Daily Precipitation Extreme Events in the Iberian Peninsula and Its Association with Atmospheric Rivers

Alexandre M. Ramos Instituto Dom Luiz, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal

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Ricardo M. Trigo Instituto Dom Luiz, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal

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Margarida L. R. Liberato Instituto Dom Luiz, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, and Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal

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Ricardo Tomé Instituto Dom Luiz, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal

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Abstract

An automated atmospheric rivers (ARs) detection algorithm is used for the North Atlantic Ocean basin that allows the identification and a comprehensive characterization of the major AR events that affected the Iberian Peninsula over the 1948–2012 period. The extreme precipitation days in the Iberian Peninsula and their association (or not) with the occurrence of ARs is analyzed in detail. The extreme precipitation days are ranked by their magnitude and are obtained after considering 1) the area affected and 2) the precipitation intensity. Different rankings are presented for the entire Iberian Peninsula, for Portugal, and for the six largest Iberian river basins (Minho, Duero, Tagus, Guadiana, Guadalquivir, and Ebro) covering the 1950–2008 period. Results show that the association between ARs and extreme precipitation days in the western domains (Portugal, Minho, Tagus, and Duero) is noteworthy, while for the eastern and southern basins (Ebro, Guadiana, and Guadalquivir) the impact of ARs is reduced. In addition, the contribution from ARs toward the extreme precipitation ranking list is not homogenous, playing an overwhelming role for the most extreme precipitation days but decreasing significantly with the less extreme precipitation days. Moreover, and given the narrow nature of the ARs, the location of the ARs over each subdomain is closely related to the occurrence (or not) of extreme precipitation days.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JHM-D-14-0103.s1.

Corresponding author address: Alexandre M. Ramos, Instituto Dom Luiz, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, Edf. C8, Piso 3, Sala 8.3.1, 1749-016 Lisbon, Portugal. E-mail: amramos@fc.ul.pt

Abstract

An automated atmospheric rivers (ARs) detection algorithm is used for the North Atlantic Ocean basin that allows the identification and a comprehensive characterization of the major AR events that affected the Iberian Peninsula over the 1948–2012 period. The extreme precipitation days in the Iberian Peninsula and their association (or not) with the occurrence of ARs is analyzed in detail. The extreme precipitation days are ranked by their magnitude and are obtained after considering 1) the area affected and 2) the precipitation intensity. Different rankings are presented for the entire Iberian Peninsula, for Portugal, and for the six largest Iberian river basins (Minho, Duero, Tagus, Guadiana, Guadalquivir, and Ebro) covering the 1950–2008 period. Results show that the association between ARs and extreme precipitation days in the western domains (Portugal, Minho, Tagus, and Duero) is noteworthy, while for the eastern and southern basins (Ebro, Guadiana, and Guadalquivir) the impact of ARs is reduced. In addition, the contribution from ARs toward the extreme precipitation ranking list is not homogenous, playing an overwhelming role for the most extreme precipitation days but decreasing significantly with the less extreme precipitation days. Moreover, and given the narrow nature of the ARs, the location of the ARs over each subdomain is closely related to the occurrence (or not) of extreme precipitation days.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JHM-D-14-0103.s1.

Corresponding author address: Alexandre M. Ramos, Instituto Dom Luiz, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, Edf. C8, Piso 3, Sala 8.3.1, 1749-016 Lisbon, Portugal. E-mail: amramos@fc.ul.pt

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