Atmospheric rivers and rainfall during NASA's Iowa Flood Studies (IFloodS) campaign

Munir A. Nayak, Gabriele Villarini, A. Allen Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Atmospheric rivers (ARs) play a major role in causing extreme precipitation and flooding over the central United States (e.g., Midwest floods of 1993 and 2008). The goal of this study is to characterize rainfall associated with ARs over this region during the Iowa Flood Studies (IFloodS) campaign that took place in April-June 2013. Total precipitation during IFloodS was among the five largest accumulations recorded since the mid-twentieth century over most of this region, with three of the heavy rainfall events associated with ARs. As a preliminary step, the authors evaluate how well different remote sensing-based precipitation products captured the rainfall associated with the ARs and find that stage IV is the product that shows the closest agreement to the reference data. Two of the three ARs during IFloodS occurred within extratropical cyclones, with the moist ascent associated with the presence of cold fronts. In the third AR, mesoscale convective systems resulted in intense rainfall at many locations. In all the three cases, the continued supply of warm water vapor from the tropics and subtropics helped sustain the convective systems. Most of the rainfall during these ARs was concentrated within ;100 km of the AR major axis, and this is the region where the rainfall amounts were highly positively correlated with the vapor transport intensity. Rainfall associated with ARs tends to be larger as these events mature over time. Although no major diurnal variation is detected in the AR occurrences, rainfall amounts during nocturnal ARs were higher than for ARs that occurred during the daytime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-271
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Atmospheric rivers and rainfall during NASA's Iowa Flood Studies (IFloodS) campaign'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this