El Niño increases the risk of lower Mississippi River flooding

dc.contributor.author Munoz, Samuel E.
dc.contributor.author Dee, Sylvia G.
dc.date.accessioned 2017-06-07T15:02:02Z
dc.date.available 2017-06-07T15:02:02Z
dc.date.issued 2017-05-11
dc.description © The Author(s), 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Scientific Reports 7 (2017): 1772, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-01919-6. en_US
dc.description.abstract Mississippi River floods rank among the costliest climate-related disasters in the world. Improving flood predictability, preparedness, and response at seasonal to decadal time-scales requires an understanding of the climatic controls that govern flood occurrence. Linking flood occurrence to persistent modes of climate variability like the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has proven challenging, due in part to the limited number of high-magnitude floods available for study in the instrumental record. To augment the relatively short instrumental record, we use output from the Community Earth System Model (CESM) Last Millennium Ensemble (LME) to investigate the dynamical controls on discharge extremes of the lower Mississippi River. We show that through its regional influence on surface water storage, the warm phase of ENSO preconditions the lower Mississippi River to be vulnerable to flooding. In the 6–12 months preceding a flood, El Niño generates a positive precipitation anomaly over the lower Mississippi basin that gradually builds up soil moisture and reduces the basin’s infiltration capacity, thereby elevating the risk of a major flood during subsequent rainstorms. Our study demonstrates how natural climate variability mediates the formation of extreme floods on one of the world’s principal commercial waterways, adding significant predictive ability to near- and long-term forecasts of flood risk. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship This work was funded through the Postdoctoral Scholar Program of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Voss Environmental Postdoctoral Fellows Program at Brown University. en_US
dc.identifier.citation Scientific Reports 7 (2017): 1772 en_US
dc.identifier.doi 10.1038/s41598-017-01919-6
dc.identifier.uri https://hdl.handle.net/1912/9018
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.publisher Nature Publishing Group en_US
dc.relation.uri https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-01919-6
dc.rights Attribution 4.0 International *
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ *
dc.title El Niño increases the risk of lower Mississippi River flooding en_US
dc.type Article en_US
dspace.entity.type Publication
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relation.isAuthorOfPublication.latestForDiscovery f6cfd853-6490-4a64-bf6d-67c3c77de760
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