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The Lifecycle of New Zealand Atmospheric Rivers and Relationship with the Madden-Julian Oscillation
  • Hamish D Prince,
  • Peter B Gibson,
  • Nicolas J. Cullen
Hamish D Prince
University of Wisconsin Madison, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

Corresponding Author:prince.hamishd@gmail.com

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Peter B Gibson
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Nicolas J. Cullen
School of Geography
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New Zealand atmospheric river (AR) lifecycles are analyzed to examine the synoptic conditions that produce extreme precipitation and regular flooding. An AR lifecycle tracking algorithm, novel to the region, is utilized to identify the genesis location of New Zealand ARs: the location where moisture fluxes enhance and become distinct synoptic features capable of producing impactful weather conditions. Genesis locations of ARs that later impact New Zealand cover a broad region extending from the Southern Indian Ocean (90°E) into the South Pacific (170°W) with the highest genesis frequency being in the Tasman Sea. The most impactful ARs, associated with heavy precipitation, tend to originate from distinct regions based on landfall location. Impactful North Island ARs tend to originate from subtropical regions to the northwest of New Zealand, while impactful South Island ARs are associated with genesis over southeast Australia. The synoptic conditions of impactful AR genesis are identified with North Island ARs typically associated with a cyclone in the central Tasman Sea along with a distant, persistent low pressure off the coast of West Antarctica. South Island AR genesis typically occurs in conjunction with moist conditions over Australia associated with a zonal synoptic-scale wavetrain. The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is examined as a potential source of variability that modulates New Zealand AR lifecycles. It appears that the MJO modulates AR characteristics, especially during Phase 5, typically bringing more frequent, slow moving ARs with greater moisture fluxes to the North Island of New Zealand.
24 May 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
25 May 2023Published in ESS Open Archive