Hydrology, Cryosphere & Earth Surface Editors' Highlights

Atmospheric Rivers Trigger Heavy Snowmelt in Western USA

A rare atmospheric phenomenon that transports large quantities of water vapor into the coastal watersheds of the western USA is responsible for up to 10–20% of intense snowmelt events in the region.

Source: Geophysical Research Letters


Changing climate poses multiple questions concerning the future fate of snowpack, its contribution to runoff and extreme flooding, and seasonal distribution of water resource. Chen et al. [2019] scrutinize historic interactions of precipitation with snowpack in the western United States, specifically exploring how they affect regional runoff generation.

Atmospheric rivers, rare events of strong atmospheric water vapor transport into the coastal areas, are discovered to be important contributors to snowmelt events and significant runoff events and flooding in the Pacific Northwest. As atmospheric rivers are projected to change in the future, this study contributes to the understanding of their potential role in a warmer climate and the likely impacts on water resources and flooding in the western United States.

Citation: Chen, X., Duan, Z., Leung, L. R., & Wigmosta, M. [2019]. A framework to delineate precipitation‐runoff regimes: Precipitation versus Snowpack in the Western United States. Geophysical Research Letters, 46. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GL085184

—Valeriy Ivanov, Editor, Geophysical Research Letters

Text © 2019. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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