Long-term analysis of the asynchronicity between temperature and precipitation maxima in the United States Great Plains

Research paper by Paul X. Flanagan, Jeffrey B. Basara, Xiangming Xiao

Indexed on: 25 Jan '17Published on: 24 Jan '17Published in: International Journal of Climatology


Agriculture is a critical industry to the economy of the Great Plains (GP) region of North America and sensitive to change in weather and climate. Thus, improved knowledge of meteorological and climatological conditions during the growing season and associated variability across spatial and temporal scales is important. A distinct climate feature in the GP is the asynchronicity (AS) between the timing of temperature and precipitation maxima. This study investigated a long-term observational data set to quantify the AS and to address the impacts of climate variability and change. Global Historical Climate Network Daily (GHCN-Daily) data were utilized for this study; 352 GHCN-Daily stations were identified based on specific criteria and the dates of the precipitation and temperature maxima for each year were identified at daily and weekly intervals. An asynchronous difference index (ADI) was computed by determining the difference between these dates averaged over each decade. Analysis of daily and weekly ADI revealed two physically distinct regimes of ADI (positive and negative), with comparable shifts in the timing of both the maximum of precipitation and temperature over all six states within the GP examined when comparing the two different regimes. Time series analysis of decadal average ADI yielded moderate shifts (∼5 to 10 days from linear regression analysis) in ADI in several states with increased variability occurring over much of the study region.