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An Air Mass Based Approach to the Establishment of Spring Season Synoptic Characteristics in the Northeast United States

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DOI: 10.4236/acs.2013.33042    4,399 Downloads   6,002 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

The Northeast United States spring is indicative of major meteorological and biological change though the seasonal boundaries are difficult to define and may even be changing with global climate warming. This research aims to obtain a synoptic meteorological definition of the spring season through an assessment of air mass frequency over the past 60 years. The validity of recent speculations that the onset and termination of spring have changed in recent decades with global change is also examined. The Spatial Synoptic Classification is utilized to define daily air masses over the region. Annual and seasonal baseline frequencies are identified and their differences are acquired to characterize the season. Seasonal frequency departures of the early and late segments of the period of record are calculated and examined for practical and statistical significance. The daily boundaries of early and late spring are also isolated and assessed across the period of record to identify important changes in the season’s initiation and termination through time. Results indicate that the Northeast spring season is dominated by dry air masses, mainly the Dry Moderate and Dry Polar types. Prior to 1975, more polar air masses are detected while after 1975 more moderate and tropical types are identified. Late spring is characterized by increased variability in all moist air mass frequencies. These findings indicate that, from a synoptic perspective, the season is dry through time but modern springs are also warmer than those of past decades and the initiation of the season is likely arriving earlier. The end of the season represents more variable day-to-day air mass conditions in modern times than detected in past decades.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

R. Zander, A. Messina and M. Godek, "An Air Mass Based Approach to the Establishment of Spring Season Synoptic Characteristics in the Northeast United States," Atmospheric and Climate Sciences, Vol. 3 No. 3, 2013, pp. 408-419. doi: 10.4236/acs.2013.33042.

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