Untangling the Impacts of Climate Variability on Atmospheric Rivers and Western U.S. Precipitation Using PERSIANN-CONNECT

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 5:00 PM
Scott L Sellars, Xiaogang Gao, Kuo-lin Hsu, Soroosh Sorooshian and Staryl McCabe-Glynn, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA, United States
Atmospheric Rivers (ARs), the large plumes of moisture transported from the tropics, impact many aspects of society in the Western U.S. When ARs make landfall, they are often associated with torrential rains, swollen rivers, flash flooding, and mudslides. We demonstrate that by viewing precipitation events associated with ARs as "objects", calculating their physical characteristics (mean intensity (mm/hr), speed (km/hr), etc.), assigning environmental characteristics (e.g. phase of the El Nino Southern Oscillation) for each system, and then performing empirical analyses, we can reveal interactions between different climate phenomena. To perform this analysis, we use a unique object oriented data set based on the gridded, satellite precipitation data from the Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information using Artificial Neural Networks (PERSIANN) algorithm known as PERSIANN-CONNECT, for the period 3/2000 to 12/2010. The data is segmented into 4D objects (longitude, latitude, time and intensity). Each of the segmented precipitation systems is described by over 72 characteristics. A search of the PERSIANN-CONNECT database for all Western U.S. large-scale precipitation systems returns 626 systems. Out of the 626 large-scale precipitation systems, 200 occurred at the same time as documented Western U.S. land falling ARs (a list of ARs provided by Dr. Martin Ralph). Here we report the physical and environmental characteristics for these 200 storms including a comparison to the 426 non-AR storms. We also report results of an analysis of the δ18O measurements collected from Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park in the Southwestern Sierra Nevada Mountains (McCabe-Glynn et al., in prep.) for the 200 AR precipitation systems. For an overall assessment of the impacts of climate variability on all 626 precipitation systems, we focus on ENSO, and show that during El Nino/La Nina, as compared with Neutral phases of ENSO, the systems are larger (9505, 9097, vs. 6075km^3), faster (44.6, 46.9 vs. 43.7km/hr), longer lasting (62.7,62.1 vs. 54.4hr), and begin slightly further East (153.5,152.7 vs. 148.7W) in the Pacific Ocean.