The concurrent variation patterns of water vapor and temperature corresponding to the interannual variation of winter precipitation and the roles of change in atmospheric circulation are studied with the North American Regional Reanalysis. A very tight positive relationship between precipitation and relative humidity at interannual time scale is found from the large spatially sampled data set. On the basis of this relationship, the concurrent variations of water vapor and temperature between the wettest and the driest years are categorized into three patterns. The distribution of the patterns shows that more winter precipitation of wetter years corresponds to more water vapor but not lower temperature (moistening pattern) in high latitudes, lower temperature but not more water vapor (cooling pattern) in midlatitudes, and both more water vapor and lower temperature (moistening-cooling pattern) in low latitudes. The characteristics and roles of change in atmospheric circulation from the driest years to the wettest years are analyzed for two selected areas. It is found that, around the selected cooling pattern (moistening pattern) area, the field of wind difference between the wettest years and the driest years is divergent (convergent). Dominated by this, the fields of differences in both heat flux and water vapor flux are divergent (convergent). This leads to the decreases (increases) of the heating and moistening rates and, thus, the characteristics of the cooling pattern (moistening pattern) area with cooling and drying (warming and moistening) from the driest years to the wettest years. This study suggests that, for interannual prediction of precipitation, temperature, in addition to water vapor, should also be considered.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/eugene-takle/67/