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Contribution of Atmospheric Rivers to Antarctic Precipitation
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  • Jan Thérèse Maria Lenaerts,
  • Michelle Laura Maclennan,
  • Christine A Shields,
  • Jonathan D Wille
Jan Thérèse Maria Lenaerts
University of Colorado Boulder

Corresponding Author:jan.lenaerts@colorado.edu

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Michelle Laura Maclennan
University of Colorado Boulder
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Christine A Shields
National Center for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)
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Jonathan D Wille
Université Grenoble Alpes
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Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are efficient mechanisms for transporting atmospheric moisture from low latitudes to the Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS). While AR events occur infrequently, they can lead to extreme precipitation and surface melt events on the AIS. Here we estimate the contribution of ARs to total Antarctic precipitation, by combining precipitation from atmospheric reanalyses and an polar-specific AR detection algorithm. We show that ARs contribute substantially to Antarctic precipitation, especially on East Antarctica at elevations below 3000 meters. ARs play a vital role in explaining the substantial year-to-year variability in Antarctic precipitation. Our results highlight that ARs are an important component for understanding present and future Antarctic mass balance trends and variability.