Advertisement

Climate Dynamics

, Volume 47, Issue 9–10, pp 3077–3090 | Cite as

What caused the spring intensification and winter demise of the 2011 drought over Texas?

  • D. Nelun Fernando
  • Kingtse C. Mo
  • Rong Fu
  • Bing Pu
  • Adam Bowerman
  • Bridget R. Scanlon
  • Ruben S. Solis
  • Lei Yin
  • Robert E. Mace
  • John R. Mioduszewski
  • Tong Ren
  • Kai Zhang
Article

Abstract

The 2011 Texas drought, the worst 1-year drought on record, was characterized by spring intensification of rainfall deficit and surface dryness. Such spring intensification was led by an unusually strong increase of convective inhibition (CIN), which suppressed convection at the time critical for the onset of the April–June rainfall season. The CIN increase appeared to be caused by strong sub-seasonal anomalously westerly winds at 850 hPa (U850) in April, in addition to surface dryness due to cumulative rainfall deficit since fall of 2010. The anomalous U850 advected warm dry air from the Mexican Plateau to Texas, enhancing cap inversion, and exacerbating static stability initially elevated by an anomalously high surface Bowen ratio due to rainfall deficits from winter through spring over Texas. Strengthened westerly U850 in April, in addition to the persistent rainfall deficits from winter through spring, are common characteristics in other strong drought events experienced over Texas. Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project-type simulations with prescribed La Niña SSTAs in the tropical Pacific do not show a strengthening of westerly U850 in April, suggesting that internal atmospheric variability at intraseasonal scale, instead of La Niña, may initiate the spring drought intensification over Texas. Soil moisture deficits in late spring are significantly correlated with positive 500 hPa geopotential height anomalies over the south central U.S. 2–3 weeks later, suggesting that intensified surface dryness in late-spring could reinforce the drought-inducing anomalous mid-tropospheric high. The drought diminished in the winter of 2011/2012 despite a second La Niña event. Our analysis suggests an important role for strong westerly wind anomalies, the resultant increase of CIN in spring, and subsequent positive feedback between dry surface anomalies and the anomalous large-scale circulation pattern in drought intensification. Clarification of the mechanisms behind the strong increase of CIN and land–atmosphere feedbacks may provide a key for improving our understanding of drought predictability in spring and summer, and a scientific basis for the early warning of strong summer drought. The demise of the 2011 drought appears to have resulted from internal atmospheric circulation variability, thus intrinsically unpredictable.

Keywords

Drought Spring intensification Convective inhibition Soil moisture La Niña Texas 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the Postdocs Applying Climate Expertise Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, which is partially funded by NOAA’s Climate Program Office and administered by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Visiting Scientist Programs (VSP). The research was also funded by NOAA’s Climate Program Office’s Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections Program (Grant Award NA10OAR4310157), the Jackson School of Geosciences, and by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Texas Water Allocation Assistance Program funding provided to the Texas Water Development Board.The authors thank the anonymous reviewer whose insightful comments and helpful suggestions guided a major revision of a previous version of this manuscript.

Supplementary material

382_2016_3014_MOESM1_ESM.docx (107 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 107 kb)
382_2016_3014_MOESM2_ESM.docx (39 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 38 kb)

References

  1. Barlow M, Nigam S, Berbery EH (2001) ENSO, Pacific decadal variability and U.S. summertime precipitation, drought and streamflow. J Clim 14:2105–2127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Benjamin SG, Carlson TN (1986) Some effects of surface heating and topography on the regional severe storm environment. Part I: three-dimensional simulations. Mon Weather Rev 114(2):307–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dee DP, Uppala SM, Simmons AJ, Berrisford P, Poli P, Kobayashi S et al (2011) The ERA-Interim reanalysis: configuration and performance of the data assimilation system. Q J R Meteorol Soc 137(656):553–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Eichler T, Higgins W (2006) Climatology and ENSO-related variability of North American extratropical cyclone activity. J Clim 19(10):2076–2093CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Enfield D, Mayer DA (1997) Tropical Atlantic sea surface temperature variability and its relation to El Nino-Southern Oscillation. J Geophys Res 102:845–929CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fan Y, Van den Dool H (2008) A global monthly land surface air temperature analysis for 1948–present. J Geophys Res Atmos (1984–2012) 113:D01103. doi: 10.1029/2007JD008470
  7. Fannin B (2012) Updated 2011 Texas agricultural drought losses total $7.62 billion. AgriLifeTODAY March 21. http://today.agrilife.org/2012/03/21/updated-2011-texas-agricultural-drought-losses-total-7-62-billion/
  8. Hoerling M, Kumar A, Dole R, Nielsen-Gammon JW, Eischeid J, Perlwitz J, Quan X-W, Zhang T, Pegion P, Chen M (2013) Anatomy of an extreme event. J Clim 26(9):2811–2832CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hong S-Y, Kalnay E (2002) The 1998 Oklahoma-Texas drought: mechanistic experiments with NCEP global and regional models. J Clim 15:945–963CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hu Q, Feng S (2012) AMO-and ENSO-driven summertime circulation and precipitation variations in North America. J Clim 25(19):6477–6495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kalnay E, Kanamitsu M, Kistler R, Collins W, Deaven D, Gandin L, Iredell M, Saha S, White G, Woollen J (1996) The NCEP/NCAR 40-year reanalysis project. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 77(3):437–471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Koster RD, Dirmeyer PA, Guo Z, Bonan G, Chan E, Cox P et al (2004) Regions of strong coupling between soil moisture and precipitation. Science 305(5687):1138–1140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kousky VE, Ropelewski CF (1989) Extremes in the Southern Oscillation and their relationship to precipitation anomalies with emphasis on the South American Region. Revista Brasileira de Meteorologia 4(2):351–363Google Scholar
  14. Liebmann B, Smith CA (1996) Description of a complete (interpolated) outgoing longwave radiation dataset. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 77:1275–1277Google Scholar
  15. Livezey RE, Chen WY (1983) Statistical field significance and its determination by Monte Carlo techniques. Mon Weather Rev 111(1):46–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Madden RA, Williams J (1978) The correlation between temperature and precipitation in the United States and Europe. Mon Weather Rev 106(1):142–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. McCabe GJ, Betancourt JL, Gray ST, Palecki MA, Hidalgo HG (2008) Associations of multi-decadal sea-surface temperature variability with US drought. Quat Int 188(1):31–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. McKee TB, Doesken NJ, Kleist J (1993) The relationship of drought frequency and duration to time scales. In: Preprints, eighth conference on applied climatology. Anaheim, CA, AMS, pp 179–184Google Scholar
  19. McKee TB, Doesken NJ, Kleist J (1995) Drought monitoring with multiple time scales. In: Preprints, ninth conference on applied climatology. Dallas, TX, AMS, pp 233–236Google Scholar
  20. Mo KC, Schemm JE, Yoo SH (2009) ENSO and the Atlantic multi decadal oscillation on drought over the United States. J Clim 22:5962–5982CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Myoung B, Nielsen-Gammon JW (2010) The convective instability pathway to warm season drought in Texas. Part I: the role of convective inhibition and its modulation by soil moisture. J Clim 23:4461–4488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Namias J (1960) Factors in the initiation, perpetuation and termination of drought. IASH Comm Surf Waters Publ 51:81–94Google Scholar
  23. Neale RB, Chen CC, Gettelman A, Lauritzen PH, Park S, Williamson DL et al (2012) Description of the NCAR community atmosphere model (CAM 5.0). NCAR Tech. Note NCAR/TN-486+STRGoogle Scholar
  24. Pu B, Fu R, Dickinson RE, Fernando DN (2016) Why do summer droughts in the Southern Great Plains occur in some La Niña years but not others? J Geophys Res Atmos 121. doi: 10.1002/2015JD023508
  25. Rayner NA, Parker DE, Horton EB, Folland CK, Alexander LV, Rowell DP et al. (2003) Global analyses of sea surface temperature, sea ice, and night marine air temperature since the late nineteenth century. J Geophys Res Atmos (1984–2012) 108:4407(D14). doi: 10.1029/2002JD002670
  26. Ropelewski CF, Halpert MS (1989) Precipitation patterns associated with the high index phase of the Southern Oscillation. J Clim 2:268–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Schubert SD et al (2009) A USCLIVAR project to assess and compare the responses of global climate models to drought related SST forcing patterns: overview and results. J Clim 22:5251–5272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Seager R, Goddard L, Nakamura J, Henderson N, Lee DE (2014) Dynamical causes of the 2010/11 Texas-northern-Mexico drought. J Hydrometeorol 15(1):39–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Smith TM, Reynolds RW, Peterson TC, Lawrimore J (2008) Improvements to NOAA’s historical merged land–ocean surface temperature analysis (1880–2006). J Clim 21(10):2283–2296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Texas Water Development Board (2010) Texas Water Conditions (September 2010). http://www.twdb.texas.gov/publications/reports/waterconditions/twc_pdf_archives/2010/twcSep2010.pdf
  31. Texas Water Development Board (2011a) Texas Water Conditions (November 2011). http://www.twdb.texas.gov/publications/reports/waterconditions/twc_pdf_archives/2010/twcNov2011.pdf
  32. Texas Water Development Board (2011b) Texas Water Conditions (September 2011). http://www.twdb.texas.gov/publications/reports/waterconditions/twc_pdf_archives/2010/twcSep2011.pdf
  33. Ting M, Wang H (1997) Summertime U.S. precipitation variability and its relation to Pacific sea surface temperature. J Clim 10:1853–1873CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Trenberth KE, Shea DJ (2005) Relationships between precipitation and surface temperature. Geophys Res Lett. doi: 10.1029/2005GL027760 Google Scholar
  35. Weisman RA (1990) An observational study of warm season southern Appalachian lee troughs. Part I: boundary layer circulation. Mon Weather Rev 118(4):950–963CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wilks DS (2006) Statistical methods in the atmospheric sciences, 2nd edn. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  37. Xia Y et al (2012) Continental-scale water and energy flux analysis and validation for the North American Land Data Assimilation System project phase 2 (NLDAS-2): 1. Intercomparison and application of model products. J Geophys Res Atmos 117(D3):D03109Google Scholar
  38. Xie PP, Chen M, Shi W (2010) CPC unified gauge based analysis of global daily precipitation. In: AMS 24th Conference on hydrology. Jan 18–21, 2010, Atlanta, GAGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Nelun Fernando
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Kingtse C. Mo
    • 4
  • Rong Fu
    • 2
  • Bing Pu
    • 2
    • 8
  • Adam Bowerman
    • 2
  • Bridget R. Scanlon
    • 5
  • Ruben S. Solis
    • 3
  • Lei Yin
    • 2
  • Robert E. Mace
    • 3
  • John R. Mioduszewski
    • 6
    • 9
  • Tong Ren
    • 2
    • 7
  • Kai Zhang
    • 2
  1. 1.University Corporation for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of GeosciencesUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  3. 3.Water Science and ConservationTexas Water Development BoardAustinUSA
  4. 4.Climate Prediction CenterNOAA/NWS/NCEPCollege ParkUSA
  5. 5.Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of GeosciencesUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  6. 6.Department of GeographyRutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA
  7. 7.Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic SciencesTexas A&MCollege StationUSA
  8. 8.Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic SciencesPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  9. 9.Center for Climatic ResearchUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

Personalised recommendations