Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow regions in the atmosphere that contain and transport large amounts of water vapor, like rivers in the sky. When atmospheric rivers make landfall, they can result in extreme precipitation and flood events that are a significant hazard to society. Intense atmospheric rivers are rare and we need long time series to reliably capture their variability and probability. Steinschneider et al.  is the first study to show that a network of tree-ring chronologies across the southwestern United States can be used to reconstruct the occurrence of atmospheric river landfalls and associated extreme precipitation over the last 500 years. Their reconstruction enables a better understanding of past variability in atmospheric river landfalls on the US Pacific Coast, which can be used to contextualize observed trends or projected changes in frequency under anthropogenic climate change.
Citation: Steinschneider, S., Ho, M., Williams, A. P., Cook, E. R., & Lall, U. . A 500‐year tree ring‐based reconstruction of extreme cold‐season precipitation and number of atmospheric river landfalls across the southwestern United States. Geophysical Research Letters, 45, 5672–5680. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018GL078089
—Valerie Trouet, Editor, GRL