Multi-year climate variability in the Southwestern United States within a context of a dynamically downscaled twentieth century reanalysis

Carlos M. Carrillo, Christopher L. Castro, Hsin I. Chang, Thang M. Luong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This investigation evaluates whether there is coherency in warm and cool season precipitation at the low-frequency scale that may be responsible for multi-year droughts in the US Southwest. This low-frequency climate variability at the decadal scale and longer is studied within the context of a twentieth-century reanalysis (20CR) and its dynamically-downscaled version (DD-20CR). A spectral domain matrix methods technique (Multiple-Taper-Method Singular Value Decomposition) is applied to these datasets to identify statistically significant spatiotemporal precipitation patterns for the cool (November–April) and warm (July–August) seasons. The low-frequency variability in the 20CR is evaluated by exploring global to continental-scale spatiotemporal variability in moisture flux convergence (MFC) to the occurrence of multiyear droughts and pluvials in Central America, as this region has a demonstrated anti-phase relationship in low-frequency climate variability with northern Mexico and the southwestern US By using the MFC in lieu of precipitation, this study reveals that the 20CR is able to resolve well the low-frequency, multiyear climate variability. In the context of the DD-20CR, multiyear droughts and pluvials in the southwestern US (in the early twentieth century) are significantly related to this low-frequency climate variability. The precipitation anomalies at these low-frequency timescales are in phase between the cool and warm seasons, consistent with the concept of dual-season drought as has been suggested in tree ring studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4217-4236
Number of pages20
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Droughts
  • Dual-season drought
  • Dynamically-downscaled twenty century reanalysis
  • Low-frequency variability
  • Multi-year drought
  • Twenty century reanalysis
  • WRF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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