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Climate 2018, 6(3), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli6030061

Ocean Impacts on Australian Interannual to Decadal Precipitation Variability

1
Department of Plants, Soils and Climate, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84341, USA
2
Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne, VIC 3008, Australia
3
Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Yokohama 236-0001, Japan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 May 2018 / Revised: 8 July 2018 / Accepted: 9 July 2018 / Published: 11 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Decadal Variability and Predictability of Climate)
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Abstract

In Australia, successful seasonal predictions of wet and dry conditions are achieved by utilizing the remote impact of sea surface temperature (SST) variability in tropical oceans, particularly the Pacific Ocean, on the seasonal timescale. Beyond seasonal timescales, however, it is still unclear which processes and oceans contribute to interannual-to-decadal wet/dry conditions in Australia. This research examines the interannual-to-decadal relationship between global SST anomalies (SSTAs) and Australian wet/dry variability by analyzing observational data and global climate model experiments conducted with the NCAR Community Earth System Model (CESM) and the Model for Interdisciplinary Research on Climate (MIROC). A 10-member ensemble simulation suite for 1960–2015 (CESM) and 1950–2010 (MIROC) is conducted by assimilating the observed three-dimensional ocean temperature and salinity anomalies into fully coupled global climate models. In both observational analyses and ocean assimilation experiments, the most dominant annual mean precipitation variability shows a clear relationship with SSTAs in the tropical Pacific and the Atlantic. Our partial ocean assimilation experiment, in which the ocean component of the CESM and MIROC are assimilated by the observed ocean temperature and salinity anomalies in the equatorial Pacific only, shows that the tropical Pacific SST variability is the main driver of Australian precipitation variability on the interannual-to-decadal timescales. However, our additional partial ocean assimilation experiment, in which the climate models incorporate the observed anomalies solely in the Atlantic ocean, demonstrates that the Atlantic Ocean can also affect Australian precipitation variability on the interannual-to-decadal timescale through changes in tropical Pacific SSTAs and the modulation of the global Walker circulation. Our results suggest that about a half of Australian interannual-to-decadal precipitation variability originates from the Atlantic Ocean. View Full-Text
Keywords: Australia; precipitation; drought; decadal variability; climate model; ENSO; TBV Australia; precipitation; drought; decadal variability; climate model; ENSO; TBV
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Johnson, Z.F.; Chikamoto, Y.; Luo, J.-J.; Mochizuki, T. Ocean Impacts on Australian Interannual to Decadal Precipitation Variability. Climate 2018, 6, 61.

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