Linkages between tropical Pacific Ocean monthly climatic variables and the Upper Colorado River basin (UCRB) hydroclimatic variations from 1909 to 1998 are analyzed at interseasonal timescales. A study of the changes in these linkages through the years and their relationship to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is also investigated. Tropical Pacific climate variations were represented by atmospheric/oceanic ENSO indicators. For the UCRB, warm season (April–September) streamflow totals at Lee’s Ferry, Arizona, and precipitation averages at different periods (cold season: October–March; warm season: April–September; and annual: October– September) were used to study the UCRB’s response to tropical Pacific climatic forcing. A basinwide ENSO signature was found in the significant correlations between warm season precipitation in the UCRB and warm season SST averages from the Nin˜o-3 region in most of the stations around the UCRB. This link is more evident during the warm phase of ENSO (El Nin˜ o), which is associated with an increase in warm season precipitation. The analysis also showed a link between June to November ENSO conditions and cold season precipitation variations contained in a principal component representing the high-elevation precipitation stations, which are the main source of streamflow. However, the amplitude and coherence of the cold season ENSO signal is significantly smaller compared to the general precipitation variations found in stations around the UCRB. Only when very few stations in the high elevations are considered is the ENSO signal in cold season precipitation in the basin revealed. Interdecadal hydroclimatic variations in the UCRB related to possible PDO influences were also investigated. There are significant shifts in the mean of UCRB’s moisture-controlled variables (precipitation and streamflow) coincident with the PDO shifts, suggesting a connection between the two processes. It has been suggested in other studies that this connection could be expressed as a modulation on the predominance of each ENSO phase; that is, strong and consistent winter El Nin˜o (La Nin˜a) patterns are associated with the positive (negative) phase of the PDO. In the UCRB this apparent modulation seems to be accompanied by a general change in the sign of the correlation between ENSO indicators and cold season precipitation in most stations of the basin around 1932/33. From 1909 to 1932 the basin has a predominantly cold season ENSO response characteristic of the northwestern United States (drier than normal associated with tropical SST warming and vice versa); from 1933 to 1998 the response of the basin is predominantly typical of the southwestern United States during winter (wetter than normal associated with tropical SST warming and vice versa). This apparent correlation sign reversal is suggested to be related to interdecadal changes in the boundary of the north–south bipolar response characteristic of the ENSO signal in the western United States during winter.
Published in Journal of Hydrometeorology, volume 4, issue 1, on pages 5 - 23, in 2003.
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|Title||Citation||ENSO and PDO effects on hydroclimatic variations of the Upper Colorado River basin|
|tableOfContents||<p> Table of Contents</p>|