Atmospheric Rivers (ARs) are long, narrow filamentary regions of enhanced vertically integrated water vapor transport (IVT) that play an important role in regional water supply and hydrometeorological extremes. Here, an AR detection algorithm is applied to global reanalysis from Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications, version 2 (MERRA-2) to objectively and consistently characterize ARs regionally across the continental United States (CONUS). AR characteristics and associated precipitation are computed at the grid point scale and summarized over the seven US National Climate Assessment (NCA) regions. ARs are most frequent in the fall and winter in the West, spring in the Great Plains, and fall in the Midwest and Northeast. ARs show regional and seasonal variability in basic geometry and IVT. AR IVT composites reveal annually consistent northeastward directed moisture transport from the Pacific Ocean in the West, while moisture transport patterns vary seasonally across the Southern Great Plains and Midwest. Linked AR precipitation characteristics suggest that a substantial proportion of extreme events, defined as the top 5% of three-day precipitation totals, are associated with ARs over many parts of CONUS, including the East. Regional patterns of AR-associated precipitation highlight that seasonally-varying moisture transport and lifting mechanisms differ between the East and the West where orographic lifting is key. Our study aims to contribute a comprehensive and consistent CONUS-wide, regional-scale analysis of ARs in support of ongoing NCA efforts. Given the CONUS-wide role ARs play in extreme precipitation, findings motivate continued study of associated climate change impacts.
A Climatology of Atmospheric Rivers and Associated Precipitation for the Seven US National Climate Assessment Regions
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Slinskey, E. A., P. C. Loikith, D. E. Waliser, B. Guan, and A. Martin, A Climatology of Atmospheric Rivers and Associated Precipitation for the Seven US National Climate Assessment Regions. J. Hydrometeor., doi: https://doi.org/10.1175/JHM-D-20-0039.1.
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