Improving the Utility of Seasonal Outlooks of Anomalous Precipitation for California

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 4:45 PM
126BC (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Lance E. Watkins, NASA DEVELOP National Program, Hampton, VA; and E. J. Davis, A. Nothdurft, and A. Mendenhall

California's population grew by over 10 million from 1980 to 2000 and is expected to reach a total of 48 million by 2030. This will create additional strain on a water supply already stretched by severe, prolonged droughts that are expected to become more frequent in the region as the global climate changes. The ability to anticipate precipitation for the coming seasons can help water resource managers make decisions and mitigate the effects of severe drought or flood events. Due to the need for better predictive abilities for water resources, this project aimed to improve the utility of seasonal climate outlooks through analysis of past climatic signals. Compared to forecasts with shorter lead times, 90-day to two-year seasonal forecasts have the least level of skill and are often considered the most challenging to predict. Therefore, this project incorporated National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Data Records (CDRs), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellite data, and in-situ data to understand and identify the climatic indicators that lead to anomalous seasonal precipitation (i.e. extremely wet or dry seasons). The precipitation anomalies were defined via in-situ precipitation data from the National Climatic Data Center's Global Historical Climatology Network in California Climate Divisions 2 and 5. This project identified climatic patterns that influence the recurrence of anomalously high or low precipitation. A secondary result of this project was a compilation of information from end-users that describes the degree to which NOAA CDRs and NASA earth observations are used operationally. Results of this project will potentially aid California resource managers and policy-makers in preparing for, and mitigating, the impacts of future extreme events.