Links between central west western australian rainfall variability and large-scale climate drivers

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Journal Article
Journal of Climate, 2013, 26 (7), pp. 2222 - 2246
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Over the past century, and especially after the 1970s, rainfall observations show an increase (decrease) of the wet summer (winter) season rainfall over northwest (southwest) Western Australia. The rainfall in central west Western Australia (CWWA), however, has exhibited comparatively much weaker coastal trends, but a more prominent inland increase during the wet summer season. Analysis of seasonally averaged rainfall data from a group of stations, representative of both the coastal and inland regions of CWWA, revealed that rainfall trends during the 1958-2010 period in the wet months of November-April were primarily associated with El Niñ o-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and with the southern annular mode (SAM) farther inland. During the wet months of May-October, the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) showed the most robust relationships. Those results hold when the effects of ENSOor IOD are excluded, and were confirmed using a principal component analysis of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies, rainfall wavelet analyses, and point-by-point correlations of rainfall with global SST anomaly fields. Although speculative, given their long-term averages, reanalysis data suggest that from 1958 to 2010 the increase inCWWAinland rainfall largely is attributable to an increasing cyclonic anomaly trend over CWWA, bringing onshore moist tropical flow to the Pilbara coast. During May-October, the flow anomaly exhibits a transition from an onshore to offshore flow regime in the 2001-10 decade, which is consistent with the observed weaker drying trend during this period. © 2013 American Meteorological Society.
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