Atmospheric circulation influences on seasonal precipitation patterns in Alaska during the latter 20th century

  • L'Heureux M
  • Mann M
  • Cook B
 et al. 
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Abstract

[1] A set of long, nearly complete daily precipitation series for Alaska spanning the latter half of the 20th century has been analyzed for seasonal relationships between variations in mean, heavy, and extreme precipitation and large-scale atmospheric circulation variations at interannual, decadal, and secular timescales. Relationships with four candidate predictors (the Pacific North American (PNA), Arctic Oscillation (AO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), and Nino3 indices) are used for insights into possible large-scale climate forcing. Winter precipitation (mean and extreme) variability and trends along the south coast and interior of Alaska appear to be closely related to variations in the PNA pattern over this timeframe, while El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) influences, through the Nino3 index, appear to be significant along the south coast alone. Along the south coast the PNA and ENSO exert opposing influences on extreme (and mean) precipitation. Within interior Alaska the positive PNA pattern tends to suppress precipitation owing to orographic factors. Summer variations appear more closely related to the influence of the AO and PDO. The north slope region of Alaska appears to be too far removed from the influences of any of the examined predictors for any clear relationship to be evident.

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Authors

  • Michelle L. L'Heureux

  • Michael E. Mann

  • Benjamin I. Cook

  • Byron E. Gleason

  • Russell S. Vose

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