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  1. Abstract

    Atmospheric rivers (ARs) reaching high-latitudes in summer contribute to the majority of climatological poleward water vapor transport into the Arctic. This transport has exhibited long term changes over the past decades, which cannot be entirely explained by anthropogenic forcing according to ensemble model responses. Here, through observational analyses and model experiments in which winds are adjusted to match observations, we demonstrate that low-frequency, large-scale circulation changes in the Arctic play a decisive role in regulating AR activity and thus inducing the recent upsurge of this activity in the region. It is estimated that the trend in summertime AR activity may contribute to 36% of the increasing trend of atmospheric summer moisture over the entire Arctic since 1979 and account for over half of the humidity trends in certain areas experiencing significant recent warming, such as western Greenland, northern Europe, and eastern Siberia. This indicates that AR activity, mostly driven by strong synoptic weather systems often regarded as stochastic, may serve as a vital mechanism in regulating long term moisture variability in the Arctic.

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  2. Abstract

    Atmospheric rivers (ARs) reach High Mountain Asia (HMA) about 10 days per month during the winter and spring, resulting in about 20 mm day$$^{-1}$$-1of precipitation. However, a few events may exceed 100 mm day$$^{-1}$$-1, providing most of the total winter precipitation and increasing the risk of precipitation-triggered landslides and flooding, particularly when the height of the height of the 0 $$^{\circ }$$C isotherm, or freezing level is above-average. This study shows that from 1979 to 2015, integrated water vapor transport (IVT) during ARs that reach Western HMA has increased 16% while the freezing level has increased up to 35 m. HMA ARs that have an above-average freezing level result in 10–40% less frozen precipitation compared to ARs with a below-average freezing level. To evaluate the importance of these trends in the characteristics of ARs, we investigate mesoscale processes leading to orographic precipitation using Advanced Weather Research and Forecasting (ARW-WRF) simulations at 6.7 km spatial resolution. We contrast two above- and below- average freezing level AR events with otherwise broadly similar characteristics and show that with a 50–600 m increase in freezing level, the above-average AR resulted in 10–70% less frozen precipitation than the below-average event. This study contributes to a better understanding of climate change-related impacts within HMA’s hydrological cycle and the associated hazards to vulnerable communities living in the region.

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  3. Abstract

    Extreme precipitation events associated with atmospheric rivers (ARs) trigger floods, landslides, and avalanches that threaten lives and livelihoods in Southeast Alaska. Six rural and indigenous communities (Hoonah, Klukwan, Skagway, Yakutat, Craig, and Kasaan) identified specific needs regarding these hazards and joined the Southeast Alaska Coastlines and People (CoPe)Kutí Hub to address the shared challenge of understanding and predicting these events. This study presents a climatology (1980–2019) of synoptic, mesoscale, and local meteorological characteristics of ARs and heavy precipitation across this region. High‐amplitude upper‐level patterns across the northeastern Pacific Ocean favor ARs reaching Southeast Alaska, where moisture is orographically lifted, resulting in heavy precipitation. In the six communities, ARs occur 8–15 days per month, yet only 6 AR days per year account for up to 68%–91% of precipitation extremes. Furthermore, 80%–96% of days with extreme precipitation have >75th percentile integrated water vapor transport (IVT), demonstrating the strong relationship between IVT and extreme precipitation. This study also highlights the relationship between IVT direction and complex coastal topography in determining precipitation extremes. For example, in Klukwan and Skagway, 80%–90% of extreme AR days have south‐southwesterly or south‐southeasterly IVT. Coastal communities like Yakutat experience higher IVT and precipitation overall, and although southeasterly IVT is more common, extreme precipitation events are most common with southwesterly IVT. Collaboration with the National Weather Service in Juneau, Alaska will lead to improved situational awareness, forecasts, and Impact Decision Support Services to communities, saving lives and property in a region vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

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