Dew Point Variability in the Southeast United States with an Emphasis on Extremes from 1956-2016
Semester of Graduation
Master of Science (MS)
Geography and Anthropology
Amongst climate change studies in today's literature, an often overlooked variable is the dew point temperature (Td). In recent years, numerous Td surpassing 26.7°C (80°F) have been observed at the Baton Rouge, Louisiana Metro Airport; a value understood to be rare. These high readings manifest themselves in various ways including human comfort and heat waves, latent heating and atmospheric instability, energy consumption through air conditioning, and even milk production from dairy cows to name a few. High Td are understood to be one of the largest culprits in the Midwest heat wave of 1995, which resulted in hundreds of fatalities. With special focus on this event, along with use of data available from the National Climatic Data Center, a dataset was constructed to serve as the infrastructure for statistical and spatial analysis of Td trends, Td seasonality, and Td extremes in the southeastern United States. Climatological trends are then compared to major climatological teleconnections in search of potential correlation. Trends, frequency, duration, and intensity of extreme events are also evaluated along with their associated synoptic-scale patterns. Due to strict FAA and/or NWS quality control standards, first-order stations were used for hourly observations. The first-order stations are available at major cities and major areas of dense population where extreme Td have the greatest effect on people, in addition to military bases. Results indicate that Td at large are rising. The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, the Pacific/North American Oscillation, along with the strength of the Bermuda High were found to be large arbiters of Td levels; depending on the season. While all seasons observed at least some increase, the greatest trends are found in spring while coastal locations were found to be especially vulnerable. Frequency of extreme Td were found to be rising through time, predominately in coastal cities. Greater variability in extreme Td were found in extreme lows. The most dynamic signals were observed in the western portion of the study area, while the least dynamic were located in the central region.
Gauthreaux, Robert Clifton III, "Dew Point Variability in the Southeast United States with an Emphasis on Extremes from 1956-2016" (2018). LSU Master's Theses. 4375.
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