Atmospheric river

An explanation from the National Weather Service on atmospheric rivers

An atmospheric river (AR) is a narrow corridor or filament of concentrated moisture in the atmosphere. Other names for this phenomenon are tropical plume, tropical connection, moisture plume, water vapor surge, and cloud band.[1][2]

Two wide photos showing a long stream of clouds ranging over the Pacific Ocean
Composite satellite photos of an atmospheric river connecting Asia to North America in October 2017

Atmospheric rivers consist of narrow bands of enhanced water vapor transport, typically along the boundaries between large areas of divergent surface air flow, including some frontal zones in association with extratropical cyclones that form over the oceans.[3][4][5][6] Pineapple Express storms are the most commonly represented and recognized type of atmospheric rivers; the name is due to the warm water vapor plumes originating over the Hawaiian tropics that follow various paths towards western North America, arriving at latitudes from California and the Pacific Northwest to British Columbia and even southeast Alaska.[7][8][9]

In some parts of the world, changes in atmospheric humidity and heat caused by climate change are expected to increase the intensity and frequency of extreme weather and flood events caused by atmospheric rivers. This is expected to be especially prominent in the Western United States and Canada.[10]

  1. ^ "Atmospheric River Information Page". NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory.
  2. ^ "Atmospheric rivers form in both the Indian and Pacific Oceans, bringing rain from the tropics to the south". ABC news. 11 August 2020. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  3. ^ Zhu, Yong; Reginald E. Newell (1994). "Atmospheric rivers and bombs" (PDF). Geophysical Research Letters. 21 (18): 1999–2002. Bibcode:1994GeoRL..21.1999Z. doi:10.1029/94GL01710. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-06-10.
  4. ^ Zhu, Yong; Reginald E. Newell (1998). "A Proposed Algorithm for Moisture Fluxes from Atmospheric Rivers". Monthly Weather Review. 126 (3): 725–735. Bibcode:1998MWRv..126..725Z. doi:10.1175/1520-0493(1998)126<0725:APAFMF>2.0.CO;2. ISSN 1520-0493.
  5. ^ Kerr, Richard A. (28 July 2006). "Rivers in the Sky Are Flooding The World With Tropical Waters" (PDF). Science. 313 (5786): 435. doi:10.1126/science.313.5786.435. PMID 16873624. S2CID 13209226. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 June 2010. Retrieved 14 December 2010.
  6. ^ White, Allen B.; et al. (2009-10-08). The NOAA coastal atmospheric river observatory. 34th Conference on Radar Meteorology.
  7. ^ Dettinger, Michael (2011-06-01). "Climate Change, Atmospheric Rivers, and Floods in California – A Multimodel Analysis of Storm Frequency and Magnitude Changes1". JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association. 47 (3): 514–523. Bibcode:2011JAWRA..47..514D. doi:10.1111/j.1752-1688.2011.00546.x. ISSN 1752-1688. S2CID 4691998.
  8. ^ Dettinger, Michael D.; Ralph, Fred Martin; Das, Tapash; Neiman, Paul J.; Cayan, Daniel R. (2011-03-24). "Atmospheric Rivers, Floods and the Water Resources of California". Water. 3 (2): 445–478. doi:10.3390/w3020445. hdl:10535/7155.
  9. ^ Tan, Yaheng; Yang, Song; Zwiers, Francis; Wang, Ziqian; Sun, Qiaohong (2022-02-01). "Moisture budget analysis of extreme precipitation associated with different types of atmospheric rivers over western North America". Climate Dynamics. 58 (3): 793–809. Bibcode:2022ClDy...58..793T. doi:10.1007/s00382-021-05933-3. ISSN 1432-0894. S2CID 237218999.
  10. ^ Corringham, Thomas W.; McCarthy, James; Shulgina, Tamara; Gershunov, Alexander; Cayan, Daniel R.; Ralph, F. Martin (2022-08-12). "Climate change contributions to future atmospheric river flood damages in the western United States". Scientific Reports. 12 (1): 13747. Bibcode:2022NatSR..1213747C. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-15474-2. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 9374734. PMID 35961991.