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Tosiyuki Nakaegawa, Osamu Arakawa, and Kenji Kamiguchi

Abstract

The present study investigated the onset and withdrawal dates of the rainy season in Panama by using newly developed, gridded, daily precipitation datasets with a high horizontal resolution of 0.05° based on ground precipitation observations. The onset and withdrawal dates showed very complicated geographical features, although the country of Panama is oriented parallel to latitude lines, and the geographical patterns of the onset and withdrawal dates could simply reflect the latitudinal migration of the intertropical convergence zone, as seen in other regions and countries. An absolute threshold value of 3 mm day−1 (pentad mean precipitation) was used to determine the onset and withdrawal dates. The onset and withdrawal dates obtained from the gridded daily precipitation dataset clearly depicted the migration of the rainy season. The rainy season starts suddenly in pentad 21 (11–15 April) in most of eastern Panama and in pentad 22 (16–20 April) in most of western Panama. The termination of the rainy season begins in Los Santos Province during pentad 67 (27 November–1 December) and expands to both the eastern and western surrounding areas. There is no dry season in the western part of the Caribbean coastal zone. Water vapor fluxes and topography suggest dynamical causes, such as a topographically induced upward mass flux accompanied by high humidity, for the complicated geographical features of the onset and withdrawal dates. An assessment was made of uncertainties in the timing of the onset and withdrawal associated with the definition of these terms.

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