Changes to the North Atlantic subtropical high and its role in the intensification of summer rainfall variability in the southeastern United States

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This study investigates the changes of the North Atlantic subtropical high (NASH) and its impact on summer precipitation over the southeastern (SE) United States using the 850-hPa geopotential height field in the National Centers forEnvironmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis, the 40-yr European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Re-Analysis (ERA-40), long-term rainfall data, and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) model simulations during the past six decades (1948-2007). The results show that the NASH in the last 30 yr has become more intense, and its western ridge has displaced westward with an enhanced meridional movement compared to the previous 30 yr. When the NASH moved closer to the continental United States in the three most recent decades, the effect of the NASH on the interannual variation of SE U.S. precipitation is enhanced through the ridge's north-south movement. The study's attribution analysis suggested that the changes of the NASH are mainly due to anthropogenic warming. In the twenty-first century with an increase of the atmospheric CO2 concentration, the center of the NASH would be intensified and the western ridge of the NASH would shift farther westward. These changes would increase the likelihood of both strong anomalously wet and dry summers over the SEUnited States in the future, as suggested by the IPCC AR4 models. © 2011 American Meteorological Society.






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Li, W, L Li, R Fu, Y Deng and H Wang (2011). Changes to the North Atlantic subtropical high and its role in the intensification of summer rainfall variability in the southeastern United States. Journal of Climate, 24(5). pp. 1499–1506. 10.1175/2010JCLI3829.1 Retrieved from

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Wenhong Li

Associate Professor of Climate

Dr. Li's research interests focus primarily on climate dynamics, land-atmosphere interaction, hydroclimatology, and climate modeling. Her current research is to understand how the hydrological cycle changes in the current and future climate and their impacts on the ecosystems, subtropical high variability and change, unforced global temperature variability, and climate and health issues.

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