The North American monsoon is a key feature affecting summer climate over Southwestern North America. During the monsoon, evapotranspiration from the Southwest promotes transference of water to the atmosphere which is subsequently distributed across the continent - linking the SW to other regions via atmospheric hydrologic connectivity. However, the degree to which atmospheric connectivity redistributes monsoonal terrestrial moisture throughout the continent and its sensitivity to climate disturbances such as drought is uncertain. We tracked the trajectory of moisture evapotranspired within the semiarid Southwest during the monsoon season using a Lagrangian analytical model. Southwest moisture was advected north-east accounting for ∼15% of precipitation in adjacent Great Plains regions. During recent drought (2000-2003), this amount decreased by 45%. Our results illustrate that the spatial extent of the North American monsoon is larger than normally considered when accounting for hydrologic connectivity via soil moisture redistribution through atmospheric pathways.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)