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Water Resources Research

Precipitation predictability associated with tropical moisture exports and circulation patterns for a major flood in France in 1995

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Abstract

[1] Atmospheric Rivers (ARs) are being increasingly identified as associated with some extreme floods. More generally, such floods may be associated with tropical moisture exports (TMEs) that exhibit relatively robust teleconnections between moisture source regions and flood regions. A large-scale flood event that persisted over Western Europe in January 1995 is studied here. During the last 10 days of the month, two rare flooding events, associated with heaviest rainfall in 150 years, occurred in two places, one over Brittany (West of France), and the second in the France-Germany border region and parts of neighboring countries. In this paper, we explore the month-long evolution of TMEs and their connection to the precipitation events that led to the Brittany event. The persistent large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns that led to the birth, death, and evolution of these TMEs as ARs with landfalls in Western Europe are identified, and the relationship of daily extreme precipitation to these patterns is examined. Singular value decomposition analysis and a generalized linear model are used to assess whether knowledge of the atmospheric circulation patterns from the prior record is useful for explaining the occurrence of their rare events. The analysis establishes the importance of both global and regional atmospheric circulation modes for the occurrence of such persistent events and the hydrologic importance of diagnosing global atmospheric moisture pathways.

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