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Multiscale Variability of the Flow during the North American Monsoon Experiment

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
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Abstract

The 2004 North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) provided an unprecedented observing network for studying the structure and evolution of the North American monsoon. This paper focuses on multiscale characteristics of the flow during NAME from the large scale to the mesoscale using atmospheric sounding data from the enhanced observing network.

The onset of the 2004 summer monsoon over the NAME region accompanied the typical northward shift of the upper-level anticyclone or monsoon high over northern Mexico into the southwestern United States, but in 2004 this shift occurred slightly later than normal and the monsoon high did not extend as far north as usual. Consequently, precipitation over the southwestern United States was slightly below normal, although increased troughiness over the Great Plains contributed to increased rainfall over eastern New Mexico and western Texas. The first major pulse of moisture into the Southwest occurred around 13 July in association with a strong Gulf of California surge. This surge was linked to the westward passages of Tropical Storm Blas to the south and an upper-level inverted trough over northern Texas. The development of Blas appeared to be favored as an easterly wave moved into the eastern Pacific during the active phase of a Madden–Julian oscillation.

On the regional scale, sounding data reveal a prominent sea breeze along the east shore of the Gulf of California, with a deep return flow as a consequence of the elevated Sierra Madre Occidental (SMO) immediately to the east. Subsidence produced a dry layer over the gulf, whereas a deep moist layer existed over the west slopes of the SMO. A prominent nocturnal low-level jet was present on most days over the northern gulf. The diurnal cycle of heating and moistening (Q1 and Q2) over the SMO was characterized by deep convective profiles in the mid- to upper troposphere at 1800 LT, followed by stratiform-like profiles at midnight, consistent with the observed diurnal evolution of precipitation over this coastal mountainous region. The analyses in the core NAME domain are based on a gridded dataset derived from atmospheric soundings only and, therefore, should prove useful in validating reanalyses and regional models.

Corresponding author address: Richard H. Johnson, Dept. of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523. Email: johnson@atmos.colostate.edu

This article included in the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) special collection.

Abstract

The 2004 North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) provided an unprecedented observing network for studying the structure and evolution of the North American monsoon. This paper focuses on multiscale characteristics of the flow during NAME from the large scale to the mesoscale using atmospheric sounding data from the enhanced observing network.

The onset of the 2004 summer monsoon over the NAME region accompanied the typical northward shift of the upper-level anticyclone or monsoon high over northern Mexico into the southwestern United States, but in 2004 this shift occurred slightly later than normal and the monsoon high did not extend as far north as usual. Consequently, precipitation over the southwestern United States was slightly below normal, although increased troughiness over the Great Plains contributed to increased rainfall over eastern New Mexico and western Texas. The first major pulse of moisture into the Southwest occurred around 13 July in association with a strong Gulf of California surge. This surge was linked to the westward passages of Tropical Storm Blas to the south and an upper-level inverted trough over northern Texas. The development of Blas appeared to be favored as an easterly wave moved into the eastern Pacific during the active phase of a Madden–Julian oscillation.

On the regional scale, sounding data reveal a prominent sea breeze along the east shore of the Gulf of California, with a deep return flow as a consequence of the elevated Sierra Madre Occidental (SMO) immediately to the east. Subsidence produced a dry layer over the gulf, whereas a deep moist layer existed over the west slopes of the SMO. A prominent nocturnal low-level jet was present on most days over the northern gulf. The diurnal cycle of heating and moistening (Q1 and Q2) over the SMO was characterized by deep convective profiles in the mid- to upper troposphere at 1800 LT, followed by stratiform-like profiles at midnight, consistent with the observed diurnal evolution of precipitation over this coastal mountainous region. The analyses in the core NAME domain are based on a gridded dataset derived from atmospheric soundings only and, therefore, should prove useful in validating reanalyses and regional models.

Corresponding author address: Richard H. Johnson, Dept. of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523. Email: johnson@atmos.colostate.edu

This article included in the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) special collection.

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