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Near-surface salinity reveals the oceanic sources of moisture for Australian precipitation through atmospheric moisture transport

Citation

Rathore, S and Bindoff, NL and Ummenhofer, CC and Phillips, HE and Feng, M, Near-surface salinity reveals the oceanic sources of moisture for Australian precipitation through atmospheric moisture transport, Journal of Climate, 33, (15) pp. 6707-6730. ISSN 0894-8755 (2020) [Refereed Article]


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DOI: doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0579.1

Abstract

The long-term trend of sea surface salinity (SSS) reveals an intensification of the global hydrological cycle due to human-induced climate change. This study demonstrates that SSS variability can also be used as a measure of terrestrial precipitation on interseasonal to interannual time scales, and to locate the source of moisture. Seasonal composites during El Niño–Southern Oscillation/Indian Ocean dipole (ENSO/IOD) events are used to understand the variations of moisture transport and precipitation over Australia, and their association with SSS variability. As ENSO/IOD events evolve, patterns of positive or negative SSS anomaly emerge in the Indo-Pacific warm pool region and are accompanied by atmospheric moisture transport anomalies toward Australia. During co-occurring La Niña and negative IOD events, salty anomalies around the Maritime Continent (north of Australia) indicate freshwater export and are associated with a significant moisture transport that converges over Australia to create anomalous wet conditions. In contrast, during co-occurring El Niño and positive IOD events, a moisture transport divergence anomaly over Australia results in anomalous dry conditions. The relationship between SSS and atmospheric moisture transport also holds for pure ENSO/IOD events but varies in magnitude and spatial pattern. The significant pattern correlation between the moisture flux divergence and SSS anomaly during the ENSO/IOD events highlights the associated ocean–atmosphere coupling. A case study of the extreme hydroclimatic events of Australia (e.g., the 2010/11 Brisbane flood) demonstrates that the changes in SSS occur before the peak of ENSO/IOD events. This raises the prospect that tracking of SSS variability could aid the prediction of Australian rainfall.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ocean observations, salinity, water cycle, Australian rainfall, flood, drought
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Physical oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Climate variability (excl. social impacts)
UTAS Author:Rathore, S (Mr Saurabh Rathore)
UTAS Author:Bindoff, NL (Professor Nathan Bindoff)
UTAS Author:Phillips, HE (Associate Professor Helen Phillips)
ID Code:141162
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2020-09-29
Last Modified:2021-02-15
Downloads:2 View Download Statistics

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