US Climate Variability and Predictability Program

Moisture origin and transport processes in Colombia, northern South America

Universidad de Antioquia
University of Illinois
The University of Arizona
Universidad de Vigo
Session II: Ocean-Land-Atmosphere interactions of the Continental Americas and the Caribbean
Additional co-authors:
Paul Dirmeyer, George Mason University
Luis Gimeno, Universidad de Vigo

We assess the hydroclimatology over Colombia, in northern South America, where the terrain features are dominated by the Tropical Andes mountain chain. The regional moisture sources and atmospheric transport processes are discussed at the seasonal time scale in order to connect moisture fluxes with regional climate patterns. We quantify the origin of moisture contributions to Colombia from terrestrial and oceanic areas through complementary approaches from three different models: the Dynamical Recycling Model DRM, the Lagrangian particle dispersion model FLEXPART and the quasi isentropic back-trajectory (QIBT). Our results are presented in the context of the well-known low-level westerly and Caribbean jets that originate in the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean sea, respectively.

Our results show that moisture from the Atlantic Ocean and terrestrial recycling are the most important sources of moisture over the region, highlighting the importance of the Orinoco and Amazon basins as regional providers of atmospheric moisture. Our study highlights the influence of long-range cross-equatorial flow from the Atlantic Ocean into the target region and the role of Colombia as a moisture flux region across the Americas.
Presentation file