Friday, August 04, 2017

Global Warming Is Fueling Arizona’s Monstrous Monsoons

A haboob dust storm rolls over suburban Phoenix in 2012. (Credit: Jasper Nance/flickr) Click to Enlarge.
Summer in Arizona and throughout the Southwest is monsoon season, which means a daily pattern of afternoon thunderstorms, flash floods, dramatic dust clouds and spectacular displays of lightning over the desert.

As the climate changes, Arizona’s monsoon rainfall is becoming more intense even as daily average rainfall in parts of the state has decreased, according to a new study.  Increasingly, extreme storms threaten the region with more severe floods and giant dust storms called haboobs.

Every summer, rivers of moisture in the lower troposphere — the monsoonal flow — stream into the Southwest from the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf of California.  Nearly every day in midsummer, the sun heats the mountains and the deserts, creating convection.  The rising warm air allows thunderclouds to build during the day before exploding into dramatic electrical storms in the afternoon and evening.

But today’s monsoons aren’t like the ones travelers on Route 66 would have driven through 60 years ago.

Read more at Global Warming Is Fueling Arizona’s Monstrous Monsoons

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