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Christopher R. Williams, Allen B. White, Kenneth S. Gage, and F. Martin Ralph

Abstract

In support of the 2004 North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) field campaign, NOAA established and maintained a field site about 100 km north of Mazatlán, Mexico, consisting of wind profilers, precipitation profilers, surface upward–downward-looking radiometers, and a 10-m meteorological tower to observe the environment within the North American monsoon. Three objectives of this NOAA project are discussed in this paper: 1) to observe the vertical structure of precipitating cloud systems as they passed over the NOAA profiler site, 2) to estimate the vertical air motion and the raindrop size distribution from near the surface to just below the melting layer, and 3) to better understand the microphysical processes associated with stratiform rain containing well-defined radar bright bands.

To provide a climatological context for the profiler observations at the field site, the profiler reflectivity distributions were compared with Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Precipitation Radar (PR) reflectivity distributions from the 2004 season over the NAME domain as well as from the 1998–2005 seasons. This analysis places the NAME 2004 observations into the context of other monsoon seasons. It also provides a basis for evaluating the representativeness of the structure of the precipitation systems sampled at this location. The number of rain events observed by the TRMM PR is dependent on geography; the land region, which includes portions of the Sierra Madre Occidental, has more events than the coast and gulf regions. Conversely, from this study it is found that the frequencies of occurrence of stratiform rain and reflectivity profiles with radar bright bands are mostly independent of region. The analysis also revealed that the reflectivity distribution at each height has more year-to-year variability than region-to-region variability. These findings suggest that in cases with a well-defined bright band, the vertical profile of the reflectivity relative to the height of the bright band is similar over the gulf, coast, and land regions.

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Alberto M. Mestas-Nuñez, David B. Enfield, and Chidong Zhang

Abstract

The seasonal and interannual variability of moisture transports over the Intra-Americas Sea (including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea) is evaluated using the NCEP–NCAR global reanalysis. The seasonal variability of these moisture transports is consistent with previous studies and shows distinctive winter and summer regimes. Boreal winter moisture is mainly delivered to the central United States from the Pacific with some contribution from the Gulf of Mexico. It is during the boreal summer that the moisture flow over the Intra-Americas Sea is most effective in supplying the water vapor to the central United States via the northern branch of the Caribbean low-level jet. The increase of intensity of this jet during July is associated with an increase in evaporation over the Intra-Americas Sea, consistent with midsummer drought conditions over this region.

During both summer and winter, the interannual variability of the inflow of moisture from the Intra-Americas Sea into central United States is associated with Caribbean low-level jet variability. The source of the varying moisture is mainly the Gulf of Mexico and the North Atlantic area just east of the Bahamas Islands and the sink is precipitation over east-central United States. The main teleconnection pattern for these interannual variations appears to be the Pacific–North American, although in boreal winter ENSO and possibly the North Atlantic Oscillation may also play a role. During boreal summer, associations with ENSO mainly involve the zonal moisture exchange between the Intra-Americas Sea/tropical Atlantic and the tropical Pacific.

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