Analysis of drought determinants for the Colorado River Basin
Ongoing drought in the Colorado River Basin, unprecedented urban growth in the watershed, and numerical model simulations showing higher temperatures and lower precipitation totals in the future have all combined to heighten interest in drought in this region. In this investigation, we use principal components analysis (PCA) to independently assess the influence of various teleconnections on Basin-wide and sub-regional winter season Palmer Hydrological Drought Index (PHDI) and precipitation variations in the Basin. We find that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) explains more variance in PHDI than El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), and the planetary temperature combined for the Basin as a whole. When rotated PCA is used to separate the Basin into two regions, the lower portion of the Basin is similar to the Basin as a whole while the upper portion, which contains the high-elevation locations important to hydrologic yield for the watershed, demonstrates poorly defined relationships with the teleconnections. The PHDI for the two portions of the Basin are shown to have been out of synch for much of the twentieth century. In general, teleconnection indices account for 19% of the variance in PHDI leaving large uncertainties in drought forecasting.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Brown DP, Comrie AC (2004) A winter precipitation ‘dipole’ in the western United States associated with multidecadal ENSO variability. Geophys Res Lett 31:Art. no. L09203Google Scholar
- Cayan DR, Peterson DH (1989) The influence of North Pacific atmospheric circulation on streamflow in the West. Geophys Monogr 55:375–395Google Scholar
- Guttman NB (1991) A sensitivity analysis of the Palmer hydrologic drought index. Water Resour Bull 27:797–807Google Scholar
- Hidalgo HG (2004) Climate precursors of multidecadal drought variability in the western United States. Water Resour Res 40:Art. no. W12504Google Scholar
- Houghton JT, Ding Y, Griggs DJ, Noguer M, van der Linden PJ, Dai X, Maskell K, Johnson CA (eds) (2001) Climate change 2001: the scientific basis. Cambridge University Press, New York, p 881Google Scholar
- Hurrell JW, Kushnir Y, Visbeck M, Ottersen G (2003) An overview of the North Atlantic Oscillation. In: Hurrell JW, Kushnir Y, Ottersen G, Visbeck M (eds) The North Atlantic Oscillation: climate significance and environmental impact. Geophys Monogr 134:1–35Google Scholar
- Karl TR, Knight RW (1985) Atlas of monthly Palmer hydrological drought indices (1931–1983) for the contiguous United States. Historical climatology series 3–7, National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, North CarolinaGoogle Scholar
- Kleinbaum DG, Kupper LL (1978) Applied regression analysis and other multivariate methods. Duxbury, North Scituate, MassachusettsGoogle Scholar
- Palmer WC (1965) Meteorological drought. US Weather Bureau Res. Paper 45, Washington, District of ColumbiaGoogle Scholar
- Quenouille MH (1952) Associated measurements. Academic, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Sheppard PR, Comrie AC, Packin GD, Angersbach K, Hughes MK (2002) The climate of the US Southwest. Clim Res 21:219–238Google Scholar
- Stahle DW, Fye FK, Cook ER (2003) 16th century megadrought: convergence and propagation of decadal drought modes over North America? In A multi-millenia perspective on drought and implications for the future. CLIVAR/PAGES/IPCC, Tucson, Arizona, pp 18–21Google Scholar