly benefit water resource management in California. Therefore, the authors suggest that investigating the lead-time predictability of NPH anomalies is an important direction for future research.