Atmospheric conditions associated with heavy precipitation events in comparison to seasonal means in the western mediterranean region
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The autumn atmospheric conditions associated with Heavy Precipitation Events (HPEs) in the western mediterranean region and differences with respect to the seasonal-mean conditions are investigated. Seasonal high-resolution simulations from the regional climate model COSMO-CLM covering the autumn periods of 2011 and 2012 are used. Atmospheric conditions at five different subdomains surrounding the western Mediterranean are considered, namely France, Italy (North and South), Spain, and North Africa. During HPEs, moisture and instability sources are located generally upstream of the target area over the sea, being transported by fast low-level winds towards the HPE areas. Concentration of high humidity over land and initiation of convection are highly related to the orography in the area. Stronger convective precipitation events occur at mid-level elevations rather than at higher altitudes. The significant increase in atmospheric moisture and instability, identified prior to HPEs, builds up in two different time lengths: atmospheric moisture increase could be traced back to at least 6–24 h before the initiation stage of the event, whereas an increase of Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) is detected in the hours prior to the event during the mature stage. The most intense HPEs are in general associated with higher values of integrated water vapour, CAPE, and low-level and mid-tropospheric wind speed. During HPEs in all subdomains, the dominant precipitation peak occurs between 1200 and 1800 UTC suggesting that convective precipitation prevails in most HPEs. The diurnal cycle of integrated water vapour during the mature stage of HPEs shows that the atmosphere remains wetter than average for most of the period and that only a decrease is seen after the afternoon precipitation peak. Negligible CAPE characterizes mean-seasonal conditions while the classical diurnal cycle with the peak in the early afternoon and much higher mean values occur during HPE events. Despite significant differences in the precipitation distribution and characteristics of the investigated subdomains, similar mechanisms are identified in relation to HPE environments and considerable contrasts compared to the mean-seasonal conditions.
KeywordsHeavy precipitation events Mediterranean region HyMeX Seasonal conditions Atmospheric water vapour
This work is a contribution to the HyMeX program supported by MISTRALS and ANR IODA-MED Grant ANR-11-BS56-0005. The authors thank the HyMeX data base teams (ESPRI/IPSL and SEDOO/Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées) for their help in accessing the data, as well as all SOP1 field teams who performed measurements during this time. The authors acknowledge Meteo-France and the HyMeX program for supplying the HyMeX domain rainfall amount precipitation rain gauge data, sponsored by Grants MISTRALS/HyMeX and ANR-11-BS56-0005 IODA-MED project. The TRMM data used in this study were acquired using the GES–DISC Interactive Online Visualization ANd aNalysis Infrastructure (Giovanni) as part of the NASA’s Goddard Earth Sciences (GES) Data and Information Services Centre (DISC). We thank EUCLID (EUropean Cooperation for LIghtning Detection) for providing the lightning data. Finally, the authors wish to thank the Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD) for providing the COSMO model code as well as initial and boundary data.
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