Dr. Christine Albano
Desert Research Institute
Abstract: Atmospheric rivers (ARs) significantly influence precipitation and hydrologic variability in many areas of the world, including the western U.S. As ARs are increasingly recognized by the research community and the public, there is a need to more precisely quantify and communicate their hydrologic impacts, which can vary from hazardous to beneficial depending on location and on the atmospheric and land surface conditions prior to and during the AR. In this presentation, I describe a recent study that leverages 33 years of atmospheric and hydrologic data for the western U.S. to 1) quantify the roles of water vapor amount, wind direction and speed, temperature, and antecedent soil moisture conditions on precipitation and hydrologic responses (runoff, recharge, and snowpack) using quantile regression; and 2) characterize the range of hydrologic response types and magnitudes that occur across the study region and how these vary in relation to the new AR scaling system. This spatially explicit information can lead to better understanding of the conditions under which ARs are most likely to have hazardous hydrologic impacts. In addition, this study provides new insights into the relative roles of wind, temperature, and antecedent soil moisture conditions as modifiers of precipitation and runoff efficiencies across the study region that may be useful for anticipating AR hydrologic impacts under a warming climate.