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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

NAO and PNA influences on winter temperature and precipitation over the eastern United States in CMIP5 GCMs


Liang Ning

Raymond Bradley

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Secondary Title:
Climate Dynamics


The historical and future relationships between two major patterns of large-scale climate variability, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Pacific/North America pattern (PNA), and the regional winter temperature and precipitation over the eastern United States were systemically evaluated by using 17 general circulation models (GCMs) from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5. Empirical orthogonal function analysis was used to define the NAO and PNA. The observed spatial patterns of NAO and PNA can be reproduced by all the GCMs with slight differences in locations of the centers of action and their average magnitudes. For the correlations with regional winter temperature and precipitation over the eastern US, GCMs perform best in capturing the relationships between the NAO and winter temperature, and between the PNA and winter temperature and precipitation. The differences between the observed and simulated relationships are mainly due to displacements of the simulated NAO and PNA centers of action and differences in their magnitudes. In simulations of the future, both NAO and PNA magnitudes increase, with uncertainties related to the model response and emission scenarios. When assessing the influences of future NAO/PNA changes on regional winter temperature, it is found that the main factors are related to changes in the magnitude of the NAO Azores center and total NAO magnitude, and the longitude of the PNA center over northwestern North America, total PNA magnitude, and the magnitude of the PNA center over the southeastern US.