Dynamics of Landfalling Atmospheric Rivers over the North Pacific in 30 Years of MERRA Reanalysis

Ashley E. Payne, Gudrun Magnusdottir
2014 Journal of Climate  
A large-scale analysis of landfalling atmospheric rivers (ARs) along the west coast of North America and their association with the upper-tropospheric flow is performed for the extended winter (November-March) for the years 1979-2011 using Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) reanalysis data. The climatology, relationship to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and the Madden-Julian oscillation, and upper-level characteristics of approximately 750 landfalling ARs
more » ... re presented based on the 85th percentile of peak daily moisture flux. AR occurrence along the West Coast is dominated by early season events. In composites of upper-level fields during AR occurrences, certain characteristics stand out irrespective of the tropical climate indices. This suggests that extratropical dynamical processes play a key role in AR dynamics. The influence of the large-scale circulation on AR intensity prior to landfall is examined by objectively selecting an extreme subset of 112 landfalling AR dates representing the 95th percentile of strongest cases. Each landfalling AR date that is identified is traced backward in time using a novel semiautomated tracking algorithm based on spatially and temporally connected organized features in integrated moisture transport. Composites of dynamical fields following the eastward progression of ARs show a close relationship of the location of the jet, Rossby wave propagation, and anticyclonic Rossby wave breaking in the upper troposphere of the eastern Pacific and moisture transport in the lower troposphere. Comparison between the strongest and the weakest ARs within the most extreme subset shows differences in both the intensity of moisture transport and the scale and development of anticyclonic Rossby wave breaking in the eastern Pacific.
doi:10.1175/jcli-d-14-00034.1 fatcat:3ypn4mbvzjce7adnvr5ln22wrq