Automated Atmospheric River Detection


An automated technique has been developed to objectively identify and characterize atmospheric river events in the fields of integrated water vapor (IWV) content and integrated water vapor transport (IVT). The initial application of the technique to IWV was fundamentally based on thresholds for the length, width, and core IWV content of features as defined by Ralph et al. (2004). Description of the technique is presented in Wick et al. (2013a). The technique has subsequently been extended to IVT employing thresholds on IVT of either 250 or 500 kg/m/s. A comparison of the detection criteria for IWV and IVT and the automated technique processing flow chart are shown here.

Real-Time Applications of the Automated Technique

Application to GFS Forecast Fields
Comparison of IWV- and IVT-based Detection
Comparison of GFS Forecast Fields with Recent Observations

Related Publications

  • Wick, G.A., P.J. Neiman, and F.M. Ralph, 2013a: Description and validation of an automated objective technique for identification and characterization of the integrated water vapor signature of atmospheric rivers. IEEE T. Geosci. Remote, 51, 2166-2176, doi:10.1109/tgrs.2012.2211024.
  • Wick, G.A., P.J. Neiman, F.M. Ralph, and T.M. Hamill, 2013b: Evaluation of forecasts of the water vapor signature of atmospheric rivers in operational numerical weather prediction models. Wea. Forecasting,28, 1337-1352, doi:10.1175/WAF-D-13-00025.1.
  • Jackson, D.L., M. Hughes, and G.A. Wick, 2016: Evaluation of landfalling atmospheric rivers along the U.S. west coast in reanalysis data sets, J. Geophys. Res., 121, 2705-2718, doi:10.1002/2015JD024412.
  • Mahoney, K.M., D.L. Jackson, P.J. Neiman, M. Hughes, L.S. Darby, G.A. Wick, A.B. White, E.M. Sukovich, and R. Cifelli, 2016: Understanding the role of atmospheric rivers in heavy precipitaiton in the southeast United States, Mon. Wea. Rev., 144, 1617-1632, doi:10.1175/MWR-D-15-0279-1.
  • Ralph, F.M., P.J. Neiman, and G.A. Wick, 2004: Satellite and CALJET aircraft observations of atmospheric rivers over the eastern north Pacific Ocean during the winter of 1997/98. Mon. Wea. Rev., 132, 1721-1745.