Covariability of Central America/Mexico winter precipitation and tropical sea surface temperatures
In this study, the relationships between Central America/Mexico (CAM) winter precipitation and tropical Pacific/Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are examined based on 68-year (1948–2015) observations and 59-year (1957–2015) atmospheric model simulations forced by observed SSTs. The covariability of the winter precipitation and SSTs is quantified using the singular value decomposition (SVD) method with observational data. The first SVD mode relates out-of-phase precipitation anomalies in northern Mexico and Central America to the tropical Pacific El Niño/La Niña SST variation. The second mode links a decreasing trend in the precipitation over Central America to the warming of SSTs in the tropical Atlantic, as well as in the tropical western Pacific and the tropical Indian Ocean. The first mode represents 67% of the covariance between the two fields, indicating a strong association between CAM winter precipitation and El Niño/La Niña, whereas the second mode represents 20% of the covariance. The two modes account for 32% of CAM winter precipitation variance, of which, 17% is related to the El Niño/La Niña SST and 15% is related to the SST warming trend. The atmospheric circulation patterns, including 500-hPa height and low-level winds obtained by linear regressions against the SVD SST time series, are dynamically consistent with the precipitation anomaly patterns. The model simulations driven by the observed SSTs suggest that these precipitation anomalies are likely a response to tropical SST forcing. It is also shown that there is significant potential predictability of CAM winter precipitation given tropical SST information.
KeywordsPrecipitation Sea surface temperature Central America Mexico
The authors would like to thank two anonymous reviewers and the editor for their insightful and constructive comments and suggestions.
- Fuentes-Franco R, Coppola E, Giorgi F, Pavia EG, Diro GT, Graef F (2015) Inter-annual variability of precipitation over southern Mexico and Central America and its relationship to sea surface temperature from a set of future projections from CMIP5 GCMs and RegCM4 CORDEX simulations. Clim Dyn 45:425–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- IPCC (2007) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. In: Solomon S et al (ed) Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge Univerity Press, Cambridge, p 996Google Scholar
- Magaña VO, Vázquez JL, Pérez JL, Pérez JB (2003) Impact of El Niño on precipitation in Mexico. Geofisica Internacional 42:313–330Google Scholar
- Meehl GA et al (2007) Global climate projections. Climate Change 2007: the physical science basis. In: Solomon S et al (eds) Cambridge Univerity Press, Cambridge, pp 747–846Google Scholar
- OCHA (2014) Drought in Central America, Situation Report No. 1 (December 10, 2014), the United Nations’ Region Office for Latin America and the CaribbeanGoogle Scholar
- Rodriguez OR (2012) North Mexico drought worst on record. Huffington Post Google Scholar
- Seager R, Ting M, Davis M, Cane M, Naik N, Nakamura J, Li C, Cook E, Stahle DW (2009) Mexican drought: an observational modeling and tree ring study of variability and climate change. Atmosfera 22:1–31Google Scholar
- Snedecor GW, Cochran WG (1989) Statistical Methods, 8th edn. Iowa State Univ. Press, p 503Google Scholar