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The response of the North American Monsoon to increased greenhouse gas forcing

Cook, Benjamin I.; Seager, Richard

We analyze the response of the North American Monsoon (NAM) to increased greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing (emissions scenario RCP 8.5) using new simulations available through the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project version 5 (CMIP5). Changes in total monsoon season rainfall with GHG warming are small and insignificant. The models do, however, show significant declines in early monsoon season precipitation (June-July) and increases in late monsoon season (September-October) precipitation, indicating a shift in seasonality toward delayed onset and withdrawal of the monsoon. Early in the monsoon season, tropospheric warming increases vertical stability, reinforced by reductions in available surface moisture, inhibiting precipitation and delaying the onset of the monsoon. By the end of the monsoon season, moisture convergence is sufficient to overcome the warming induced stability increases, and precipitation is enhanced. Even with no change in total NAM rainfall, shifts in the seasonal distribution of precipitation within the NAM region are still likely to have significant societal and ecological consequences, reinforcing the need to not only understand the magnitude, but also the timing, of future precipitation changes.

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JGR: Atmospheres

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