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Global atmospheric moisture transport associated with precipitation extremes: Mechanisms and climate change impacts

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Abstract The atmospheric moisture transport processes are of great importance to the occurrence and intensity of precipitation extremes. In this paper, we review the linkage between processes, including the large‐scale atmospheric circulation, atmospheric moisture transport, and extreme precipitation events. We first summarize the thermodynamic and dynamic processes and moisture transport trackings for historical precipitation extremes. We then focus on the contribution of three major atmospheric moisture transport pathways, that is, atmospheric rivers, low‐level jets, and tropical cyclones, to the occurrence and intensity of regional precipitation extremes. Studies on large‐scale atmospheric circulation driving water vapor transport for precipitation extremes over East Asia and North America were specifically reviewed for the understanding of physical mechanisms and predictability of moisture transport and extreme precipitation events. We then pay more attention to the effects of global warming on atmospheric moisture transport, and thus regional precipitation extremes from the perspectives of thermodynamic and dynamic changes of the atmosphere. In the end, we summarize future research challenges on the physical mechanisms of atmospheric moisture transport that are associated with regional precipitation extremes, especially under a warming climate. This article is categorized under: Science of Water > Water Extremes Science of Water > Hydrological Processes
Physical processes and research schemes for atmospheric moisture transport and their associated synoptic circulation regimes under global warming. Storm processes: the implications of climate change impacts on precipitation extremes suggest to use the nonstationary hydroclimatic frequency analyses for civil engineering design and risk management of water‐related natural hazards, in which the variability of precipitation and its correlation to other climate variables should be considered. Moisture transport processes: back‐trajectory analyses could identify the atmospheric moisture sources and transport pathways that are conducive to particular extreme precipitation events (Section 2). The analyses of thermodynamic and dynamic conditions are recommended to investigate physical mechanisms of the formation and evolution of atmospheric transport. Weather systems: atmospheric moisture transport patterns are resulting from large‐scale circulation patterns (Section 4) that are highly associated with weather systems for occurrences of extreme precipitation events. Global warming: referring historical analyses of moisture transport and regional precipitation extremes, projection of future regimes of precipitation extremes could be on the basis of projected large‐scale circulation patterns and moisture transport patterns under particular climate scenarios
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Contribution of atmospheric rivers (ARs, red arrows), low‐level jets (LLJs, blue and purple arrows), and tropical cyclones (TCs, blue curved arrows) to occurrences of regional precipitation extremes (Section 3.2). The direction of arrows shows the approximate moisture pathways for the continental precipitation. Fraction of precipitation extremes associated with ARs at the costal pixels across the world (shading colors in circles). The size of the circles shows the number of days per year that occurred with ARs. The fraction contribution of TCs to precipitation extremes over East Asia, North and Central America, and Australia are indicated in the blue curved arrows. The location of LLJs is also illustrated on the map. Only the GPLLJ's fraction contribution (70–80%) to southern GP is found in the literature. The map is based on the reference of Waliser and Guan ()
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Science of Water > Hydrological Processes
Science of Water > Water Extremes

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