Biblioteca Cuenca Copiapó

Impact of Warmer Eastern Tropical Pacific SST on the March 2015 Atacama Floods

Autor / Institución Deniz Bozkurt, Roberto Rondanelli, René Garreaud, Andrés Arriagada
Fecha 2016
Tipo Artículo
Resumen Northern Chile hosts the driest place on Earth in the Atacama Desert. Nonetheless, an extreme precipitation event affected the region on 24-26 March 2015 with 1-day accumulated precipitation exceeding 40 mm in several locations and hourly mean rainfall rates higher than 10 mm h^sup -1^, producing floods and resulting in casualties and significant damage. The event is analyzed using ERA-Interim, surface station data, sounding observations, and satellite-based radar. Two main conditions favorable for precipitation were present at the time of the event: (i) a cutoff low (COL) off the coast of northern Chile and (ii) positive sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies over the eastern tropical Pacific. The circulation driven by the COL was strong but not extraordinary. Regional Climate Model, version 4 (RegCM4), is used to test the sensitivity of precipitation to SST anomalies by removing the warm SST anomaly in the eastern tropical Pacific. The cooler simulation produced very similar COL dry dynamics to that simulated in a control run (with observed SST), but suppressed the precipitation by 60%-80% over northern Chile and 100% in parts of the Atacama Desert due to the decreased availability of precipitable water. The results indicate that the warm SST anomaly over the eastern Pacific, favored by the onset of El Niño 2015/16, was instrumental to the extreme precipitation event by providing an anomalous source of water vapor transported to Atacama by the circulation ahead of the COL.
Vínculo al documento Descargar (PDF 524 KB)

Buscador de documentos históricos de la gestión hídrica de la cuenca de Copiapó, recopilados para el Proyecto Plan de Gestión Integrada para la Cuenca de Copiapó.