Impact of atmospheric moisture storage on precipitation recycling

Francina Dominguez, Praveen Kumar, Xin Zhong Liang, Mingfang Ting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

213 Scopus citations


Computations of precipitation recycling using analytical models are generally performed under the assumption of negligible change in moisture storage in the atmospheric column. Because the moisture storage term is nonnegligible at smaller time scales, most recycling studies using analytical models are done at monthly or longer time scales. A dynamic precipitation recycling model, which incorporates the change in moisture storage, is developed. It is derived formally from the conservation of mass equation and is presented in a simple and computationally efficient form. This model allows for recycling analysis at a range of temporal scales, from daily to monthly and longer. In comparison to the traditional models that do not include the storage term, the new model presents almost identical spatial and temporal variability, but predicts recycling ratios that are 12%-33% larger at a monthly level. The dynamic model is used to study the variability of monthly precipitation recycling over the conterminous United States using Reanalysis-II data from 1979 to 2000. On average, the southeastern and southwestern parts of the country exhibit high summer recycling ratios, contrasting with the low values in the northeastern and northwestern United States. The Colorado region also presents high recycling ratios. Dominant modes of spatiotemporal variability in recycling are identified using EOF analysis. The first mode captures strong recycling ratios over the western United States during the summers of 1986, 1992, and 1998. The second mode captures anomalous high recycling ratios during 1988 and 1989 over the central part of the country, and anomalous low ratios during 1980 and 1993.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1513-1530
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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