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Hidetaka Hirata
,
Hatsuki Fujinami
,
Hironari Kanamori
,
Yota Sato
,
Masaya Kato
,
Rijan B. Kayastha
,
Madan L. Shrestha
, and
Koji Fujita

Abstract

The processes underlying heavy rainfall in the higher elevations of the Himalayas are still not well known despite their importance. Here, we examine the detailed process causing a heavy rainfall event, observed by our rain gauge network in the Rolwaling valley, eastern Nepal Himalayas, using ERA5 and a regional cloud-resolving numerical simulation. Heavy precipitation (112 mm day−1) was observed on 8 July 2019 at Dongang (2790 m above sea level). Most of the precipitation (81 mm) occurred during 1900–2300 local time (LT). The synoptic-scale environment is characterized by a monsoon low pressure system (LPS) over northeastern India. The LPS lifted moisture upward from the lower troposphere and then horizontally transported it into the eastern Nepal Himalayas within the middle troposphere, increasing the content of the water vapor around Dongang. A mesoscale convective system passed over Dongang around the time of the intense precipitation. The numerical simulation showed that surface heat fluxes prevailed under the middle tropospheric (∼500 hPa) southeasterly flow associated with the LPS around a mountain ridge on the upwind side of Dongang until 1900 LT, enhancing convective instability. Topographic lifting led to the release of the enhanced instability, which triggered the development of a mesoscale precipitation system. The southeasterly flow pushed the precipitation system northward, which then passed over Dongang during 2000–2200 LT, resulting in heavy precipitation. Thus, we conclude that the heavy precipitation came from the multiscale processes such as three-dimensional moisture transport driven by the LPS and the diurnal variation in heat fluxes from the land surface.

Significance Statement

Precipitation in the Himalayas is closely related to the hydrological cycle, floods, and landslide disasters in South Asia. Thus, elucidating the features of precipitation in the Himalayas is important. This study explored multiscale processes leading to a heavy precipitation event that was observed on 8 July 2019 at Dongang in the Rolwaling valley of the eastern Nepal Himalayas. We identified new processes producing heavy precipitation in the Himalayas: the three-dimensional synoptic-scale moisture transport driven by a monsoon low pressure system and the effect of the diurnal variation in heat fluxes from the land surface on the development and movement of a mesoscale precipitation system causing heavy precipitation. These findings broaden our understanding of heavy precipitation in the Himalayas.

Open access
Lindsey J. M. Hayden
,
Jackson Tan
,
David T. Bolvin
, and
George J. Huffman

Abstract

The diurnal cycle of precipitation is highly regional and is typically a product of multiple competing, highly localized effects. The diurnal cycle in regions such as the Amazon and the Maritime Continent are of particular interest, due to the complex coastal and terrain effects. The high spatial and temporal resolution provided by the Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission (IMERG) dataset are used in this study to examine the fine-scale features of the diurnal cycle in these regions. Using an 18-yr (2000–18) record of IMERG precipitation observations, diurnal and semidiurnal phase and amplitude are calculated using a fast Fourier transform (FFT) method on half-hourly averaged precipitation at 0.1° × 0.1°. Clear patterns of precipitation phase propagation with distance from shore are shown over both regions, with the diurnal phase and amplitude exhibiting a strong dependence on the distance from the coastline. Semidiurnal cycles are generally weaker than the diurnal cycle except in some isolated locations. Similar analysis is also conducted on the ERA5 reanalysis data in order to evaluate the model’s representation of the precipitation diurnal cycle. The model captures the broadscale patterns of diurnal variability but does not capture all the fine-scale patterns nor the exact timing that is observed by IMERG. Comparisons are also made to a long-record Ku radar dataset created by combining Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and GPM observations, thus providing an additional point of comparison for the timing of the ERA5 precipitation peak, since the timing precipitation can be different, even in between observational datasets.

Open access
Free access
C. Cammalleri
and
A. Toreti

Abstract

Drought events evolve simultaneously in space and time; hence, a proper characterization of an event requires the tracking of its full spatiotemporal evolution. Here we present a generalized algorithm for the tracking of drought events based on a three-dimensional application of the DBSCAN (density-based spatial clustering of applications with noise) clustering approach. The need for a generalized and flexible algorithm is dictated by the absence of a unanimous consensus on the definition of a drought event, which often depends on the target of the study. The proposed methodology introduces a set of six parameters that control both the spatial and the temporal connectivity between cells under drought conditions, also accounting for the local intensity of the drought itself. The capability of the algorithm to adapt to different drought definitions is tested successfully over a study case in Australia in the period 2017–20 using a set of standardized precipitation index (SPI) data derived from the ERA5 precipitation reanalysis. Insights on the possible range of variability of the model parameters, as well as on their effects on the delineation of drought events, are provided for the case of meteorological droughts in order to incentivize further applications of the methodology.

Open access
Ju-Yu Chen
,
Ricardo Reinoso-Rondinel
,
Silke Trömel
,
Clemens Simmer
, and
Alexander Ryzhkov

Abstract

The demand of accurate, near-real-time radar-based quantitative precipitation estimation (QPE), which is key to feed hydrological models and enable reliable flash flood predictions, was highlighted again by the disastrous floods following after an intense stratiform precipitation field passing western Germany on 14 July 2021. Three state-of-the-art rainfall algorithms based on reflectivity Z, specific differential phase K DP, and specific attenuation A were applied to observations of four polarimetric C-band radars operated by the German Meteorological Service [DWD (Deutscher Wetterdienst)]. Due to the large vertical gradients of precipitation below the melting layer suggesting warm-rain processes, all QPE products significantly underestimate surface precipitation. We propose two mitigation approaches: (i) vertical profile (VP) corrections for Z and K DP and (ii) gap filling using observations of a local X-band radar, JuXPol. We also derive rainfall retrievals from vertically pointing Micro Rain Radar (MRR) profiles, which indirectly take precipitation gradients in the lower few hundreds of meters into account. When evaluated with DWD rain gauge measurements, those retrievals result in pronounced improvements, especially for the A-based retrieval partly due to its lower sensitivity to the variability of raindrop size distributions. The VP correction further improves QPE by reducing the normalized root-mean-square error by 23% and the normalized mean bias by 20%. With the use of gap-filling JuXPol data, the A-based retrieval gives the lowest errors followed by the Z-based retrievals in combination with VP corrections. The presented algorithms demonstrate the increased value of radar-based QPE application for warm-rain events and related potential flash flooding warnings.

Open access
Ian M. Howard
,
David W. Stahle
,
Michael D. Dettinger
,
Cody Poulsen
,
F. Martin Ralph
,
Max C. A. Torbenson
, and
Alexander Gershunov

Abstract

The variability of water year precipitation and selected blue oak tree-ring chronologies in California are both dominated by heavy precipitation delivered during just a few days each year. These heavy precipitation events can spell the difference between surplus or deficit water supply and elevated flood risk. Some blue oak chronologies are highly correlated with water year precipitation (r = 0.84) but are equally well correlated (r = 0.82) with heavy precipitation totals ≥25.4 mm (1 in., ≈95th percentile of daily totals, 1949–2004). The blue oak correlation with nonheavy daily totals is much weaker (<25.4 mm; r = 0.55). Consequently, some blue oak chronologies represent selective proxies for the temporal and spatial variability of heavy precipitation totals and are used to reconstruct the amount and number of days with heavy precipitation in northern California from 1582 to 2021. Instrumental and reconstructed heavy precipitation totals are strongly correlated with gridded atmospheric river–related precipitation over the western United States, especially in central California. Spectral analysis indicates that instrumental heavy precipitation totals may be dominated by high-frequency variability and the nonheavy totals by low-frequency variance. The reconstruction of heavy precipitation is coherent with instrumental heavy totals across the frequency domain and include concentrations of variance at ENSO and biennial frequencies. Return period analyses calculated using instrumental heavy precipitation totals are representative of the return periods in the blue oak reconstruction despite the large differences in series length. Decadal surges in the amount, frequency, and interannual volatility of heavy precipitation totals are reconstructed, likely reflecting episodes of elevated atmospheric river activity in the past.

Significance Statement

Tree-ring chronologies of blue oak are highly correlated with precipitation delivered to northern California during just the heaviest days of precipitation each year. The reconstruction of heavy precipitation indicates decadal episodes with a high frequency of extreme precipitation. These episodes of frequent heavy precipitation likely arose because of elevated atmospheric river activity and are relevant to the analysis of water supply and flood hazard in California.

Open access
Shusen Wang
,
Junhua Li
, and
Hazen A. J. Russell

Abstract

Developing effective methods for estimating regional-scale surface water storage change (ΔSW) has become increasingly important for water resources studies and environmental impact assessment. Three methods for estimating monthly ΔSW are proposed in this study, of which one is based on land surface runoff and two that use water body water budgets. Water areas observed by Landsat satellites for Canada’s entire landmass are used for evaluation of the results. The surface runoff method achieved the least satisfactory results, with large errors in the cold season or dry regions. The two water-budget methods demonstrated significant improvements, particularly when water area dynamics is considered in the estimation of the water body water budget. The three methods performed consistently across different climate regions in the country and showed better correlations with observations over wet climate regions than over dry regions with poorly connected hydrological system. The results also showed the impact of glacier and permanent snow melts over the Rocky Mountains on basin-scale surface water dynamics. The methods and outputs from this study can be used for calibrating and validating hydrological and climate models, assessing climate change and human disturbance impacts on regional water resources, and filling the ΔSW data gaps in GRACE-based total water storage decompositions studies.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to develop and evaluate methods for estimating regional-scale surface water storage change. This is important because information on surface water dynamics is limited for water resources studies and environmental impact assessment. Our study makes available two new methods which significantly improve on surface water storage estimation from the traditional runoff model. A guide on controls of surface water dynamics is provided for regions under various hydroclimate and physiographic–hydraulic conditions and reveals the influence of glacier melt on surface water variations.

Open access
Free access
Amirkhamza Murodov
,
Lan Cuo
,
Ning Li
,
Davlatkhudzha Murodov
,
Mei Hou
, and
Gulfam Hussain

Abstract

The Amu Darya contributed 70% of the flow to the Aral Sea in central Asia before the 1960s, when the Amu Darya streamflow to the Aral Sea started to dwindle. The severe environmental and socioeconomic disaster happened mainly due to intensified water abstraction with the backdrop of climate change. However, knowledge of up to the most recent extreme climate conditions and their changes, as well as their relations to streamflow in the basin, is still lacking. This study aims to understand extreme hydrometeorological conditions and their changes, as well as their relations in the past several decades, especially in the upper Amu Darya basin. The spatial patterns of the means of all extreme temperature indices followed the elevation gradient. The majority of the basin showed an increasing trend in extreme warm events but a decreasing trend in extreme cold events. The north of the upper basin had over 1000 mm annual precipitation, and the east had less than 300 mm annual precipitation. Overall, the upper Amu Darya basin underwent a wetting and warming annual trend. Annual streamflow in the upper subbasins was less than 750 m3 s−1, but together they produced over 1500 m3 s−1 flow in the middle reach and basin outlet. Streamflow change varied among subbasins. Correlations between climatic factors and streamflow at annual time steps were weak but distinct at monthly time steps with lagged effects. In highland subbasins with high coverage of glaciers and snow, temperature minima and maxima impacts were opposite and overwhelmed precipitation, whereas in lowland subbasins, precipitation was more important.

Free access
Kai Yang
and
Chenghai Wang

Abstract

Frozen soil distributed over alpine cold regions causes obvious changes in the soil hydrothermal regime and influences the water–heat exchanges between land and atmosphere. In this study, by comparing the effects of snow cover anomalies and frozen soil thawing anomalies on the soil hydrothermal regime, the impact of the frozen soil thawing anomalies in spring on precipitation in early summer over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) was investigated via diagnostic analysis and model simulations. The results show that a delay (advance) in the anomalies of frozen soil thawing in spring can induce distinct cold (warm) anomalies in the soil temperature in the eastern TP. These soil temperature cold (warm) anomalies further weaken (enhance) the surface diabatic heating over the mideastern TP; meanwhile, the anomalies in the western TP are inconspicuous. Compared to the albedo effect of snow cover anomalies, impacts of frozen soil thawing anomalies on soil hydrothermal regime and surface diabatic heating can persist longer from April to June. Corresponding to the anomalous delay (advance) of frozen soil thawing, the monsoon cell is weakened (enhanced) over the southern and northern TP, resulting in less (more) water vapor advection over the eastern TP and more (less) water vapor advection over the southwestern TP. This difference in water vapor advection induces a west–east reversed pattern of precipitation anomalies in June over the TP. The results have potential for improving our understanding of the interactions between the cryosphere and climate in cold regions.

Significance Statement

Frozen soil and snow are widely distributed over alpine and high-latitude cold regions, and their feedbacks to climate have attracted much attention. The purpose of this study is to investigate the role of frozen soil in effects of snow cover anomalies on surface diabatic heating and its feedback to subsequent precipitation over the Tibetan Plateau. The results highlight that frozen soil modulates the effect of snow cover anomalies on the soil hydrothermal regime from April to June and interseasonal variations of frozen soil thawing anomaly zones result in a thermal contrast between the western and eastern Tibetan Plateau, which further lead to a reversed pattern of early summer precipitation anomalies over the Tibetan Plateau. These findings emphasize the role of frozen soil in land–atmosphere interactions.

Open access