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Shuaibing Shao
Xin-Min Zeng
Ning Wang
Irfan Ullah
, and
Haishen Lv


Currently, there is a lack of investigating moisture sources for precipitation over the upstream catchment of the Three Gorges Dam (UCTGD), the world’s largest dam. Using the dynamical recycling model (DRM), trajectory frequency method (TFM), and the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR), this study quantifies moisture sources and transport paths for UCTGD summer precipitation from 1980 to 2009 based on two categories of sources: region-specific and source-direction. Overall, the land and oceanic sources contribute roughly 63% and 37%, respectively, of the moisture to UCTGD summer precipitation. UCTGD and the Indian Ocean are the most important land and oceanic sources, respectively, in which the southern Indian Ocean with over 10% of moisture contribution was overlooked previously. Under the influence of the Asian monsoon and prevailing westerlies, the land contribution decreases to 57.3% in June, then gradually increases to 68.8%. It is found that for drought years with enhanced southwest monsoon, there is a weakening of the moisture contribution from the C-shaped belt along the Arabian Sea, South Asia, and UCTGD, and vice versa. TFM results show three main moisture transport paths and highlight the importance of moisture from the southwest. Comparison analysis indicates that, generally, sink regions are more affected by land evaporation with their locations more interior to the center of the mainland. Furthermore, correlations between moisture contributions and indices of general circulation and sea surface temperature are investigated, suggesting that these indices affect precipitation by influencing moisture contributions of the subregions. All of these are useful for comprehending the causes of summer UCTGD precipitation.

Significance Statement

Quantitative research on the moisture sources of summer precipitation has been implemented for the upstream catchment of the Three Gorges Dam (UCTGD), which is of particular hydrological significance but has not been investigated previously. The dynamical recycling model (DRM)–trajectory frequency method (TFM) approach is used to quantify and interpret the results of the moisture sources both in different specific subregions and directions, which produce more meaningful results than a single method for the areal division of moisture sources. Furthermore, antecedent indices that significantly influence the following moisture contributions of the subregions and then summer UCTGD precipitation are studied in terms of large-scale general circulation indices, which would help our understanding of precipitation forecast for UCTGD.

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