A Growing-Season Hydroclimatology, Focusing on Soil Moisture Deficits, for the Ohio Valley Region
Grundstein, Andrew J.
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A hydroclimatology, or description of long-term means and interannual variation, that focuses on soil moisture deficits was constructed for the period of 1895–1998 for a six-state region composing the Ohio Valley. The term ‘‘deficit’’ is considered from an agricultural point of view whereby moisture-induced crop stress is a combination of insufficient precipitation and soil moisture. Of particular concern are deficits that occur during the growing season (May–September) when vegetation is most susceptible to moisture-induced stress. Evidence suggests that there is considerable temporal variability but no long-term trend toward either wetter or drier conditions in the Ohio Valley. The pattern of growing-season deficit is characterized by multiyear and multidecadal cycles of wet and dry periods. Decreases in precipitation during years with anomalously large growing-season deficits, however, are associated more with the reduced frequency of precipitation events than with any changes in intensity. These variations in precipitation frequency and the conditions conducive to droughts are intimately linked with large-scale atmospheric conditions, including the low-level and upper-level flow patterns.