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Effect of ENSO phase on large-scale snow water equivalent distribution in a GCM

By Debbie Clifford, Robert J Gurney and Keith Haines

Abstract

Understanding links between the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and snow would be useful for seasonal forecasting, but also for understanding natural variability and interpreting climate change predictions. Here, a 545-year run of the general circulation model HadCM3, with prescribed external forcings and fixed greenhouse gas concentrations, is used to explore the impact of ENSO on snow water equivalent (SWE) anomalies. In North America, positive ENSO events reduce the mean SWE and skew the distribution towards lower values, and vice versa during negative ENSO events. This is associated with a dipole SWE anomaly structure, with anomalies of opposite sign centered in western Canada and the central United States. In Eurasia, warm episodes lead to a more positively skewed distribution and the mean SWE is raised. Again, the opposite effect is seen during cold episodes. In Eurasia the largest anomalies are concentrated in the Himalayas. These correlations with February SWE distribution are seen to exist from the previous June-July-August (JJA) ENSO index onwards, and are weakly detected in 50-year subsections of the control run, but only a shifted North American response can be detected in the anaylsis of 40 years of ERA40 reanalysis data. The ENSO signal in SWE from the long run could still contribute to regional predictions although it would be a weak indicator onl

Topics: 551
Publisher: American Meteorological Society
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:centaur.reading.ac.uk:1749

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