Large-scale flow patterns associated with extreme precipitation and atmospheric rivers over Norway

Imme Benedict*, Karianne Ødemark, Thomas Nipen, Richard Moore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


A climatology of extreme cold season precipitation events in Norway from 1979 to 2014 is presented, based on the 99th percentile of the 24-h accumulated precipitation. Three regions, termed north, west, and south are identified, each exhibiting a unique seasonal distribution. There is a proclivity for events to occur during the positive phase of the NAO. The result is statistically significant at the 95th percentile for the north and west regions. An overarching hypothesis of this work is that anomalous moisture flux, or so-called atmospheric rivers (ARs), are integral to extreme precipitation events during the Norwegian cold season. An objective analysis of the integrated vapor transport illustrates that more than 85% of the events are associated with ARs. An empirical orthogonal function and fuzzy cluster technique is used to identify the large-scale weather patterns conducive to the moisture flux and extreme precipitation. Five days before the event and for each of the three regions, two patterns are found. The first represents an intense, southward-shifted jet with a southwest-northeast orientation. The second identifies a weak, northward-shifted, zonal jet. As the event approaches, regional differences become more apparent. The distinctive flow pattern conducive to orographically enhanced precipitation emerges in the two clusters for each region. For the north and west regions, this entails primarily zonal flow impinging upon the south-north-orientated topography, the difference being the latitude of the strong flow. In contrast, the south region exhibits a significant southerly component to the flow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1415-1428
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Atmosphere
  • Empirical orthogonal functions
  • Precipitation
  • Reanalysis data
  • Topographic effects
  • Water vapor


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