Projecting future changes in extreme weather during the North American monsoon in the Southwest with high resolution, convective-permitting regional atmospheric modeling

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner
Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 8:30 AM
127ABC (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Christopher Castro, University or Arizona, Tucson, AZ; and H. I. Chang, T. Luong, T. Lahmers, M. Jares, and C. M. Carrillo

The North American monsoon (NAM) is the principal driver of severe weather in the Southwest U.S. With sufficient atmospheric instability and moisture, monsoon convection over the high terrain initiates in the early afternoon and later may organize into mesoscale convective systems (MCSs). Most monsoon-related severe weather occurs in association with this organized convection, including microbursts, dust storms, flash flooding and lightning. Our objective is to project how monsoon severe weather is changing due to anthropogenic global warming. We first consider a dynamically downscaled reanalysis (35 km grid spacing), generated with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model during the period 1948-2010. Individual severe weather events, identified by favorable thermodynamic conditions of instability and precipitable water, are then simulated for short-term, numerical weather prediction-type simulations of 24h at a convective-permitting scale (2 km grid spacing). Changes in the character of severe weather events within this period likely reflect long-term climate change driven by anthropogenic forcing. Next, we apply the identical model simulation and analysis procedures to several dynamically downscaled CMIP3 and CMIP5 models for the period 1950-2100, to assess how monsoon severe weather may change in the future and if these changes correspond with what is already occurring per the downscaled renalaysis and available observational data. The CMIP5 models we are downscaling (HadGEM and MPI-ECHAM6) will be included as part of North American CORDEX. The regional model experimental design for severe weather event projection reasonably accounts for the known operational forecast prerequisites for severe monsoon weather. The convective-permitting simulations show that monsoon convection appears to be reasonably well captured with the use of the dynamically downscaled reanalysis, in comparison to Stage IV precipitation data. The regional model tends to initiate convection too early, though correctly simulates the diurnal maximum in convection in the afternoon and subsequent westward propagation of thunderstorms. Projected changes in extreme event precipitation will be described in relation to the long-term changes in thermodynamic and dynamic forcing mechanisms for severe weather. Results from this project will be used for climate change impacts assessment for U.S. military installations in the region.