The influence of orbital parameters on the North American Monsoon system during the Last Interglacial Period

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Nadja Insel, Max Berkelhammer 


The response of summer precipitation in the western U.S. to climate variability remains a subject of uncertainty. For example, paleoclimate records indicate the North American monsoon (NAM) was stronger and spatially more extensive during the Holocene, whereas recent modeling suggests a weakened NAM response to increasing temperatures. These illustrate diverging pictures of the NAM response to warming. Here, we examine summer precipitation in the southwestern U.S. related to Last Interglacial insolation forcing. Using a high-resolution climate model, we find that Eemian insolation forcing results in overall wetter conditions throughout most of the southwestern U.S, but significantly drier than present conditions over Arizona. The overall wetter conditions are associated with a northward shift of the anticyclonic circulation aloft and increased moisture in the lower and mid-troposphere during the Eemian. Increased advection of Gulf of Mexico moisture is responsible for increasing precipitation in New Mexico and the northern edges of the NAM region. Drier conditions over Arizona are likely related to reduced local convection associated with reduced vertical moisture transport. These results highlight the spatial complexity of the NAM response to increasing radiative forcing and allow a better understanding of monsoon dynamics and variability in response to a warming climate.



Atmospheric Sciences, Climate, Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Hydrology, Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology




Published: 2020-12-17 18:26

Last Updated: 2021-04-01 06:53

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Data Availability (Reason not available):
Data available from the DOE ESS DIVE repository

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