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Investigation of the Summer Climate of the Contiguous United States and Mexico Using the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS). Part II: Model Climate Variability

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
  • | 2 Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 3 Laboratory for Climate Analysis and Modeling, Department of Geosciences, University of Missouri—Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri
  • | 4 NASA Goddard Laboratory for Atmospheres, Greenbelt, Maryland
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Abstract

Summer simulations over the contiguous United States and Mexico with the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) dynamically downscaling the NCEP–NCAR Reanalysis I for the period 1950–2002 (described in Part I of the study) are evaluated with respect to the three dominant modes of global SST. Two of these modes are associated with the statistically significant, naturally occurring interannual and interdecadal variability in the Pacific. The remaining mode corresponds to the recent warming of tropical sea surface temperatures. Time-evolving teleconnections associated with Pacific SSTs delay or accelerate the evolution of the North American monsoon. At the period of maximum teleconnectivity in late June and early July, there is an opposite relationship between precipitation in the core monsoon region and the central United States. Use of a regional climate model (RCM) is essential to capture this variability because of its representation of the diurnal cycle of convective rainfall. The RCM also captures the observed long-term changes in Mexican summer rainfall and suggests that these changes are due in part to the recent increase in eastern Pacific SST off the Mexican coast. To establish the physical linkage to remote SST forcing, additional RAMS seasonal weather prediction mode simulations were performed and these results are briefly discussed. In order for RCMs to be successful in a seasonal weather prediction mode for the summer season, it is required that the GCM provide a reasonable representation of the teleconnections and have a climatology that is comparable to a global atmospheric reanalysis.

* Current affiliation: Department of Atmospheric Sciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

Corresponding author address: Dr. Christopher L. Castro, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, The University of Arizona, Physics and Atmospheric Sciences Bldg., Rm. 520, 1118 East Fourth Street, Tucson, AZ 85721-0081. Email: castro@atmo.arizona.edu

Abstract

Summer simulations over the contiguous United States and Mexico with the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) dynamically downscaling the NCEP–NCAR Reanalysis I for the period 1950–2002 (described in Part I of the study) are evaluated with respect to the three dominant modes of global SST. Two of these modes are associated with the statistically significant, naturally occurring interannual and interdecadal variability in the Pacific. The remaining mode corresponds to the recent warming of tropical sea surface temperatures. Time-evolving teleconnections associated with Pacific SSTs delay or accelerate the evolution of the North American monsoon. At the period of maximum teleconnectivity in late June and early July, there is an opposite relationship between precipitation in the core monsoon region and the central United States. Use of a regional climate model (RCM) is essential to capture this variability because of its representation of the diurnal cycle of convective rainfall. The RCM also captures the observed long-term changes in Mexican summer rainfall and suggests that these changes are due in part to the recent increase in eastern Pacific SST off the Mexican coast. To establish the physical linkage to remote SST forcing, additional RAMS seasonal weather prediction mode simulations were performed and these results are briefly discussed. In order for RCMs to be successful in a seasonal weather prediction mode for the summer season, it is required that the GCM provide a reasonable representation of the teleconnections and have a climatology that is comparable to a global atmospheric reanalysis.

* Current affiliation: Department of Atmospheric Sciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

Corresponding author address: Dr. Christopher L. Castro, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, The University of Arizona, Physics and Atmospheric Sciences Bldg., Rm. 520, 1118 East Fourth Street, Tucson, AZ 85721-0081. Email: castro@atmo.arizona.edu

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