Document type: DU ETD
Collection: Geology Theses  
Title A Synoptic Analysis of Winter Precipitation in California During ENSO Events from 1950 to 1984
Author(s) Van Hyning, Conrad
School/Department Department of Geography
Institution University of Denver
Degree Type Master's
Degree Name M.A.
Type of Resource text
Degree Date 1990 August
Digital Origin reformatted digital
Rights Statement All Rights Reserved
Reason for Restrictions No restrictions
Type of Restriction No restrictions
Keyword(s) Geography
Genre Dissertations, Academic
Abstract The El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon has very recently been recognized as the dominant global climate signal on time scales of a few months to a few years. It is associated with major dislocations of the rainfall regime in the tropics, and has begun to be associated with unusual winter conditions in mid-latitude regions (Rasmusson, 1984). Interest in the ENSO phenomenon began as recently as the mid- 1960s, when its significance to global climate was first realized. Much of the current understanding of ENSO is the result of the occurrence of nine events since 1950, providing the opportunity for comprehensive research of the phenomenon with modern climate data. The purpose of this research is to analyze relationships between regional mid-tropospheric (500 mb) circulation and precipitation in California during winter, especially with respect to winters associated with ENSO events. Appropriate analytical and descriptive methodologies of synoptic climatology will be used. Synoptic climatology is the study of the dominant circulation patterns of the mid-troposphere which create and influence surface weather (Barry and Perry, 1973). ENSO-related atmospheric research has traditionally made use of synoptic techniques, but to date has focused more upon responses of the global atmospheric circulation to ENSO than upon relationships between ENSO circulation and regional climate. This is especially true with respect to relationships between ENSO circulation and seasonal precipitation in the United States. Thus this research will help to address climatological effects of the ENSO phenomenon currently not well understood. The remainder of this chapter briefly describes the importance of synoptic studies to the understanding of California precipitation, the importance of precipitation to California's agricultural economy, and the apparent importance of ENSO to both mid-tropospheric circulation and California precipitation. The problem statement, subproblems and hypotheses addressing relationships between 500 mb circulation, ENSO and California precipitation are also enumerated.
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