Atmospheric Rivers

NASA visualization still frame showing an atmospheric river traveling toward the West Coast of the United States. Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio.

Last Updated: 14 November 2017

This collection brings together papers about atmospheric rivers published in Geophysical Research Letters over the past three decades. Beginning with Newell et al’s seminal study – which termed these filamentary tropospheric water vapor fluxes “rivers” – research into the processes that govern atmospheric rivers has increased as their importance for moisture transport, extreme rainfall, and flooding have been recognized.  While much of this research has focused on the West Coast of the United States, atmospheric rivers are increasingly considered critical to understanding the climate and hydrology of other regions around the globe. The papers in this special collection have been hand-selected by the journal editors.

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Featured Special Collection

A Census of Atmospheric Variability from Seconds to Decades 

The atmosphere varies naturally on all length scales from millimeters to thousands of kilometers, and on all time scales from seconds to decades and longer.  This special collection of Geophysical Research Letters synthesizes and summarizes that variability through a phenomenological census.  The collection brings together some of the most influential and definitive papers to have been published in this journal in recent years.  The topics covered include turbulence on time scales of seconds and minutes, gravity waves on time scales of hours, weather systems on time scales of days, atmospheric blocking on time scales of weeks, the Madden–Julian Oscillation on time scales of months, the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation and El Niño–Southern Oscillation on time scales of years, and the North Atlantic, Arctic, Antarctic, Pacific Decadal, and Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillations on time scales of decades.  The collection is accompanied by a Commentary article, which provides an authoritative, concise, and accessible point of reference for the most important modes of atmospheric variability.

A Census of Atmospheric Variability from Seconds to Decades