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  • Author or Editor: X. Gao x
  • Understanding Diurnal Variability of Precipitation through Observations and Models (UDVPOM) x
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J. Li
S. Sorooshian
W. Higgins
X. Gao
B. Imam
, and
K. Hsu


Diurnal variability is an important yet poorly understood aspect of the warm-season precipitation regime over southwestern North America. In an effort to improve its understanding, diurnal variability is investigated numerically using the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University (PSU)–NCAR Mesoscale Model (MM5). The goal herein is to determine the possible influence of spatial resolution on the diurnal cycle.

The model is initialized every 48 h using the operational NCEP Eta Model 212 grid (40 km) model analysis. Model simulations are carried out at horizontal resolutions of both 9 and 3 km. Overall, the model reproduces the basic features of the diurnal cycle of rainfall over the core monsoon region of northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States. In particular, the model captures the diurnal amplitude and phase, with heavier rainfall at high elevations along the Sierra Madre Occidental in the early afternoon that shifts to lower elevations along the west slopes in the evening. A comparison to observations (gauge and radar data) shows that the high-resolution (3 km) model generates better rainfall distributions on time scales from monthly to hourly than the coarse-resolution (9 km) model, especially along the west slopes of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The model has difficulty with nighttime rainfall along the slopes, over the Gulf of California, and over Arizona.

A comparison of surface wind data from three NCAR Integrated Sounding System (ISS) stations and the Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) to the model reveals a low bias in the strength of the Gulf of California low-level jet, even at high resolution. The model results indicate that outflow from convection over northwestern Mexico can modulate the low-level jet, though the extent to which these relationships occur in nature was not investigated.

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