As the atmosphere gets warmer, rainfall intensification is expected across the planet with anticipated impacts on ecological and human systems. In the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, the highly variable and localized nature of rainfall during the North American Monsoon makes it difficult to detect temporal changes in rainfall intensities in response to climatic change. This study addresses this challenge by using the dense, subdaily, and daily observations from 59 rain gauges located in southeastern Arizona. We find an intensification of monsoon subdaily rainfall intensities starting in the mid-1970s that has not been observed in previous studies or simulated with high-resolution climate models. Our results highlight the need for long-term, high spatiotemporal observations to detect environmental responses to a changing climate in highly variable environments and show that analyses based on limited observations or gridded data sets fail to capture temporal changes potentially leading to erroneous conclusions.
- North America Monsoon
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)