Biological and Environmental Research - Earth and Environmental System Sciences
Earth and Environmental System Modeling

The Shifting Scales of Western U.S. Landfalling Atmospheric Rivers Under Climate Change

TitleThe Shifting Scales of Western U.S. Landfalling Atmospheric Rivers Under Climate Change
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsRhoades, Alan M., Jones Andrew, Srivastava Abhishekh, Huang Huanping, O'Brien Travis, Patricola Christina, Ullrich Paul, Wehner Michael, and Zhou Yang
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume47
Number17
Abstract / Summary

Atmospheric rivers (ARs) can be a boon and bane to water resource managers as they have the ability to replenish water reserves, but they can also generate million‐to‐billion‐dollar flood damages. To investigate how anthropogenic climate change may influence AR characteristics in the coastal western United States by end century, we employ a suite of novel tools such as variable resolution in the Community Earth System Model (VR‐CESM), the TempestExtremes AR detection algorithm, and the Ralph, Rutz, et al. (2019, https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS‐D‐18‐0023.1) AR category scale. We show that end‐century ARs primarily shift from being “mostly or primarily beneficial” to “mostly or primarily hazardous” with a concomitant sharpening and intensification of winter season precipitation totals. Changes in precipitation totals are due to a significant increase in AR (+260%) rather than non‐AR (+7%) precipitation, largely through increases in the most intense category of AR events and a decrease in the interval between landfalling ARs.

URLhttps://doi.org/10.1029/2020GL089096
DOI10.1029/2020GL089096
Journal: Geophysical Research Letters
Year of Publication: 2020
Volume: 47
Number: 17
Publication Date: 09/2020

Atmospheric rivers (ARs) can be a boon and bane to water resource managers as they have the ability to replenish water reserves, but they can also generate million‐to‐billion‐dollar flood damages. To investigate how anthropogenic climate change may influence AR characteristics in the coastal western United States by end century, we employ a suite of novel tools such as variable resolution in the Community Earth System Model (VR‐CESM), the TempestExtremes AR detection algorithm, and the Ralph, Rutz, et al. (2019, https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS‐D‐18‐0023.1) AR category scale. We show that end‐century ARs primarily shift from being “mostly or primarily beneficial” to “mostly or primarily hazardous” with a concomitant sharpening and intensification of winter season precipitation totals. Changes in precipitation totals are due to a significant increase in AR (+260%) rather than non‐AR (+7%) precipitation, largely through increases in the most intense category of AR events and a decrease in the interval between landfalling ARs.

DOI: 10.1029/2020GL089096
Citation:
Rhoades, A, A Jones, A Srivastava, H Huang, T O'Brien, C Patricola, P Ullrich, M Wehner, and Y Zhou.  2020.  "The Shifting Scales of Western U.S. Landfalling Atmospheric Rivers Under Climate Change."  Geophysical Research Letters 47(17).  https://doi.org/10.1029/2020GL089096.