Alexander Gershunov, Tamara Shulgina, F. Martin Ralph et al

Geophysical Research Letters

Published date August 3, 2017

Assessing the climate‐scale variability of atmospheric rivers affecting western North America

  • Creates a new seven‐decade‐long catalog of atmospheric river behavior land‐falling upon the west coast of North America
  • States that the catalog has been validated against independent precipitation observations to ensure that the atmospheric rivers represented therein are associated with extreme orographic precipitation
  • The results clearly delineate a prominent role for atmospheric rivers in California's hydroclimate
  • States that atmospheric river variability has been particularly important in the recent California drought as well as its most recent lapse
  • Detects a long‐term increasing trend in water vapor transport impinging on the west coast of North America associated with atmospheric rivers and overall wintertime water vapor transport associated with climate warming
  • The results, moreover, suggest that potential predictability of seasonal behavior of atmospheric rivers may hinge on sources of climatic variability somewhat different from that of total water vapor transport