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Title North Atlantic oscillation influences on climate variability in the southern Appalachians.
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Despite a wealth of research, scientists still disagree about the existence, magnitude, duration and potential causes of global warming and climate change. For example, only recently have we recognized that, given historical global climate patterns, much of the global warming trend we are experiencing appears to be natural. We analyzed long-term climatologic records from Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory (1934 to present). There is strong annular and decadal cycling in temperatures and rainfall patterns. These are confounded by a significant amount of natural climatic variability in the southern Appalachians. The natural variability is closely linked to fluctuations in the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). For example, the record drought in the southeastern United States, while extreme, was not unusual given historical patterns of alternating wet and dry cycles. These cycles are characteristically precluded by phase shifts in the NAO. The breaking of the drought by Hurricane Isidore and Tropical Storm Kyle (Sept. 2002) was also consistent with past drought cessation in this region. Apparent trends toward cooler and wetter conditions for this region are consistent with observed behavior in the NAO. While the highly variable nature of climate in this region makes it difficult to identify climate trends, nighttime temperatures (minimum daily) have increased over the past fifty years.

Contributor Mark S. Riedel

Riedel, M.S. 2006. North Atlantic oscillation influences on climate variability in the southern Appalachians. In proceedings, Joint Federal Interagency Conference, 8th FISC & 3rd FIHMC: Interdisciplinary Solutions for Watershed Sustainability, 2-6 April 2006, Reno, NV.

File Date 2006
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