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Wayne Higgins and David Gochis


An international team of scientists from the United States, Mexico, and Central America carried out a major field campaign during the summer of 2004 to develop an improved understanding of the North American monsoon system leading to improved precipitation forecasts. Results from this campaign, which is the centerpiece of the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) Process Study, are reported in this issue of the Journal of Climate. In addition to a synthesis of key findings, this brief overview article also raises some important unresolved issues that require further attention. More detailed background information on NAME, including motivating science questions, where NAME 2004 was conducted, when, and the experimental design, was published previously by Higgins et al.

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Kingtse C. Mo, Eric Rogers, Wesley Ebisuzaki, R. Wayne Higgins, J. Woollen, and M. L. Carrera


During the 2004 North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) field campaign, an extensive set of enhanced atmospheric soundings was gathered over the southwest United States and Mexico. Most of these soundings were assimilated into the NCEP operational global and regional data assimilation systems in real time. This presents a unique opportunity to carry out a series of data assimilation experiments to examine their influence on the NCEP analyses and short-range forecasts. To quantify these impacts, several data-withholding experiments were carried out using the global Climate Data Assimilation System (CDAS), the Regional Climate Data Assimilation System (RCDAS), and the three-dimensional variational data assimilation (3DVAR) Eta Model Data Assimilation System (EDAS) for the NAME 2004 enhanced observation period (EOP).

The impacts of soundings vary between the assimilation systems examined in this study. Overall, the influence of the enhanced soundings is concentrated over the core monsoon area. While differences at upper levels are small, the differences at lower levels are more substantial. The coarse-resolution CDAS does not properly resolve the Gulf of California (GoC), so the assimilation system is not able to exploit the additional soundings to improve characteristics of the Gulf of California low-level jet (GCLLJ) and the associated moisture transport in the GoC region. In contrast, the GCLLJ produced by RCDAS is conspicuously stronger than the observations, though the problem is somewhat alleviated with additional special NAME soundings. For EDAS, soundings improve the intensity and position of the Great Plains low-level jet (GPLLJ). The soundings in general improve the analyses over the areas where the assimilation system has the largest uncertainties and errors. However, the differences in regional analyses owing to the soundings are smaller than the differences between the two regional data assimilation systems.

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