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Rodrigo J. Bombardi and William R. Boos

Abstract

This study examines the annual cycle of monsoon precipitation simulated by models from phase 6 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6), then uses moist energy diagnostics to explain globally inhomogeneous projected future changes. Rainy season characteristics are quantified using a consistent method across the globe. Model bias is shown to include rainy season onsets tens of days later than observed in some monsoon regions (India, Australia, and North America) and overly large summer precipitation in others (North America, South America, and southern Africa). Projected next-century changes include rainy season lengthening in the two largest Northern Hemisphere monsoon regions (South Asia and central Sahel) and shortening in the two largest Southern Hemisphere regions (South America and southern Africa). Changes in the North American and Australian monsoons are less coherent across models. To understand these changes, relative moist static energy (MSE) is defined as the difference between local and tropical-mean surface air MSE. Future changes in relative MSE in each region correlate well with onset and demise date changes. Furthermore, Southern Hemisphere regions projected to undergo rainy season shortening are spanned by an increasing equator-to-pole MSE gradient, suggesting their rainfall will be increasingly inhibited by fluxes of dry extratropical air; Northern Hemisphere regions with projected lengthening of rainy seasons undergo little change in equator-to-pole MSE gradient. Thus, although model biases raise questions as to the reliability of some projections, these results suggest that globally inhomogeneous future changes in monsoon timing may be understood through simple measures of surface air MSE.

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Rodrigo J. Bombardi, James L. Kinter III, and Oliver W. Frauenfeld

Abstract

The Rainy and Dry Seasons (RADS) dataset, a new compilation of precipitation statistics available to the public, is described. The dataset contains the dates of onset and demise of the rainy season (one date per year), the duration of the rainy and dry seasons, and the accumulated precipitation during the rainy and dry seasons. The methodology for detecting the characteristics of the rainy season is based solely on precipitation data. RADS was developed from multiple global gridded daily precipitation datasets [Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), 1998–2015; Climate Prediction Center Unified Gauge-Based Analysis of Global Daily Precipitation (CPC_UNI), 1979–present; and Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications, version 2 (MERRA-2), 1980–present] and therefore shares the spatial resolution, temporal range, and limitations of the original precipitation datasets. This is the first free public dataset of the characteristics of the rainy and dry seasons created using a consistent methodology across the globe, including all major monsoonal regions. We expect that the RADS dataset will contribute to our understanding of the sources of variability of the timing of rainy seasons (on local to regional scales) and monsoons (on large scales) and their impacts on water resource management and other aspects of geosciences and human activities.

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Rodrigo J. Bombardi, Laurie Trenary, Kathy Pegion, Benjamin Cash, Timothy DelSole, and James L. Kinter III

Abstract

The seasonal predictability of austral summer rainfall is evaluated in a set of retrospective forecasts (hindcasts) performed as part of the Minerva and Metis projects. Both projects use the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Integrated Forecast System (IFS) coupled to the Nucleus for European Modelling of the Ocean (NEMO). The Minerva runs consist of three sets of hindcasts where the spatial resolution of the model’s atmospheric component is progressively increased while keeping the spatial resolution of its oceanic component constant. In the Metis runs, the spatial resolution of both the atmospheric and oceanic components are progressively increased. We find that raw model predictions show seasonal forecast skill for rainfall over northern and southeastern South America. However, predictability is difficult to detect on a local basis, but it can be detected on a large-scale pattern basis. In addition, increasing horizontal resolution does not lead to improvements in the forecast skill of rainfall over South America. A predictable component analysis shows that only the first predictable component of austral summer precipitation has forecast skill, and the source of forecast skill is El Niño–Southern Oscillation. Seasonal prediction of precipitation remains a challenge for state-of-the-art climate models. Positive benefits of increasing model resolution might be more evident in other atmospheric fields (i.e., temperature or geopotential height) and/or temporal scales (i.e., subseasonal temporal scales).

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