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Published October 1, 2018 | Published + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

The influence of CO_2 forcing on North American monsoon moisture surges


Widespread multiday convective bursts in the southwestern United States during the North American monsoon are often triggered by Gulf of California moisture surges (GoC surges). However, how GoC surges, and the amount and intensity of associated precipitation, will change in response to CO_2-induced warming remains little known, not least because the most widely available climate models do not currently resolve the relevant mesoscale dynamics due to their coarse resolution (100 km or more). In this study, a 50-km resolution global coupled model (FLOR) is used to address this question. It is found that the mean number of GoC surge events remains unchanged under CO_2 doubling, but intermediate-to-high intensity surge-related precipitation tends to become less frequent, thus reducing the mean summertime rainfall. Lowlevel moisture fluxes associated with GoC surges as well as their convergence over land to the east of the GoC intensify, but the increases in low-level moisture are not matched by the larger increments in the near-surface saturation specific humidity due to amplified land warming. This results in a more unsaturated, low-level atmospheric environment which disfavors moist convection. These thermodynamic changes are accompanied by dynamics changes that are also less conducive to convective activity, with the mid-level monsoonal ridge projected to expand and move to the west of its present-day climatological maximum. Despite the overall reduction in precipitation, the frequency of very intense, localized daily surge-related precipitation in Arizona and surrounding areas is projected to increase, consistently with increased precipitable water.

Additional Information

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. Manuscript received 7 January 2018, in final form 3 July 2018. Published online: 24 August 2018. This manuscript was prepared under award NA14OAR4320106 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or the U.S. Department of Commerce. S. Bordoni acknowledges support from the Caltech Davidow Discovery Fund. The authors thank L. Harris and H. Zhang for their feedback on the work during the GFDL internal review process, N. Johnson for assistance in evaluating the effect of flux-adjustment in FLOR, and three anonymous reviewers for their constructive criticism which helped to improve the manuscript.

Attached Files

Published - jcli-d-18-0007.1.pdf

Supplemental Material - 10.1175_JCLI-D-18-0007.s1.pdf


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