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Title: Influence of Atmospheric Rivers on Mountain Snowpack in the Western United States

Abstract

In the coastal mountains of western North America, most extreme precipitation is associated with atmospheric rivers (ARs), narrow bands of moisture originating in the tropics. Here we quantify how interannual variability in atmospheric rivers influences snowpack in the western United States in observations and a model. We simulate the historical climate with the Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS) with physics from the Community Atmosphere Model, version 5 [CAM5 (MPAS-CAM5)], using prescribed sea surface temperatures. In the global variable-resolution domain, regional refinement (at ~30 km) is applied to our region of interest and upwind over the northeast Pacific. To better characterize internal variability, we conduct simulations with three ensemble members over 30 years of the historical period. In the Cascade Range, with some exceptions, winters with more atmospheric river days are associated with less snowpack. In California’s Sierra Nevada, winters with more ARs are associated with greater snowpack. The slope of the linear regression of observed snow water equivalent (SWE) on reanalysis-based AR count has the same sign as that arrived at using the model, but is statistically significant in observations only for California. In spring, internal variance plays an important role in determining whether atmospheric river days appear tomore » be associated with greater or less snowpack. The cumulative (winter through spring) number of atmospheric river days, on the other hand, has a relationship with spring snowpack, which is consistent across ensemble members. Thus, the impact of atmospheric rivers on winter snowpack has a greater influence on spring snowpack than spring atmospheric rivers in the model for both regions and in California consistently in observations.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [3]
  1. Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA (United States)
  2. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
  3. Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
OSTI Identifier:
1544155
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1482857
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-134592
Journal ID: ISSN 0894-8755
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Climate
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 31; Journal Issue: 24; Journal ID: ISSN 0894-8755
Publisher:
American Meteorological Society
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Goldenson, N., Leung, L. R., Bitz, C. M., and Blanchard-Wrigglesworth, E. Influence of Atmospheric Rivers on Mountain Snowpack in the Western United States. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0268.1.
Goldenson, N., Leung, L. R., Bitz, C. M., & Blanchard-Wrigglesworth, E. Influence of Atmospheric Rivers on Mountain Snowpack in the Western United States. United States. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0268.1.
Goldenson, N., Leung, L. R., Bitz, C. M., and Blanchard-Wrigglesworth, E. Tue . "Influence of Atmospheric Rivers on Mountain Snowpack in the Western United States". United States. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0268.1.
@article{osti_1544155,
title = {Influence of Atmospheric Rivers on Mountain Snowpack in the Western United States},
author = {Goldenson, N. and Leung, L. R. and Bitz, C. M. and Blanchard-Wrigglesworth, E.},
abstractNote = {In the coastal mountains of western North America, most extreme precipitation is associated with atmospheric rivers (ARs), narrow bands of moisture originating in the tropics. Here we quantify how interannual variability in atmospheric rivers influences snowpack in the western United States in observations and a model. We simulate the historical climate with the Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS) with physics from the Community Atmosphere Model, version 5 [CAM5 (MPAS-CAM5)], using prescribed sea surface temperatures. In the global variable-resolution domain, regional refinement (at ~30 km) is applied to our region of interest and upwind over the northeast Pacific. To better characterize internal variability, we conduct simulations with three ensemble members over 30 years of the historical period. In the Cascade Range, with some exceptions, winters with more atmospheric river days are associated with less snowpack. In California’s Sierra Nevada, winters with more ARs are associated with greater snowpack. The slope of the linear regression of observed snow water equivalent (SWE) on reanalysis-based AR count has the same sign as that arrived at using the model, but is statistically significant in observations only for California. In spring, internal variance plays an important role in determining whether atmospheric river days appear to be associated with greater or less snowpack. The cumulative (winter through spring) number of atmospheric river days, on the other hand, has a relationship with spring snowpack, which is consistent across ensemble members. Thus, the impact of atmospheric rivers on winter snowpack has a greater influence on spring snowpack than spring atmospheric rivers in the model for both regions and in California consistently in observations.},
doi = {10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0268.1},
journal = {Journal of Climate},
number = 24,
volume = 31,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {11}
}

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This content will become publicly available on November 20, 2019
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