Space observations of ocean surface winds aid monitoring of Northeast Pacific climate shifts



Wind data from special sensor microwave imager (SSM/I) measurements indicate that winter climatic conditions along coastal areas of the northeast Pacific Ocean show pronounced interannual, month-to-month, and site-to-site variability. Site-specific characterization is therefore needed to better understand conditions for different subregions. Analysis of surface winds and the relationship between wind direction and temperature anomalies is one option for achieving such characterization.

Monitoring climatic conditions of these coastal areas is of special interest, since the northeast Pacific region undergoes periodic climatic shifts from cold-and-wet to warmand-dry conditions and back again, and a shift to a cold-and-wet phase appears imminent. The study was motivated by Ingraham et al. [1998]. This earlier study is useful for detecting change. However, as a one-parameter characterization, such change detection cannot adequately describe multisite climatic conditions for which separate and distinct information is required.