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Moisture source for the Amazon Basin: a study of contrasting years

Satyamurty, Prakki, da Costa, Claudia Priscila Wanzeler, Manzi, Antonio Ocimar
Theoretical and applied climatology 2013 v.111 no.1-2 pp. 195-209
basins, rivers, tropics, streams, summer, water vapor, Atlantic Ocean, South America
The regions where the divergence of vertically integrated water vapor flux, averaged over a season or a year, is positive (negative) are sources (sinks) of moisture for the atmosphere. An aerial river is defined as a stream of strong water vapor flux connecting a source and a sink. Moisture flux, its divergence, and sources and sinks over the tropics of South and Central America and the adjoining Atlantic Ocean are obtained for dry years and for wet years in the Amazon Basin. Results show that the Amazon Basin is a sink region for atmospheric moisture in all seasons and that there are two source regions for the moisture in the basin, one situated in the South Atlantic and the other in the North Atlantic, both located equator-ward of the respective subtropical high-pressure centers. The convergence of moisture increases over the Amazon Basin in austral summer, and at the same time it decreases in the Pacific and Atlantic ITCZs. Box model calculations reveal that the wet years, on the average, present about 55 % more moisture convergence than the dry years in the Amazon Basin. A reduction in the moisture inflow across the eastern and northern boundaries of the basin (at 45°W and at the Equator, respectively) and an increase in the outflow across the southern boundary (at 15°S) lead to dry conditions. The annual mean contribution of moisture convergence to the precipitation over the Amazon Basin is estimated to be 70 %. In the dry years, it lowers to around 50 %. The net convergence of water vapor flux over the basin is a good indicator of the wet or dry condition.