The monthly patterns of northeast Brazil (NEB) precipitation are analyzed in relation to sea surface temperature (SST) in the tropical Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, using singular value decomposition. It is found that the relationships between precipitation and SST in both basins vary considerably throughout the rainy season (February-May). In January, equatorial Pacific SST is weakly correlated with precipitation in small areas of southern NEB, but Atlantic SST shows no significant correlation with regional precipitation. In February, Pacific SST is not well related to precipitation, but south equatorial Atlantic SST is positively correlated with precipitation over the northern Nordeste, the latter most likely reflecting an anomalously early (or late) southward migration of the ITCZ precipitation zone. During March, equatorial Pacific SST is negatively correlated with Nordeste precipitation, but no consistent relationship between precipitation and Atlantic SST is found. Atlantic SST-precipitation correlations for April and May are the strongest found among all months or either ocean. Precipitation in the Nordeste is positively correlated with SST in the south tropical Atlantic and negatively correlated with SST in the north tropical Atlantic. These relationships are strong enough to determine the structure of the seasonal mean SST-precipitation correlations, even though the corresponding patterns for the earlier months of the season are quite different. Pacific SST-precipitation correlations for April and May are similar to those for March. Extreme wet (dry) years for the Nordeste occur when both Pacific and Atlantic SST patterns for April and May occur simultaneously. A separate analysis reinforces previous findings in showing that SST in the tropical Pacific and the northern tropical Atlantic are positively correlated and that tropical Pacific-south Atlantic correlations are negligible.Time-lagged analyses show the potential for forecasting either seasonal mean or monthly precipitation patterns with some degree of skill. In some instances, individual monthly mean SST versus seasonal mean (February-May) precipitation relationships differ considerably from the corresponding monthly SST versus monthly precipitation relationships. It is argued that the seasonal mean relationships result from the relatively strong monthly relationships toward the end of the season, combined with the considerable persistence of SST in both oceans.
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