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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 29 Oct 2018

Research article | 29 Oct 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).

On the assessment of the moisture transport by the Great Plains low-level jet

Iago Algarra1, Jorge Eiras-Barca1, Gonzalo Miguez-Macho2, Raquel Nieto1, and Luis Gimeno1 Iago Algarra et al.
  • 1EPhysLab (Environmental Physics Laboratory), Facultade de Ciencias, Universidade de Vigo, Ourense, Galicia, Spain
  • 2Non-Linear Physics Group, University of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain

Abstract. Low-Level Jets (LLJs) can be defined as filamentous wind corridors of anomalously high wind speed values located within the first km of the troposphere. These structures, together with atmospheric rivers (ARs), are the major meteorological systems in the meridional transport of moisture on a global scale. In this work, we focus on the Great Plains low-level jet, which plays an important role in the moisture transport balance over the central United States. The Gulf of Mexico is the main moisture source for the GPLLJ, which has been identified as a key factor for rainfall modulation over the eastern and central US.

The relationship between moisture transport from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Plains and precipitation is well documented in previous studies. Nevertheless, a large uncertainty still remains in the quantification of the moisture amount actually carried by the GPLLJ. The main goal of this work is to address this question. For this purpose, a relatively new tool, the regional atmospheric Weather Research and Forecasting Model with 3D water vapour tracers (WRF-TT, Insua-Costa and Miguez-Macho, 2018) is used together with the Lagrangian model FLEXPART to estimate the load of precipitable water advected within the GPLLJ. From a climatology of jet intensity over a 37-year period (Rife et al., 2010), which follows a Gaussian distribution, we select for study 5 cases representing the mean, and one and two standard deviations above and below it. Results show that the jet is responsible for roughly 70%–80% of the moisture transport occurring in the southern Great Plains when a jet event occurs. Furthermore, moisture transport by the GPLLJ extends to the northeast US, accounting for 50% of the total in areas near the Great Lakes. Vertical distributions show the maximum of moisture advected by the GPLLJ at surface levels and maximum values of moisture flux about 500 m above, in coincidence with the wind speed profile.

Iago Algarra et al.
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Iago Algarra et al.
Iago Algarra et al.
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Short summary
This article analyzes the transport of moisture triggered by the Great Plains Low-Level Jet -a maximum in the wind-speed fields located within the first km of the US Great Plain's troposphere-, by the use of the innovative eulerian WRF tracers tool. Particularly, large amounts of moisture associated with this LLJ have been found in northern regions located in a vast extension of the continent, highlighting the key role played by the GPLLJ in North America's advective transport of moisture.
This article analyzes the transport of moisture triggered by the Great Plains Low-Level Jet -a...