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Title: Antarctic Atmospheric River Climatology and Precipitation Impacts

The Antarctic ice sheet (AIS) is sensitive to short‐term extreme meteorological events that can leave long‐term impacts on the continent's surface mass balance (SMB). We investigate the impacts of atmospheric rivers (ARs) on the AIS precipitation budget using an AR detection algorithm and a regional climate model (Modèle Atmosphérique Régional) from 1980 to 2018. While ARs and their associated extreme vapor transport are relatively rare events over Antarctic coastal regions (∼3 days per year), they have a significant impact on the precipitation climatology. ARs are responsible for at least 10% of total accumulated snowfall across East Antarctica (localized areas reaching 20%) and a majority of extreme precipitation events. Trends in AR annual frequency since 1980 are observed across parts of AIS, most notably an increasing trend in Dronning Maud Land; however, interannual variability in AR frequency is much larger. This AR behavior appears to drive a significant portion of annual snowfall trends across East Antarctica, while controlling the interannual variability of precipitation across most of the AIS. AR landfalls are most likely when the circumpolar jet is highly amplified during blocking conditions in the Southern Ocean. There is a fingerprint of the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) on AR variability in West Antarctica with SAM+ (SAM−) favoring increased AR frequency in the Antarctic Peninsula (Amundsen‐Ross Sea coastline). Given the relatively large influence ARs have on precipitation across the continent, it is advantageous for future studies of moisture transport to Antarctica to consider an AR framework especially when considering future SMB changes.

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DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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