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El Niño's impact on California precipitation: seasonality, regionality, and El Niño intensity

Jong, Bor-Ting; Ting, Mingfang; Seager, Richard

California has experienced severe drought in recent years posing great challenges to agricultural production, water resources, and land management. El Niño, as the prime source of seasonal to interannual climate predictability, offers the potential of amelioration of drought in California. Here El Niño's impacts on California winter precipitation are examined, focusing on variations by season, region, and the strength of El Niño using observational data for the period 1901–2010. The El Niño influence on California precipitation strengthens from early to late winter and is stronger in the south than the north. Eight of ten moderate-to-strong El Niños in the late winter put southern California in the wettest tercile and none of these ten events put northern California in the driest tercile. The early to late winter strengthening of the El Niño impact on precipitation occurs even as El Niño weakens and is associated with a strengthening and eastward extending tropical deep convection anomaly allowed by the late winter warming of the climatological mean sea surface temperature over the tropical eastern Pacific.

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Published In
Environmental Research Letters
Publisher DOI
https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/11/5/054021
Volume
11
Issue
5
Pages
1 - 8
Publisher
IOP Publishing
Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
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