Shifting covariability of North American summer monsoon precipitation with antecedent winter precipitation



Previous research has suggested that a general inverse relation exists between winter precipitation in the southwestern United States (US) and summer monsoon precipitation. In addition, it has been suggested that this inverse relation between winter precipitation and the magnitude of the southwestern US monsoon breaks down under certain climatic conditions that override the regional winter/monsoon precipitation relations. Results from this new study indicate that the winter/monsoon precipitation relations do not break down, but rather shift location through time. The strength of winter/monsoon precipitation relations, as indexed by 20-year moving correlations between winter precipitation and monsoon precipitation, decreased in Arizona after about 1970, but increased in New Mexico. The changes in these correlations appear to be related to an eastward shift in the location of monsoon precipitation in the southwestern US. This eastward shift in monsoon precipitation and the changes in correlations with winter precipitation also appear to be related to an eastward shift in July/August atmospheric circulation over the southwestern US that resulted in increased monsoon precipitation in New Mexico. Results also indicate that decreases in sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) in the central North Pacific Ocean also may be associated with the changes in correlations between winter and monsoon precipitation. Copyright © 2006 Royal Meteorological Society.