Monsoon Recap - August 2019
Assistant Research Professor, Arizona Institutes for Resilience
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, School of Anthropology
Ben McMahan joined CLIMAS after completing a PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of Arizona. His dissertation research was on hurricanes and disaster on the U.S. Gulf Coast, where he focused on
- Human interactions in dynamic social and environmental contexts,
- Risk perception and landscape changes during and after disaster, and
- Social network and policy responses to governance issues related to the acute threats of disaster; as they layer onto long term environmental issues and landscape scale changes.
He was also a key contributor to UA Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA) collaborative/trans-disciplinary research on the social, economic, and environmental impacts of the US Oil and Gas industry (2007-2011), and the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (2010-2013).
At CLIMAS, his research activities included tracing how climate information is incorporated into regional decision maker networks, leading CLIMAS team research on the risks and effects of climate extremes, and collaborative research on the effects of climate variability on phenology and temporality of native plants in the region. He was also responsible for working to develop collaborative research opportunities and outreach efforts at CLIMAS, and as part of ongoing assessment and science/strategic planning, he contributed to strategic planning used to prioritize future research and outreach directions. He also coordinated publication of the monthly Southwest Climate Outlook, produced the Southwest Climate Podcasts, and was the online editor for CLIMAS’ blog - Southwestern Oscillations.
Given the spatial variability of the monsoon, single weather stations are an imperfect measure, but they do provide an opportunity to track long term averages compared to the current year. Figure 1 compares 2019 precipitation to date with 2018 and climatology. This reveals 2019 is lagging behind average in terms of precipitation and is also a significant departure from 2018’s widespread activity by mid-August. Dewpoint temperatures and daily precipitation for the same five stations (Fig. 2) illustrate that while increased dewpoint temperatures do not guarantee monsoon precipitation, it is rare to see monsoon precipitation in the absence of these elevated dewpoint temperatures. Regional monsoon precipitation totals (Fig. 3) demonstrate variable precipitation in the Southwest, with much of the region lagging behind average accumulated precipitation through mid-July (Fig. 4). Percent of days with rain highlight areas with more regular rainfall events (Fig. 5). Mid-August is the approximate monsoon midpoint*, so there is time for below average areas to catch up, since a relatively late start does not necessarily mean decreased activity over the entire monsoon.
- Figures 1-2 - Climate Assessment for the Southwest - climas.arizona.edu
- Figures 3-5 - Climate Science Applications Program - cals.arizona.edu/climate/misc/SWMonsoonMaps/current/swus_monsoon.html