The Regional Forcing of Northern Hemisphere Drought During Recent Warm Tropical West Pacific Ocean La Niņa Events

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014: 2:00 PM
Room C102 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Andrew Hoell, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA; and C. C. Funk and M. Barlow

Northern Hemisphere circulations differ considerably between individual El Nino-Southern Oscillation events due to internal atmospheric variability and variation in the zonal location of sea surface temperature forcing over the tropical Pacific Ocean. This study examines the similarities between recent Northern Hemisphere droughts associated with La Niņa events and anomalously warm tropical west Pacific sea surface temperatures during 1988-1989, 1998-2000, 2007-2008 and 2010-2011 in terms of the hemispheric-scale circulations and the regional forcing of precipitation over North America and Asia during the cold season of November through April.

The continental precipitation reductions associated with recent central Pacific La Niņa events were most severe over North America, eastern Africa, the Middle East and southwest Asia. High pressure dominated the entire Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes and weakened and displaced storm tracks northward over North America into central Canada. Regionally over North America and Asia, the position of anomalous circulations within the zonal band of mid-latitude high pressure varied between each La Niņa event. Over the northwestern and southeastern United States and southern Asia, the interactions of anomalous circulations resulted in consistent regional temperature advection, which was subsequently balanced by similar precipitation-modifying vertical motions. Over the central and northeastern United States, the spatial variation of anomalous circulations resulted in modest inter-seasonal temperature advection variations, balanced by varying vertical motion and precipitation patterns. Over the Middle East and eastern Africa, the divergence of moisture and the advection of dry air due to anomalous circulations enhanced each of the droughts.