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Publication Date
1 November 2013

Anomalous Temperature Regimes During the Cool Season: Long-Term Trends, Low-Frequency Mode Modulation, and Representation in CMIP5 Simulations



During boreal winter, anomalous temperature regimes (ATRs), including cold air outbreaks (CAOs) and warm waves (WWs), provide important societal influences upon the United States. The current study analyzes reanalysis and model data for the period from 1949 to 2011 to assess (i) long-term variability in ATRs, (ii) interannual modulation of ATRs by low-frequency modes, and (iii) the representation of ATR behavior in models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5).

No significant trends in either WWs or CAOs are identified for the continental United States. On interannual time scales, CAOs are modulated by the (i) North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) over the U.S. Southeast and (ii) the Pacific–North American (PNA) pattern over the Northwest. WW frequency is modulated by (i) the NAO over the eastern United States and (ii) the combined influence of the PNA, Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO), and ENSO over the southern United States. In contrast to previous studies of seasonal-mean temperature, the influence of ENSO upon ATRs is found to be mainly limited to a modest modulation of WWs over the southern United States. Multiple linear regression analysis reveals that the regional collective influence of low-frequency modes accounts for as much as 50% of interannual ATR variability. Although similar behavior is observed in CMIP5 models, WW (CAO) frequency is typically overestimated (underestimated). All models considered are unable to replicate observed associations between ATRs and the PDO. Further, the collective influence of low-frequency modes upon ATRs is generally underestimated in CMIP5 models. The results indicate that predictions of future ATR behavior are limited by climate model ability to represent the evolving behavior of low-frequency modes of variability.

“Anomalous Temperature Regimes During The Cool Season: Long-Term Trends, Low-Frequency Mode Modulation, And Representation In Cmip5 Simulations”. 2013. Journal Of Climate 26: 9061-9076. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00003.1.
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