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    Super Storm Desmond: a process-based assessment

    Matthews, Tom K.R. and Murphy, Conor and McCarthy, Gerard and Broderick, Ciaran and Wilby, Robert L. (2018) Super Storm Desmond: a process-based assessment. Environmental Research Letters, 13 (014024). ISSN 1748-9326

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    'Super' Storm Desmond broke meteorological and hydrological records during a record warm year in the British–Irish Isles (BI). The severity of the storm may be a harbinger of expected changes to regional hydroclimate as global temperatures continue to rise. Here, we adopt a process-based approach to investigate the potency of Desmond, and explore the extent to which climate change may have been a contributory factor. Through an Eulerian assessment of water vapour flux we determine that Desmond was accompanied by an atmospheric river (AR) of severity unprecedented since at least 1979, on account of both high atmospheric humidity and high wind speeds. Lagrangian air-parcel tracking and moisture attribution techniques show that long-term warming of North Atlantic sea surface temperatures has significantly increased the chance of such high humidity in ARs in the vicinity of the BI. We conclude that, given exactly the same dynamical conditions associated with Desmond, the likelihood of such an intense AR has already increased by 25% due to long-term climate change. However, our analysis represents a first-order assessment, and further research is needed into the controls influencing AR dynamics.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: atmospheric river; climate change attribution; extratopical cyclones; North Atlantic warming;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Geography
    Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Institutes > Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units, ICARUS
    Item ID: 9354
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Conor Murphy
    Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2018 14:33
    Journal or Publication Title: Environmental Research Letters
    Publisher: IOP Publishing
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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