Regional impacts of irrigation in Mexico and the Southwestern United States on hydrometeorological fields in the North American monsoon region

Alex Mahalov, Jialun Li, Peter Hyde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


In this study, the impacts of Mexican and southwestern U.S. agricultural and urban irrigation on North American monsoon (NAM) rainfall and other hydrometeorological fields are investigated using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model by implementing an irrigation scheme into the WRF-land surface model. Taking the 2000-12 monsoon seasons as examples, multiple WRF simulations with irrigation are conducted by designing different crops' maximum allowable water depletions (SWm). In comparison with gridded rainfall observations in urban and rural area, the WRF simulations with/without irrigation generally capture the observations very well, but with underestimation along the western slope of the Sierra Madre Occidental (SMO) and overestimation over southern Mexico. The simulations of WRF with irrigation are slightly improved over those without irrigation, compared with rainfall and sounding observations. Sensitivity studies reveal that the impact of irrigation on rainfall varies with location and NAM rainfall variability. Irrigation increases rainfall in eastern Arizona-western New Mexico and in northwestern Mexico because of the irrigation-induced increases of convective available potential energy (CAPE) and precipitable water. Overall, irrigation decreases rainfall in western Arizona, along the western slope of the SMO, and in central Mexico because of irrigation-induced increases of convective inhibition (CIN), decreases of CAPE, and/or large-scale water vapor divergence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2981-2995
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016



  • Model comparison
  • Model evaluation/performance
  • Numerical analysis/modeling
  • Regional models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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