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Observed Trends in Summertime Precipitation over the Southwestern United States

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  • 1 Department of Geography and Environment, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
  • | 2 EQECAT/ABSG Consulting, Inc., Oakland, California
  • | 3 Department of Geography and Environment, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
  • | 4 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts
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Abstract

In this paper, the authors evaluate the significance of multidecadal trends in seasonal-mean summertime precipitation and precipitation characteristics over the southwestern United States using stochastic, chain-dependent daily rainfall models. Unlike annual-mean precipitation, trends during the summertime monsoon, covering the period 1931–2000, indicate an overall increase in seasonal precipitation, the number of rainfall events, and the coverage of rainfall events in peripheral regions north of the “core” monsoon area of Arizona and western New Mexico. In addition, there is an increasing trend in intense storm activity and a decreasing trend in extreme dry-spell lengths. Over other regions of the domain, there are no discernible trends found in any of the observed characteristics. These trends are robust to the choice of start dates and, in the case of seasonal-mean precipitation, appear to persist into the current century.

Corresponding author address: Bruce T. Anderson, Dept. of Geography and Environment, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215. Email: brucea@bu.edu

Abstract

In this paper, the authors evaluate the significance of multidecadal trends in seasonal-mean summertime precipitation and precipitation characteristics over the southwestern United States using stochastic, chain-dependent daily rainfall models. Unlike annual-mean precipitation, trends during the summertime monsoon, covering the period 1931–2000, indicate an overall increase in seasonal precipitation, the number of rainfall events, and the coverage of rainfall events in peripheral regions north of the “core” monsoon area of Arizona and western New Mexico. In addition, there is an increasing trend in intense storm activity and a decreasing trend in extreme dry-spell lengths. Over other regions of the domain, there are no discernible trends found in any of the observed characteristics. These trends are robust to the choice of start dates and, in the case of seasonal-mean precipitation, appear to persist into the current century.

Corresponding author address: Bruce T. Anderson, Dept. of Geography and Environment, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215. Email: brucea@bu.edu

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