Mechanisms of multiyear variations of Northern Australia wet-season rainfall

Article


Sur, Sharmila and Hendon, Harry H.. 2020. "Mechanisms of multiyear variations of Northern Australia wet-season rainfall." Scientific Reports. 10 (1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-61482-5
Article Title

Mechanisms of multiyear variations of Northern Australia wet-season rainfall

ERA Journal ID201487
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsSur, Sharmila (Author) and Hendon, Harry H. (Author)
Journal TitleScientific Reports
Journal Citation10 (1)
Article Number5086
Number of Pages11
Year2020
PublisherNature Publishing Group
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
ISSN2045-2322
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-61482-5
Abstract

Northern Australia wet season (November–April) rainfall exhibits strong variability on multiyear timescales. In order to reveal the underlying mechanisms of this variability, we investigate observational records for the period 1900–2017. At multiyear timescales, the rainfall varies coherently across north-western Australia (NW) and north-eastern Australia (NE), but the variability in these two regions is largely independent. The variability in the NE appears to be primarily controlled by the remote influence of low frequency variations of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). In contrast, multiyear variations in the NW appear to be largely driven locally and stem from a combination of rainfall-wind-evaporation feedback, whereby enhanced land-based rainfall is associated with westerly wind anomalies to the west that enhance local evaporation over the ocean to feed the enhanced land based rainfall, and soil moisture-rainfall feedback. Soil-moisture and associated evapotranspiration over northern Australia appear to act as sources of memory for sustaining multiyear wet and dry conditions in the NW. Our results imply that predictability of multiyear rainfall variations over the NW may derive from the initial soil moisture state and its memory, while predictability in the NE will be limited by the predictability of the low frequency variations of ENSO.

Keywordsrainfall; climate; climate indices
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020370199. Atmospheric sciences not elsewhere classified
370108. Meteorology
Byline AffiliationsCentre for Applied Climate Sciences
Australian Bureau of Meteorology
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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