School of Meteorology

High and dry: water vapor dynamics in the Chilean Andes and Sierra Nevada, California

Dr. Joseph Galewsky
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

05 November 2013, 4:00 PM

National Weather Center, Room 5600
120 David L. Boren Blvd.
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK

Refreshments at 3:30 PM

Advances in instrumentation and supercomputing provide new opportunities to advance our understanding of large-scale water vapor dynamics and their links with the solid Earth. In this talk, an overview will be presented of two ongoing research projects, one focusing on subtropical water vapor dynamics in the subtropics and another on the impact of high topography on air parcel trajectories and precipitation processes in Sierra Nevada, California.
Cavity ringdown spectroscopy of water vapor isotopic composition from the subtropics (Hawaii’s Mauna Loa and Chile’s Chajnantor Plateau) provide new constraints on the relative roles of large-scale mixing and convection in controlling subtropical humidity and on ice supersaturation processes in the upper troposphere. Long-term monitoring of water vapor isotopic composition at these sites may help to constrain the processes associated with the projected moistening of the subtropics under global warming.
The geological evolution of the Sierra Nevada remains subject to debate due to the lack of consensus on the paleo-elevation history of the range. Abundant geological evidence indicates that the range underwent a pulse of uplift about 5 million years ago, but studies of the isotopic composition of paleo-precipitation proxies dispute these interpretations. New analysis of air parcel trajectories and precipitation over high terrain takes advantage of modern, idealized atmospheric modeling techniques and suggests that leeside proxies likely would not record the proposed late-stage uplift of the Sierras in any case and that other interpretations of paleo-precipitation proxies must account for terrain blocking effects.

Speaker bio

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