In this paper we attempt to reconcile seemingly contradictory research concerning the existence of an El-Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) signal in precipitation records from the Gulf of Alaska region. A number of studies based on records from primarily coastal stations and the mass balance of low elevation glaciers suggest there is at best a weak relationship between ENSO and precipitation anomalies in the region. In contrast, an analysis of an ice core extracted from a high elevation site on Mount Logan in the region indicates that a statistically significant ENSO signal exists in its annual snow accumulation time series on both inter-annual and inter-decadal time scales. The ENSO signal in the region is expressed through an atmospheric teleconnection known as the Pacific North America pattern. We show that a statistically significant enhancement in the atmospheric moisture transport into the North Pacific and western North America is associated with the warm phase of ENSO. The maximum transport does not occur at the surface but rather in the lower to middle troposphere. We argue that the high elevation of the Mount Logan site allows it to preferentially sample the vertically distributed moisture transport anomaly associated with warm ENSO events. This study serves to highlight the wealth of information on teleconnection patterns that may be contained in paleoclimate data from mountainous regions.
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- The Impact that Elevation has on the ENSO Signal in Precipitation Records from the Gulf of Alaska Region
G. W. K. Moore
- Springer Netherlands