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Remote linkages to anomalous winter atmospheric ridging over the Northeastern Pacific

Daniel L. Swain, Deepti Singh, Daniel E. Horton, Justin S. Mankin, Tristan C. Ballard, Noah S. Diffenbaugh | October 24, 2017
Summary

Severe drought in California between 2013 and 2016 has previously been linked to the persistence of atmospheric high atmospheric pressure over the Pacific Ocean (nicknamed the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge”), which prevented winter storms from reaching the coast over several consecutive years. There has been much discussion regarding why this high‐pressure system has been so persistent—and some scientists have previously suggested that unusual ocean temperature patterns in the Pacific, reductions in Arctic sea ice, or random weather variations may have played a role. In this study, we investigate relationships between atmospheric high pressure over the North Pacific and possible links to ocean conditions using both real‐world observations and climate model simulations. Our results suggest that persistent atmospheric high pressure similar to that which occurred during California’s 2013–2016 drought can be partially linked to unusual Pacific Ocean temperatures and that knowledge of such ocean conditions may offer foresight regarding the potential for future droughts in this region.

Product Description

Severe drought in California between 2013 and 2016 has previously been linked to the persistence of atmospheric high atmospheric pressure over the Pacific Ocean (nicknamed the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge”), which prevented winter storms from reaching the coast over several consecutive years. There has been much discussion regarding why this high‐pressure system has been so persistent—and some scientists have previously suggested that unusual ocean temperature patterns in the Pacific, reductions in Arctic sea ice, or random weather variations may have played a role. In this study, we investigate relationships between atmospheric high pressure over the North Pacific and possible links to ocean conditions using both real‐world observations and climate model simulations. Our results suggest that persistent atmospheric high pressure similar to that which occurred during California’s 2013–2016 drought can be partially linked to unusual Pacific Ocean temperatures and that knowledge of such ocean conditions may offer foresight regarding the potential for future droughts in this region.

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Swain-Singh-Horton-et-al-SG

Keywords:

climate change, drought, water supply forecasting