Volume 144, Issue 717 p. 2761-2780
RESEARCH ARTICLE

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

Samiro Khodayar

Corresponding Author

Samiro Khodayar

Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-TRO), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany

Correspondence

Samiro Khodayar, Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Postfach 3640, 76021 Karlsruhe, Germany.

Email: [email protected]

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Beata Czajka

Beata Czajka

Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-TRO), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany

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Alberto Caldas-Alvarez

Alberto Caldas-Alvarez

Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-TRO), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany

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Sebastian Helgert

Sebastian Helgert

Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-TRO), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany

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Cyrille Flamant

Cyrille Flamant

LATMOS/IPSL, UPMC Univ. Paris 06 Sorbonne Universités, UVSQ, CNRS, Paris, France

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Paolo Di Girolamo

Paolo Di Girolamo

Scuola di Ingegneria, Università della Basilicata, Potenza, Italy

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Olivier Bock

Olivier Bock

IGN LAREG, Univ. Paris Diderot, Paris, France

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Patrick Chazette

Patrick Chazette

Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Gif-sur-Yvette, France

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First published: 09 September 2018
Citations: 12

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 convection-permitting COSMO simulations complement the observational network and allow the calculation of on-line 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/m2) after an increase of about 10–20 kg/m2. The most intense events receive moisture from different sources simultaneously and show a sudden increase of about 10 kg/m2 between 6 and 12 h prior to the event, whereas in the less intense events the increase is larger, about 20 kg/m2, over a period of at least 24–36 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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