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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-149
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-149
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  14 Apr 2020

14 Apr 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Rivers in the sky, flooding on the ground

Monica Ionita1, Viorica Nagavciuc1,2, and Bin Guan3,4 Monica Ionita et al.
  • 1Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, 27570, Germany
  • 2Faculty of Forestry, Ștefan cel Mare University,Suceava, 720229, Romania
  • 3Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • 4Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA

Abstract. The role of the large scale atmospheric circulation and atmospheric rivers (ARs) in producing extreme flooding and heavy rainfall events in the lower part of Rhine River catchment area is examined in this study. Analysis of the largest 10 floods in the lower Rhine, between 1817–2015, indicate that all these extreme flood peaks have been preceded up to 7 days in advance by intense moisture transport from the tropical North Atlantic basin, in the form of narrow bands, also know as atmospheric rivers. The influence of ARs on the Rhine River flood events is done via the prevailing large-scale atmospheric circulation. Most of the ARs associated with these flood events are embedded in the trailing fronts of the extratropical cyclones. The typical large scale atmospheric circulation leading to heavy rainfall and flooding in the lower Rhine is characterized by a low pressure center south of Greenland which migrates towards Europe and a stable high pressure center over the northern part of Africa and southern part of Europe. The days preceding the flood peaks, lower (upper) level convergence (divergence) is observed over the analyzed region, which is an indication of strong vertical motions and heavy rainfall. The results presented in this study offer new insights regarding the importance of tropical moisture transport as driver of extreme flooding in the lower part of Rhine River catchment area and we show for the first time that ARs are an useful tool for the identification of potential damaging floods inland Europe.

Monica Ionita et al.

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Monica Ionita et al.

Monica Ionita et al.

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Short summary
Analysis of the largest 10 floods in the lower Rhine, between 1817–2015, indicates that all these extreme flood peaks have been preceded up to 7 days in advance by intense moisture transport from the tropical North Atlantic basin, in the form of narrow bands, also known as atmospheric rivers. The influence of ARs on the Rhine River flood events is done via the prevailing large-scale atmospheric circulation.
Analysis of the largest 10 floods in the lower Rhine, between 1817–2015, indicates that all...
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