sinclair prc precip

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Published on October 3, 2007

Author: Wanderer

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Meteorological Influences on Arizona Precipitation:  Meteorological Influences on Arizona Precipitation Mark Sinclair Meteorology Dept. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Talk outline:  Talk outline How precipitation occurs Winter storms The summer monsoon El Niño/La Niña Global warming Precipitation trends What causes precipitation?:  What causes precipitation? We need An abundance of low-level moisture A lifting mechanism Caused by a combination of atmospheric dynamics and local terrain effects In winter (October-May), most precipitation is from winter storms Summer precipitation comes from the southwest Monsoon (July-Sept) Slide4:  35% of PRC precipitation occurs during the summer monsoon The remaining 65% comes from winter-type storms Annual average for Prescott is 19 inches Two precipitation regimes Winter storms:  Winter storms In winter, precipitation is from cyclonic storms Lifting occurs east of migratory upper level troughs (next slide) Is helped by warm, moist low-level airflow Winter precipitation supplies much of the water needed to recharge the water storage systems of Arizona and replenish soil moisture Less runoff and evaporation in winter cf. summer Slow snow-melt especially good for recharge Slide6:  The recipe for winter precipitation in Arizona Lifting and precipitation occurs in shaded region Upper-level flow Warm, moist low-level flow Warm sea temperatures off coast An active trough over S. California Slide7:  Satellite picture for a northern Arizona rain event, 12 Nov 2003 Slide8:  Orange represents monsoon precipitation Monthly frequency of mid-latitude cyclones Slide9:  Prescott winter (NDJFMAM) precipitation since 1950 Strong cyclonic storms near AZ since 1953 Individual years Running mean Below normal every year since 1994 A weak correlation between winter cyclones & Prescott precipitation Average Trends?:  Trends? Note that, although cyclonic storms have been increasing slightly, Prescott winter precipitation has decreased in recent rears A cyclonic storm does not guarantee a major precipitation event Wind direction relative to terrain is important Sea temperatures off California also important Arizona has warmed in the last 100 years, resulting in less precipitation falling as snow Slide11:  Prescott winter (NDJFMAM) precipitation (in) Trend is -0.47 in per decade 100-year trend A clear decrease in winter precipitation at Prescott Slide12:  Best fit Crown King Best fit for Prescott Crown King trend is –5.0 inches per decade 56 inches in 1915 avg 12 inches in 1993 Prescott trend is –2.0 inches per decade 33 inches in 1915 14 inches in 1993 Snowfall decreases in mountainous regions due to a warming trend (next slide) Prescott and Crown King snowfall Orographic enhancement:  Orographic enhancement In mountainous regions, precipitation is enhanced on the upwind side of mountains, with a rain shadow on the leeward side This is why Crown King gets 29 inches and Prescott Airport gets only 13 inches of precip Precipitation amounts increase with Increasing wind speed Increasing relative humidity of upwind flow Increasing dew point of upwind flow How mountains affect precipitation – Precipitation max on upwind side – Rain shadow on downwind side:  How mountains affect precipitation – Precipitation max on upwind side – Rain shadow on downwind side Rain shadow How precipitation is enhanced on the upwind side of mountains – the “seeder-feeder” effect:  How precipitation is enhanced on the upwind side of mountains – the “seeder-feeder” effect The summer Monsoon:  The summer Monsoon During July, August and half of September, precipitation comes from thunderstorms associated with the summer monsoon Convection occurs in moist southerly flow Because of its high intensity/short duration, most summer rainfall runs off quickly and/or evaporates Less replenishment of soil moisture and recharging of aquifers than winter precip Slide18:  The recipe for monsoon precipitation in Arizona Middle-level flow Low-level surge of warm, moist air H Mid-level Gulf moisture enters AZ from the east Westerlies well to the north High pressure belt moves north of AZ, bringing mid-level easterly flow to AZ H Convection breaks out over AZ Slide19:  No trend in monsoon precipitation, however it has become more variable Last four years below normal July + Aug + Sept Which factors impact longer-term precipitation trends?:  Which factors impact longer-term precipitation trends? El Niño/La Niña Pacific Decadal oscillation Climate change Slide21:  El Niño SST anomalies Slide22:  La Niña SST anomalies Slide23:  DRY Slide24:  WET Slide25:  Only impacts winter precip, not summer Slide26:  • • • Slide27:  Note that between 1950 and 1976, there were strong La Niña’s and weak El Niño’s Blue = La Niña Red = El Niño Between 1976 and 1998, there were strong El Niño’s and weak La Niña’s Many scientists believe that we are shifting back to a prolonged period of strong La Niña’s and weak El Niño’s, like 1950 to 1976. This slower trend is related to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation ? Slide28:  ? Prescott winter precipitation since 1950 ? Climate change:  Climate change Our climate is, and has always been, changing Most year-to-year variability is natural Global warming is one recent component Hypothesized to be caused by increases in CO2 that result from fossil fuel burning and deforestation (“greenhouse effect”) Winners and losers Costs include rising sea levels, changes in climate patterns Benefits include longer growing season, more CO2 for crop growth, increased drought and pest resilience Drought and Global Warming:  Drought and Global Warming A stronger hydrological cycle Estimated 7-15% increase in global precipitation Precip increases at high latitudes, smaller decreases at low and middle latitudes (Arizona)_ Estimated 5-10% increase in evapotranspiration Potential for more severe, longer-lasting droughts in continental regions like Arizona Prediction uncertainty remains great Models can not yet resolve details of factors like mountains & vegetation changes that influence regional precipitation changes Slide31:  Prescott annual precipitation (in) Some graphs of Arizona precip … Slide32:  Crown King annual precipitation (in) Crown King winter precipitation (in) Slide33:  Flagstaff region annual precipitation (in) Flagstaff region winter precipitation (in) Slide34:  Jerome annual precipitation (in) Jerome winter precipitation (in) Slide35:  Williams annual precipitation (in) Williams winter precipitation (in) Slide36:  Seligman annual precipitation (in) Seligman winter precipitation (in) Conclusions:  Conclusions Two precipitation regimes – winter precip from cyclonic storms & summer monsoon convection Prescott area winter precip seems to be decreasing slightly, but much local variability Snowfall decreasing because of a warming trend More precip during El Nino, less during La Nina, with more La Nina’s on the way

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