Global interannual variations in sea surface temperature and land surface vegetation, air temperature, and precipitation

  • Los S
  • Collatz G
  • Bounoua L
 et al. 
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Anomalies in global vegetation greenness, SST, land surface air temperature, and precipitation exhibit linked, low-frequency interannual variations. These interannual variations were detected and analyzed for 1982-90 with a multivariate spectral method. The two most dominant signals for 1982-90 had periods of about 2.6 and 3.4 yr. Signals centered at 2.6 years per cycle corresponded to variations in the El Nino-Southern Oscillation index and explained about 28% of the variance in anomalies of SST, land surface air temperature, precipitation, and vegetation; these signals were most pronounced in 1) SST anomalies in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, 2) land surface vegetation and precipitation anomalies in tropical and subtropical regions, and 3) land surface vegetation, precipitation, and temperature anomalies in North America. Signals at 3.4 years per cycle corresponded to variations in the North Atlantic oscillation index and explained 8.6% of the variance in the combined datasets; their occurrence was most pronounced in 1) Atlantic SST anomalies, 2) in land surface temperature and vegetation anomalies in Europe and eastern Asia, and 3) in precipitation and vegetation anomalies in sub-Saharan Africa, southern Africa, and eastern North America. Anomalies in vegetation were positively related to anomalies in precipitation throughout the Tropics and subtropics and in midlatitudes in the central parts of continents. Anomalies in vegetation and temperature were positively linked in coastal temperate climates such as in Europe and eastern Asia. These associations between temperature and vegetation may be explained by the sensitivity of the length of growing season to variations in temperature.

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  • S. O. Los

  • G. J. Collatz

  • L. Bounoua

  • P. J. Sellers

  • C. J. Tucker

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