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R. C. Blamey, A. M. Ramos, R. M. Trigo, R. Tomé, and C. J. C. Reason

Abstract

A climatology of atmospheric rivers (ARs) impinging on the west coast of South Africa (29°–34.5°S) during the austral winter months (April–September) was developed for the period 1979–2014 using an automated detection algorithm and two reanalysis products as input. The two products show relatively good agreement, with 10–15 persistent ARs (lasting 18 h or longer) occurring on average per winter and nearly two-thirds of these systems occurring poleward of 35°S. The relationship between persistent AR activity and winter rainfall is demonstrated using South African Weather Service rainfall data. Most stations positioned in areas of high topography contained the highest percentage of rainfall contributed by persistent ARs, whereas stations downwind, to the east of the major topographic barriers, had the lowest contributions. Extreme rainfall days in the region are also ranked by their magnitude and spatial extent. The results suggest that although persistent ARs are important contributors to heavy rainfall events, they are not necessarily a prerequisite. It is found that around 70% of the top 50 daily winter rainfall extremes in South Africa were in some way linked to ARs (both persistent and nonpersistent). Overall, the findings of this study support similar investigations on ARs in the North Atlantic and North Pacific.

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D. Barriopedro, P. M. Sousa, R. M. Trigo, R. García-Herrera, and A. M. Ramos
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Alexandre M. Ramos, Ricardo M. Trigo, Margarida L. R. Liberato, and Ricardo Tomé

Abstract

An automated atmospheric rivers (ARs) detection algorithm is used for the North Atlantic Ocean basin that allows the identification and a comprehensive characterization of the major AR events that affected the Iberian Peninsula over the 1948–2012 period. The extreme precipitation days in the Iberian Peninsula and their association (or not) with the occurrence of ARs is analyzed in detail. The extreme precipitation days are ranked by their magnitude and are obtained after considering 1) the area affected and 2) the precipitation intensity. Different rankings are presented for the entire Iberian Peninsula, for Portugal, and for the six largest Iberian river basins (Minho, Duero, Tagus, Guadiana, Guadalquivir, and Ebro) covering the 1950–2008 period. Results show that the association between ARs and extreme precipitation days in the western domains (Portugal, Minho, Tagus, and Duero) is noteworthy, while for the eastern and southern basins (Ebro, Guadiana, and Guadalquivir) the impact of ARs is reduced. In addition, the contribution from ARs toward the extreme precipitation ranking list is not homogenous, playing an overwhelming role for the most extreme precipitation days but decreasing significantly with the less extreme precipitation days. Moreover, and given the narrow nature of the ARs, the location of the ARs over each subdomain is closely related to the occurrence (or not) of extreme precipitation days.

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S. Jerez, R. M. Trigo, S. M. Vicente-Serrano, D. Pozo-Vázquez, R. Lorente-Plazas, J. Lorenzo-Lacruz, F. Santos-Alamillos, and J. P. Montávez

Abstract

Europe is investing considerably in renewable energies for a sustainable future, with both Iberian countries (Portugal and Spain) promoting significantly new hydropower, wind, and solar plants. The climate variability in this area is highly controlled by just a few large-scale teleconnection modes. However, the relationship between these modes and the renewable climate-dependent energy resources has not yet been established in detail. The objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) on the interannual variability of the main and primary renewable energy resources in Iberia. This is achieved through a holistic assessment that is based on a 10-km-resolution climate simulation spanning the period 1959–2007 that provides physically consistent data of the various magnitudes involved. A monthly analysis for the extended winter (October–March) months shows that negative NAO phases enhance wind speeds (10%–15%) and, thereby, wind power (estimated around 30% at typical wind-turbine altitudes) and hydropower resources (with changes in precipitation exceeding 100% and implying prolonged responses in reservoir storage and release throughout the year), while diminishing the solar potential (10%–20%). Opposite signals were also sporadically identified, being well explained when taking into account the orography and the prevailing wind direction during both NAO phases. An additional analysis using real wind, hydropower, and solar power generation data further confirms the strong signature of the NAO.

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Cesar Azorin-Molina, Sergio M. Vicente-Serrano, Tim R. McVicar, Sonia Jerez, Arturo Sanchez-Lorenzo, Juan-I. López-Moreno, Jesus Revuelto, Ricardo M. Trigo, Joan A. Lopez-Bustins, and Fátima Espírito-Santo

Abstract

Near-surface wind speed trends recorded at 67 land-based stations across Spain and Portugal for 1961–2011, also focusing on the 1979–2008 subperiod, were analyzed. Wind speed series were subjected to quality control, reconstruction, and homogenization using a novel procedure that incorporated the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5)-simulated series as reference. The resultant series show a slight downward trend for both 1961–2011 (−0.016 m s−1 decade−1) and 1979–2008 (−0.010 m s−1 decade−1). However, differences between seasons with declining values in winter and spring, and increasing trends in summer and autumn, were observed. Even though wind stilling affected 77.8% of the stations in winter and 66.7% in spring, only roughly 40% of the declining trends were statistically significant at the p < 0.10 level. On the contrary, increasing trends appeared in 51.9% of the stations in summer and 57.4% in autumn, with also around 40% of the positive trends statistically significant at the p < 0.10 level. In this article, the authors also investigated (i) the possible impact of three atmospheric indices on the observed trends and (ii) the role played by the urbanization growth in the observed decline. An accurate homogenization and assessment of the long-term trends of wind speed is crucial for many fields such as wind energy (e.g., power generation) and agriculture–hydrology (e.g., evaporative demand).

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