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AGU journal highlights -- Sept. 9, 2009
Date:9/9/2009

lear picture of the severity of dry spells, which has not been studied as thoroughly. To test for trends in the driest years, they analyze annual runoff data from 43 stations in the Pacific Northwest covering the years 1948 to 2006. They find that while few stations had significant declines in median or mean streamflow, most stations had significant declines in streamflow in the driest 25 percent of years. In other words, dry years have been getting substantially drier. The authors conclude that water managers who must cope with water scarcity and its ecological consequences will face increasing challenges as these trends continue.

Title: Declining annual streamflow distributions in the Pacific Northwest United States, 1948-2006

Authors: C. H. Luce: US Forest Service, Boise, Idaho, USA; Z. A. Holden: US Forest Service, Missoula, Montana, USA.

Source: Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) paper 10.1029/2009GL039407, 2009; http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2009GL039407


2. Explaining the rainfall-humidity relationship

It is not surprising that rainfall and humidity in the tropics are related, and observations have confirmed this connection, but details of the mechanisms underlying the relationship are not fully understood. To gain a physically motivated explanation for the relationship, Muller et al. create a simple two-layer model of the atmosphere that assumes that precipitation occurs when the amount of water vapor in the lower level exceeds a threshold value; this criterion is based on a stability argument. The amount of rainfall then depends on the total water vapor in both layers. The authors find that the model qualitatively reproduces the observed relationship between precipitation and water vapor, explains the precipitation-humidity relationship over a broad range of water vapor values, and may help explain the temperature dependence of the relation
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Contact: Peter Weiss
pweiss@agu.org
202-777-7507
American Geophysical Union
Source:Eurekalert

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