On the climatology of precipitable water and water vapor flux in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States

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Abstract

The seasonal and diurnal climatologies of precipitable water and water vapor flux in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States are examined. A new method of computing water vapor flux at high temporal resolution in an atmospheric column using global positioning system (GPS) precipitable water, radiosonde data, and velocity-azimuth display (VAD) wind profiles is presented. It is shown that water vapor flux exhibits striking seasonal and diurnal cycles and that the diurnal cycles exhibit rapid transitions over the course of the year. A particularly large change in the diurnal cycle of meridional water vapor flux between spring and summer seasons is found. These features of the water cycle cannot be resolved by twice-a-day radiosonde observations. It is also shown that precipitable water exhibits a pronounced seasonal cycle and a less pronounced diurnal cycle. There are large contrasts in the climatology of water vapor flux between precipitation and nonprecipitation conditions in the mid-Atlantic region. It is hypothesized that the seasonal transition of large-scale flow environments and the change in the degree of differential heating in the mountainous and coastal areas are responsible for the contrasting diurnal cycle between spring and summer seasons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-87
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

Keywords

  • Global positioning systems (GPS)
  • Hydrologic cycle
  • Hydrometeorology
  • Mass fluxes/transport
  • Water vapor
  • Wind profilers

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