Temporal Analysis of Atmospheric Moisture Pathways in the Northeastern United States

Authors: Natalie Teale*, Rutgers University
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: hydroclimatology, extreme precipitation, Northeastern US, atmospheric rivers, self-organizing maps, reanalysis
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Stones Throw 1 - Granite, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The hydroclimatic regime of the Northeastern United States is projected to change, particularly with regard to extreme precipitation. To fully understand projected changes in extreme precipitation, an understanding of the atmospheric moisture transport fueling the precipitation, as well as the mechanisms triggering precipitation, is required. Currently, little research on atmospheric moisture transport for the northeastern US has been undertaken. This research identifies a climatology of pathways of moisture transport to the northeast and relates those patterns to regional precipitation. In this research, moisture transport patterns are identified using integrated vapor transport (IVT) calculated from daily eastward and northward vertically integrated vapor fluxes from ERA-Interim Reanalysis for 1986—2016. The study region encapsulates the entirety of the eastern United States in order to determine the synoptic-scale conditions surrounding the northeastern US. Patterns are identified using a self-organizing map (SOM) methodology. This methodology produces a set of maps of synoptic-scale moisture transport which can be related to regional precipitation. While some map nodes show little water vapor flux likely to produce precipitation, other nodes show narrow bands of enhanced vapor transport suggesting the influence of atmospheric rivers on the regional hydroclimatic regime. A temporal analysis of the frequency of these patterns, as well as potential changes in the amount of moisture entrained in each of the patterns, provides a more comprehensive look at how the manner of atmospheric moisture delivery relates to observed and projected changes in regional precipitation.

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