Winter temperature variability during warming and cooling periods in the conterminous United States: 1947-1992

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Paul A. Knapp, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Much literature has reported on the concept of increased surface temperature variability during cool periods, although analyses on temperature records have rendered inconsistent results. In addition, temperature variability during transition periods has been rarely investigated. This study examines temperature variability during wintertime cooling (1947-1977) and warming (1978-1992) periods for the conterminous United States to determine both whether temperature variability is different during warming or cooling periods, and whether the change in variability is supported by midtropospheric circulation conditions. Our results indicate that regions with high temperature variability are mostly found below the troughs in the midtropospheric pressure fields. The direction of change in temperature variability corresponding to cooling or warming conditions, however, varied spatially. For the south-eastern and northeastern United States, winter temperatures were more variable during the cooling period than during the warming period, while the northern and central Great Plains had greater temperature variability during the warming period than the cooling period. Similar spatial patterns are also found for the changes in the variability of geopotential height fields. Such spatial patterns in the temperature and height variability during warming and cooling periods may be related to the dominant midtropospheric circulation patterns, such as the different phases of the Pacific-North American teleconnection pattern, and the El Niño/Southern Oscillation events. It is concluded that the response of interannual temperature variability to climatic changes is determined by the variation in circulation patterns, and therefore, not spatially uniform.

Additional Information

Theoretical and Applied Climatology 62(3/4):109-124
Language: English
Date: 1999
temperature variability, warming periods, cooling periods, conterminous United States, circulation patterns

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