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Publication Date
9 April 2024

Back-to-back high category atmospheric river landfalls occur more often on the west coast of the United States



The catastrophic December 2022-January 2023 nine atmospheric rivers in California underscore the urgent need to better understand such high-risk weather extremes. Here we applied a machine learning clustering tool to understand the activity of atmospheric river clusters. Reanalysis results show that clusters with high density, that is the time fraction under atmospheric river conditions within a cluster, exhibit more frequent high-category atmospheric rivers, alongside an increased likelihood for extreme precipitation and severe land surface responses. The key circulation patterns of atmospheric river clusters are primarily attributed to subseasonal variability. Furthermore, the occurrence and density of atmospheric river clusters are modulated by the daily variability of the geopotential height field. Climate model projections suggest that atmospheric river clusters with higher density and higher categories will be more frequent as warming level increases. Our findings emphasize the important role of atmospheric river clusters in the development of climate adaptation and resilience strategies.

Zhou, Yang, Michael Wehner, and William Collins. 2024. “Back-To-Back High Category Atmospheric River Landfalls Occur More Often On The West Coast Of The United States”. Communications Earth &Amp; Environment 5 (1). Springer Science and Business Media LLC. doi:10.1038/s43247-024-01368-w.
Funding Program Area(s)
Additional Resources:
NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center)