The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) induced modulations in precipitation and nitrogen wet deposition rates in the continental United States

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Tsengel Nergui1, Serena H Chung1, Jennifer C Adam1 and R Dave Evans2, (1)Washington State University, Pullman, WA, United States, (2)School of Biological Sciences, Pullman, WA, United States
The ENSO affects atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition rates through its modulation on N wet deposition. Precipitation and wet deposition measurements at 151 sites of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program/National Trends Network and the NINO3.4 SST climate index from the NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center are analyzed to determine the impacts of the ENSO on N wet deposition and precipitation rates in the continental U.S. Precipitation and N wet deposition time series are dominated by high frequency components; however, they contain a wide range of inter-annual frequency components depending on the location. At the 2-to 6-year timescale, variability of precipitation and N wet deposition rates in the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountains, the Gulf States, the Northeast, and the Great Lakes regions are correlated with that of the NINO3.4 index (r2= 0.09-0.59 for precipitation and r2= 0.09-0.52 for N wet deposition, p<0.05).

The spatial patterns and strength of the correlations vary by region and season. The correlations are the strongest and most spatially extensive during winter; 46-62% and 46-53% of the 2- to 6-year variability of precipitation and N wet deposition rates in the Rocky Mountains, the Gulf of Mexico, and near the Great Lakes can be explained by ENSO activity. The wintertime relationships tend to hold through springtime in the Great Lakes, the Ohio River Valley, and the Northeast. During the El Niño winters and springs, N wet deposition rates are higher than normal (greater than the 70thpercentile) in the southern Great Plains and the Gulf Coast. Winter and spring La Niña episodes bring precipitation and N wet deposition rates above normal over the Cascades, the Ohio River Valley, the Northeast and the Great Lakes regions.

The ensemble mean of eleven coupled General Circulation Models (Yeh et al., 2009) shows that the weak ENSO cycles, having small to moderate amplitudes and reoccurring in shorter time intervals, are projected to dominate in the 21th century, implying that total N (dry and wet) deposition rates in some regions of the U.S. may increase due to increased N wet deposition from more frequent ENSO events. Continuing work includes analysis of total N deposition with climate variability at the intra-annual time scale to help explain total N deposition variability.