• The North American Monsoon System in Southern Arizona

      Comrie, Andrew C.; Brandt, Richard Raymond; Comrie, Andrew C.; Garfin, Gregg M.; Shuttleworth, W. James; Yool, Stephen R. (The University of Arizona., 2006)
      The North American Monsoon System (NAMS) is a dominant factor in climate in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. Despite the influence of the NAMS and the intense research efforts it receives, its predictability, its variability, and the details of its influence on the environment are not well understood. This dissertation is comprised of three papers, which collectively address these three aspects of this complex climate phenomenon through an examination of various data and analyses at multiple spatial and temporal scales, while focusing on impacts in southern Arizona. In the first paper, a modified definition of the NAMS is established to delineate dates for monsoon onset, bursts, breaks, and retreat. The results are applied to an atmospheric compositing study in the second paper and to an applied study of monsoon-wildland fire relationships in the third paper. In the second paper, geopotential height patterns that affect moisture advection are identified. Onset, retreat, and break timing and duration are impacted by shifts in the latitude of the mid-level anticyclone and by lower-level gradients and contour orientation. Analyses in the third paper reveal the some of the complex effects of monsoon onset, variations in break timing and duration, and monsoon retreat on fire occurrence. This research contributes to the current knowledge of the NAMS in general and to the specific regional impacts of the monsoon. The results can (1) improve meteorological forecasts through the recognition of synoptic and sub-synoptic patterns related to the NAMS and (2) help fire managers by expanding the current understanding of the regional controls of wildland fire.