Multi‐scale observations of atmospheric moisture variability in relation to heavy precipitating systems in the northwestern Mediterranean during HyMeX IOP12

Abstract : The deployment of special instrumentation for the Hydrological Cycle in the Mediterranean Experiment (HyMeX) provides a valuable opportunity to investigate the spatio‐temporal variability of atmospheric water vapour across scales in relationship with the occurrence of Heavy Precipitation Systems (HPSs) in the north‐western Mediterranean (WMed) during the Intensive Observation Period (IOP12), which is the focus of this investigation. High‐resolution convective permitting COSMO simulations complement the observational network and allow the calculation of online trajectories. In addition to the presence of a favourable large‐scale situation and low‐level convergence, atmospheric moisture changes resulting in conditionally unstable air are identified as responsible for convective initiation (CI). All HPSs within the north‐WMed form in periods/areas of maximum Integrated Water Vapour (IWV; 35‐45 kg m‐2) after an increase of about 10‐20 kg m‐2. The most intense events receive moisture from different sources simultaneously and show a sudden increase of about 10 kg m‐2 between 6‐12 h prior to the event, whereas in the less intense events the increase is larger, about 20 kg m‐2, over a period of at least 24 h‐36 h. Changes in the lower (~ 900 hPa) and mid‐troposphere (~ 700 hPa) control the evolution of the atmospheric moisture and the instability increase prior to CI. Spatial inhomogeneities in the lower boundary layer determine the timing and location of deep convection, whereas enhanced moisture in the mid‐troposphere favours intensification. Moister and deeper boundary layers, with updraughts reaching up to 2 km are identified in those pre‐convective environments leading to HPS, whereas dry, shallow boundary layers are found everywhere else. The build‐up time and vertical distribution of the moisture changes are found to be crucial for the evolution and severity of the HPSs rather than the amount of total column atmospheric moisture.
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Submitted on : Thursday, September 20, 2018 - 2:50:25 PM
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Samiro Khodayar, Beata Czajka, Alberto Caldas‐alvarez, Sebastian Helgert, Cyrille Flamant, et al.. Multi‐scale observations of atmospheric moisture variability in relation to heavy precipitating systems in the northwestern Mediterranean during HyMeX IOP12. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, Wiley, 2018, 144 (717), pp.2761-2780. ⟨10.1002/qj.3402⟩. ⟨insu-01877894⟩

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