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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  13 Jul 2020

13 Jul 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

High-resolution global atmospheric moisture connections from evaporation to precipitation

Obbe A. Tuinenburg1, Jolanda J. E. Theeuwen1,2, and Arie Staal1,3 Obbe A. Tuinenburg et al.
  • 1Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, Utrecht, 3508 TC, the Netherlands
  • 2Wetsus, European Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Water Technology, Leeuwarden, 8911 MA, the Netherlands
  • 3Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, 10691, Sweden

Abstract. A key Earth system process is the circulation of evaporated moisture through the atmosphere. Spatial connections between evaporation and precipitation affect the global and regional climates by redistributing water and latent heat. Through this atmospheric moisture recycling, land-cover changes influence regional precipitation patterns, with potentially far-reaching effects on human livelihoods and biome distributions across the globe. However, a globally complete dataset of atmospheric moisture flows from evaporation to precipitation has been lacking so far. Here we present a dataset of global atmospheric moisture recycling on both 0.5° and 1.0° spatial resolution. We simulated the moisture flows between each pair of cells across all land and oceans for 2008–2017 and present their monthly climatological means. We applied the Lagrangian moisture tracking model UTrack, which is forced with ERA5 reanalysis data on 25 atmospheric layers and hourly wind speeds and directions. Due to the global coverage of the simulations, a complete picture of both the upwind source areas of precipitation and downwind target areas of evaporation can be obtained. We show a number of statistics of global atmospheric moisture flows: land recycling, basin recycling, mean latitudinal and longitudinal flows, absolute latitudinal and longitudinal flows, and basin recycling for the 26 largest river basins. We find that, on average, 70 % of global land evaporation rains down over land, varying between 62 % and 74 % across the year; 51 % of global land precipitation has evaporated from land, varying between 36 % and 57 % across the year. Highest basin recycling occurs in the Amazon and Congo basins, with evaporation and precipitation recycling of 63 % and 36 % for the Amazon basin and 60 % and 47 % for the Congo basin. These statistics are examples of the potential usage of the dataset, which allows users to identify and quantify the moisture flows from and to any area on Earth, from local to global scales. The dataset is available at (Tuinenburg et al., 2020).

Obbe A. Tuinenburg et al.

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Obbe A. Tuinenburg et al.

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Global evaporation to precipitation flows obtained with Lagrangian atmospheric moisture tracking Obbe A. Tuinenburg Jolanda J. E. Theeuwen, and Arie Staal

Obbe A. Tuinenburg et al.


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Short summary
We provide global database of moisture flows through the atmosphere using the most recent ERA5 atmospheric reanalysis. Using this database, it is possible to determine where evaporation will rain out again. However, the reverse is also possible, to determine where precipitation originated from as evaporation. This data set can be used to determine atmospheric moisture recycling rates, and therefore how much water is lost for a catchment through the atmosphere.
We provide global database of moisture flows through the atmosphere using the most recent ERA5...