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The role of the export of tropical moisture into midlatitudes for extreme precipitation events in the Mediterranean region

Krichak, Simon O., Barkan, Joseph, Breitgand, Joseph S., Gualdi, Silvio, Feldstein, Steven B.
Theoretical and applied climatology 2015 v.121 no.3-4 pp. 499-515
air, hurricanes, latitude, rivers, Arabian Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean region
The aims of the study are twofold: firstly, to investigate the role of the export of humid tropical air in the formation of cool season heavy precipitating events (HPEs) in the Mediterranean region (MR); and secondly, to examine the possible linkage between the export of humid tropical air and the multiyear trend in extreme precipitation in the region. For this purpose, we analyze the spatial distributions of a number of key atmospheric variables with a reanalysis data for more than 50 intense HPEs for the MR. The results of this evaluation for both individual and composite events suggest that the HPEs are associated with atmospheric rivers (ARs). The MR HPEs are being characterized by the poleward export of humid air of tropical origin into the midlatitude MR from the Atlantic Ocean and Arabian Sea. These export events appear to be associated with the effects of hurricanes or intense cyclones in the North Atlantic. It was also found that the linear trend (for 1979–2013) of the frequency of humid days (days with precipitable water greater than 20 kg m⁻²) is consistent with recent changes in the character of precipitation over the MR and southern Europe.