Atmospheric moisture tracking models are used to identify and quantify sources and sinks of water in the atmospheric branch of the hydrologic cycle. These models are primarily used to investigate the origin of moisture resulting in precipitation for particular regions around the globe. Moisture tracking models vary widely in their level of complexity, depending on the number of physical processes represented. Complex models are comprehensive in their physical representation, but computationally much more expensive than simple models, which only focus on specific physical processes and use simplifying assumptions. We present the mathematical derivation of the new two-layer dynamical recycling model (2L-DRM), a simple analytical moisture tracking model that relaxes the vertically integrated formulation of the original one-layer DRM. By comparing the simple DRM to a very complex moisture tracking model that uses water vapor tracers embedded within the Weather Research and Forecasting regional climate model (WRF-WVT) for the North American monsoon region, we pinpoint the absence of vertical wind shear as the main deficiency in the simple DRM. When comparing both simple models (DRM and 2L-DRM) to the WRF-WVT (which we treat as ‘‘truth’’), the 2L-DRM better captures the spatial extent, the net amount, and the temporal variability of precipitation that originates from oceanic and local terrestrial sources. The 2L-DRM is well suited to study the large-scale climatological sources of moisture, and for these applications, performs on par with the much more complex and computationally demanding WRF-WVT model.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science