The Atmospheric River Tracking Method Intercomparison Project (ARTMIP) is a community effort whose purpose is to quantify uncertainties in atmospheric river (AR) research solely due to different identification and tracking techniques. Atmospheric rivers transport significant amounts of moisture in long, narrow filamentary bands, typically travelling from the subtropics to the mid-latitudes. They are an important source of regional precipitation impacting local hydroclimate, and in extreme cases, cause severe flooding and infrastructure damage in local communities. Our understanding of ARs, from forecast skill to future climate projections, all hinge on how we define ARs. By comparing a diverse set of detection algorithms, the uncertainty in our definition of ARs, (including statistics and climatology), and the implications of those uncertainties, can be analyzed and quantified.
ARTMIP is divided into two broad phases that aim to answer science questions impacted by choice of detection algorithm. How robust are AR metrics such as climatology, storm duration, and relationship to extreme precipitation? How are the AR metrics in future climate projections impacted by choice of algorithm? Some algorithms rely on threshold values for water vapor. In a warmer world, the background state, by definition, is moister due to the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship, and could potentially skew results. Can uncertainty bounds be accurately placed on each metric? Tier 1 participants will apply their algorithms to a high resolution common dataset (MERRA2) and provide the greater group AR metrics (frequency, location, duration, etc). Tier 2 research will encompass sensitivity studies regarding resolution, reanalysis choice, and future climate change scenarios. ARTMIP is currently in the Tier 1 Phase and will begin Tier 2 in 2018. Preliminary metrics and analysis from Tier 1 will be presented.