Lagged effects of the Mistral wind on heavy precipitation through ocean-atmosphere coupling in the region of Valencia (Spain)

Abstract : The region of Valencia in Spain has historically been affected by heavy precipitation events (HPEs). These HPEs are known to be modulated by the sea surface temperature (SST) of the Balearic Sea. Using an atmosphere-ocean regional climate model, we show that more than 70 % of the HPEs in the region of Valencia present a SST cooling larger than the monthly trend in the Northwestern Mediterranean before the HPEs. This is linked to the breaking of a Rossby wave preceding the HPEs: a ridge-trough pattern at mid-levels centered over western France associated with a low-level depression in the Gulf of Genoa precedes the generation of a cut-off low over southern Spain with a surface depression over the Alboran Sea in the lee of the Atlas. This latter situation is favourable to the advection of warm and moist air towards the Mediterranean Spanish coast, possibly leading to HPEs. The depression in the Gulf of Genoa generates intense northerly (Mistral) to north-westerly (Tramontane/Cierzo) winds. In most cases, these intense winds trigger entrainment at the bottom of the oce-anic mixed layer which is a mechanism explaining part of the SST cooling in most cases. Our study suggests that the SST cooling due to this strong wind regime then persists until the HPEs and reduces the precipitation intensity.
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Ségolène Berthou, Sylvain Mailler, Philippe Drobinski, Thomas Arsouze, Sophie Bastin, et al.. Lagged effects of the Mistral wind on heavy precipitation through ocean-atmosphere coupling in the region of Valencia (Spain). Climate Dynamics, Springer Verlag, 2018, 51 (3), pp.969-983. ⟨10.1007/s00382-016-3153-0⟩. ⟨hal-01318086⟩

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