A Lagrangian identification of moisture sources affecting Northeastern Brazil during its pre-rainy and rainy seasons

Drumond A., Nieto R., Trigo R.M., Ambrizzi T., Sousa E. Gimeno L.
PLoS ONE, 5 (6), e11205. doi:10:1371/journal.pone.0011205

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This work examines the sources of moisture affecting the semi-arid Brazilian Northeast (NEB) during its pre-rainy and rainy season (JFMAM) through a Lagrangian diagnosis method. The FLEXPART model identifies the humidity contributions to the moisture budget over a region through the continuous computation of changes in the specific humidity along back or forward trajectories up to 10 days period. The numerical experiments were done for the period that spans between 2000 and 2004 and results were aggregated on a monthly basis. Results show that besides a minor local recycling component, the vast majority of moisture reaching NEB area is originated in the south Atlantic basin and that the nearby wet Amazon basin bears almost no impact. Moreover, although the maximum precipitation in the "Poligono das Secas" region (PS) occurs in March and the maximum precipitation associated with air parcels emanating from the South Atlantic towards PS is observed along January to March, the highest moisture contribution from this oceanic region occurs slightly later (April). A dynamical analysis suggests that the maximum precipitation observed in the PS sector does not coincide with the maximum moisture supply probably due to the combined effect of the Walker and Hadley cells in inhibiting the rising motions over the region in the months following April.