Atmospheric river

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Water vapor imagery of the eastern Pacific Ocean from the GOES 11 satellite, showing a large atmospheric river aimed across California in December 2010. This particularly intense storm system produced as much as 26 in (66 cm) of precipitation in California and up to 17 ft (520 cm) of snowfall in the Sierra Nevada during December 17–22, 2010.
Layered precipitable water imagery of a particularly strong atmospheric river stretching from the Caribbean to the United Kingdom on 5 December 2015, caused by Storm Desmond. A second atmospheric river, which originated from the Philippines, can be seen in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of North America.

An atmospheric river is a narrow corridor or filament of concentrated moisture in the atmosphere. Atmospheric rivers consist of narrow bands of enhanced water vapor transport, typically along the boundaries between large areas of divergent surface air flow, including some frontal zones in association with extratropical cyclones that form over the oceans.[1][2][3][4] Pineapple Express storms are the most commonly represented and recognized type of atmospheric rivers; they are given the name due to the warm water vapor plumes originating over the Hawaiian tropics that follow a path towards California.[5][6]

The term was originally coined by researchers Reginald Newell and Yong Zhu of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the early 1990s, to reflect the narrowness of the moisture plumes involved.[1][3][7] Atmospheric rivers are typically several thousand kilometers long and only a few hundred kilometers wide, and a single one can carry a greater flux of water than the Earth's largest river, the Amazon River.[2] There are typically 3–5 of these narrow plumes present within a hemisphere at any given time. In the current research field of atmospheric rivers the length and width factors described above in conjunction with an integrated water vapor depth greater than 2.0 cm are used as standards to categorize atmospheric river events.[6][8][9][10] However, as data modeling techniques progress, integrated water vapor transport (IVT) is becoming a more common data type used to interpret atmospheric rivers. Its strength lies in its ability to show the transportation of water vapor over multiple time steps instead of a stagnant measurement of water vapor depth in a specific air column (IWV). In addition IVT is more directly attributed to orographic precipitation, a key factor in the production of intense rainfall and subsequent flooding.[10]

Atmospheric rivers have a central role in the global water cycle. On any given day, atmospheric rivers account for over 90% of the global meridional (north-south) water vapor transport, yet they cover less than 10% of the Earth's circumference.[2]

They also are the major cause of extreme precipitation events that cause severe flooding in many mid-latitude, westerly coastal regions of the world, including the West Coast of North America,[11][12][13][8] Western Europe,[14][15][16] and the west coast of North Africa.[3]

The significance atmospheric rivers have for the control of coastal water budgets juxtaposed against their creation of detrimental floods can be constructed and studied by looking at California and the surrounding coastal region of the western United States. In this region atmospheric rivers have contributed 30-50% of total annual rainfall.[17] In conjunction Californian land falling Atmospheric Rivers have been historically associated with approximately all major flooding events.[5][8] The inconsistency of California's rainfall is due to the variability in strength and quantity of these storms, which can produce strenuous effects on California's water budget. The factors described above make California a perfect case study to show the importance of proper water management and prediction of these storms.[6]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Zhu, Yong; Reginald E. Newell (1994). "Atmospheric rivers and bombs" (PDF). Geophysical Research Letters. 21 (18): 1999–2002. Bibcode:1994GeoRL..21.1999Z. doi:10.1029/94GL01710. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-06-10. 
  2. ^ a b c Zhu, Yong; Reginald E. Newell (1998). "A Proposed Algorithm for Moisture Fluxes from Atmospheric Rivers". Monthly Weather Review. 126 (3): 725–735. Bibcode:1998MWRv..126..725Z. doi:10.1175/1520-0493(1998)126<0725:APAFMF>2.0.CO;2. ISSN 1520-0493. 
  3. ^ a b c Kerr, Richard A. (28 July 2006). "Rivers in the Sky Are Flooding The World With Tropical Waters" (PDF). Science. 313 (5786): 435. doi:10.1126/science.313.5786.435. PMID 16873624. 
  4. ^ White, Allen B.; et al. (2009-10-08). The NOAA coastal atmospheric river observatory. 34th Conference on Radar Meteorology. 
  5. ^ a b Dettinger, Michael (2011-06-01). "Climate Change, Atmospheric Rivers, and Floods in California – A Multimodel Analysis of Storm Frequency and Magnitude Changes1". JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association. 47 (3): 514–523. doi:10.1111/j.1752-1688.2011.00546.x. ISSN 1752-1688. 
  6. ^ a b c Dettinger, Michael D.; Ralph, Fred Martin; Das, Tapash; Neiman, Paul J.; Cayan, Daniel R. (2011-03-24). "Atmospheric Rivers, Floods and the Water Resources of California". Water. 3 (2): 445–478. doi:10.3390/w3020445. 
  7. ^ Newell, Reginald E.; Nicholas E. Newell; Yong Zhu; Courtney Scott (1992). "Tropospheric rivers? – A pilot study". Geophys. Res. Lett. 19 (24): 2401–2404. Bibcode:1992GeoRL..19.2401N. doi:10.1029/92GL02916. 
  8. ^ a b c Ralph, F. Martin; et al. (2006). "Flooding on California's Russian River: Role of atmospheric rivers" (PDF). Geophys. Res. Lett. 33 (13): L13801. Bibcode:2006GeoRL..3313801R. doi:10.1029/2006GL026689. 
  9. ^ Guan, Bin; Waliser, Duane E.; Molotch, Noah P.; Fetzer, Eric J.; Neiman, Paul J. (2011-08-24). "Does the Madden–Julian Oscillation Influence Wintertime Atmospheric Rivers and Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada?". Monthly Weather Review. 140 (2): 325–342. doi:10.1175/MWR-D-11-00087.1. ISSN 0027-0644. 
  10. ^ a b Guan, Bin; Waliser, Duane E. (2015-12-27). "Detection of atmospheric rivers: Evaluation and application of an algorithm for global studies". Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. 120 (24): 2015JD024257. doi:10.1002/2015JD024257. ISSN 2169-8996. 
  11. ^ Neiman, Paul J.; et al. (2009-06-08). Landfalling Impacts of Atmospheric Rivers: From Extreme Events to Long-term Consequences (PDF). The 2010 Mountain Climate Research Conference. [permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Neiman, Paul J.; et al. (2008). "Diagnosis of an Intense Atmospheric River Impacting the Pacific Northwest: Storm Summary and Offshore Vertical Structure Observed with COSMIC Satellite Retrievals" (PDF). Monthly Weather Review. 136 (11): 4398–4420. Bibcode:2008MWRv..136.4398N. doi:10.1175/2008MWR2550.1. 
  13. ^ Neiman, Paul J.; et al. (2008). "Meteorological Characteristics and Overland Precipitation Impacts of Atmospheric Rivers Affecting the West Coast of North America Based on Eight Years of SSM/I Satellite Observations" (PDF). Journal of Hydrometeorology. 9 (1): 22–47. Bibcode:2008JHyMe...9...22N. doi:10.1175/2007JHM855.1. 
  14. ^ "Atmospheric river of moisture targets Britain and Ireland". CIMSS Satellite Blog. November 19, 2009. 
  15. ^ Stohl, A.; Forster, C.; Sodermann, H. (March 2008). "Remote sources of water vapor forming precipitation on the Norwegian west coast at 60°N–a tale of hurricanes and an atmospheric river". Journal of Geophysical Research. 113. Bibcode:2008JGRD..113.5102S. doi:10.1029/2007jd009006. 
  16. ^ Lavers, David A,; R. P. Allan; E. F. Wood; G. Villarini; D. J. Brayshaw; A. J. Wade (6 December 2011). "Winter floods in Britain are connected to atmospheric rivers" (PDF). Geophysical Research Letters. 38. Bibcode:2011GeoRL..3823803L. doi:10.1029/2011GL049783. Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  17. ^ Dettinger, Michael D. (2013-06-28). "Atmospheric Rivers as Drought Busters on the U.S. West Coast". Journal of Hydrometeorology. 14 (6): 1721–1732. doi:10.1175/JHM-D-13-02.1. ISSN 1525-755X. 

Further reading

  • Les Rowntree (July 27, 2015). "When It Rains, It Pours: Historic Drought and Atmospheric Rivers". Bay Nature magazine. Retrieved November 9, 2016. 

External links

  • NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory: Atmospheric River Information Page
  • NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory: Atmospheric River Publications List
  • NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory: Atmospheric Rivers (PDF brochure)
  • NOAA News Online: NOAA Researchers Study Rivers of the Sky (2005)
  • SSMI/AMSRE-derived Total Precipitable Water – Global — Animation showing current atmospheric rivers (University of Wisconsin CIMSS)
  • GOES Eastern Pacific water vapor imagery — Naval Research Laboratory Monterey
  • Worse floods ahead for UK as climate warms, say scientists
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