Analysis of Intense Poleward Water Vapor Transports into High Latitudes of Western North America

Alain Roberge Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Search for other papers by Alain Roberge in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
John R. Gyakum Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Search for other papers by John R. Gyakum in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
, and
Eyad H. Atallah Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Search for other papers by Eyad H. Atallah in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Restricted access

Abstract

Significant cool season precipitation along the western coast of North America is often associated with intense water vapor transport (IWVT) from the Pacific Ocean during favorable synoptic-scale flow regimes. These relatively narrow and intense regions of water vapor transport can originate in either the tropical or subtropical oceans, and sometimes have been referred to as Pineapple Express events in previous literature when originating near Hawaii. However, the focus of this paper will be on diagnosing the synoptic-scale signatures of all significant water vapor transport events associated with poleward moisture transport impacting the western coast of Canada, regardless of the exact points of origin of the associated atmospheric river. A trajectory analysis is used to partition the events as a means of creating coherent and meaningful synoptic-scale composites. The results indicate that these IWVT events can be clustered by the general area of origin of the majority of the saturated parcels impacting British Columbia and the Yukon Territories. IWVT events associated with more zonal trajectories are characterized by a strong and mature Aleutian low, whereas IWVT events associated with more meridional trajectories are often characterized by an anticyclone situated along the California or Oregon coastline, and a relatively mature poleward-traveling cyclone, commonly originating in the central North Pacific.

Corresponding author address: Alain Roberge, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, McGill University, 805 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal, QC H3A 2K6, Canada. Email: alain.roberge@mail.mcgill.ca

Abstract

Significant cool season precipitation along the western coast of North America is often associated with intense water vapor transport (IWVT) from the Pacific Ocean during favorable synoptic-scale flow regimes. These relatively narrow and intense regions of water vapor transport can originate in either the tropical or subtropical oceans, and sometimes have been referred to as Pineapple Express events in previous literature when originating near Hawaii. However, the focus of this paper will be on diagnosing the synoptic-scale signatures of all significant water vapor transport events associated with poleward moisture transport impacting the western coast of Canada, regardless of the exact points of origin of the associated atmospheric river. A trajectory analysis is used to partition the events as a means of creating coherent and meaningful synoptic-scale composites. The results indicate that these IWVT events can be clustered by the general area of origin of the majority of the saturated parcels impacting British Columbia and the Yukon Territories. IWVT events associated with more zonal trajectories are characterized by a strong and mature Aleutian low, whereas IWVT events associated with more meridional trajectories are often characterized by an anticyclone situated along the California or Oregon coastline, and a relatively mature poleward-traveling cyclone, commonly originating in the central North Pacific.

Corresponding author address: Alain Roberge, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, McGill University, 805 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal, QC H3A 2K6, Canada. Email: alain.roberge@mail.mcgill.ca

Save
  • Alpert, P., 1986: Mesoscale indexing of the distribution of orographic precipitation over high mountains. J. Climate Appl. Meteor., 25 , 532545.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bao, J-W., Michelson S. A. , Neiman P. J. , Ralph F. M. , and Wilczak J. M. , 2006: Interpretation of enhanced integrated water vapor bands associated with extratropical cyclones: Their formation and connection to tropical water vapor. Mon. Wea. Rev., 134 , 10631080.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bonsal, B., and Wheaton E. , 2005: Atmospheric circulation comparisons between the 2001 and 2002 and the 1961 and 1988 Canadian prairie droughts. Atmos.–Ocean, 43 , 163172.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Browning, K. A., 1986: Conceptual models of precipitation systems. Wea. Forecasting, 1 , 2341.

  • Carlson, T. N., 1980: Airflow through midlatitude cyclones and the comma cloud pattern. Mon. Wea. Rev., 108 , 14981509.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Colle, B. A., and Mass C. F. , 2000: The 5–9 February 1996 flooding event over the Pacific Northwest: Sensitivity studies and evaluation of the MM5 precipitation forecasts. Mon. Wea. Rev., 128 , 593617.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eckhardt, S., Stohl A. , Wernli H. , James P. , Forster C. , and Spichtinger N. , 2004: A 15-year climatology of warm conveyor belts. J. Climate, 17 , 218237.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Howarth, D. A., 1983: Seasonal variations in the vertically integrated water vapor transport fields over the Southern Hemisphere. Mon. Wea. Rev., 111 , 12591272.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Iskenderian, H., 1995: A 10-year climatology of Northern Hemisphere tropical cloud plumes and their composite flow patterns. J. Climate, 8 , 16301637.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kalnay, E., and Coauthors, 1996: The NCEP/NCAR 40-Year Reanalysis Project. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 77 , 437471.

  • Knippertz, P., 2005: Tropical–extratropical interactions associated with an Atlantic tropical plume and subtropical jet streak. Mon. Wea. Rev., 133 , 27592776.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Knippertz, P., and Martin J. E. , 2007: A Pacific water vapor conveyor belt and its relationship to a significant precipitation event in the semiarid southwestern United States. Wea. Forecasting, 22 , 125144.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Knowland, K. E., Gyakum J. R. , and Lin C. A. , 2009: A study of the meteorological conditions associated with anomalously early and anomalously late openings of a Northwest Territories winter road. Arctic, in press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Koch, S. E., desJardins M. , and Kocin P. J. , 1983: An interactive Barnes objective map analysis scheme for use with satellite and conventional data. J. Climate Appl. Meteor., 22 , 14871503.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kuhnel, I., 1989: Tropical–extratropical cloudband climatology based on satellite data. Int. J. Climatol., 9 , 441463.

  • Kuo, Y. H., and Anthes R. A. , 1984: Mesoscale budgets of heat and water vapor in a convective system over the central United States. Mon. Wea. Rev., 112 , 14821497.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lackmann, G. M., and Gyakum J. R. , 1999: Heavy cold-season precipitation in the northwestern United States: Synoptic climatology and an analysis of the flood of 17–18 January 1986. Wea. Forecasting, 14 , 687700.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lackmann, G. M., Gyakum J. R. , and Benoit R. , 1998: Water vapor transport diagnosis of a wintertime precipitation event in the Mackenzie River basin. Mon. Wea. Rev., 126 , 668692.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McGuirk, J. P., Thompson A. H. , and Smith N. R. , 1987: Moisture bursts over the tropical Pacific Ocean. Mon. Wea. Rev., 115 , 787798.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McGuirk, J. P., Thompson A. H. , and Schaefer J. R. , 1988: An eastern Pacific tropical plume. Mon. Wea. Rev., 116 , 25052521.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mo, K. C., and Higgins R. W. , 1996: Large-scale atmospheric water vapor transport as evaluated in the NCEP/NCAR and the NASA/DAO reanalyses. J. Climate, 9 , 15311545.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Neiman, P. J., Ralph F. M. , White A. B. , Kingsmill D. E. , and Persson P. O. G. , 2002: The statistical relationship between upslope flow and rainfall in California’s coastal mountains: Observations during CALJET. Mon. Wea. Rev., 130 , 14681492.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Neiman, P. J., Ralph F. M. , Wick G. A. , Lundquist J. D. , and Dettinger M. D. , 2008: Meteorological characteristics and overland precipitation impacts of atmospheric rivers affecting the west coast of North America based on eight years of SSM/I satellite observations. J. Hydrometeor., 9 , 2247.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nkemdirim, L., and Weber L. , 1999: Comparison between the droughts of the 1930s and the 1980s in the southern prairies of Canada. J. Climate, 12 , 24342450.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ralph, F. M., Neiman P. J. , and Wick G. A. , 2004: Satellite and CALJET aircraft observations of atmospheric rivers over the eastern North Pacific Ocean during the winter of 1997/98. Mon. Wea. Rev., 132 , 17211745.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ralph, F. M., Neiman P. J. , Wick G. A. , Gutman S. I. , Dettinger M. D. , Cayan D. R. , and White A. B. , 2006: Flooding on California’s Russian River: Role of atmospheric rivers. Geophys. Res. Lett., 33 , L13801. doi:10.1029/2006GL026689.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Reap, R. M., 1972: An operational three-dimensional trajectory model. J. Appl. Meteor., 11 , 11931202.

  • Smirnov, V. V., and Moore G. W. K. , 1999: Spatial and temporal structure of atmospheric water vapor transport in the Mackenzie River basin. J. Climate, 12 , 681696.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Smirnov, V. V., and Moore G. W. K. , 2001: Short-term and seasonal variability of the atmospheric water vapor transport through the Mackenzie River basin. J. Hydrometeor., 2 , 441452.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stohl, A., Forster C. , and Sodemann H. , 2008: Remote sources of water vapor forming precipitation on the Norwegian west coast at 60°N—A tale of hurricanes and an atmospheric river. J. Geophys. Res., 113 , D05102. doi:10.1029/2007JD009006.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Szeto, K. K., 2008: On the extreme variability and change of cold-season temperatures in northwest Canada. J. Climate, 21 , 94113.

  • Thepenier, R. M., and Cruette D. , 1981: Formation of cloud bands associated with the American subtropical jet stream and their interaction with midlatitude synoptic disturbances reaching Europe. Mon. Wea. Rev., 109 , 22092220.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wernli, H., and Davies H. C. , 1997: A Lagrangian-based analysis of extratropical cyclones. I: The method and some applications. Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 123 , 467489.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhu, Y., and Newell R. E. , 1998: A proposed algorithm for water vapor fluxes from atmospheric rivers. Mon. Wea. Rev., 126 , 725735.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 455 182 10
PDF Downloads 263 75 4