ENSO is More Powerful and Frequent with a Significant Change to the Southeast U.S

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Sunday, 2 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Carlysle McNaught, COAPS, Tallahassee, FL; and J. J. O'Brien and S. Strazzo

The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is an important natural climate variation that affects large portions of the world. ENSO in frequency and magnitude reveals that it is getting stronger as measured by the maximum anomaly in sea surface temperature (SST). An analysis of the ENSO principal component is conducted to estimate the spectrum of the SST of the time series. The intensity of the ENSO events during the period 1970—2010 is statistically significantly higher when compared to the 1930—1970, with a broad spectral peak centered around 4 years. When we compare the SST spectrum for the period 1930—1970 with the spectrum for 1970—2010, we find the latter period to be much stronger in power. The resultant impact on what a more powerful and frequent ENSO event has had on the Southeast United States is examined through a spatial and temporal statistical analysis of precipitation and temperatures between the two time periods. Our analysis reveals statistically significant changes in precipitation during El Niño where the rainfall is much more widespread across the Southeast during the 1970—2010 period than the 1930—1970 period. The La Niña rainfall deficit is mainly confined to Florida in the latter period than the former. Finally, the temperature distribution, through an analysis of the first four statistical moments, showed conventional responses to the changes in ENSO precipitation such as an anomalous decrease in maximum temperatures during El Niño and an overall anomalous increase in temperatures during La Niña.