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CDC Cover. NOAA Lab roles in CCSP. Element 3. Atmospheric Composition Aeronomy Laboratory (AL) Element 4. Climate Variability and Change Climate Diagnostics Center (CDC) Element 7. Carbon Cycle Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory (CMDL)

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Noaa lab roles in ccsp

NOAA Lab roles in CCSP

Element 3. Atmospheric CompositionAeronomy Laboratory (AL)

Element 4. Climate Variability and ChangeClimate Diagnostics Center (CDC)

Element 7. Carbon CycleClimate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory (CMDL)

Element 10. Modeling StrategyGeophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL)

Strategic Plan for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program: Research Elements

Final Report, July 2003

Purpose and contribution to noaa mission
Purpose and Contribution to NOAA Mission

The NOAA Climate Diagnostics Center provides a unique federal center of expertise for developing and applying climate diagnostic methods to improve understanding and predictions of climate.

CDC research goals are to:

  • Advance national capabilities to identify the causes of climate variations.

  • Provide credible information to enhance decision making.

  • Assess climate predictability.

  • Develop prediction tools based on state-of-the art methods.

  • Develop new NOAA climate products and services.

US Precip Since 1895

US Temps Since 1895



CDC research focuses especially on climate phenomena that have major impacts on society and the economy, including climate events such as major droughts and El Niño and La Niña conditions.

Drought in Great Plains, ca. 1935

California floods during 1998 El Niño

Drought causes prediction
Drought Causes,Prediction

Example: Causes and Prediction of Drought

North Platte river, May 22, 2002

Mean flow: 1310 cu. ft/sec Observed flow: 0 cu. ft/sec.

Fires in the West

Importance and context

  • Droughts are not simply climate phenomena; they have profound societal, economic, and environmental consequences.

  • Traditional federal/state response to drought has been reactive. We are moving toward a more proactive approach - “National Drought Preparedness Act of 2003”. Implications for NOAA wx/climate services --

U s drought 1998 2002
U.S. Drought 1998 - 2002

The U.S. Drought and Heat 1998 - 2002

Oct may p t anomalies
Oct.-May P-T anomalies

U.S. Oct-May Precipitation and Temperatures

Average anomalies 1998-2002

Temperature Precipitation




Drought causes spatial patterns
Drought causes - spatial patterns

An important clue:

The 1998-2002 drought was part of a larger pattern.

Role of tropical oceans
Role of tropical oceans

Did unusual tropical ocean conditions force this pattern?

Tropical ocean warming

The warming tropical “warm pool”

The strengthening El Niño

Observed and model simulated climate anomalies using observed sea surface temperatures
Observed and model simulated climate anomalies using observed sea surface temperatures

Observed Temperature and Precipitation anomalies

(June 1998 - May 2002)



Model-simulated Temperature and Precipitation anomalies given observed SSTs for this period

U s surface temp trends
U.S. surface temp trends observed sea surface temperatures

Are trends in the ocean conditions also forcing longer-term temperature trends over the United States?

Model simulations are using GFDL model with observed

ocean temperature trends, but no CO2 or aerosol trends.

Winter trend distributions
Winter trend distributions observed sea surface temperatures

Model-estimated probability distributions of U.S. regional temperature trends - ocean forcing only

(constant CO2 and aerosols)

Eastern U.S.

Western U.S.



Diagnostic interpretations
Diagnostic interpretations observed sea surface temperatures

Diagnostic interpretations

  • The major factors contributing to the 1998-2002 drought were persistent La Niña conditions in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean and a record warm Indian Ocean, the latter of which appears to be part of a longer-term trend. This was the “Perfect Ocean” for severe and sustained U.S. drought.

  • Implication: Given foreknowledge of the tropical sea surface temperatures, the 1998-2002 drought and attendant warmth over large areas of the Northern Hemisphere, including parts of the U.S., would have been predictable.

  • The recent trend in U.S. surface temperatures was also forced at least in part by trends in ocean conditions. More research will be required to assess natural vs. anthropogenic effects on the ocean trends, as well as contributions to the surface temperature trends from changing greenhouse gas forcing.

  • The distributions, especially over the eastern U.S., provide a cautionary note that natural variability can still strongly affect multi-decadal trends.

Summary observed sea surface temperatures


  • Climate diagnostic research is essential to achieving Goal 1 of the Climate Change Science Plan: “Improve knowledge of the Earth’s past and present climate and environment, including its natural variability, and improve understanding of of the causes of observed variability and change”.

  • Extreme climate events such as drought have tremendous relevance to society and the economy. Improved climate information and forecasts will help to move us from a reactive toward a more proactive approach to such events.

  • CDC research focuses on determining responses to climate forcings, especially at regional scales. Improving regional climate information is crucial to many decision-makers, especially in resource management.

  • CDC works closely with the NOAA National Weather Service to improve current climate products and to develop and evaluate experimental products.

Experimental product rapid response to drought
Experimental Product: Rapid Response to Drought observed sea surface temperatures

  • Create and regularly update summaries of current climate information and outlooks monthly

  • Presentations at user meetings and distribution of summary sheets

  • User focused research addressing questions related to current climate conditions

The end
The End observed sea surface temperatures

The End