Coupled Interdecadal and Interannual Oceanic/Atmospheric Variability and United States Streamflow

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Water Resources Researh





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A study of the influence of interdecadal and interannual oceanic / atmospheric influences on seasonal streamflow in the U.S. is presented. Unimpaired streamflow was identified for 639 stations in the U.S. for the period 1951 . 2002. Pacific Ocean [El Nio-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO)] and Atlantic Ocean [Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO)] oceanic / atmospheric phases (e.g., warm or cold) were identified for the year (or season) prior to the year of the winter-spring season streamflow (i.e., long lead-time). Statistical significance testing of the difference in means (and medians) of streamflow, based on the interdecadal and interannual oceanic / atmospheric phase (warm or cold), was performed applying the two-sample t-test and the rank-sum test. Additionally, the coupled effects of the oceanic / atmospheric influences were evaluated, based on the long-term phase (warm or cold) of the interdecadal variables (PDO and AMO) and ENSO, and streamflow regions in the U.S. were identified that respond to these climatic couplings. The results show that, in addition to the well-established ENSO signal, the PDO and AMO influence streamflow variability in the United States. Additionally, the phase (warm or cold) of the PDO and AMO enhance (or dampen) the ENSO signal in several streamflow regions in the United States. By utilizing the winter-spring streamflow season (e.g., typical period of peak runoff) and the long lead-time for the oceanic / atmospheric variables, useful information can be provided to streamflow forecasters and water managers.


Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO); Climate change; El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO); North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO); Oceans; Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO); Seasonal variations; Snow-pack forecasting; Streamflow; Water management


Climate | Environmental Sciences | Fresh Water Studies | Oceanography



Publisher Citation

Tootle, G. A., T. C. Piechota, and A. Singh (2005), Coupled oceanic-atmospheric variability and U.S. streamflow, Water Resour. Res., 41, W12408, doi:10.1029/2005WR004381.

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