Characteristics of Landfalling Atmospheric Rivers Inferred from Satellite...

Matrosov, S. (2013), Characteristics of Landfalling Atmospheric Rivers Inferred from Satellite Observations over the Eastern North Pacific Ocean, Mon. Wea. Rev., 141, 3757-3768, doi:10.1175/MWR-D-12-00324.1.

Narrow elongated regions of moisture transport known as atmospheric rivers (ARs), which affect the West Coast of North America, were simultaneously observed over the eastern North Pacific Ocean by the polarorbiting CloudSat and Aqua satellites. The presence, location, and extent of precipitation regions associated with ARs and their properties were retrieved from measurements taken at 265 satellite crossings of AR formations during the three consecutive cool seasons of the 2006–09 period. Novel independent retrievals of AR mean rain rate, precipitation regime types, and precipitation ice region properties from satellite measurements were performed. Relations between widths of precipitation bands and AR thicknesses (as defined by the integrated water vapor threshold of 20 mm) were quantified. Precipitation regime partitioning indicated that ‘‘cold’’ precipitation with a significant amount of melting precipitating ice and ‘‘warm’’ rainfall conditions with limited or no ice in the atmospheric column were observed, on average, with similar frequencies, though the cold rainfall fraction had an increasing trend as AR temperature decreased. Rain rates were generally higher for the cold precipitation regime. Precipitating ice cloud and rainfall retrievals indicated a significant correlation between the total ice amounts and the resultant rain rate. Observationally based statistical relations were derived between the boundaries of AR precipitation regions and integrated water vapor amounts and between the total content of precipitating ice and rain rate. No statistically significant differences of AR properties were found for three different cool seasons, which were characterized by differing phases of El Ni~no–Southern Oscillation.

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Research Program: 
Atmospheric Dynamics and Precipitation Program (ADP)
Energy & Water Cycle Program (EWCP)