Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation
The AMO is an ongoing series of long-duration changes in the sea surface temperature of the North Atlantic Ocean, with cool and warm phases that may last for 20-40 years at a time. These changes are natural and have been occurring for at least the last 1,000 years. Right now, since the mid-1990s, we are in a warm phase.
Historical information shows that the AMO affects temperatures and rainfall in both North America and Europe. These affects include occurrence of droughts and hurricanes.
During warm phases of AMO, Florida seems to have more rainfall especially in the central and southern parts of the state. Also, the number of tropical storms that form into major hurricanes is increased. During the cool phase, droughts and wildfires are more frequent.
Our research work with the University of Florida’s Water Institute and the Southeast Climate Consortium includes statistical analysis and computer modeling of AMO cycles and rainfall effects. Our effort concentrates on West Central Florida and the Tampa Bay area, related to predictions of river flows over multiple years.
Once this research is complete, Tampa Bay Water hopes to better understand factors that affect water source availability (especially rainfall and river flows). Results can help determine the reliability of our water supply. We can then use management strategies that adapt to changing conditions as they occur. The outcome will be a more reliable and more sustainable drinking water supply in the future. This knowledge will benefit the region as Tampa Bay Water looks toward new supplies, and cost-effective approaches, in the coming decades.