February 28, 2007
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Published July 1988 through June 1999
FROM VOLUME 2, NUMBER 7, JULY 1989
1988 DROUGHT IN THE U.S.
"The 1988 US Drought Linked to Anomalous Sea Surface Temperature,"
T.N. Palmer (European Ctr. Medium Range Weather Forecasts, Shinfield Park,
Reading RG2 9AX, UK), C. Brankovic, Nature, 338(6210), 54-57,
Mar. 2, 1989.
Studied 30-day forecasts of the atmospheric flow over the United States
using a complex numerical weather-prediction model initialized with data from
May 1987 and May 1988. An experiment with 1988 initial conditions and 1987 sea
surface temperatures was also made. Results indicate that much of the difference
between the 1987 and 1988 forecasts was associated with interannual variability
in sea surface temperature, which suggests that the United States drought was
linked to anomalous oceanic conditions in the tropical Pacific.
"Origins of the 1988 North American Drought," K.E. Trenberth
(NCAR, POB 3000, Boulder CO 80307), G.W. Branstator, P.A. Arkin, Science,
242(4885), 1640-1644, Dec. 23, 1988.
Suggests the causes of the drought were different for various regions
affected. Oceanic conditions associated with the 1987 El Niño may have
been a primary factor in setting up drought conditions on the West Coast and in
the northern Great Plains. In the Midwest, results from a steady-state
planetary-wave atmospheric model indicate that atmospheric heating anomalies
associated with the displaced ITCZ could force the observed wavetrain. Land
surface processes probably further contributed to the severity of the drought,
but large-scale atmospheric circulation perturbations associated with natural
variations in the coupled atmosphere-ocean system in the tropical Pacific were
most likely the primary cause.
"The Global Climate for March-May 1988: The End of the 1986-87
Pacific Warm Episode and the Onset of Widespread Drought in the United States,"
J.E. Janowiak (Climate Analysis Ctr./NMC/NOAA, W/NMC52, WWB, Washington DC
20233), J. Clim., 1(10), 1019-1040, Oct. 1988.
Concludes that the 1986-1987 El Niño/Southern Oscillation warm
episode ended by May 1988 as indicated by the following: sea surface
temperatures (SST) in the equatorial Pacific rapidly cooled; the Tahiti minus
Darwin Oscillation index reached a maximum value of +1.1, and the outgoing
longwave radiation index was strongly positive during the March-May season. In
contrast to this, areas of above normal SST were observed along the western
South American coast and to the north and south of the area of cold equatorial
SST anomalies. The relatively large-scale area of -1° C SST anomaly in the
North Pacific has persisted. Further evaluates drought indices and monsoon
"The Global Climate for June-August 1988: A Swing to the Positive
Phase of the Southern Oscillation, Drought in the United States, and Abundant
Rain in the Monsoon Areas," C.F. Ropelewski (Climate Analysis Ctr.,
NWS/NOAA, Washington DC 20233), ibid., 1(11), 1153-1174, Nov.
A dramatic shift in the Southern Oscillation to its positive phase began in
March and continued throughout the June to August season. The configuration of
the ocean-atmosphere system as reflected in this analysis stands in marked
contrast to the negative phase of the Southern Oscillation that dominated the
tropics through the Northern Hemisphere winter of 1987-1988. Further reviews
indicators of drought in the United States and abundant rain in the Monsoon
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