Dynamic mapping of the movement of landfalling atmospheric rivers over Southern California with GPS data

TitleDynamic mapping of the movement of landfalling atmospheric rivers over Southern California with GPS data
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsWang MH, Wang J.X, Bock Y, Liang H., Dong DA, Fang P.
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume46
Pagination3551-3559
Date Published2019/03
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0094-8276
Accession NumberWOS:000464650400058
Keywordsalgorithm; atmospheric river landfall; connection; Geology; GPS; meteorology; north pacific; ocean; precipitation impacts; satellite; southern california; Storm; water; west-coast
Abstract

Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are long, narrow, and transient corridors of strong horizontal water vapor transport that can result in heavy precipitation. Measuring the movement of these concentrated water vapor bands is important in gaining better insight into AR characteristics and forecasts of AR-caused precipitation. We describe a method to dynamically map the movement of landfalling ARs. The method utilizes high-rate GPS observations from a dense network to derive isochrones that represent the AR arrival time over specific locations. The generated isochrones show that the three ARs, during landfall over Southern California in January 2017, moved southeastward and took about 10 hr to pass over the study area. Overlaying the topography with isochrones reveals that the Peninsular Ranges slow the movement of the landfalling ARs. The large spacing between two adjacent isochrones, reflecting fast AR movement, is closely related to the increased hourly rain rate. Plain Language Summary Atmospheric rivers (ARs), "rivers in the sky," are "rivers" of water vapor rather than liquid water. The landfall of ARs can cause extreme rainfall that in turn induces disasters. We present a method with a dense high-rate GPS network to capture the movement of the landfalling ARs over Southern California. For the three landfalling AR cases in January 2017, results show that the ARs moved southeastward and the durations of AR passing over the study area were about 10 hr. The results also reveal that the landfalling AR movement is affected by local terrain and the fast AR movement is closely related to the large hourly rain rate. The use of the method provides a way to study ARs with high spatial-temporal resolution, which is important in gaining better insight into the forecasts of AR-caused rainfall.

DOI10.1029/2018gl081318
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