NESSI 2021 - Alexander Massa

Alexander Massa

Alexander Massa, Millersville University

Understanding Atmospheric Rivers in a Future, Warmer Climate

Recorded Talk

Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are long, filamentary structures that transport moisture from lower to higher latitudes. They play a crucial role in the hydrological cycle of ecosystems across the globe, with regions often relying on ARs to bring relief to periods of drought. While ARs can be beneficial, excess levels of precipitation can cause hazardous flooding events. Events such as these can have damaging effects on vital infrastructure and ecosystems. Due to their status as moisture suppliers, and the various impacts they have on communities; it is important to better understand how climate change might impact ARs in the future. Current projections call for increases in future AR frequency, intensity, and size, in part, as a result of the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship and increased moisture availability with global warming. Certainty in such scenarios, however, is limited and dependent on geographic region and the type of detection algorithm used. Case studies were analyzed for western North America in order to visually understand how climate change might impact ARs in the future. Data was utilized from Tier 1 and Tier 2 of The Atmospheric River Tracking Method Intercomparison Project (ARTMIP) which houses catalogues from up to 30 different atmospheric river detection tools. The data was processed through the use of NCAR Command Language (NCL) scripts in order to produce plots of AR spatial footprints for both historical and future events. The production of these plots allowed us to observe how the size and intensity of an AR depends on the type of algorithm used.

Mentor: Christine Shields

Slides and Poster