Quantifying the Relationship Between Atmospheric River Origin Conditions and Landfall Temperature

Katerina R. Gonzales, Daniel L. Swain, Heidi A. Roop, Noah S. Diffenbaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The temperature of landfalling atmospheric rivers (ARs) has direct implications for regional water resources. Compared to cool ARs, warm ARs can result in more surface runoff and flooding, less water availability via low snow accumulations and enhanced snowmelt, and greater challenges for storm forecasting and reservoir operations. Based on case studies, ARs with subtropical origin locations and warm origin conditions are assumed to be associated with warmer landfall temperatures—though, to date, this has not yet been demonstrated systematically. We analyze North Pacific ARs that made landfall along the West Coast of North America from 1980 to 2017. We find that ARs originating over the subtropical Pacific Ocean near Hawaii (“Pineapple Express”-type ARs) are indeed 1.5°C warmer and 2 kg/m2 moister in winter than ARs originating elsewhere. We extend this analysis for the full study population of ARs by quantifying AR origin conditions, including the spatial distribution of origin temperature, moisture content, and integrated vapor transport (IVT). We use fixed effects multivariate regression to quantify the relative influence of the origin conditions on landfall temperature. Our regression models show that AR origins with lower latitudes, longer AR lifetimes, and stronger IVT are associated with warmer landfall temperatures and that ARs that start warm generally stay warm. We also find that the phase of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation does not exhibit a consistent relationship with AR landfall temperature. Overall, our results partially affirm—yet also complicate—common assumptions about the role of different origin conditions in landfalling AR temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2022JD037284
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Volume127
Issue number20
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 27 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful for the constructive feedback provided by two anonymous reviewers. Computational resources were provided by CEES and SRCC at Stanford University. KRG and NSD acknowledge support from Stanford University. KRG and HR acknowledge support from the University of Minnesota President's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences Agricultural Research, Education, Extension and Technology Transfer program. DLS was supported by a collaboration between the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles; the Center for Climate and Weather Extremes at the National Center for Atmospheric Research; and the Nature Conservancy of California.

Funding Information:
We are grateful for the constructive feedback provided by two anonymous reviewers. Computational resources were provided by CEES and SRCC at Stanford University. KRG and NSD acknowledge support from Stanford University. KRG and HR acknowledge support from the University of Minnesota President's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences Agricultural Research, Education, Extension and Technology Transfer program. DLS was supported by a collaboration between the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles; the Center for Climate and Weather Extremes at the National Center for Atmospheric Research; and the Nature Conservancy of California.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors.

Keywords

  • atmospheric rivers
  • Pineapple Express
  • West Coast snowpack
  • western U.S. hydroclimate

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