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Characterization of the relationship between water vapor fluxes and the precipitation regime of the eastern US

Authors: Natalie Teale*, Rutgers University
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: hydroclimatology, precipitation, water vapor, Eastern US, Northeastern US
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Changes in the hydroclimatic regime, particularly in heavy precipitation, have been observed in the northeastern US in recent decades. Considerable research has been devoted to understanding hydroclimatic changes in the context of climate change, largely suggesting that changes in atmospheric water vapor content and moisture source distances may impact regional precipitation regimes. However, little research has been done investigating if and how these theoretical changes in water vapor transport are manifested in the regional precipitation regime of the northeastern US. This research therefore develops a climatology of water vapor fluxes in the Northeast and associates this moisture flux climatology to regional precipitation to determine how the observed changes in precipitation may be linked to changes in atmospheric moisture transport patterns. Moisture transport patterns are identified through a self-organizing map (SOM) methodology ingesting vertically-integrated water vapor transport (IVT) calculated from ERA-Interim Reanalysis products from 1979—2017 for the eastern US. A suite of spatial and temporal statistics are employed to characterize the moisture fluxes and synthesize the patterns into a cohesive regional climatology. These fluxes are then related to daily precipitation from PRISM to investigate the spatiotemporal variability in precipitation produced by these fluxes. While some water vapor fluxes frequently produce heavy precipitation, others are less-frequently associated with precipitation. Analyses show that these relationships vary spatially across the eastern US. By examining trends in the temporal frequency of these water vapor transport patterns, this approach discerns the specific moisture fluxes which are associated with changes in precipitation in the Northeast.

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