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  • Author or Editor: Brant Liebmann x
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Leila M. V. Carvalho
,
Charles Jones
,
Adolfo N. D. Posadas
,
Roberto Quiroz
,
Bodo Bookhagen
, and
Brant Liebmann

Abstract

The South American monsoon system (SAMS) is the most important climatic feature in South America and is characterized by pronounced seasonality in precipitation during the austral summer. This study compares several statistical properties of daily gridded precipitation from different data (1998–2008): 1) Physical Sciences Division (PSD), Earth System Research Laboratory [1.0° and 2.5° latitude (lat)/longitude (lon)]; 2) Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP; 1° lat/lon); 3) Climate Prediction Center (CPC) unified gauge (CPC-uni) (0.5° lat/lon); 4) NCEP Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) (0.5° lat/lon); 5) NASA Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) reanalysis (0.5° lat/0.3° lon); and 6) Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) 3B42 V6 data (0.25° lat/lon). The same statistical analyses are applied to data in 1) a common 2.5° lat/lon grid and 2) in the original resolutions of the datasets.

All datasets consistently represent the large-scale patterns of the SAMS. The onset, demise, and duration of SAMS are consistent among PSD, GPCP, CPC-uni, and TRMM datasets, whereas CFSR and MERRA seem to have problems in capturing the correct timing of SAMS. Spectral analyses show that intraseasonal variance is somewhat similar in the six datasets. Moreover, differences in spatial patterns of mean precipitation are small among PSD, GPCP, CPC-uni, and TRMM data, while some discrepancies are found in CFSR and MERRA relative to the other datasets. Fitting of gamma frequency distributions to daily precipitation shows differences in the parameters that characterize the shape, scale, and tails of the frequency distributions. This suggests that significant uncertainties exist in the characterization of extreme precipitation, an issue that is highly important in the context of climate variability and change in South America.

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Brant Liebmann
,
Martin P. Hoerling
,
Chris Funk
,
Ileana Bladé
,
Randall M. Dole
,
Dave Allured
,
Xiaowei Quan
,
Philip Pegion
, and
Jon K. Eischeid

Abstract

Observations and sea surface temperature (SST)-forced ECHAM5 simulations are examined to study the seasonal cycle of eastern Africa rainfall and its SST sensitivity during 1979–2012, focusing on interannual variability and trends. The eastern Horn is drier than the rest of equatorial Africa, with two distinct wet seasons, and whereas the October–December wet season has become wetter, the March–May season has become drier.

The climatological rainfall in simulations driven by observed SSTs captures this bimodal regime. The simulated trends also qualitatively reproduce the opposite-sign changes in the two rainy seasons, suggesting that SST forcing has played an important role in the observed changes. The consistency between the sign of 1979–2012 trends and interannual SST–precipitation correlations is exploited to identify the most likely locations of SST forcing of precipitation trends in the model, and conceivably also in nature. Results indicate that the observed March–May drying since 1979 is due to sensitivity to an increased zonal gradient in SST between Indonesia and the central Pacific. In contrast, the October–December precipitation increase is mostly due to western Indian Ocean warming.

The recent upward trend in the October–December wet season is rather weak, however, and its statistical significance is compromised by strong year-to-year fluctuations. October–December eastern Horn rain variability is strongly associated with El Niño–Southern Oscillation and Indian Ocean dipole phenomena on interannual scales, in both model and observations. The interannual October–December correlation between the ensemble-average and observed Horn rainfall 0.87. By comparison, interannual March–May Horn precipitation is only weakly constrained by SST anomalies.

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Brant Liebmann
,
Ileana Bladé
,
Chris Funk
,
Dave Allured
,
Xiao-Wei Quan
,
Martin Hoerling
,
Andrew Hoell
,
Pete Peterson
, and
Wassila M. Thiaw

Abstract

The 1981–2014 climatology and variability of the March–May eastern Horn of Africa boreal spring wet season are examined using precipitation, upper- and lower-level winds, low-level specific humidity, and convective available potential energy (CAPE), with the aim of better understanding the establishment of the wet season and the cause of the recent observed decline. At 850 mb, the development of the wet season is characterized by increasing specific humidity and winds that veer from northeasterly in February to southerly in June and advect moisture into the region, in agreement with an earlier study. Equally important, however, is a substantial weakening of the 200-mb climatological easterly winds in March. Likewise, the shutdown of the wet season coincides with the return of strong easterly winds in June. Similar changes are seen in the daily evolution of specific humidity and 200-mb wind when composited relative to the interannual wet season onset and end, with the easterlies decreasing (increasing) several days prior to the start (end) of the wet season. The 1981–2014 decrease in March–May precipitation has also coincided with an increase in 200-mb easterly winds, with no attendant change in specific humidity, leading to the conclusion that, while high values of specific humidity are an important ingredient of the wet season, the recent observed precipitation decline has resulted mostly from a strengthening of the 200-mb easterlies. This change in the easterly winds appears to be related to an increase in convection over the Indonesian region and in the associated outflow from that enhanced heat source.

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