Global Intercomparison of Atmospheric Rivers Precipitation in Remote Sensing and Reanalysis Products

Alireza Arabzadeh, Mohammad Reza Ehsani, Bin Guan, Stella Heflin, Ali Behrangi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Atmospheric rivers (ARs) play an important role in the total annual precipitation regionally and globally, delivering precious freshwater to many arid/semiarid regions. On the other hand, they may cause intense precipitation and floods with huge socioeconomic effects worldwide. In this study, we investigate AR-related precipitation using 18 years (2001–2018) of globally gridded AR locations derived from Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications, Version 2 (MERRA-2). AR precipitation features are explored regionally and seasonally using remote sensing (Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM version 6 [IMERG V6], daily Global Precipitation Climatology Project version 1.3 [GPCP V1.3], bias-adjusted CPC Morphing Technique version 1 [CMORPH V1], and Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information using Artificial Neural Networks [PERSIANN-CDR]) and reanalysis (MERRA-2 and ECMWF Reanalysis 5th Generation [ERA5]) precipitation products. The results show that most of the world (except the tropics) experience more intense precipitation from AR-related events compared to non-AR events. Over the oceans (especially the Southern Ocean), the contribution of ARs to the total precipitation and extreme events is larger than over land. However, some coastal areas over land are highly affected by ARs (e.g., the western and eastern United States and Canada, Western Europe, North Africa, and part of the Middle East, East Asia, and eastern South America and part of Australia). Although spatial correlations for pairs of IMERG/CMORPH and GPCP/PERSIANN-CDR are fairly high, considerable discrepancies are shown in their estimation of AR-related events (i.e., overall IMERG and CMORPH show a higher fraction of AR-related precipitation). It was found that the degree of consistency between reanalysis and satellite-based products is highly regionally dependent, partly due to the uneven distribution of in situ measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020JD033021
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 16 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • IMERG V06
  • atmospheric river
  • extreme event
  • precipitation product
  • reanalysis
  • remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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