In this study, winter mean 700 mbar height anomalies over the eastern North Pacific Ocean and the western USA are related to variability in snowpack accumulations measured on or about 1 April at 21 snowcourse stations within and near the Gunnison River basin in Colorado. Results indicate that lower than normal snowpack accumulations are primarily associated with positive 700 mbar height anomalies (anomalous anticyclonic circulation) over the western USA. Moist air from the Pacific Ocean is moved to the north of the western USA along the western margin of the anomalous anticyclonic circulation. In contrast, higher than normal snowpack accumulations are associated with negative 700 mbar height anomalies (anomalous cyclonic circulation) over the western USA and over most of the eastern North Pacific Ocean. The anomalous cyclonic circulation over the western USA enhances the movement of moisture from the Pacific Ocean into the southern and central parts of the West. Results also indicate that variability in winter mean 700 mbar height anomalies can explain over 50% of the variability in snowpack accumulations in the Gunnison River basin. The significant linear relationships between 700 mbar height anomalies and snowpack accumulations in the Gunnison River basin can be used in conjunction with general circulation model simulations of 700 mbar height anomalies for future climatic conditions to estimate future snowpack accumulations in the Gunnison River basin. ?? 1994.
Additional publication details
Relationships between atmospheric circulation and snowpack in the Gunnison River basin, Colorado