Intensification of the North American Monsoon Rainfall as Observed From a Long-Term High-Density Gauge Network

Eleonora M.C. Demaria, Pieter Hazenberg, Russell L. Scott, Menberu B. Meles, Mary Nichols, David Goodrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6839-6847
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 28 2019


  • North America Monsoon
  • climate
  • intensification
  • intensities
  • rainfall
  • subdaily

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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