For many people, a monsoon brings to mind images of intense rainfall and high winds in faraway places. Actually, monsoons occur all over the globe, including North America. These seasonal reversals of winds trigger dramatic changes in rainfall and other weather events within a short period of time.
The North American monsoon affects large areas of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. This rainy season brings with it much more than torrential downpours from July to mid-September. The North American monsoon is one of the key natural events that defines the warm-season climate over the region. It is important that researchers better understand the key physical processes at play that determine the life cycle of the monsoon. That knowledge should make it possible to forecast warm-season rainfall over North America more accurately.
Throughout the summer of 2004, researchers from NASA and other U.S. government agencies led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) joined an international team of scientists from Mexico, Belize and Costa Rica to carry out an intensive field campaign as part of the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME). NAME is a study aimed at improving the ability to observe and simulate monsoons over North America. The early findings from NAME were published in a recent issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
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