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Spatial variability of seasonal extreme precipitation in the western United States
  • Published Date:
    2015
  • Source:
    Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 120(10), 4522-4533.
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Spatial variability of seasonal extreme precipitation in the western United States
Details:
  • Description:
    We examine the characteristics of 3day total extreme precipitation in the western United States. Coherent seasonal spatial patterns of timing and magnitude are evident in the data, motivating a seasonally based analysis. Using a clustering method that is consistent with extreme value theory, we identify coherent regions for extremes that vary seasonally. Based on storm back trajectory analysis, we demonstrate unique moisture sources and dominant moisture pathways for each spatial region. In the winter the Pacific Ocean is the dominant moisture source across the west, but in other seasons the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf of California, and the land surface over the midwestern U.S. play an important role. We find the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) to not have a strong impact on dominant moisture delivery pathways or moisture sources. The frequency of extremes under ENSO is spatially coherent and seasonally dependent with certain regions tending to have more (less) frequent extreme events in El Nino (La Nina) conditions.

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