Preliminary diagnostics from a new event-based precipitation monitoring system in support of the North American monsoon experiment

David J. Gochis, Juan Carlos Leal, W. James Shuttleworth, Christopher J. Watts, Jaime Garatuza-Payan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The purpose of this note is to present preliminary findings from a new event-based surface rain gauge network in the region of northwest Mexico. This region is characterized as semiarid, owing the largest percentage of its annual rainfall to summer convective systems, which are diurnal in nature. Although the existing surface network and satellite-derived precipitation products have clarified some features of convective activity over the core region of the North American monsoon (NAM), a detailed examination of the spatial and temporal structure of such activity has been prohibited by the lack of a surface observation network with adequate temporal and spatial resolution. Specifically, the current network of sparsely spaced climate stations has inhibited a detailed diagnosis of the timing, intensity, and duration of convective rainfall in general, and of the topography-rainfall relationship in particular. In this note, a brief overview of the network and present preliminary analyses from the first monitoring season, summer 2002, is provided. It is shown that the diurnal cycle of precipitation varies with elevation in a way that is consistent with a hypothesis that convective events organize and, occasionally, propagate from high terrain onto lower-elevation plains, but more conclusive statements will require expansion of the network and increased record length. It is also emphasized from these studies that it is essential to evaluate wet-day statistics or rainfall intensities from precipitating periods in parallel, with comparable all-day statistics, when conducting hydrometeorological analyses in semiarid convective regimes where precipitation is infrequent and highly localized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)974-981
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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