Impacts of El Niño and La Niña on the U.S. climate during northern summer

Zhuo Wang, C. P. Chang, Bin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The impacts of El Niño and La Niña on the U.S. climate during northern summer are analyzed separately. Composite analyses reveal that a continental-scale anomalous high dominates over most of North America during La Niña events and leads to hot and dry summers over the central United States. However, the impacts of El Niño over North America are weaker and more variable. A linear barotropic model is used to explore the maintenance of the anomalous patterns. Various forcing terms derived from observations via a single-level vorticity budget analysis are used to drive the model. When the barotropic model is driven by the total forcing (Rossby wave source plus transient eddy forcing plus nonlinear interactions), the model simulations resemble the observed patterns, and a strong and extensive anticyclone is reproduced in the La Niña simulation. The model responses to the individual forcing terms suggested that the vorticity stretching term (fD) and the transient eddy forcing contribute most to the responses over North America. The stretching term (fD) excites a low in the El Niño simulation and a high in the La Niña simulation over North America. However, the transient eddy forcing favors an anomalous high over North America in both El Niño and La Niña simulations, such that it weakens the El Niño pattern and strengthens the La Niña pattern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2165-2177
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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