Moisture Sources and Large-Scale Dynamics Associated With a Flash Flood Event

Liberato M. L. R., Ramos A. M., Trigo R. M., Trigo I. F., Durán-Quesada A. M., Nieto R., Gimeno L.
Lagrangian Modeling of the Atmosphere, Geophysical Monograph Series. DOI: 10.1029/2012GM001244

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In November 1983, an extreme precipitation event occurred on western Iberia in the city of Lisbon region, Portugal, which produced flash flooding, urban inundations, and landslides causing considerable infrastructure damage and human fatalities. We found that this event was triggered by the transport of tropical and subtropical moisture associated with an extratropical cyclone. The low favored a large stream of (sub)tropical air that extended over more than 10º of latitude and across the North Atlantic Ocean, carrying a large amount of moisture originally from lower latitudes, a so-called atmospheric river. The stationary position of the jet stream along the East Atlantic Ocean through Iberia caused a strong enhancement of the precipitation associated with the moist air. A Lagrangian methodology was employed to show that the evaporative sources for the precipitation falling over the area of Lisbon were distributed over large sectors of the tropical-subtropical North Atlantic Ocean and included a significant contribution from the (sub)tropics. This study aims to provide an example of the application of distinct Lagrangian techniques to achieve a better understanding of the relation between extratropical cyclones and the occurrence of a heavy precipitation event on the Iberian Peninsula.