Precipitation extremes in Ukraine from 1979 to 2019: Climatology, large-scale flow conditions, and moisture sources
Abstract. Understanding extreme precipitation events (EPEs) and their underlying dynamical processes and moisture transport patterns is essential to mitigate EPE-related risks. In this study, we investigate the dynamics of 75 EPEs (≥ 100 mm day-1) over the territory of Ukraine in the recent decades (1979–2019), of which the majority occurred in summer. The EPEs are identified based on precipitation observations from 215 meteorological stations and posts in Ukraine. The atmospheric variables for the case study analysis of selected EPEs and for climatological composites and trajectory calculations were taken from ERA5 reanalyses. Moisture sources contributing to the EPEs in Ukraine are identified with kinematic backward trajectories and the subsequent application of a moisture source identification scheme based on the humidity mass budget along these trajectories. The large-scale atmospheric circulation associated with EPEs was studied for a selection of representative EPEs in all seasons and with the aid of composites of all events per season. Results show that EPEs in summer occur all across Ukraine, but in other seasons EPE hotspots are mainly in the Carpathians and along the Black and Azov Seas. All EPEs were associated with a surface cyclone, and most with an upper-level trough, except for the winter events that occurred in situations with very strong westerly jets. Isentropic potential vorticity anomalies associated with EPEs in Ukraine show clear dipole structures in all seasons, however, interestingly with a different orientation of these anomaly dipoles between seasons. The analysis of moisture sources revealed a very strong case-to-case variability and often a combination of local and remote sources. Oceanic sources dominate in winter, but land evapotranspiration accounts for 60–80 % of the moisture that rains out in EPEs in the other seasons. Taken together, these findings provide novel insight into large-scale characteristics of EPE in Ukraine, in a region with a unique geographical setting and with moisture sources as diverse as Newfoundland, the Azores, the Caspian Sea, and the Arctic ocean.
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