Annual Variation of Midlatitude Precipitation

Tsing-Chang Chen Atmospheric Science Program, Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

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Wan-Ru Huang Atmospheric Science Program, Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

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Eugene S. Takle Atmospheric Science Program, Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

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Abstract

Annual variation of midlatitude precipitation and its maintenance through divergent water vapor flux were explored by the use of hydrological variables from three reanalyses [(NCEP–NCAR, ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA), and Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS-1)] and two global precipitation datasets [Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Merged Analysis of Precipitation (CMAP) and Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP)]. Two annual variation patterns of midlatitude precipitation were identified:

  1. Tropical–midlatitude precipitation contrast: Midlatitude precipitation along storm tracks over the oceans attains its maximum in winter and its minimum in summer opposite to that over the tropical continents.

  2. Land–ocean precipitation contrast: The annual precipitation variation between the oceans and the continent masses exhibits a pronounced seesaw.

The annual variation of precipitation along storm tracks of both hemispheres follows that of the convergence of transient water vapor flux. On the other hand, the land–ocean precipitation contrast in the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes is primarily maintained by the annual seesaw between the divergence of stationary water vapor flux over the western oceans and the convergence of this water vapor flux over the eastern oceans during winter. The pattern is reversed during the summer. This divergence–convergence exchange of stationary water vapor flux is coupled with the annual evolution of upper-level ridges over continents and troughs over the oceans.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Tsing-Chang (Mike) Chen, Atmospheric Science Program, Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, 3010 Agronomy Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011. Email: tmchen@iastate.edu

Abstract

Annual variation of midlatitude precipitation and its maintenance through divergent water vapor flux were explored by the use of hydrological variables from three reanalyses [(NCEP–NCAR, ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA), and Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS-1)] and two global precipitation datasets [Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Merged Analysis of Precipitation (CMAP) and Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP)]. Two annual variation patterns of midlatitude precipitation were identified:

  1. Tropical–midlatitude precipitation contrast: Midlatitude precipitation along storm tracks over the oceans attains its maximum in winter and its minimum in summer opposite to that over the tropical continents.

  2. Land–ocean precipitation contrast: The annual precipitation variation between the oceans and the continent masses exhibits a pronounced seesaw.

The annual variation of precipitation along storm tracks of both hemispheres follows that of the convergence of transient water vapor flux. On the other hand, the land–ocean precipitation contrast in the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes is primarily maintained by the annual seesaw between the divergence of stationary water vapor flux over the western oceans and the convergence of this water vapor flux over the eastern oceans during winter. The pattern is reversed during the summer. This divergence–convergence exchange of stationary water vapor flux is coupled with the annual evolution of upper-level ridges over continents and troughs over the oceans.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Tsing-Chang (Mike) Chen, Atmospheric Science Program, Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, 3010 Agronomy Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011. Email: tmchen@iastate.edu

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