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Atmospheric Moisture Transport and its Impact on the Hydrological Cycle over the North Pacific: Roles of Pacific Decadal Oscillation and El Nino
Increasing air temperatures cause changes in the hydrological cycle by giving the atmosphere a greater moisture-holding capacity. Along with the greenhouse-gas-emissions forced long-term trends, the atmospheric temperature and water content over the North Pacific can also fluctuate under climate patterns such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
In order to better understand the role which these climatic patterns play in the North Pacific water budgets and pathways, we employed the NCAR Community Atmosphere Model 5.0 (CAM) and conducted sensitivity experiments to examine how atmospheric moisture transport responds to sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies associated with the PDO and ENSO phase transitions. We have found that changes in the storm tracks over the North Pacific due to changes in the sea surface temperatures vary the amount of moisture transport into Alaska.
As the PDO phase shifts from negative to positive, the moisture transport into Alaska tends to increase in both phases of ENSO. As the ENSO phase changes, the moisture transport decreases in all seasons during a negative PDO phase and increases in most seasons during a positive PDO phase. This study has important implications for improving understanding of precipitation events.