Past Research

The effect of El Nino / Southern Oscillation and Wind across the United States

Research dates: 2017-2019
Investigator(s): Vincent Brown, Dr. Alan Black, Dr. Barry Keim

ENSO has been shown to be the single most important determinant of variability in global meteorological fields and can be detected at the regional scale. Typically, equatorial trade winds migrate from east to west across the Pacific Ocean. During the warm El Niño phase (cool La Niña phase) pressure increases (decreases) near Australia and decreases (increases) over Tahiti and the eastern Tropical Pacific, resulting in a weakening or reversal (strengthening) of the trade winds. Consequently, this seesaw of pressure results in El Niño (La Niña) bringing atypically dry (wet) conditions to Australia and surrounding locations and wetter (drier) conditions over the west coasts of Tropical North and South America. These changes set in motion shifts in convection and latent heat exchanges that alter the position and strength of some atmospheric circulation features, such as the Pacific Jet Stream. These shifts can alter the frequency of wind events such as gusts and sustained wind events across the United States. This research breaks two thirds of the United States into 5 separate regions and investigates the frequency of wind events during specific phases of ENSO on a monthly and seasonal basis. Results will provide more information on the climatology of wind events across the regions of interest.