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Véronique Ducrocq, Isabelle Braud, Silvio Davolio, Rossella Ferretti, Cyrille Flamant, Agustin Jansa, Norbert Kalthoff, Evelyne Richard, Isabelle Taupier-Letage, Pierre-Alain Ayral, Sophie Belamari, Alexis Berne, Marco Borga, Brice Boudevillain, Olivier Bock, Jean-Luc Boichard, Marie-Noëlle Bouin, Olivier Bousquet, Christophe Bouvier, Jacopo Chiggiato, Domenico Cimini, Ulrich Corsmeier, Laurent Coppola, Philippe Cocquerez, Eric Defer, Julien Delanoë, Paolo Di Girolamo, Alexis Doerenbecher, Philippe Drobinski, Yann Dufournet, Nadia Fourrié, Jonathan J. Gourley, Laurent Labatut, Dominique Lambert, Jérôme Le Coz, Frank S. Marzano, Gilles Molinié, Andrea Montani, Guillaume Nord, Mathieu Nuret, Karim Ramage, William Rison, Odile Roussot, Frédérique Said, Alfons Schwarzenboeck, Pierre Testor, Joël Van Baelen, Béatrice Vincendon, Montserrat Aran, and Jorge Tamayo

The Mediterranean region is frequently affected by heavy precipitation events associated with flash floods, landslides, and mudslides that cause hundreds of millions of euros in damages per year and, often, casualties. A major field campaign was devoted to heavy precipitation and f lash f loods from 5 September to 6 November 2012 within the framework of the 10-yr international Hydrological Cycle in the Mediterranean Experiment (HyMeX) dedicated to the hydrological cycle and related high-impact events. The 2-month field campaign took place over the northwestern Mediterranean Sea and its surrounding coastal regions in France, Italy, and Spain. The observation strategy of the field experiment was devised to improve knowledge of the following key components leading to heavy precipitation and flash flooding in the region: 1) the marine atmospheric f lows that transport moist and conditionally unstable air toward the coasts, 2) the Mediterranean Sea acting as a moisture and energy source, 3) the dynamics and microphysics of the convective systems producing heavy precipitation, and 4) the hydrological processes during flash floods. This article provides the rationale for developing this first HyMeX field experiment and an overview of its design and execution. Highlights of some intensive observation periods illustrate the potential of the unique datasets collected for process understanding, model improvement, and data assimilation.

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