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Interannual variations in precipitation: the effect of the North Atlantic and Southern oscillations as seen in a satellite precipitation data set and in models

By E.A. Kyte, G.D. Quartly, M.A. Srokosz and M.N. Tsimplis


Precipitation is a parameter that varies on many different spatial and temporal scales. Here we look at interannual variations associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Southern Oscillation (SO), comparing the spatial and temporal changes as shown by three data sets. The Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) product is based upon satellite data, whereas both the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) and European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) climatologies are produced through reanalysis of atmospheric circulation models. All three products show a consistent response to the NAO in the North Atlantic region, with negative states of the NAO corresponding to increases in precipitation over Greenland and southern Europe, but to a decrease over northern Europe. None of the climatologies display any net change in total rainfall as a result of the NAO, but rather a redistribution of precipitation patterns. However, this redistribution of rain is important because of its potential effect on oceanic overturning circulation. Similarly, all three data sets concur that the SO has a major effect on precipitation in certain tropical regions; however, there is some disagreement amongst the data sets as to the regional sensitivity, with NCEP showing a much weaker response than GPCP and ECMWF over Indonesia. The GPCP and NCEP climatologies show that the various phases of El Niño and La Niña act to redistribute, rather than enhance, the freshwater cycle. Given that the models incorporate no actual observations of rain, and are known to be imperfect, it is surprising how well they represent these interannual phenomena

Year: 2006
DOI identifier: 10.1029/2006JD007138
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:142944

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