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Frequency Modes of Monsoon Precipitation in Arizona and New Mexico

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  • 1 Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
  • | 2 Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, and NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

The interannual and intraseasonal variability of the North American monsoon is of great interest because a large proportion of the annual precipitation for Arizona and New Mexico arrives during the summer monsoon. Forty-one years of daily monsoon season precipitation data for Arizona and New Mexico were studied using wavelet analysis. This time-localized spectral analysis method reveals that periodicities of less than 8 days are positively correlated with mean daily precipitation during the 1 July–15 September monsoon period. Roughly 17% of the years indicate no significant periodicity during the monsoon period for either region and are associated with low monsoon precipitation. High- and low-frequency modes explain an equivalent percentage of the variance in monsoon precipitation in both Arizona and New Mexico, and in many years concurrent multiple periodicities occur. Wavelet analysis was effective in identifying the contribution of high-frequency modes that had not been discerned in previous studies. These results suggest that precipitation processes during the monsoon season are modulated by phenomena operating at synoptic (2–8 days) and longer (>8 days) time scales and point to the need for further studies to better understand the associated atmospheric processes.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Anne W. Nolin, Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University, Wilkinson 104, Corvallis, OR 97331. Email: nolina@science.oregonstate.edu

Abstract

The interannual and intraseasonal variability of the North American monsoon is of great interest because a large proportion of the annual precipitation for Arizona and New Mexico arrives during the summer monsoon. Forty-one years of daily monsoon season precipitation data for Arizona and New Mexico were studied using wavelet analysis. This time-localized spectral analysis method reveals that periodicities of less than 8 days are positively correlated with mean daily precipitation during the 1 July–15 September monsoon period. Roughly 17% of the years indicate no significant periodicity during the monsoon period for either region and are associated with low monsoon precipitation. High- and low-frequency modes explain an equivalent percentage of the variance in monsoon precipitation in both Arizona and New Mexico, and in many years concurrent multiple periodicities occur. Wavelet analysis was effective in identifying the contribution of high-frequency modes that had not been discerned in previous studies. These results suggest that precipitation processes during the monsoon season are modulated by phenomena operating at synoptic (2–8 days) and longer (>8 days) time scales and point to the need for further studies to better understand the associated atmospheric processes.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Anne W. Nolin, Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University, Wilkinson 104, Corvallis, OR 97331. Email: nolina@science.oregonstate.edu

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